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Quarterback to Back: Will Howard Took the Reins at K-State in 2022, and Hasn’t Looked Back

Howard has been the guy at K-State



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

For the first time this season, we are going into a game knowing who the Cowboys’ starter will be. Until further notice, Alan Bowman is the guy in Stillwater. He played well enough to earn the starter’s reps in practice and the Pokes’ offense will be able to plan for one QB.

That also means that for the first time this year, I will be able to provide a one-to-one comparison of this week’s QB matchup. It’s Bowman versus veteran Kansas State quarterback Will Howard.

These are the numbers. They speak volumes.

QBR33.6 (112th)76.3 (25th)
Rushing TDs15

We can toss on all the caveats — Bowman was splitting reps for the first three weeks, the O-line couldn’t protect him, throwaways have been constant (and necessary) — but there they are.

Howard, on the other hand, came into 2023 as the Wildcats’ unchallenged starter after leading K-State to a Big 12 championship (and thumping the Pokes in Manhattan last season). Head coach Chris Klieman called the Wildcats “his” team last year, and Howard has rode that confidence into 2023.

K-State is second in the Big 12, scoring 39.5 points per game behind Howard and its only blemish is a three-point loss to a ranked Missouri team on the road.

He’s got the fifth-ranked QBR in the Big 12, fifth in passing yards and fourth in competition percentage. And he’s a threat on the ground. Howard’s five rushing touchdowns is tied for the league lead with fellow QB Quinn Ewers (Texas) and three running backs.

While their seasons’ starts have been drastically different, both Bowman and Howard are veterans who have been around the Big 12 for some time. Howard is definitely the more skilled runner, but Bowman has proven he has the skillset to be successful as a pocket passer and put up big points — if protected and given time to function in the offense.

Klieman was asked about Bowman and his prep for Friday night, and he compared him to Howard.

“He’s one of those guys that has played a lot of football,” Klieman said. “When you have that much experience, I mean, look at Will (Howard), just playing that much, practicing that much, there’s not a lot of pictures that fool ya. I don’t see this kid being fooled by any pictures. We’ll look at how he’s done within the scheme at Oklahoma State.”

While their skillsets vary on the field, the biggest difference between Bowman and Howard off the field has been the way each has approached the position. One has been the unquestioned leader going a year strong. The other is still settling into the role — in October.

After the loss to Iowa State, Bowman noted the limitations of the constant switching OSU was doing through the first three weeks, but said he felt more confident when he knew he was the guy in Ames. Mike Gundy stated earlier this week that Bowman was getting 60% of the Cowboys’ reps behind center. Hopefully, for OSU, that confidence will continue to grow.

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