Jesse Ertz is the last man standing.
Tuesday afternoon Bill Snyder announced what pretty much every Wildcat fan knew was coming. Jesse Ertz will be your starting quarterback when Kansas State takes the field against South Dakota, Saturday evening. So what can we expect from the young sophomore QB? Let's take a look at his track record before we start prognosticating on the future.
Ertz played his high school ball at Mediapolis High School in Iowa, and was listed as a three star recruit by both 247sports.com and espn.com. While in high school, Ertz broke the Iowa high school state record for career touchdown passes (98) and ranked fifth in state history with 7,317 career passing yards.*
Following his recruitment by Del Miller, Ertz enrolled at Kansas State as a member of the 2013 recruiting class. Ertz red-shirted during that 2013 season earning the Red Raider Award as the top contributor as a member of the scout squad. A year ago Ertz experienced his first quarterback battle as he and Joe Hubener (affecionatley known as Hubes. around these parts) competed for the back-up spot behind Waters. Hubener beat out Ertz for that spot, although Jesse did manage to play in four games rushing for 46 yards on seven attempts.
With such little playing time last season, and Hubener already beating Ertz once, many assumed that Hubener would get the starting nod for the 2015 season. However, Hubener had a poor showing in the spring game, while Ertz was 9 of 15 for 159 yards and a score, including a 22 yard pass for the final score of the game. This game pushed Ertz into the driver's seat, and his lead over the other quarterbacks was solidified during a open practice where he took the majority of the first team reps. Kellis Robinett had a report where he discusses seeing Ertz hitting receivers on deep balls, while the other players struggled with consistency.
"Jesse performed with greater consistency than the others did. It's that simple" Snyder said at Tuesday press-conference. The consistency along with Ertz ability to both throw and run proved too much for the others to overcome. Hubener himself said as much, "Jesse earned it outright, He was the most consistent day in and day out. He performed incredibly well throughout camp. He deserves it."
So what can we expect from Ertz moving forward? The offense will almost certainly transition back to a more Collin Klein style attack, with Ertz running with the ball more so than Waters. Ertz does have a good motion and good arm strength and assuming the wideouts are able to step up, the offense should be serviceable.
As for the runner-ups? Well, Snyder has already confirmed that Jonathan Banks will red-shirt this season, while Delton and Hubener will share time as Ertz back up. Snyder mentioned "There is a strong possibility that" both Hubener and Delton will play in the season opener. I would be a bit surprised though if they both play given how the experiment with splitting time between Sams and Waters tanked. It wouldn't surprise me though to see Delton line up in some "Wildcat" formations similar to what Charles Jones did a season ago. Overall, considering the litany of question marks for the Wildcat offense, the reports all seem to be very encouraging. Maybe it's the purple kool-aid I've been drinking but this team appears to be flying just enough under the radar to sneak up and do something special. Maybe a 2011 season again?
*Stat courtesy of espn.com