Enough of the Joe Hubener Experiment

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Kansas State freshman quarterback Alex Delton, runs the ball during the fourth quarter of the game between K-State and Flordia Atlantic University in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Sept. 17, 2016. (Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

After a season-ending knee injury in 2015, the worst possible scenario for junior quarterback Jesse Ertz and Kansas State, was that the signal caller would go down again in 2016. Well, the worst possible scenario took place on Saturday in Norman, Oklahoma during K-State’s 38-17 loss to the Sooners.

After throwing an incomplete pass in the second quarter, Ertz remained on the ground for a while, before walking off to the K-State sideline. Ertz would return to the game, but after throwing one pass to start the third quarter, it was clear he was not healthy. So Ertz pulled himself from the game after completing just 8-of-14 passes for 68 yards against Oklahoma.

The Wildcats had a couple of options that they could turn to. They could put in senior quarterback Joe Hubener who played all of last season and had some experience this season, or they could go to redshirt freshman Alex Delton and see if he could make some stuff happen with his athleticism.

Head coach Bill Snyder decided to roll with Hubener. By looking at just the stat sheet alone, it appears the right call was made. Hubener went for 157 yards and a touchdown on 12-of-23 passing, but that number is a little bit skewed by a late 54-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Dominique Heath.

“I think he was ready,” Snyder said. “He made some mistakes, he threw some balls in the dirt. He got in a big hurry to do it, and it’s been a while since he’s really been on the field so much. If you took those away, for the most part he will probably grade out relatively well.”

When asked after the game what he would do if Ertz were unable to play next week when the Wildcats host Texas at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, Snyder seemed to give the feel that it would be Hubener without a doubt.

“I can’t answer the question right now,” Snyder said. “Joe obviously is the number two quarterback, so if Jesse couldn’t go, in all likelihood that’s who it will be.”

I do not typically question Bill Snyder on many things. Any man that can take the worst college football program in the country and turn it into what K-State is today, has me believing that what he does is right.

But Bill Snyder could not be more wrong in this situation.

Hubener is a decent quarterback. Since this is a newspaper, I cannot show how much emphasis I just put on the word, “decent.”

In 2015, Hubener’s season stat line read: 131-of-275, 1837 yards, nine touchdowns, and ten interceptions. It’s really tough to be upset at Hubener for last season. He had never played as a starting quarterback, and Delton was a true freshman and was nowhere near being ready to start. Joe Hubener was K-State’s best option in 2015.

But this is 2016 and Hubener is no longer the Wildcats’ best option. Delton has been in the program since January of 2015 after graduating from Hays High early to develop quicker at K-State. Delton has been in the program long enough that he can come in and do the same things that Hubener is doing at quarterback, with maybe a little bit less of arm strength.

The biggest thing working against Delton right now, is the fact that he does not have a lot of in-game experience. This season, he has just appeared in two games and has thrown just five passes. It is understandable why Snyder doesn’t want to put that type of inexperience on the field.

But here’s the thing. Alex Delton cannot get in-game experience if he’s not given the chance to get in the game.

The only way that Delton is going to be able to be a threat for Snyder, is if he actually gives him a chance to develop. It’s only fair that Delton gets a chance to show what he can do. If he plays poorly, you don’t have to stick with him. Substitutions are allowed and you can always take Delton out of the game.

The move to continually go to Hubener over Delton is not only hurting K-State in 2016, but also for 2017 and beyond. Hubener is a senior. He will not be with this program after this season. But Delton is a redshirt freshman.

Just for fun, let’s create a worst-case scenario. Let’s say Ertz’s injury suffered against Oklahoma is season-ending and he decides that after two season-ending injuries, he’s had enough college football for one lifetime and he wants to call it a career after 2016.

If that were to happen, K-State goes into 2017 with Delton, Skylar Thompson who will be a redshirt freshman next year, Wykeen Gill, and Hunter Hall. As of today, how many of those players have enough experience to be a starting quarterback in 2017?

None. None of them do.

We’ve tried the Hubener experiment. We’ve seen enough of it to know that it isn’t working. Unless there’s something that Delton is doing wrong in practice — which is possible because Snyder doesn’t allow media to view practice — there’s absolutely no reason that Delton shouldn’t be getting some reps in games.

Coach Snyder, if Ertz can’t go against Texas next week, there’s only one decision that makes sense at quarterback. Unleash Alex Delton.

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