Jake Waters moves on after two years leading K-State's offense. In those two year, Waters set several K-State passing records and contributed to a 17-9 record. He also started every game and played the vast majority of the snaps, leaving K-State with a true first-year quarterback in 2015.
Let's take a look at first-year quarterbacks during Bill Snyder's second tenure as K-State's coach and see if we can determine what an acceptable performance looks like in 2015.
2009: Grant Gregory played most of the games, but Carson Coffman saw enough action to make a significant contribution. Coffman saw action in six games the previous year, but he was green enough to consider a first-year quarterback. The pair's combined stats are below:
Passing: 171-292-8, 1,956 yards, 6.7 yards/attempt, 6 TDs, 163 yards/game
Rushing: 160 carries, 372 yards, 2.3 yards/carry, 5 TDs
Coffman was the man in 2010, although he increasingly split time with Collin Klein later in the year. The most famous example was The Great Kleining of Texas, in which Garret Gilbert quarterbacked K-State to victory, while Klein began his impersonation of a Jeep in football pads.
We'll call Klein a first-year quarterback in 2011, and his numbers for that season are below:
Passing: 161-281-6, 1,918 yards
/game, 6.8 yards/attempt, 13 TDs, 147.5 yards/game
Rushing: 317 carries, 1,141 yards, 3.6 yards/carry, 27 TDs
Even Klein admitted to me a few years ago that he was "a hurtin' unit" by the end of that season. No surprise after 317 carries and 27 rushing touchdowns.
Klein led the Wildcats to the 2012 Big 12 title. In 2013, the junior college offensive player of the year, who led Iowa Western to a juco national title, replaced him. Waters would notoriously split time with Daniel Sams, but Waters started each game and took the vast majority of the snaps. His 2013 numbers are below:
Passing: 159-260-9, 2,469 yards, 9.5 yards/attempt, 18 TDs, 189.9 yards/game
Rushing: 118 carries, 312 yards, 2.6 yards/carry, 6 TDs
Alas, none of these passing or rushing numbers are adjusted for sacks. I'd prefer to allocate the sack yardage to passing plays and remove it from the rushing plays, but I didn't have time for this post. Suffice to say that each player's passing numbers would decline, while their rushing yards would improve some modest amount. And that's to say nothing of figuring out which "rushing" yardage was the result of scrambles.
Anyway, below is the average of the yearly passing and rushing totals from above:
Passing: 164-278-8, 2,114 yards, 7.6 yards/attempt, 12 TDs, 162.6 yards/game
Rushing: 198 carries, 608 yards, 3.1 yards/carry, 13 TDs
Surprisingly, the passing numbers are fairly uniform. Only Waters' 2,469 yards stands out; the attempts and completions were impressively similar.
Klein's 2011 skews the rushing numbers significantly. Waters and Gregory/Coffman were nominal threats, at best, carrying the ball. Klein carrying the ball was pretty much K-State's entire offense in 2011.
Sophomore Jesse Ertz, a three-star recruit from Burlington, Iowa, will start Saturday against South Dakota. Ertz made his name as a passer in high school, but he was a sprinter at Mediapolis High School, too, so he has decent wheels. An Iowa passer who can maybe run a little bit, does that sound familiar? It may, but Ertz has spent his last two years redshirting and getting spot duty in garbage time, not leading a junior college team to a national title. And there's no Tyler Lockett to throw to, unless Dominique Heath is a revelation at wide receiver.
His backups are former walk-on Joe Hubener and heralded true freshman Alex Delton. It's fun to talk about what we could see out of Delton, but history disfavors meaningful snaps for the Hays product this year. Barring injury or ineffectiveness, this should be Ertz' team.
So ... what can we expect from Ertz and company? Both the rushing and passing extremes above probably skew away from Iowan. A year younger and a Lockett short, it's hard to imagine Ertz matching Waters' first-year passing numbers. And he won't sniff Klein's rushing totals at 6'3", 205 lbs. I'll hazard the guesses below:
Passing: 175-300-8, 1,900 yards, 7.0 yards/attempt, 14 TDs, 146.2 yards/game
Rushing: 150 carries, 450 yards, 3.0 yards/carry, 9 TDs
Would you take those totals now?