Hubener starts to take to his role after Ertz’s injury

Junior quarterback Joe Hubener pulls back to pass during the game against the University of South Dakota on Sept. 5, 2015. (File Photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

In case you were uninformed, starting sophomore quarterback Jesse Ertz was injured on Sept. 5 during the first play of the season – which is set to put him out indefinitely.

While it is an utter shame that Ertz’s season had to be cut short, and I by no means am happy he got hurt, the Wildcats might just benefit from this.

Stepping into Ertz’s big shoes is junior Joe Hubener, a former walk-on from Cheney, Kansas. This kid has what it takes to do big things for K-State with his ability to make big plays out of nothing and his comfort with throwing the ball deep.

In Hubener’s first appearance this year against South Dakota, he admittedly played far from perfect. Though not a bad performance, it could have used a bit of work. He completed nine of his 18 passes, one of those completions being a touchdown to junior Deante Burton for 24 yards. He also threw for 147 yards while rushing for 38.

Like I said, not terrible.

He had a few mishaps, however, including a fumble while attempting to cross the goal line. He also threw a few errant passes. I blame this on the nerves and the quick call-to-action after not expecting to play. Now, despite these screw-ups, he did not throw an interception and perhaps could have even had a few more yards if it weren’t for his receivers dropping a few passes.

After an average showing against South Dakota, eyes were on Hubener for the game against UTSA. Questions were asked as to what sort of performance he would piece together. Was Hubener set to disappoint or put in an underwhelming performance?

Not one bit.

Hubener, though starting a bit shaky, threw together an excellent match. He completed 12 of 23 passes for 243 yards and rushed for 58 yards on 17 carries, one of those carries being a touchdown.

Early in the game, however, he looked nervous and overwhelmed. He was throwing bad passes left and right, and he really couldn’t get anything going offensively. You could see that he kept trying to change plays at the line, and he clearly did not have much confidence.

Once he settled down a bit and finally grabbed a feel for the game, though, he was dangerous. An example of his comfort would be on a third-and-11 play where Hubener dropped back to pass, left the pocket and was nearly sacked, but broke several tackles and managed to scramble for the first down on a 15-yard carry. After this play, you could see his confidence spike.

Hubener struggled and seemed uncomfortable with the short-screen passes, but he had a few impressive bombs down the field, including a 53-yard pop pass to freshman fullback Winston Dimel.

Strangely, you can see that he seemingly prefers the long pass as opposed to the quick short pass. Regardless, I only see this being a good thing as this is the push that the K-State offense needs: someone that will really get them down the field and into the red zone.

When Hubener isn’t shaking from nerves, he is a top-notch quarterback. Once settled, he has the ability to play the game at the pace he wants and not let the opposing defensive pressure get to him as he is very good at making big plays out of nothing.

Though all eyes are still on Hubener as we approach Saturday’s game against Louisiana Tech, I can only see him excelling thanks to his creative playmaking ability and his comfort with throwing the long pass and making the big play. Expect a big game from Hubener.

Ryan Reed is a freshman in mass communications.