Kevin Bullis didn’t beat around the bush Wednesday.
In assessing Bethel (Minnesota) University’s Jaran Roste, Bullis admitted his UW-Whitewater football team will be facing the best quarterback it has seen all season.
Roste and the Royals come to Whitewater on Saturday for a noon kickoff in an NCAA Division III quarterfinal game.
“He’s a big kid, he’s fast, he’s strong,” Bullis said of Roste. “And I can pretty confidently tell you he’s the best quarterback we’ve played against this year.”
Roste is a freshman who transferred to Bethel from the University of Minnesota after attempting to latch on with the Gophers and new coach P.J. Fleck as a walk-on in 2017.
Bullis said he was familiar with Roste, who hails from Alexandria, Minnesota, close to where Bullis grew up.
The Royals have flourished in using Roste as a dual threat. On the season, Roste has thrown for 1,644 yards with 11 touchdowns and four interceptions.
He’s got 142 carries for 962 yards (6.8 ypc) and 18 rushing touchdowns.
“We throw (receiver Ryan) Wisniewski out there as a wildcat quarterback for us. Well, they’ve got a (full-time) wildcat quarterback, let’s put it that way,” Bullis said. “He’s a big, physical runner with good speed and throws a good football.”
In Bethel’s second-round road win over North Central, Roste completed 15 of 20 passes for 219 yards with three touchdowns and an interception as the Royals used their ground game to open up opportunities to hit on big passing plays. Roste also ran 17 times for 64 yards and another score, meaning he had a hand in all four touchdowns in the 27-24 victory.
Running back Sam Gibas gives the Royals a 1,000-yard rusher to pair with Roste.
“There’s no doubt they want to lean on running the football,” Bullis said. “They believe in grinding the football, long drives, controlling the clock.”
UW-Whitewater’s first two playoff opponents, Eureka (Illinois) and St. Norbert, also would have loved to operate under those philosophies.
But the Warhawks held those two opponents—including Eureka’s Gagliardi Award semifinalist running back LeAnthony Reasnover—to just 154 rushing yards on 69 attempts (2.23 ypc).
Roste brings a different element to this attack, however. And Whitewater’s defense will be tested as the Warhawks look for a spot in the national semifinals for the first time since 2015.