As we approach the 2021 college football season, the Kansas State Wildcats are looking to turn the page from last fall. K-State got off to a 4-0 start, which included a second-straight win over the Oklahoma Sooners, who went on to win the Big 12. But the team could not overcome the loss of quarterback Skylar Thompson, who went down with a season-ending injury.
But Thompson returned for the 2020 season, and while he’s the clear-cut starter, it’s also noted that Will Howard, who went through plenty of growing pains last season behind a brand new offensive line, has garnered plenty of confidence from the coaching staff.
“We have the utmost confidence to play Will at any time,” head coach Chris Klieman said last week. “Whether that’s Skylar is nicked up or a situation dictates that. It’s one of those things that if Will can help us, we’re going to play him the whole dang year. If we feel that Skylar is playing at such a high level that (Howard) could play four games (and redshirt) and still get that year back, that’s something that we have to continue to evaluate as a staff.”
But clearly the staff believes Howard can be used in crucial situations, with offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham saying during spring ball to the Kansas City Star, “If we are out in the regular field and it’s a third-and-2 and we all of the sudden want that extra ball carrier being a quarterback, I think I will feel comfortable putting Will in so that Skylar doesn’t have to take some of those hits.”
There’s no doubt that this is Skylar Thompson’s offense and that he will be the leader of this team in 2021, but also knowing that the program isn’t in such dire straights, if, and when, Thompson needs a blow, already puts the Wildcats ahead of where this program was heading into the 2020 campaign. Oh, and that rebuilt offensive line and Year 2 with Deuce Vaughn makes a huge difference as well.