Kansas State Wildcats

Adrian Martinez vs. Will Howard: By the Numbers

NCAA Football: Kansas State at West Virginia

With K-State’s big 31-3 victory at Baylor and TCU’s 17-10 win against Texas in Austin, the Wildcats once again control their destiny to play in the Big 12 championship game on December 3rd. Win against West Virginia and Kansas, and K-State and TCU will play for the title. Win one of their final two games, combined with one Texas loss, and K-State will still make it. There’s a good chance that the two purple-clad Big 12 schools will meet in Arlington to decide who is crowned Big 12 champions.

K-State starting quarterback Adrian Martinez was injured early in the Baylor game on Saturday and is out for the West Virginia game on Saturday. Will Howard will start in his place. You know the old adage that the backup quarterback is the most popular guy in town? Well, that has some credence to it in the case of Howard. He has played great in relief of Martinez, and many people have called for him to be the starter regardless of the injury status of Martinez.


The argument is that Howard is the better passer of the two and gives K-State a better chance to win because of his ability to pass downfield. Is there any truth to this perception? I thought I’d compare the numbers of the two quarterbacks to see if there are any glaring differences. While perusing the numbers, the perception that Howard is the better passer is somewhat accurate. He has slightly better passing numbers, but Martinez makes up for that with his running game. Here are the two K-State quarterbacks by the numbers so far this season…

Adrian Martinez

  • Nine games. 118/184 passing, a 64.1 percentage, 1,261 yards, 6.9 yards per attempt, six touchdowns, one interception, and a 131.4 passer rating.
  • Rushing: 109 carries for 615 yards, a 5.6 average, and ten touchdowns.
  • He has a 6-3 record in games he has played, a 66.6% win percentage.

Will Howard

  • Three games. 53/84 passing, a 63.1 percentage, 717 yards, 8.5 yards per attempt, nine touchdowns, one interception, and a 167.8 passer rating.
  • Rushing: 16 carries for 40 yards, a 2.5 average, and one touchdown.
  • He has a 2-1 record in games he has played, a 66.6% win percentage.

A couple of things stick out to me. While Martinez has a slightly better pass completion percentage, Howard goes deep downfield more often, as you can tell with his 8.5 yards per attempt versus 6.9 yards per attempt for Martinez. Despite playing in fewer games, Howard has nine touchdown passes versus six for Martinez. This statistic adds to the perception that Howard is more successful running the K-State offense. He’s getting the ball in the endzone through the air more than Martinez is. There is also quite a discrepancy in passer rating, as Howard is at 167.8, and Martinez is at 131.4. The touchdown passes and yards per attempt factor into that discrepancy.

Running the ball is a different story. Martinez has been very effective running the ball in the K-State offense, while Howard has not been as much. Much of it has to do with playcalling, as offensive coordinator Collin Klein calls running plays for Martinez fairly often and doesn’t call them very often for Howard. If you add up the total touchdowns, Martinez leads Howard 16 to 10. Ten touchdowns for Howard in three games played is great, but the difference between the two is that Howard is getting his scores through the air while Martinez is primarily getting his on the ground. I’ve got to hand it to Collin Klein for working with two quarterbacks with very different skill sets and finding success with both.


After perusing the numbers, it makes little difference to me which quarterback starts going forward. The offense is efficient with either player but in different ways. At the end of the day, as long as you’re scoring touchdowns, it doesn’t really matter how you do it, just that you do it! Chris Klieman indicated that Martinez is not done for the season, so we may see him again as soon as the Kansas game. Instead of having a quarterback controversy, I’m glad that K-State has two quarterbacks to rely on to win games. Howard and Martinez like each other and want each other to succeed, and the feeling I get from the fans is that they are pleased with either one. If K-State wins the Big 12 championship, both quarterbacks should get credit for leading the team to that achievement.

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