May 28, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars quarterbacks Stephen Morris (6), Chad Henne (7), Blake Bortles (5) and Jake Waters (9) warm up during OTAs at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports
AMES — Jake Waters is untouchable and loving it.
The former Kansas State satandout quarterback also been picking apart Iowa State’s defense in practice.
“Jake Waters,” Cyclones passing game coordinator Jim Hofher said of the first-year ISU grad assistant and occasional scout team quarterback. “It was a ‘shred-fest’ today when he stepped in there for a few plays.”
Waters, who shined at Council Bluffs St. Albert, then Iowa Western, before joining the Wildcats’ program for the 2013 and 2014 seasons, has donned the no-contact jersey at times ever since Kyle Kempt replaced on-leave quarterback Jacob Park as the starter in advance of the 14-7 TCU win.
He’s in his first year of coaching at the FBS level after spending two seasons as the Reivers’ quarterbacks coach.
“Just to learn from these coaches, they’re some of the smartest coaches I’ve been around,” said Waters, who went 2-0 against the Cyclones as K-State’s QB. “I’ve learned so much every day. I’m just a sponge every day I’m in there, so I’ve learned a ton.”
He’s also enjoying the opportunity to embark on “shred-fests” every now and then, but is more pleased that he can assist in helping the defense.
“It’s fun to get out there and play a little bit, especially when I’m not getting hit,” Waters said. “I took enough hits in college. But to get out there and to throw is obviously fun, but just to help the team out in any way possible is even better, because that’s what we’re all here for: to do whatever it takes to help the team. And the defense asked me if I’d be willing to; Coach Campbell asked me if I could and I jumped, told them, ‘No doubt.’ And if it helps them, great. I think it has.”
Oh, it has.
When Waters became the scout team’s version of Kenny Hill in preparation for 11th-ranked TCU, it seemed little rust had formed on his game.
He throughly challenged the defense, which then rose up to essentially shut out the high-powered Horned Frogs that Saturday, allowing zero offensive touchdowns.
“He’s a dog,” senior defensive end J.D. Waggoner said a few weeks ago. “He gives us a great look. He still has it. I think he throws a great ball and he’s able to give us an awesome look in practice.”
That’s especially important since ISU’s stable of eligible quarterbacks has dwindled.
Kempt had to leave last week’s 49-42 loss to No. 10 Oklahoma State before halftime because of a shoulder issue, but Zeb Noland stepped in to pass for 263 yards in his first crunch-time game action.
Kempt practiced Tuesday, but it remains unclear who will star Saturday’s 1:30 p.m. game at Baylor.
Waters said Noland looked good against the Cowboys, so if his first start beckons in Waco, he’s confident it will go well.
“That was pretty impressive for him, his first meaningful snaps of his career — he’d played a little bit earlier in the year, but first meaningful snaps against a team like Oklahoma State and he comes in and doesn’t blink an eye,” Waters said. “And we don’t really change our game plan at all. Coach (Tom) Manning did a great job of getting him comfortable, but then also taking advantage of what he does well and he was comfortable with the plays he called.
“We talked with him on what he liked based on what they were doing and coach Manning did a great job of calling those plays, dialing ‘em up when we needed to and being smart when we needed to. But for him to come in and make some of those throws was pretty impressive and we have a lot of confidence in Zeb, because he’s prepared, but we’ve got to him rolling again and get him prepared for another big test.”
MORE ON LAZARD’S LEADERSHIP
ISU offensive coordinator Tom Manning was immediately impressed by ISU senior receiver Allen Lazard’s leadership qualities when he arrived in Ames almost two years ago. Lazard’s taken his skills to another level this season — as a mentor and captain as well as a competitor.
“For him to come back and play this senior year, you just don’t see that a lot anymore,” Manning said of Lazard. “But honestly, I just see him having a lot of fun. Even out there (Tuesday) he was asking about when he was going to play quarterback and when he was going to run the ball. He’s just a fun guy to be around right now and he’s always been a really good teammate, but I’ve seen him grow as a leader organically, which is cool. No one’s asking him to do anything but be himself and if you come to practice, he’s going to — before every practice, he’s going to go down where the O-linemen are and he’s gonna get them all going. He does it every single day. No one’s asked him to. It hasn’t been inconsistent. It’s every day, because that’s what he does.”
BAYLOR STILL “ELITE” IN AREAS
Cyclones coach Matt Campbell said Baylor (1-9, 1-6 Big 12) reminds him somewhat of his team’s position a year ago — close in some games, but ultimately starved for wins.
ISU (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) lost four games by seven or fewer points last season. The Bears have lost seven games by 14 or fewer points this season.
“(It’s) a team that has not stopped playing football,” Campbell said. “I’m really impressed with them, to be honest with you. The young freshman quarterback (Charlie Brewer) has, since the West Virginia game, where he came in in the fourth quarter and leads them (almost) all the way back — they’re a two-point conversion away from tying that football game, really on through, this young freshman’s played outstanding football and you can tell why they’ve got a lot of belief in them. … They’ve got some elite players still.”