Iowa State-Kansas State features duel of backup quarterbacks

Kyle Kempt or Zeb Noland will start for Cyclones, Skylar Thompson for Wildcats

Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Zeb Noland throws a pass against the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas, last week. (Andrew Dieb/USA TODAY Sports)
Iowa State Cyclones quarterback Zeb Noland throws a pass against the Baylor Bears at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas, last week. (Andrew Dieb/USA TODAY Sports)

AMES – Iowa State and Kansas State have faced their fair share of adversity at the quarterback position.

Both teams are on their redshirt freshman, third string quarterback for Saturday’s game in Manhattan, Kan.

Iowa State’s Zeb Noland has fared well, showing off his big arm, but he struggles with consistency.

Noland has passed for 443 yards and two touchdowns – each of the touchdowns were 30 or more yards – since becoming Iowa State’s starter. However, Noland has only completed 55 percent of his passes.

Kyle Kempt is still dealing with a shoulder injury but Campbell said he’s available if need be and depending on how he feels, he could start.

“We wouldn’t be disappointed if Zeb started and we wouldn’t be disappointed if Kyle’s our starter,” Campbell said

On the other side of the field, Kansas State started with senior quarterback Jesse Ertz, but the Mediapolis native went down with a knee injury. Sophomore Alex Delton took over, but he lasted four games before he was dealing with an injury of his own.


In stepped redshirt freshman Skylar Thompson. He passed for 363 yards and three touchdowns in his first two starts. All three of the touchdowns came in Kansas State’s upset over No. 10 Oklahoma State.

“I give so much credit to (Ertz) who started the season, played through injury and played some good football,” Campbell said. “He’s giving them a chance, but he’s hurt. Then they have the injury to their backup quarterback, and all of the sudden, here comes this redshirt freshman and you see him play and he’s got some moxie and some confidence about himself.”

To go along with Thompson’s ability to throw the ball, he’s proven to have dual-threat capability.

He’s added 146 yards on the ground in his two starts, including a touchdown.

“Obviously what he did on Saturday was spectacular in a lot of ways, the ability to throw the ball down the field, stretch it vertically, which isn’t prototypical Kansas State, but his ability to do that is really impressive. And mixed in is the ability to run the ball. I think them being concrete in who they have and what they’re doing at quarterback, I think that’s really allowed them to settle in and play Kansas State style of football.”

Neither team has seen much, if any, of a dropoff in production since the redshirt freshmen took over. Both have been able to win big games and get the ball to the playmakers.

“I think they’re playing their best football down the stretch run right now and it really centers around their quarterback play,” Campbell said.

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