MANHATTAN — John Hubert and Collin Klein are hard for any defense to stop.
Together, they have rushed for 1,498 yards and 29 touchdowns. Hubert, a junior running back who has churned out 760 of those yards, is the Big 12’s No. 2 rusher, and quarterback Klein is third.
Defensive coordinators have struggled to contain them all season, and their jobs will only get harder. With Angelo Pease maturing into a consistent rushing threat, the duo is becoming a trio.
Quite a contrast from last season, when Klein led the team in rushing by a wide margin. Now he has two capable ballcarriers behind him.
“Both of them are quality young running backs,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said. “They do a very nice job. They have improved their blocking capacity and have become effective blockers and both of them can catch the ball. They are very well balanced and broad-based. The more people you have like that, the better you are.”
Pease has served as a backup running back since transferring to K-State from Hutchinson Community College, and saw limited action last year while suffering from a sports hernia, according to teammates. But the senior is healthy now and is starting to see an expanded role. He has rushed for an average of nearly 40 yards in his past five games, and is coming off a season-high 72-yard performance against Oklahoma State.
He looked good taking handoffs out of the backfield, spinning off defenders and sprinting in the open field. But he looked better late leading K-State’s offense out of the wildcat formation. K-State coaches needed someone to burn clock with Klein on the sideline, and they turned to Pease. Hubert ran for two touchdowns early. Pease topped 70 yards on nine touches late.
When the game was over, Pease proudly said he was playing better than ever.
“They put the offense on me,” Pease said.
That hadn’t happened since he played quarterback in junior college. Snyder usually uses him as a change-of-pace runner.
His speed and size are different than what Hubert brings to the field at 5-foot-7. He isn’t afraid to bounce outside and outrun defenders for yards. He can also throw on trick plays.
Hubert is more of a straightforward runner. He has scored 12 touchdowns, and knows how to use his small size to his advantage.
“I’m a physical back,” Hubert said last week. “I like contact. I like getting hit. I’m small. Smaller guys normally like to run outside, but I’m different. I like to run between the tackles and lower my shoulder. That is my running style, something I have had since high school.”
As good as K-State’s 18th-ranked rushing offense has been at 224.6 yards, Pease thinks splitting carries will help it become more dynamic.
“It keeps the defense light,” Pease said. “When I come in, it’s a change of pace. John is a quick back, but he also runs for power. I’m more of a power back with speed. It keeps both of us fresh. The whole game, we have a fresh back in. It adds wear and tear to the defense. I think it gives us an advantage.”
At the least, it gives defensive coordinators another wrinkle to worry about.
“Angelo is able to come in and give us everything John gives and vice versa,” tight end Travis Tannahill said. “Throw in Collin back there as a mobile quarterback and I can’t imagine the kind of strategies they are trying to come up with.”