As I watched the K-State football team lose to Oklahoma State last Friday night, I asked myself the same thing I have been asking myself all season. What is wrong with quarterback Will Howard? It is not as if Howard has been awful, but he appears to have regressed from his sensational play in the latter half of the 2022 season. I expected Howard to build off his 2022 success and carry that into 2023. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. I looked at his year-to-year numbers and found that the 2022 season may have been an anomaly.
Comp %: 53.6%
Yards Per Attempt: 7.0
Comp %: 54.5%
Yards Per Attempt: 6.0
Comp. %: 59.8%
Yards Per Attempt: 8.2
Completion Percentage: 61.3%
Yards Per Attempt: 7.1
The only statistic that Howard has improved upon in 2023 is his completion percentage. It is 61.3% so far in 2023, while it was 59.8% in 2022 and around 53-54% in 2020 and 2021. His yards per attempt is down to 7.1 yards, only slightly better than the 7.0 yards per attempt he had in 2020. Last season, he averaged 8.2 yards per attempt.
The most glaring statistic is his interception-to-touchdown ratio. In 2020, he had eight touchdown passes and ten interceptions. In 2021, one touchdown and one interception. In 2022, 15 touchdowns and four interceptions. In 2023, he appears to have regressed in this category, with nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. Howard’s accuracy has been off, regressing to levels previous to 2022, and he is throwing interceptions at a much higher clip than in 2022, with at least one in every game so far this season.
What is the reason for this regression at the quarterback position? I think it’s clear that Howard doesn’t have the weapons he had in 2022. Deuce Vaughn is playing in the NFL, and Howard lost two of his best receivers in Malik Knowles and Kade Warner. K-State hasn’t replaced the production of those three seniors. I surmised this would be an issue this season, and that appears to be the case. Will Howard’s success in the latter half of 2022 may have been a mirage due to the talent around him on offense.
It could be a long season if K-State’s coaching staff can’t figure out how to replace the production they lost on offense. Should offensive coordinator Collin Klein change things up before it’s too late? Head coach Chris Klieman indicated they might do that when speaking to the media during his weekly press conference. Klieman said that K-State may simplify the playbook, also mentioning that they need to coach better and more efficiently. If K-State wants to get back in the race for the Big 12 title, they have a lot to figure out.
Another difficult road game in Lubbock is coming up on Saturday night. The way K-State is playing right now, I see this as a loss for K-State.
Something along the lines of Texas Tech 28 K-State 20.