The season opener saw senior quarterback Skylar Thompson return to the field, in a lackluster return. How far can he take Kansas State?
It has been nearly a year since Thompson lost the 2020 season to injury and surgery. It was a season that saw Kansas State impact the college football playoff scene, with a shootout win over the Oklahoma Sooners. It was a breakout performance for him, accounting for four total touchdowns and throwing for 334 yards. The very next game against Texas Tech was his last appearance in 2020.
Thompson cashed in his extra year of eligibility to come back to Manhattan and return to a program he has played for since 2017. Similar to Vaughn, Thompson came into 2021 with high expectations and landed on several awards watch lists. Beyond the numbers and accolades, Thompson brings heart and leadership to the Wildcat’s offense.
Going back to the numbers though, Thompson’s passing performance was less than stellar. Throwing for 144 yards with no touchdowns and an interception against a lackluster Stanford defense did not boost fans’ confidence. While the rushing attack carried Kansas State to a win, there will certainly be scenarios where the aerial attack is the key to victory.
Still, his two touchdowns and decision-making masked his shortcomings in the passing game.
Thompson’s legs and play design may raise the Wildcat’s floor of success, but his passing skill could limit their ceiling. Even after the win, head coach Chris Klieman praised what sophomore quarterback Will Howard brings to the team.
“Will Howard is, in my mind, right now the best backup quarterback in the country that we could win with,” Klieman said. “And Will’s going to have an impact on the season, I promise you that.”
If Thompson stumbles down the stretch, look for Howard to get more opportunities leading the offense. Howard could very well give fans and coaches an extensive preview during the upcoming game against Northern Illinois.