Tristian Houston shifts to quarterback as Texas prepares for Kansas State’s Jesse Ertz

Posted October 4th, 2017


On Kansas State’s roster, quarterback Jesse Ertz wears No. 16. He might as well be No. 1 on Texas’ scouting report.

Ertz has completed 43 of his 82 passes this season, and he has supplied Kansas State with 706 passing yards and five touchdown tosses. Ertz is also the Wildcats’ leading rusher, having run for 332 yards and three touchdowns on 56 attempts. On the FBS landscape, only 11 quarterbacks have rushed for more yardage than the 6-3, 212-pound Ertz.

In last year’s 24-21 win over Texas, Ertz ran 18 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns. He ended his junior year with 1,012 rushing yards, the third-best effort for a quarterback in Kansas State’s history.


“The offense is physical, very physical,” Texas safety DeShon Elliott said this week. “The quarterback is a great athlete and is able to make us miss a lot, but that is what we have to do, we have to tackle him. If we don’t tackle him, he can run for a long time.”

At Royal-Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Ertz should be heavily featured in a rushing attack that ranks 27th nationally (229.0 yards per game). Here is how Bill Snyder’s quarterbacks have fared in the longtime coach’s last 10 meetings with Texas:

  • Jesse Ertz (2016): 18 rushes for 78 yards, two touchdowns
  • Joe Hubener (2015): 15 rushes for 18 yards, zero touchdowns
  • Jake Waters (2014): seven rushes for -1 yards, zero touchdowns
  • Jake Waters (2013): 18 rushes for 26 yards, one touchdown
  • Collin Klein (2012): 23 rushes for 103 yards, two touchdowns
  • Collin Klein (2011): 26 rushes for four yards, one touchdown
  • Collin Klein (2010): 25 rushes for 127 yards, two touchdowns
  • Ell Roberson (2003): 17 rushes for 87 yards, two touchdowns
  • Ell Roberson (2002): 26 rushes for 23 yards, zero touchdowns
  • Jonathan Beasley (1999): 16 rushes for 18 yards, zero touchdowns

When he was recruited out of Iowa’s Mediapolis High in 2013, Ertz was actually evaluated as a pro-style quarterback. Texas, though, will be scouting him a dual-threat option.

Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson hits Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Sept. 2, 2017. Pigrome rushed for 64 yards in the Terrapins’ 51-41 win. RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

To prepare for Ertz, Texas has used reserve running back Tristian Houston as the quarterback of its scout team. Houston, a sophomore with three career rushes to his name, also mimicked Maryland’s Tyrrell Pigrome in the lead-up to UT’s season opener. Pigrome then ran for 64 yards and a touchdown in the Terrapins’ 51-41 upset. (Maryland back-up Kasim Hill had 14 rushing yards and another score).

On Tuesday, Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson said he was pleased with the looks his scout team had given him this fall.

“They prepared us every week to the point that where we’re at now,” Jefferson said. “They know their job is important and they come in with the attitude of work. I actually had one of them before the season started pull me to the side and say, ‘It’s going to be different this year,’ and I respected that and I embraced that. I know those guys want to make us better and it’s important to them too.”

Through four games, Texas’ 17th-ranked run defense is allowing 96.5 yards per game. Opposing quarterbacks have gained 43 yards on 31 attempts. Last year, quarterbacks averaged 2.8 yards per carry against the Longhorns.

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