There were understandably some doubts surrounding Kansas State quarterback Will Howard when he threw seven interceptions in his first five games and the Wildcats suffered a pair of early losses.
He was in a slump and no one knew for sure when, or if, it was going to end.
Turns out, his struggles were short lived. Few are doubting Howard now that the Wildcats have won three straight games and their starting quarterback has strung together back-to-back flawless outings.
K-State coach Chris Klieman thinks Howard has never looked better than he did while he completed 15 of 17 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns during a 41-0 victory over Houston last week.
“I have seen Will play a lot of really good football here,” Klieman said. “I saw him play what I thought was one of the most complete games he has played. Now, he won a Big 12 championship and played really good in that game. I thought from start to finish just being in control, being in command, having confidence, being on point throwing the football, running the ball with authority, I thought he played one of his best games here.”
Add on the fact that Howard completed 10 of 16 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns a week before that against TCU and it’s easy to see why he is the unquestioned starting quarterback, even as freshman QB Avery Johnson makes the occasional big play with his legs.
Over the past three weeks, Howard has completed 74% of his passes without tossing a single interception.
“He stayed consistent,” K-State center Hayden Gillum said. “He’s continued to just believe in himself and keep pushing forward. You guys have seen that. You know that Will is going to bounce back. We have seen it over his career, so it’s nothing new out of him.”
You could say Howard is back.
“I feel like the Oklahoma State game was really the only game that I felt like I was just truly off,” Howard said. “We were kind of all off as a unit. Once I got out there and got back to doing what I do and not pressing too much and just kind of being me — that feels really good.
“I gained my confidence back. I never really lost it in the first place, but ... I feel really good about how I’ve been playing.”
If Howard continues to complete the majority of his passes and takes care of the football it is unlikely we see anymore games in which Johnson takes over as the primary quarterback or even splits snaps evenly with him. Johnson will likely remain involved as a change-of-pace player, because he is an electric young talent.
But Howard has reminded everyone why he was the guy at the start of the season.
He can further validate his recent success by playing well against the best team K-State has faced all season when the Wildcats head to Texas for a game with Big 12 championship implications on Saturday.