John Hubert has never shied away from speaking his mind, telling you how he sees it — until this season.
The senior running back hasn’t had much to say all year, routinely skipping out on media gatherings before and after games. It’s not that Hubert chooses not to speak following bad games or losses. Until last Saturday, he hadn’t said much of anything, ever.
Whether or not Hubert has suddenly become bashful or he’s just turned his focus to the football field, it doesn’t really matter, because he’s been letting his legs do his talking for him.
There hasn’t been a more consistent running back in the Big 12 in the last month than the 5-foot-7, 191-pound Hubert. The Waco, Texas, native has rushed for 438 yards and four touchdowns in the last four games — including a season-high 157 yards this past Saturday at Texas Tech.
“I’m running with a lot of confidence,” Hubert said last Saturday following the 49-26 victory over the Red Raiders during a rare media appearance. “It’s really high right now and I’ve just got to keep working at it, going back looking at film, keep working hard and try to get better at practice everyday.”
K-State has won three of those four games — the only loss in the bunch coming at home to Baylor when he still rushed for 90 yards on 15 carries. Hubert totaled 86 yards and a score on 19 carries in the Wildcats’ win over West Virginia, followed by 105 yards in K-State’s dismantling of Iowa State two weeks ago.
“He’s given us the spark we were looking for,” K-State junior receiver Tramaine Thompson said. “Anytime John breaks a run, it gets our team ignited.”
Led by Hubert, the Wildcats have become a more dominant rushing team overall of late, including 291 yards in the win over Texas Tech, 226 against Iowa State and 327 in the loss to Baylor.
“It’s always a great feeling when you can run the ball and move it like that, just consistently pound the ball and move it, eat the clock up and then finish drives with touchdowns,” K-State junior center B.J. Finney said.
“We’re finding a groove. I wouldn’t say we’ve found it yet, but we’re getting there. It’s allowed us to play better, and obviously we’re moving the ball. We just have to keep it up.”
Reaching the century mark three times this season, Hubert has averaged better than 6 yards per carry during his four-game hot stretch. Of course, breaking a 63-yard touchdown run on the Wildcats’ second play from scrimmage last Saturday sure didn’t hurt.
“Coach says that we always start slow, so we wanted to get going fast,” Hubert said. “We just kept pounding it and pounding it and that’s what we did all day.”
Because of his recent surge, Hubert has essentially erased his slow start to the season when he failed to crack 60 yards in four of the Wildcats’ first five games, including a season-low 23 yards in K-State’s season-opening loss to North Dakota State. Hubert had just 268 yards in his first five games this year.
Now with a team-high 706 rushing yards on the season and three regular season games remaining, Hubert seems poised to make a run at the coveted 1,000-yard season that’s eluded him his entire career at K-State.
That’s actually somewhat amazing considering Hubert ranks fourth in school history with 2,651 career yards and 100-yard games with 10. The only people to rush for more yards at K-State than Hubert are Darren Sproles (4,797), Daniel Thomas (2,850) and Ell Roberson (2,818). Hubert’s 26 career touchdowns rank sixth in school history.
Hubert rushed for 947 yards as a junior and 970 yards as a sophomore, taking a backseat both seasons in the rushing department to former quarterback Collin Klein.
So, doing the math, Hubert would need to average 98 yards a game down the stretch if he’s to become the Wildcats’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Klein’s 1,141 in 2011 — not counting the potential extra game making a bowl would afford him.
Just don’t ask Hubert about it. He’s got nothing to say on the matter.
“I’m not going to talk about that because every time I do, I always jinx myself,” he said.