Texas Football: 3 problematic Kansas State players vs. Longhorns

Will Howard, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Will Howard, Texas football. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /
2 of 3
Will Howard. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports
Will Howard. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports /

Will Howard, QB

This part of the list should belong to both of Kansas State’s rotating quarterbacks in Big 12 play, senior Will Howard and true freshman Avery Johnson. In the last three games, Kansas State has turned to a rotating quarterback system, with Howard taking most of the snaps before Klieman and OC Collin Klein throw the dual-threat Johnson into action to keep opposing defenses on their toes.

Since Kansas State turned to the two-quarterback system with Howard and Johnson, they’ve won three games in a row by an average margin of 32 points.

It was a smart move by Klein to get Johnson involved in the offense in limited ways in live-game action in Big 12 play this season. Johnson’s high-end speed and elusiveness at the quarterback position add another layer of lethality and explosiveness to this Kansas State ground game.

The passing element of Johnson’s game is coming along, but Klein and the Wildcats have kept the offensive play calls pretty simple when he’s in the game.

Howard is a dual-threat quarterback in his own right, posting a career-best six rushing touchdowns and over 300 rushing yards in eight games this season. He ranks fourth among Big 12 quarterbacks in rushing yards and fifth in rushing touchdowns in conference play.

While Howard isn’t the most explosive athlete the Longhorns will face among opposing quarterbacks this season, he is smart in knowing when to run the ball, especially on money downs. Howard ranks second in the Big 12 among quarterbacks in first down percentage on run plays (42.4 percent) in conference play.

Moreover, Howard’s ability in the passing game has been more up and down than usual this season. He had one of the worst outings of his career through the air in Kansas State’s loss in Week 5 to the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater, where he passed for just over 150 yards, one touchdown, and three interceptions.

In the last two games, Howard was much more consistent and accurate through the air, completing over 70 percent of his passing attempts for five touchdowns and no picks against Houston and TCU.

Texas’ defense will pose a much bigger challenge in pass coverage for Howard and the Wildcats than they got in the previous two weeks against the Cougars and Horned Frogs. But this Kansas State offense knows how to keep opposing defenses off balance with the dual-threat element that both quarterbacks pose in this rotation between Howard and Johnson.

If Texas isn’t ready to handle the dual-threat element of the quarterbacks in this Kansas State offense, it will be a long day for the Longhorns’ front seven on Nov. 4.