If you think your job is taxing, try spending a week as Joe Hubener.
Never heard of him? The redshirt-freshman walk-on has spent this season directing Kansas State’s scout team offense and duplicating the opposing quarterback for the benefit of the defense.
This week, he gets the unenviable task of imitating Geno Smith.
“He does a real good job of replicating some of the quarterbacks we’ve already played,” Jarard Milo said of Hubener. “So he’s got a lot of confidence and we have a lot of confidence in him being able to get done what needs done.”
As a whole, the scout team is charged with preparing the K-State defense for West Virginia’s high-flying passing attack. Head coach Bill Snyder said the task can’t be done.
“You can’t replicate what they can do with their offense,” he said. “And really you can’t replicate what anybody does offensively, defensively or on special teams, because the youngsters you have on the scout squads, they haven’t grown in those capabilities yet, not collectively anyway.”
Snyder’s right, of course. Most of the scout team guys were playing in high school a year ago. Many, like Hubener, are walk-ons who may never get the chance to compete for a starting job in their K-State career. But Milo says the group does a good job of giving the first-teamers a look at what they can expect to see on Saturdays, even if it’s not the same talent level.
“They do a good job and do the best they can,” Milo said. “We don’t have any Tavon Austins out there or Stedman Baileys, but we do have guys that do a good job of replicating what they do. That really helps us get prepared for the game.”
This week, the defense has worked with Hubener and the scout-team offense, trying to keep them from completing passes over the top of the defense for long gains.
“Our scout team does a good job of replicating their offense,” Milo said. “It starts on the practice field. We try not to let anything get over the top, even on the practice field. That’s what we want to take into the game.”
Facing the real thing is another challenge entirely, something Milo says the defense is pumped up for. Texas Tech may have figured out a blueprint for stopping the Mountaineers’ offensive prowess, but the Wildcats know it’s unlikely they’ll come out flat on offense two weeks in a row.
“We’re real excited,” Milo said. “We know they’re really great players. They do a good job of doing a lot of things — catching the ball, running routes, you can get three guys around them and they still catch it.”
Snyder says West Virginia isn’t doing anything he’s never seen before.
“It’s not things that we haven’t seen before…” he said. “It’s how they do it.”
The Wildcats have been scouting West Virginia, as they do all their opponents, for almost a year now.
“During the winter months we do scout reports and watch video tape and scrutinize all of our opponents,” Snyder said. “The teams that get the vast amount of attention are earlier ball games, but we still tried to scrutinize West Virginia in all those time frames we talked about.”
Snyder said while scout team play is an important aspect of the preparation for an opponent, K-State typically plays the first team offense and defense against each other to make sure both units are getting the most out of practice time, despite the risk of injury it might present.
“The significant thing in practice is being able to work good on good, which we do a decent amount of the time, week in and week out,” he said. “That gives us greater assistance, I think, in the preparation for the ballgame, at least from a physical standpoint as much as anything.”