The last six times head coach Bill Snyder has returned his leading passer, the team has won at least nine games, most recently with players most fans will remember, Collin Klein and Jake Waters.
On the surface that would bode well for the Wildcats with returning senior quarterback Joe Hubener, the team’s leading passer a year ago. Last year’s starter before a season-ending injury, junior quarterback Jesse Ertz, is also returning. However, Hubener’s struggles and Ertz’s injury leave a myriad of uncertainty and keep in mind there’s also redshirt freshman Alex Delton to consider.
Ertz was the winner of this same three-way competition a year ago and looks to be the favorite, having started the spring game. He has dual threat ability and seems to be the most accurate passer of the group. His ability to run the ball could be a work in progress, as gaining confidence in taking hits to the same leg that he tore his ACL in a year ago could take some time.
It’s also important to note Ertz was voted one of the captains of this team in the spring without having played more than two meaningful snaps in his career. That shows his teammates’ confidence in him as a leader on this team.
The starter a year ago, Hubener struggled with his accuracy, especially on shorter routes. Hubener’s completion percentage on the year was only 47.6 percent. He split time with converted wide receiver Kody Cook as the season went on and didn’t even start in the Liberty Bowl.
Despite struggles through the air, Hubener excelled on the ground, especially in the red zone, amassing 13 rushing touchdowns. Snyder’s quarterbacks almost always improve with experience under their belt. If Hubener loses the competition, he would certainly look to be a viable backup.
Delton is the real wild card of the bunch. As a true freshman, he looked like he could have the ability to compete with Hubener for playing time when Ertz went down. However, an injury early on forced Delton to the sidelines for the rest of the season.
The athleticism he brings to the position resembles former Wildcat greats Michael Bishop and Ell Roberson, and he looked dangerous at times in the spring game (whatever that means). While Delton doesn’t seem likely to win the competition, he would be a perfect fit for the Wildcat formation and looks likely to see at least some game action.