K-Stated

Kansas State Q&A: Jesse Ertz, running back by committee, surprise players and the new football complex

Football season is right around the corner, which means, after a lengthy hiatus, it’s time for another K-State Q&A.

You can expect this blog to be a Friday staple from now through March. As long as the Wildcats are playing football or basketball, I will be here to answer your questions. Perhaps I will even extend that through April and into the summer this time. While I was on the road covering Catbacker events this summer, I had the opportunity to meet readers and was pleasantly surprised to hear many of you request that I write this blog in June and July.

Well, now it’s August and it’s back. No more buildup. Let’s dive right into your questions. Thanks, as always for asking them.

Yes, that is an excellent way to put it. Imagine K-State Q&A as a bear waking up from its winter slumber.

* K-State’s starting quarterback against South Dakota will be Jesse Ertz. I am very confident of this. From everything I saw at K-State’s open practice last weekend, and everything I have heard from sources throughout preseason camp, he is the guy. Word is, he is a better runner than most would assume, and he is easily the most consistent passer of the group. He won the job in the spring and I expect him to defend it now. I expect Joe Hubener to be the No. 2 and play some in the opener. I also expect either Jonathan Banks or Alex Delton to lead the wildcat formation. One of them may redshirt. That rotation may change as the season progresses. Remember, Ertz didn’t light it up in the spring game. But that is what I envision for the opener.

* Andre Davis will play receiver, probably with the second unit. Maybe he sees action on four-receiver sets. I get the sense he is running behind Deante Burton, Dominique Heath, Kody Cook and Kyle Klein.

* At running back, I think you will see a three-man committee. Charles Jones will lead the way, but Dalvin Warmack and Justin Silmon will both play, too. Sharing carries, especially when you don’t have a feature back, is the way to go.

I’m going with Dominique Heath. The redshirt freshman tore it up as a returner at K-State’s spring game, and he was practicing with the first-string receivers last weekend. He has tremendous speed. I could see him doing some damage out of the slot. A wildcard candidate to keep an eye on would be fullback Winston Dimel. I bet he plays a decent amount.

I am actually writing a story about this in our annual football section, which hits the news stands next week (shameless plug). You will see more runs than passes. Things will be much different than a year ago, when K-State threw for 3,736 yards and rushed for 1,745. This offense should resemble what you saw from the Collin Klein teams of 2011 and 2012, when the Wildcats leaned on the quarterback run game and attempted runs twice as often as they attempted passes. Bill Snyder will still strive for balance, of course, but this team’s personnel demands a run-oriented offense. The running game was abysmal last season, but it was still effective before Jake Waters hurt his shoulder. With a healthy assortment of quarterbacks and running backs, this team should run a lot. Fearless prediction: 550 runs for 2,300 yards, 320 passes for 1,900 yards.

I don’t think you will ever see Bill Snyder on the sidelines in anything other than his classic Cortez shoes. But maybe he changes the color of the black Nike stripe. Maybe? Hey, he stopped wearing the old bowl windbreakers last season. Anything is possible!

This is a very, very difficult question. I was honestly impressed with everything I saw during my tour of the facility. The weight room was topnotch and the entry was eye-popping. Then there’s the new tunnel with purple lighting leading players onto the field. Personally, I like the team theater/press conference room. Man, the new Vanier really does have everything.

But the answer has got to be the locker room, which I unfortunately was not allowed to photograph in detail. It had everything from charging outlets in each locker (a huge deal for players), big TVs, comfortable seating, a massive Powercat on the ceiling, a special area for K-State alums to rent lockers when they are in town and a barber shop. The other detail that impressed me was a special cutout in the wall for the FAMILY block of wood the team carries onto the field before each game. It had lighting and everything. I imagine lifting the block out of there and carrying it onto the field will feel like a real honor for everyone who does it.

I like to think he sets it at 75 to correspond with his age. At his next birthday, the temperature shall be raised to 76.

You bet. I would have to savor the moment, though. When you have as little hair as I do, trips to the barbershop don’t last long.

Not very good, unless you think like Lloyd Christmas. But I will say this: K-State coaches have not given up on Xavier Kelly. They know as well as anyone how often recruits can change their minds. He originally committed to K-State. If he wavers on Clemson, they will certainly be involved.

Reach Kellis Robinett at krobinett@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @kellisrobinett.

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