Bill Snyder is redefining the term backup quarterback this season at Kansas State.
Partly because of necessity and partly to give opposing defenses more to worry about, the Kansas State coach has played two quarterbacks in all but one game this season.
Dylan Meier and Allen Webb have shared the duties taking snaps for the Wildcats. Although Meier is listed first on the depth chart and has seen more playing time than Webb, the back up has played in seven of Kansas State’s eight games this season, including an impressive performance in a 45-21 win against Nebraska on Oct. 23.
“It’s a great system to be a part of,” Webb said. “It can get very difficult at times but as long as you put in the time you’ll get great things out of it.”
One of the main reasons Snyder has been forced to interchange the quarterbacks is because the Wildcats (3-5, 1-4) have struggled to live up to expectations.
Members of the media picked Kansas State to win the Big 12 Conference-North Division in the preseason, but a loss to Fresno State, a difficult schedule and the first loss to rival Kansas since 1992 have made that prediction doubtful.
The quarterback position was open this year after Ell Roberson, one of the best quarterbacks in the school’s history, graduated last year.
Although Wildcat running back Darren Sproles often overshadowed Roberson in 2003, the quarterback quietly had the second-most touchdowns in school history (40), amassed the second-most rushing yards (2,818) and the second-most rushing touchdowns (40). Roberson is second to Sproles in every category.
Meier replaced Roberson this season, starting the opener when the Wildcats beat Western Kentucky 27-13. Webb came in during the fourth quarter, though, and scored an 8-yard rushing touchdown the clinch the game.
That type of substitution has been typical this season for the Wildcats.
Although Snyder likes to switch the quarterbacks and Webb can provide a boost to the running game, the quarterbacks are similar for the most part.
Webb is a little better runner, but Meier also is good with his feet. Neither is a stellar passer, but Meier has the advantage in that category, with a 129.9 quarterback rating, compared with 83.6 for Webb.
“(Meier) is a pretty good quarterback and he can run and throw,” Webb said. “I think I have some of the same qualities.”
Missouri coach Gary Pinkel agreed, saying that there is not much of a need to prepare for two different styles because the quarterbacks have similar tendencies.
“They do some different things with each quarterback, but not drastically different,” Pinkel said.
Despite those comparisons, Webb showed he has the ability to break open a game with the run after filling in for an injured Meier against Nebraska.
A concussion against Oklahoma and a reoccurring shoulder problem that he suffered trying to make a tackle earlier this season caused Meier to miss starts against Kansas and Nebraska. Snyder and Meier have not commented on the nature of the shoulder problem, but Meier required help leaving the field after Oklahoma battered him throughout the game Oct. 16.
“Our situation is pretty much unique,” Webb said. “I think, due to injuries to Dylan, it gave me and opportunity to play a little bit more.”
Meier did not play in the next game when Webb ran for 147 yards against Nebraska and scored four rushing touchdowns. He was also 14-of-23 passing, for 124 yards.
“I’m very glad that things worked out for the team (against Nebraska),” Webb said. “I give most of the credit to our (offensive) line, because I think they did a great job.”
That effort was not enough for Webb to secure another start. Meier returned the next week against Texas Tech in a game where Webb attempted one pass and had no carries.
Whichever quarterback plays against Missouri has a big task in front of him facing the No. 1 defense in the Big 12. The Tigers have been particularly strong against the pass, allowing 131.1 yards per game. That is 55 yards less than Texas Tech, who has the second-best pass defense in the conference. Meier was 26-of-41 passing for 248 yards against the Red Raiders in a 35-25 loss on Saturday.
“(Missouri) is just a good physical defense, and they run really well too,” Webb said.
Facing that defense and Kansas State’s disappointing season are much bigger concerns for the Wildcats than their quarterback competition. Kansas State must win its last three games to be eligible for a bowl.
“Right now we just got to do a better job so we can win,” Webb said.