SE: Ertz Nearly Flawless in K-State's Final Non-Conference Game

K-State quarterback Jesse Ertz wasn’t perfect on the stat sheet, but he didn’t make any mistakes that head coach Bill Snyder could remember seeing in the Wildcats’ weather-shortened 35-0 win over Missouri State on Saturday in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. 

Ertz went 7-for-8 through the air for two touchdowns, with his lone incompletion being a dropped pass. The junior also led the Wildcats with 85 yards rushing on three carries. 

“The numbers look awfully good,” Snyder said. “Just based on what I saw, I don’t think he made any real mistakes whatsoever.”

From a nerve-wracked game at Stanford to start the season, Ertz said his level of comfort has come a long ways. 

“It’s night and day from the first half of the first game…the first game in general. I’m just seeing things out there. Everything slows down, you can see more,” he said. “Everything feels better. Hopefully I can just keep building.”

Through the air, Ertz connected with five different receivers for 94 yards. His first touchdown went for 19 yards, with Byron Pringle snagging a broken up pass intended for Dayton Valentine in the end zone. Dominique Heath brought in the second, a perfect delivery on a short corner route. 

“You can definitely tell he’s getting his confidence. From Stanford to now, you can definitely tell the game’s slowing down for him,” Heath said. “He’s getting his confidence, he’s reading the defense and he’s making good checks. It’s going to be scary for other defenses to see what he can really do once he reaches his limit.”

Twice Ertz showed off his game-changing speed, going for 35 and 40 yards before being tripped up in the red zone each time. 

“It was the first time in a long time, so I was probably too busy looking left and right and got caught from behind,” said Ertz, who tore his ACL last season. “It feels good. It feels normal so I have no complaints.”

Ertz’s burst of speed may have surprised some in the Wildcats’ final non-conference game, but definitely not his teammates. 

“He’s a lot faster than he looks and more elusive than people think,” senior receiver Deante Burton said. “I couldn’t catch him.”

“Jesse is one of the fastest on the team. He’s got some speed. He should’ve scored on those two,” Heath added, with a smile. “I’m going to be on him about that, but he does have some open field speed, and I think he did show that too.”

What separates Ertz from other quarterbacks, Heath said, is that he owns the complete package. 

“I think he’s an all-around quarterback,” the sophomore receiver said. “If the pocket breaks down, he’s got the speed to make something happen. He can throw the perfect ball. He’s got great touch on the football. He’s smart and he can read defenses. He’s just progressing each and every week and it’s going to be scary for other defenses.”

What Heath didn’t mention was Ertz’s toughness, which may have gone unnoticed against Florida Atlantic but was visible against Missouri State when he played with blood running down his arm. 

“Against FAU he got smacked across the face and his eyes were red and his nose is bleeding and the ref was, like, ‘You’re going to have to get out,’ and he said, ‘No, it’s good. It’s not even bleeding,’ as it’s gushing out of his nose,” sophomore tackle Dalton Risner said. “The thing I love about Jesse is he’s so competitive. That dude is going to do everything he can to get every inch out there on the field. 

“That’s someone I’ll die for, and when you have someone like that, you know all the offensive linemen are going to block to the whistle so that guy can get as much yardage as he can.”

Ertz, it’s safe to say, got K-State all the yardage it could in the one half it could play Saturday night. The Wildcats, who travel to West Virginia next Saturday for their Big 12 opener, only punted once with Ertz behind center, which occurred because of a dropped pass on third down. 

“I’m just seeing more,” Ertz said, referring mainly to pre-snap reads against defenses. “Those things have come a lot more natural the last few games and hopefully it just keeps getting better.”