Quarterbacks in spotlight for Kansas State, Texas game

Kansas State quarterback Jesse Ertz is a dual-threat concern for the Texas defense. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)

The quarterback is always the focal point for a defense, and that certainly will be the case when Kansas State plays Saturday at Texas.

 

Jesse Ertz is the dual-threat leader of K-State’s offense, leading the team in rushing with an average of 83.0 yards a game while completing 43 of 82 passes for 706 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions for the Wildcats (3-1, 1-0 Big 12).

“Nobody has,” stopped Ertz, said Texas defensive coordinator Todd Orlando. “He has to be in the discussion with all the big-time guys in this league. He’s so impressive. I went back and watched multiple years of film. He’s dynamic in terms of running the ball. He really can turn it on. He’s got great vision. He’s instinctive.

“In terms of the pass game, he can make all of the throws, too. He’s going to be a handful. You can sit there and have a guy one-on-one against him and a majority of the time he’s going to make you miss. He plays with an unbelievable savvy.”

While the Longhorns have to defend Ertz’s two-way skills, the K-State defense must prepare for two quarterbacks. Sophomore Shane Buechele and true freshman Sam Ehlinger have started two games each for the Longhorns (2-2, 1-0), both 1-1 in their starts.

“They’re like our offense: Inconsistent,” said Texas offensive coordinator Tim Beck. “You know when there are opportunities to make a play, you have to make them and we’re inconsistent on that. Shane’s been a bit more accurate than Sam but they’re both a work in progress. They both continually need to improve to play on that championship level that we need them to play.”

Buechele is dealing with an ankle injury that had him wearing a protective boot early in the week, but K-State’s preparation won’t change much regardless of which quarterback is directing the Longhorn offense for the 6 p.m. kickoff in Austin.

“I think they’re both capable,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “There is dialogue that maybe one can run the ball a little better than the other and vice versa in the passing game. The numbers haven’t been as good as they apparently would like, but by the same token you see some positive things take place in the passing game and you see them get a lot of yards.

“The one thing I know is the quarterback gets his hands on the ball. He is a prominent figure in an awful lot of snaps. In the Maryland game, the quarterback either ran or threw the ball 79 percent of the time. Against USC, the quarterback either ran or threw the ball 80 percent of the time and it went down to 50 percent this last week.”

Buechele has completed 53 of 78 passes for 546 yards with three TDs and two interceptions while rushing 28 times for 63 yards. Ehlinger is 36 of 72 for 520 yards, three TDs and two interceptions with 58 rushing yards on 26 carries.

The stumbling block for Texas, and Buechele in particular, has been turnovers.

“Shane’s had a couple of picks and fumbled a couple of times, we just happened to recover a couple of his fumbles,” first-year Texas head coach Tom Herman said. “He’s got ball security issues and that one of the things we’ve addressed offensively. We’ve had eight turnovers in four games. That’s too many. Thank goodness our defense is getting the ball. They’re creating turnovers and we’re scoring off their turnovers gained and they’re holding opponents quite regularly when we do turn the ball over.

“In regards to the quarterbacks, do I feel good? We’ve got to get better. Shane has got to get better. Sam has got to get better. We’ve got to get better everywhere, especially on offense, but we feel like you can win with either one of those guys at quarterback.”


Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.


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