Kansas State football coach Bill Snyder continued to praise quarterback Jesse Ertz after watching replays of the Wildcats’ season-opening victory over Central Arkansas.
“His management of the game has gotten better and better,” Snyder said Monday during his time on the Big 12 teleconference. “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.”
Ertz, a senior quarterback, completed 10 of 16 passes for a career-high 333 yards and four touchdowns in a 55-19 blowout on Saturday. It was his by far his best game as a college passer.
Not only did he shatter his previous high for passing yards (207 as a junior against Stanford), he set the program record for quarterback rating at 319.8. Allen Webb set the old record by posting a QB rating of 300.9 against North Texas in 2005.
There were many ways to explain the strong game. Ertz underwent surgery in the offseason to repair an injury in his throwing shoulder, so his spiral looked much improved with a healthy arm. Central Arkansas also devoted the majority of its defense to stopping the run, allowing K-State receivers to get open largely against soft coverage. And those receivers gained big yardage after the catch.
One more thing: Ertz was playing with experience after starting every game for the Wildcats last season.
“Just the experience of being on the field has helped him,” Snyder said. “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.”
Respect for Charlotte
K-State opened as a 35.5-point favorite over its next opponent, the Charlotte 49ers of Conference USA. Snyder said that won’t impact the way the Wildcats view the game.
They respect Charlotte, in part because of they are coached by Brad Lambert, a former K-State football player.
“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, but I’m certainly never one to take anyone for granted.”
Charlotte lost its opener against Eastern Michigan 24-7. It went 4-8 last season.
Two K-State football players grew up in or around Charlotte, N.C. Saturday’s game, an 11 a.m. kickoff in Manhattan, could have special meaning for them.
Junior receiver Dominique Heath attended Hopewell High School, located in nearby Huntersville. Senior punter Mitch Lochbihler attended Charlotte Catholic High School.
Members of K-State’s 1997 team reunited at Snyder Family Stadium to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 35-18 victory over Syracuse in the Fiesta Bowl.
Snyder said it was fun having old players, including quarterback Michael Bishop, at the stadium. He just wishes he had more time to visit with them.
“That particular ballgame was significant and important,” Snyder said. “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.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett