Ertz named starter against No. 8 Stanford

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Junior Jesse Ertz was named the starter for the Stanford game on Sept. 2, 2016. (Evert Nelson | The Collegian)

Junior Jesse Ertz will start at quarterback for the Kansas State Wildcats when they open up their season against No. 8 Stanford Friday night, K-State head football coach Bill Snyder announced Monday during the weekly Big 12 teleconference.

Ertz, who rushed for five yards on a single play against South Dakota before being injured and missing the remainder of last season, was thought by many to be the likely starter.

Monday’s announcement, however, was the first time Snyder himself commented definitively on who held the lead in the battle for the starting quarterback position.

Last year, then-junior quarterback Joe Hubener started 11 games for the Wildcats, throwing for 1,837 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions, while also rushing for 613 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Ertz, however, had a strong spring game, showing flashes not only of the arm power Hubener had, but also of a dual-threat ability after he broke off a 45-yard run against the first-team defense, according to Tim Everson’s Collegian article “5 takeaways from Saturday’s Purple and White Spring Game.”

One of the biggest question marks, however, will be if the defense Ertz shined against back in the spring game is comparable to the one he’ll face Friday. While K-State finished last season tied for ninth nationally in the number of sacks their defense recorded with 38, Stanford enters the game with national title aspirations.

Ertz’s consistency was what set him apart from the competition for the starting role Saturday, Snyder said in the teleconference.

“He’s in all reality just been more consistent than the other two (competing quarterbacks),” Snyder said. “The consistency part of it going into the first ballgame is extremely important to us and (Ertz) has demonstrated that to a greater degree.”

Ertz will not be the only first-time starter in the game at quarterback, however. Redshirt junior Ryan Burns will start at quarterback for the Cardinal, and redshirt sophomore Keller Chryst will also see time, according to an Aug. 24 ESPN article.

Both were backups last season to Kevin Hogan, who was the winningest quarterback in school history and was later drafted in the fifth round by the Kansas City Chiefs.

“Both (Burns and Chryst) were inexperienced as far as being on the field, but (Burns has) been in the program for a considerable amount of time,” Snyder said. “He’s taken an awful lot of repetition.”

Burns also gets to start the season at home, which should help, Snyder said.

“I would anticipate that he’s going to play well,” Snyder said.

K-State heads to Palo Alto, California, this week to take on the Cardinal at 8 p.m. on Friday. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

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Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.