Former walk-on Joe Hubener will be making his first-ever start at quarterback this Saturday. What's Joe's story?
It's a bit of a wild one. Hubener walked on to the program as a quarterback despite never having started a game at the position in his entire life; at Cheney High, Hubener was primarily a wide receiver. (Side note: Cheney is also the hometown of Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill.) But here he is, starting at quarterback for Kansas State while neither of the guys who started there for Cheney during his time there are playing college ball.
Hubener saw some action last year backing up Jake Waters, and he had flashes of brilliance as well as a couple of notable miscues. He was, to put it bluntly, terrible in the spring game, and was outpaced by Jesse Ertz in both spring and fall camp; the separation between Ertz and Hubener was drastic enough to make Ertz the clear number one while Hubener and true freshman Alex Delton were listed as either/or for the number two spot. But Hubener performed adequately against South Dakota, so we'll just have to see how things go there. If he struggles, Delton's right there; he's a true dual-threat guy with speed to burn.
We're all still unsure about the status of Dante Barnett or Danzel McDaniel but what does Kansas State's depth look like behind these two?
Not bad, but not all-conference caliber. McDaniel *should* be ready Saturday; his absence last weekend was reportedly not due to injury, although we're all in the dark as to whether it was a disciplinary issue, an injury concern that wasn't serious enough to call an injury concern, or just taking the FCS opponent opportunity to get Cre Moore and Nate Jackson some more reps.
Barnett, on the other hand, is a big loss and we're not sure when he'll be back. Snyder's statements were not anywhere near as downcast as they were in regard to Ertz, so it's likely Barnett's status is simply week-to-week. Kendall Adams filled in last week, and didn't do anything to make himself look bad, which is probably a good sign. The Cats still recorded a shutout, and one sign of a weak link is often a blown assignment which lets the other team get on the scoreboard.
Kansas State has got to be the only program in the nation that still plays two fullbacks. How do you view Kansas State's offensive identity? Is it hard for them to find recruits that can fit in to their play style?
I'll offer you a minor correction: while the Wildcats absolutely are trotting out the two-fullback set with Glenn Gronkowski and Winston Dimel, it's actually a thing Snyder and Dana Dimel haven't dabbled with at all during Snyder II, mostly because K-State simply hasn't had a good running fullback. But these are two guys who both deserve to be on the field, so they've reached back into one of Snyder's old late-90s trick bags.
Your two questions here really dovetail together. K-State's offensive identity is largely predicated on the available talent. It's not hard for Snyder and his staff to find that talent, because their method really revolves around finding *players* who want to play the game the Snyder way, and then making the system work around them. Playing smart, being a solid citizen, and giving your best effort day in and day out is what has meaning to Snyder; if you can't do those things, all the talent in the world isn't getting you on the football field.
In 2011-12, that system involved a bruising run game with a Sherman Tank at quarterback and a little guy with moves at running back; in 2013-14 it involved a gunslinger, one of the sickest college receivers around, and a top-notch possession guy to move the sticks. So while Snyder *prefers* a ball-control, clock-eating offense, he's utterly adaptable to the talent he unearths in places nobody else is looking.
If Joe Hubener struggles on the road or is injured who is Snyder's third string quarterback? Would you have faith in him to lead the Wildcats to a road win?
I touched on this above, but Delton was a low four-star recruit out of Hays, Kansas who came in over the winter break as an early enrollee to start learning the offense. He is the future; it's just a matter of the oven timer starting to ding. So as far as his potential, the fanbase has a lot of faith. We just haven't actually seen anything from him yet to say "Yeah, get him in there." But the conventional wisdom is that if Hubener struggles, it's time to just cash the season and get Delton under center. He's a great kid, and Snyder seems to like him a lot; getting second-team reps in practice will escalate that process a great deal, one would assume.
Lastly, how do you see this game ending up? What area of the game will tell the difference between a win and a loss?
A few things, I think. If K-State shuts down UTSA's running game like they did against South Dakota, it's probably all over barring a complete disaster on offense. The secondary even without Barnett is still of decent quality, and the front seven is this team's most underrated asset. Other than that, Hubener's ability to avoid mistakes will be crucial, and the coaching staff's decision on who to feature in the backfield will be important as well.
This won't be a blowout. It may even be a frustrating loss. But I suspect K-State can manage a 27-20 win.