Kansas State head football coach Chris Klieman said the plan at quarterback, for now, is to continue practicing like it has been. The plan involves freshman Will Howard receiving the lion’s share of snaps with the first-team offense.
But during Klieman’s time on the Big 12 coaches teleconference Monday, he didn’t make any concrete declarations.
“Will will probably take the majority of those reps,” Klieman said, referring to this week’s practices.
After last week’s 45-0 loss at Iowa State, Klieman avoided saying Howard remained the starter when directly asked. Klieman did the same Monday.
He said a decision on who starts Saturday’s game at Baylor will come after he sees “how everybody is feeling” this week as well as what the offensive game plan will be.
“Once again, this is Monday morning,” he said. “So we’ve still got some time.”
Howard was thrust into the lineup in Game 3 this fall after fifth-year senior Skylar Thompson was injured in the second quarter versus Texas Tech on Oct. 3. Howard has started the five subsequent games, as Klieman announced Thompson would miss the rest of the season after suffering an upper-body injury.
Howard won his first two starts, topping TCU on the road and Kansas at home. But he’s lost three straight games, struggling in all.
He threw three interceptions in a 37-10 loss at West Virginia on Oct. 31. He had a fumble returned for a touchdown against Oklahoma State, and tossed another interception on K-State’s final offensive play in a 20-18 loss Nov. 7. And he didn’t even make it to the end of the first half in last week’s shutout defeat to the Cyclones, as he threw for only 32 yards on 3-of-9 passing with an interception and no touchdowns.
Fourth-year junior Nick Ast entered last week’s game with 55 seconds remaining in the second quarter. He played the remainder of the game, completing 60% (6-for-10) of his attempts for 44 yards.
Klieman reiterated multiple factors went into the quarterback change.
“(Howard) got hit and we were down at a point where I just didn’t want him to get hit anymore,” he said, “and I wanted to give Nick that opportunity, because he deserved that opportunity.”
Multiple times following the blowout loss to the Cyclones, Klieman repeated that a hit Howard took from an Iowa State defender in the second quarter affected the first-year signal caller. At the time of the teleconference, Klieman hadn’t seen Howard.
Howard’s health, Klieman said, could play a role in who gets the starting nod Saturday.
“I want to make sure ... that Will’s feeling good and talk to Nick as well,” Klieman said. “And then we’ll just progress throughout the week and get both of them ready.”