The mystery of what happened in the last two weeks, of how the battle to be Kansas State’s backup quarterback went down, won’t be known until Tuesday. That’s when K-State’s first depth chart will be released.
What we do know is that Jesse Ertz and Joe Hubener have been competing for that backup spot behind Jake Waters.
“Jesse Ertz and Joe Hubener are in the battle for the No. 2 position … and we like the competition because that’s bringing out the best in them,” said K-State co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Del Miller on Aug. 6.
“They’re both bright, both throw the ball well, and both could end up being a good fit for us.”
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Ertz and Hubener are about the same size — 6 feet 4 inches and around 200 pounds — but that’s where the similarities seem to end.
Ertz has the much more attractive pedigree as a former Iowa Gatorade player of the year who threw for a state-record 98 touchdowns in his career at Burlington’s Mediapolis High. He passed for 7,317 yards in high school.
Ertz redshirted last year and won the Red Raider Award as K-State’s top scout team player.
“The competition makes everyone’s game elevate, but I don’t think we look at it like we’re going against each other, necessarily, because we’re still teammates,” Ertz said. “(Hubener) makes a good play, I go to tell him he did a good job or give him a high-five.
“We’re both definitely locked in. It’s making us both work harder, play better.”
Hubener, a walk-on from Cheney, Kan., who redshirted in 2012, is known on the team as a good all-around athlete — no doubt tracing back to his high school days, when he also played wide receiver and defensive back.
Hubener actually saw playing time last year, rushing for 5 yards in two carries in a victory over Iowa State.
“We need to get to the point where, if we had to, we could step in without taking a step back,” Hubener said. “The competition makes you play smarter. You know you have to beat somebody out, so you’re incredibly focused on making the right reads, on making the good throw.”
During Saturday’s practice as part of Fan Appreciation Day, Waters took the first-team reps. Hubener came in next, then Ertz.
Last year’s dual-quarterback system meant that in games, Wildcat opponents knew that the quarterback on the sideline — either Waters or Daniel Sams, who transferred to McNeese State — was a potent other option.
There will be no such threat this year. That is, until Hubener or Ertz can show they’re ready to make plays in the Big 12.