K-Stated

Kansas State Q&A: Joe Hubener, Jake Waters and the Big 12 championship race

K-State quarterback Joe Hubener runs against Texas. (October 25, 2014)
K-State quarterback Joe Hubener runs against Texas. (October 25, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

It’s time for another K-State Q&A.

Let’s get right to your questions. Thanks, as always, for asking them.

First off, the simple fact that Bill Snyder publicly says K-State is using backup quarterback Joe Hubener in practice as a wildcat option makes me think there is no chance he actually replaces Charles Jones in the wildcat formation this season. But if it happens, it would be a big benefit for Hubener, who is starting to look like the favorite to start at quarterback next season. Hubener has been a garbage-time hero this season, piling up 331 yards of total offense and scoring four touchdowns in late-game situations. It would be beneficial for both him and K-State to let him try and move the offense when the pressure is on.

You’re not crazy. Jones has been ineffective out of the wildcat formation lately, spending too much time running side-to-side in the backfield, and Hubener gives the formation a passing threat. Why not give Hubener a chance? Waters shouldn’t have to surrender any snaps to Hubener, but if the coaching staff is hesitant to run Waters (as the stats and Snyder’s non answer on the topic after the TCU game) indicate, the offense could benefit from a change of pace.

The Big 12 championship is still within reach for K-State, but the odds are not in the Wildcats’ favor.

See what I mean? TCU will probably win its final three games (Kansas, Texas and Iowa State) though the Longhorns have spoiler potential. And Baylor will probably win its next two games (Oklahoma State and Texas Tech). So K-State essentially needs to win out in order to claim a co-championship with TCU. Two True Champions! Can it happen? Sure. Will it happen? Probably not. The Wildcats will likely be small underdogs against West Virginia, big favorites against Kansas and huge underdogs at Baylor. The game with the Bears is obviously the biggest hurdle. Baylor is every bit as good as TCU, and K-State hasn’t won in Waco since 2002.

That would be a fun bowl game, and the matchup everyone thought we were going to get in last year’s Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl before Michigan crashed the party. I think K-State is more likely headed to the Alamo Bowl or Russell Athletic Bowl, but the Cotton Bowl could happen. The Wildcats will need to be the Big 12’s top non-playoff team to get an invite to Dallas. So they will need to win their final three games and hope TCU finishes in the top four, or win two of their final three games and hope both Baylor and TCU finish in the top four. If TCU and Baylor both miss the playoff, K-State will be looking elsewhere.

I would say somewhere between Collin Klein and perfectly healthy. He’s playing hurt. There’s no doubt about that. He isn’t the same factor in the running game and he is misfiring on his deep throws and he was slow to get up a few times against TCU. But he is still playing at a solid level and appeared pain free while speaking with media after the TCU game. So maybe he is at 80 percent. The bigger problem with Waters is he isn’t getting enough help from his running backs. If DeMarcus Robinson and Charles Jones start putting up good numbers, Waters will play with more freedom.

K-State players seemed to put the TCU loss behind them fairly quickly. TCU was clearly the better team, and the Wildcats accepted that. I think big losses are easier to move past than close losses. When you get crushed, it motivates you to play better immediately. When you lose close, mistakes can eat at you for days. With a week off, I expect K-State to take a good mental approach into the West Virginia game.

Well, I never covered Kirk Hinrich, though I did meet him once. And Freddy Asprilla would be at the bottom of my list, so your restrictions aren’t really restrictions. Aside from that, this is a good question. I drank a beer with Jared Allen once in Idaho. That was fun. I’m tempted to choose Collin Klein, because he was such a good quarterback and has great perspective on so many topics, but he would probably be more interested in drinking water or coffee than beer. I’m also tempted to say Landon Donovan, but I’ve never technically covered our nation’s best soccer player. Just a fan. Maybe Bryce Brown. I still have so many questions. Or maybe former Ole Miss basketball player Marshall Henderson. That would be an adventure. I guess I can’t answer your question, because I can’t choose just one.

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

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