Tuesdays in Vanier | Experience Crucial to Hubener's Growth
And so far this season, that has been exactly the case for sophomore quarterback Joe Hubener.
"It's definitely been a journey," said Hubener yesterday afternoon at the weekly K-State football press conference. "I've come a long way from where I was last season. Getting on the field is huge for me. Gaining that experience and moving forward, you can't really get that experience in practice, you really need to get on the field to prepare yourself."
Hubener, a former walk-on from Cheney, Kansas, has played in five games this season, and with every snap he continues to grow his game.
During his time on the field, the young signal caller is 7-of-14 through the air for 218 yards and one touchdown, while he has recorded 113 rushing yards on 19 carries and three touchdowns. He threw an interception in the Wildcats' 48-14 win over Oklahoma State, and though he'd love to have that throw back, it was a big step down the path of learning the game on the field.
"It's all just experience, the more experience I can get now, it's bettering me for next year and down the road on the field," he said. "That interception, I wish I could take that back, but it's all a learning experience. I've learned that I have to make sure I know the right coverage when the cornerback is sitting there so I make sure they don't jump in the next time."
Averaging nearly six yards per carry, the 6-foot-4 quarterback has proven himself in in the run game. Though he credits his success running to the offensive line opening the right holes for him, with his solid stature and quick feet, there's no doubt it is something he will continue to improve on.
"I think they're more willing to use the QB run game with me when I'm in the game just because of my size," he explained. "Plus, they're not worried about me getting banged up like they would with Jake (Waters). (The run game) is something I've developed. It's not something that I'm the most confident in but somehow it's come out on the field. I hope to continue that."
While he is improving on the run, he is also showing confidence in his passing game as well. Last weekend against TCU, Hubener went 2-of-3 and posted 85 yards in the air. He completed a career-long 74-yard pass to senior wide receiver Curry Sexton in the fourth quarter, which got the Wildcats into the red zone and set up Hubener's 6-yard rushing touchdown - a play he said he called on his own.
"In the TCU game I had the opportunity to call some of my own plays out there, I wasn't taking calls from the sideline for part of it," said Hubener. "That was when I got it to Curry and he busted for 70-something yards. That was nice; it was fun doing that."
Hubener's continual improvement on the field, though it has come in the closing minutes of football games, is something head coach Bill Snyder has taken notice of.
"I think he showed the other night that he's making headway," said Snyder about Hubener's progress. "He's very capable and all the coaches feel very comfortable with him. The pressure doesn't amount to as much the times he's been on the field, but I'm also confident in Joe in how he handles that. He's a young guy who has a discipline to retain his focus on the task at hand, and it remains to be seen, but I think he'd do fine (under pressure)."
Though Hubener hasn't yet played minutes on the field when the game is on the line, the time he does spend on the field he cherishes. He gives that time everything he has because they are the minutes he has worked for since his first day with the K-State football program.
Coming in as a walk-on player and working toward a scholarship and, his hopes for next year, a starting position is no easy task. But every time Hubener steps on the field, he knows he is one step closer to his goal.
While Hubener's path to becoming the player he is today hasn't always been easy, it has been well worth it.
"It's a grind, you can ask any of these guys who have done it," said Hubener about his journey. "It's tough because you're here and you're paying to be here while a lot of these guys, they're getting paid to be here. So you're doing all the same things that they are for nothing.
"It all paid off in the long run, but even if I wasn't on scholarship now, I wouldn't trade this experience for anything, I would still be doing what I do. There are a lot of things that you learn here beyond just football, and I think that's important."
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Senior wide receiver Tyler Lockett is one of 10 finalists in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award, the organization announced Tuesday. Lockett's designation comes on the heels of another major off-the-field honor as he was named a finalist for the Campbell Trophy, generally referred to as the "Academic Heisman," last week. To continue reading about Lockett and the Senior CLASS Award, click here.
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For a complete transcript, video footage and more on yesterday's press conference, click here.