Skylar Thompson is most likely a no, Will Howard is a maybe, and Jaren Lewis is healthy and they would like to keep him that way. That’s the status of the Kansas State quarterback situation as they prepare to host Oklahoma on Saturday for their Big 12 home opener.
Clearly the man guiding the offense will have an impact on how Alex Grinch determines to defend the Wildcats. What won’t change is keying on Deuce Vaugh (#22) as the catalysts to the KSU offense. Through four games this season, Vaughn is averaging 5.2 yards per carry and nearly 100 yards per outing on the ground. He’s also incredibly effective in the passing game as well, with an average of 10.2 yards per reception, which brings us back around to the quarterback position.
Regardless of who the signal caller is Oklahoma is going to attempt to win at the line of scrimmage. However, the person at the quarterback position will greatly influence what the Sooners do after they’ve won the line of scrimmage. Thus the conundrum.
Skylar Thompson has roamed the nightmares of OU football fans for the last two years but his scheduled return against Iowa State appears to still be on track. That means he’s out for the Oklahoma game if that holds true.
“Our hope all along was the open week, getting him a chance to be back for Iowa State,” Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman said about Thompson at his weekly press conference on Tuesday. “That’s kind of the timetable it was. I don’t think that will change. He’s doing more things, but to play a game, I don’t think so.”
Klieman went on to say that it looked like it would be “Will (Howard) and Jaren (Lewis)” as the guys available to guide the Wildcats against Oklahoma. Howard was injured early in last week’s game against Oklahoma State and tried to give it a go to start the second half. His inability to remain in the game was due to how limited he was running the ball rather that a lack of ability to pass the ball.
“Right now he’s banged up — a lot of guys are,” Klieman said about Howard. “But I believe over the next two or three days, some of the soreness will come out and I think he’ll be effective.”
Howard is actually the more effective runner of the three quarterbacks. Averaging 4.0 yards per carry on the season, he is third on the team in rushing yards (93) and second in rushing touchdowns. That said, his completion percentage is only at 48.7% with one touchdown and one interception. That’s why it’ll matter to Grinch who is at quarterback. With Howard back there the Sooners will try to keep him in the pocket and force the pass.
The other thing to consider is that, assuming that Thompson is out, Howard will be backed up by Lewis. Should Howard not be able to go on Saturday then Klieman admitted that he doesn’t even know who will be QB #2.
“Who’s that next guy coming in (after Lewis)? And I couldn’t tell you who that would be,” Klieman said. “We’re hoping that Will progresses this week, and I think he will.”
In that situation it’s doubtful that Kansas State gives Lewis the green light to tuck and run on a consistent basis. They may not know who is next on the depth chart but they do know that they don’t want to find out.
I think Howard is going to at least give it a shot on Saturday but, regardless, Grinch and company are going to have a plan and it’ll start up front. Just like their teammates on the offensive side of the ball, if they can’t win there then it’s going to be a significant struggle regardless of who the quarterback is.
Follow us on Twitter: @SportsHeartland