Kansas State offensive coordinator Collin Klein has an interesting plan for how to use his quarterbacks when the Wildcats take on Southeast Missouri State at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
If all goes smoothly, he would like to start Will Howard and then play both Avery Johnson and Jake Rubley as the game proceeds.
“I am excited,” Klein said, “to see all three of those guys, hopefully, see some action.”
That strategy comes as a bit of a surprise considering the status of K-State’s quarterback position. Howard is back as the team’s unquestioned starter, but it seems like Klein would like to get a look at his backups if the Wildcats are able to pull away from the Redhawks.
Klein labeled Rubley, a redshirt sophomore, as the team’s backup quarterback earlier this month. But Johnson, a freshman out of Maize, has continued to impress throughout preseason practices and is making a serious case for the role of QB2.
“It has been a really, really, really good competition for that No. 2 spot,” Klein said. “Avery and Jake have both played very well and had good camps. At the end of the day, naming a set depth chart is not really how I feel we should do that.”
Both Klein and head coach Chris Klieman have said it’s too early to say which one of them will be first off the bench, though they will settle on a plan at some point before kickoff.
“Trying to predict too many things is an exercise in futility on that end,” Klein said.
It appears the competition between Johnson and Rubley is so close that it would be beneficial for K-State to let both of them audition in a live game setting in relief of Howard.
“We are going to have all three of those guys ready to play,” Klein said.
Rubley is the more experienced of the two quarterbacks, as he played in four games last season and completed 4 of 5 passes for 42 yards. That could ultimately give him an edge.
But Johnson is clearly the future. Coaches and players have praised his speed and athleticism since the day he showed up for his first practice in the spring. Perhaps he has enough talent to contribute right away out of high school.
One thing is for sure, nothing will be settled at quarterback before Saturday.