Give Kansas State and coach Bill Snyder a returning starter at quarterback and things are bound to get better that second year.
In the past, Michael Bishop, Jonathan Beasley, Ell Roberson, Collin Klein and Jake Waters all made significant strides in their production as second-year starters. Jesse Ertz appears prepared to follow a similar path.
Ertz had an impressive debut to his senior season, completing 10 of 16 passes for a career-high 333 yards and four touchdowns and no interceptions in K-State’s 55-19 win over Central Arkansas. His quarterback efficiency rating of 319.8 was the best in school history, topping the 300.9 rating by Allen Webb in 2005 against North Texas.
Experience, after starting every game last season, is a major factor in Ertz’s development, according to Snyder.
“Just the experience of being on the field has helped him,” Snyder said Monday on the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “I think he managed the ballgame well. I think he had a good sense of being able to process information, and that comes from the amount of experience he’s had. He’s a very intense young guy in terms of wanting to do things exactly right. I thought he threw the ball well. We didn’t run him a great deal but he ran OK when he did (seven carries, 35 yards).”
Ertz is a fifth-year senior who won the starting job in 2015 but suffered a season-ending knee injury on the first snap of the opening game. He played the second half of last year with a bad shoulder that required off-season surgery.
“Above all, his management of the game has gotten better and better,” Snyder said. “I can’t think of a segment of his game, for the most part, that really hasn’t improved. We still have a lot of football and he still has some things he’s working on, some mistakes he made in the ballgame, but that goes with the territory. I see improvement virtually everywhere.”
K-STATE CONNECTION — The Wildcats play Charlotte at 11 a.m. Saturday, a homecoming for a couple of 49ers coaches. Head coach Brad Lambert is from Hoxie and defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt is from Manhattan, and both played at K-State from 1984-87.
Lambert began the program in 2011, playing two years as an FCS independent before moving up to FBS and Conference USA in 2015.
“I admire what they’ve done,” Snyder said. “The more you watch them on tape, you realize they are coming in a very positive way. I know they are probably a heavy underdog in this particular ballgame (35.5 points) but I’m certainly never one to take anyone for granted and I certainly wouldn’t them.
“They are assignment-sound and execution-sound. From a personnel standpoint, I don’t think they are a step down from anybody. I think they’re building in the right direction.”
Snyder said Hoxie is a town he has never visited.
“My travels have not carried me there,” he said. “It’s one of those small towns in Kansas that I don’t know a great deal about but from the very few people I’ve met from there, they carry that Kansas perception of roll your sleeves up, go to work. They are quality, caring people.”
FIESTA REUNION — The 1997 Wildcat team led by quarterback Michael Bishop that beat Syracuse in the Fiesta Bowl held a 20-year reunion last weekend.
“It’s always a joy to have any of our past players back,” Snyder said. “The unfortunate part is you don’t get to spend as much time with them as you’d like to just because of preparation for the ballgame. It was a special group of young guys.
“That particular ballgame was significant and important,” Snyder said of the 35-18 win over Syracuse. “We played extremely well. We were a good football team going into it but the prominence of Syracuse at the time with Donovan McNabb was very significant.”
NFL UPDATES — Three former Wildcats who were released when NFL teams finalized their 53-man rosters were retained by their teams on the practice squad.
Rookie linebacker Elijah Lee, a seventh round draft pick by Minnesota, was signed to the Vikings’ practice squad.
Undrafted rookie free agent wide receiver Deante Burton is with the Atlanta Falcons and veteran defensive back Randall Evans with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.