It was hard to tell exactly when it happened, but there was a moment during Missouri’s 30-27 victory over Kansas State when Will Howard suffered a lower-body injury and began noticeably limping between plays on Saturday at Faurot Field.
Howard, a junior quarterback, felt good enough to stay in the game and he went on to throw for 270 yards and three touchdowns. But he was too hobbled to take off on designed runs or make plays outside of the pocket.
That limited K-State’s offense during the second half of a close loss and left some wondering if things might have ended differently had Howard remained healthy.
K-State football coach Chris Klieman was proud of his quarterback for finishing out the game. But he said Howard was dealing with “quite a bit of pain.”
“We couldn’t run him,” Klieman said. “I don’t know exactly what the injury is. We will have a better idea when we get back (home), but there was something in his leg that didn’t enable him to run. But, man, the kid is a really good football player and hung in there and threw some strikes.”
The Wildcats took some pressure off Howard as the game went on by inserting freshman quarterback Avery Johnson into the game. They asked him to run the ball four times and he gained 24 yards. Klieman said that the coaching staff had planned to use Johnson in some capacity no matter what, but they likely called on him more than they had originally planned.
Regardless, K-State players were proud of the way Howard played.
“He’s going to do anything for the team,” tight end Ben Sinnot said. “No matter how he feels or what he’s going through, he’s going to stand tall out there and just attack the process. That is exactly what kind of kid he is and what kind of player he is.”
Howard didn’t provide many details about his injury when the game was over.
“I mean it hurt, but I was fine,” Howard said. “I was good enough to play, and that is all that matters.”
He said he “banged up” his leg at some point in the second half and left it at that. When he exited the K-State locker room, he walked slowly with a bit of a limp but there was no sign of a serious injury. Howard was not icing down either of his legs, nor was he wearing a brace or a walking boot.
Those are good signs for his availability moving forward, though it will be worth monitoring his health status as K-State prepares for its next game against UCF next weekend at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.