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2022 Kansas State Football Preview: Quarterback

Nebraska can’t blame Adrian Martinez for blowing an 11-point lead to Northwestern. How will he fare in Manhattan?

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The first official Kansas State football depth chart was released Monday. We now have a good idea about what to expect from the Wildcats, in terms of personnel, on Saturday against South Dakota. I plan on tracking these throughout the year for y’all, mainly because I think it’s interesting to see how teams evolve as the season progresses. In all likelihood the depth chart released for South Dakota will be significantly different from the Kansas depth chart at the end of the season. There will be the inevitable injuries, some guys will step up, others will struggle and move down.

Quarterback is the most important position in all of team sports, so we’ll wrap up this journey at quarterback.


Adrian Martinez - 6’3”, 225 - Sr/TR - Fresno, CA (by way of Nebraska)

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Adrian Martinez - 2021 (at Nebraska)

Games Attempts Completions Comp % Yards TD INT QB Rating Rush Attempts Yards TDs
Games Attempts Completions Comp % Yards TD INT QB Rating Rush Attempts Yards TDs
11 306 189 61.8 2863 14 10 148.9 133 525 13

Adrian was rescued from the train wreck in Lincoln to be the starting quarterback for K-State. The doctors had to rebuild his body (shoulder mostly) because of the weekly beating he suffered playing for the Cornhuskers. After being extremely limited in spring camp while recovering, he looked good in fall camp and is ready to roll in week one.

The questions surrounding Martinez have never been physical. Dude is an elite dual threat quarterback with a live arm. He can beat you with his arm from the pocket, with his arm outside the pocket, and with his legs in either designed quarterback runs or scrambles. Decision making is the area where he must improve, and I’m confident he will improve with more stability around him. He’ll be asked to do less at Kansas State, which should help him cut down on the mistakes.

I’ll be interested to see how the coaching staff handles his rushing load this season. There is no way he’ll have 133 carries this year. He can be a more effective runner with half that number at Kansas State. I expect his attempts to drop precipitously and his yards per carry to drastically increase. Everyone knows he can run, and the threat alone is enough to keep defenses honest. He’ll run some, but this staff won’t run him into the ground. 3-5 designed quarterback runs, in addition to 3-4 scrambles is a reasonable work load. Enough to establish the threat, not enough to grind him into the dirt. When he does run, I expect him to pop a few more 20+ yard runs, because teams won’t be able to key on him every play.

Position Security - 100% Secure

The only way he loses the starting spot is through injury.

Back Up

Will Howard - 6’5”, 235 - Jr./2L - Downington, PA

NCAA Football: Texas at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

Will Howard - 2021

Games Attempts Completions Comp % Yards TD INT QB Rating Rush Attempts Yards TDs
Games Attempts Completions Comp % Yards TD INT QB Rating Rush Attempts Yards TDs
5 30 55 54.5 322 1 1 107.6 32 184 4

It’s a trite sports adage that, “the backup quarterback is the most popular player on the team.” I can assure you that this isn’t the case with Will Howard. He’s been put in some tough spots over the first two years in the program in relief of Skylar Thompson, and has struggled to complete passes. He’s taken plenty of flack from the fan base, some deserved, some not, but he keeps on keeping on as the backup quarterback.

Will has everything you want in a quarterback in terms of raw material. He has NFL size, is athletic enough to be a P5 tight end, and has a rocket arm. What he’s missing, in my humble opinion, is confidence. When I watch film on Howard, everything comes out a beat late. He trusts his arm more than he trusts his eyes and his receivers. He waits for his guy to be open, and then throws the ball, instead of having confidence in the play, throwing the ball, and letting his receiver get open while the ball is in the air. If he ever figures out that part of the game, he’ll be a solid, if not great college quarterback. It just so happens that this is also the hardest part of the game to figure out, and sometimes it doesn’t happen.

One aspect of Howard that is underappreciated, mainly because of his struggles in the passing game, is his ability to run the ball. He eats up yards with his long legs, and is a nightmare for defensive backs to get on the ground because of his size and strength. Martinez is a great runner himself, but I wonder if the coaching staff trusts Will enough to use him as a short yardage/goal line quarterback to cut down on some of the wear and tear on Adrian.

Position Security - It Depends

If someone was going to beat Howard out for this spot, they would have done it in fall camp. He has more experience than the other three quarterbacks on the roster combined. He’s safe as a backup capable of coming on in relief and running the offense. If Martinez were to go down to injury, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of the other quarterbacks get a chance to win the starting job. In essence, he’s safe as the back up, but I’m not sure he’s safe as a long term starter.

Everyone Else

Jaren Lewis - Jr - Lewis played some last year in relief of Howard. In theory, he’s the better passer of the two, but he also struggled in the passing game. He should have the best grasp of the offense out of the quarterbacks not on the depth chart.

Jake Rubley - R.Fr - People forget that Jake is still a redshirt freshman. I wouldn’t write him off just yet, even though some people are frustrated he didn’t jump up and grab the backup job this season. Everything that made him a 4* quarterback is still there. He needs to keep grinding and proving himself on the practice field.

Adryan Lara - Fr - Lara threw for 10,652 yards and 117 touchdowns in high school. Needless to say, he’s not afraid to sling the ball around the field. He was less of a running threat in high school, going for 289 and 6 touchdowns over his 4 year career, but he ran track when he wasn’t playing football, and is considered to be a solid athlete, so that may because he wasn’t asked to run, instead of him not being able to run. His task this year is to lift weights, learn as much as he can, and be ready to compete for the starting job next year in what should be a wide open quarterback competition.


The quarterback position should be stable this season unless Martinez goes down to injury. If he does, chaos could ensue if Will Howard struggles as the replacement starter. If anyone deserves a healthy season of college football it’s Martinez. I know I’ll have my fingers crossed every time he takes off running, and I’m certain to yell “get down” or “get out of bounds” at least twice a game.

Seriously Adrian — if it’s between gaining another three yards or not taking a hit, no one will blame you if you live to fight another day. You don’t have to be a hero on every play anymore.