MANHATTAN — The old feelings are coming back for Kansas State running back John Hubert.
After rushing for 152 yards and a touchdown against Missouri State last week, how could they not? It was one of his best games in a K-State uniform, and when it was over he spoke with the same confidence he had as a high school senior. He said K-State’s power-running game is more effective than last year, and that his offensive line blocked so well that he had a chance for big yardage on every play.
“We ran straight at them,” Hubert said. “We knew there were going to be some big holes. It was just up to the running backs to make the safety miss.”
Hubert, a junior from Waco, Texas, broke free for a 95-yard touchdown run, the second-longest in program history. But it wasn’t his finest effort.
That came last year against Miami, when he rushed for 166 yards and a score. With the Hurricanes coming to Snyder Family on Saturday, it’s safe to say Hubert’s confidence is higher than it has been since he broke former NFL running back LaDainian Tomlinson’s high school rushing record.
K-State coach Bill Snyder has high hopes for what Hubert can do while playing with that mindset.
“If you are playing scared or if you are playing nervous, you probably don’t have the capacity to read and have the right kind of vision that you need to jump, cut and make the quick movements that are important for running backs,” Snyder said. “He has the confidence that he can make those kinds of moves and consequently does. I think success breeds success.”
Hubert would like nothing more than to follow one impressive game with another. Inconsistency cost him a 1,000-yard season as a sophomore. Though he had his moments, such as 100-yard games against Miami, Missouri and Iowa State, he failed to rush for more than 40 yards five times. He finished with 970 yards and three touchdowns.
Those ups and downs led to speculation that he might have to win his starting spot all over again with backup Angelo Pease now healthy. But he entered the season as K-State’s featured ballcarrier, though he didn’t the opener for disciplinary reasons.
"I was kind of motivated and kind of mad, but at the same time I did something that I shouldn’t have done. That was my consequence," Hubert said. "I just made a mistake, but I’m all right."
Hubert (5-foot-7, 191 pounds) spent much of the offseason trying to increase his speed. He has always been a physical runner for his size, but Snyder has criticized him for being unable to outrun defenders.
But with his confidence up, that wasn’t a problem against Missouri State. He enters Saturday’s game as the Big 12’s leading rusher.
“John Hubert doesn’t stop sometimes,” quarterback Collin Klein said. “He’s like a bowling ball in there. He bounces around and all of a sudden he will squirt out of the pile when you didn’t even see him. He’s very physical, very relentless and has a lot of top speed. It is a lot of fun to play with him.”