For the second time this season, West Virginia will face off against a true freshman quarterback when the Mountaineers host Kansas State on Saturday.
True freshman Will Howard is set to make his third career start against WVU in place of the injured Skylar Thompson. In two starts, Howard, a Downington, Pennsylvania native, has thrown for 360 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 109 yards and another score.
On Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference, WVU football coach Neal Brown said he has been impressed with Howard thus far.
“I’ve been impressed with him,” Brown said. “If you watched the game and had no idea what age he was, you would not guess he’s a true freshman. I think he’s got a calm coolness about him.”
Howard will not be the only true freshman starting in K-State’s backfield Saturday. He will be joined by 5-foot-5 running back Deuce Vaughn. Vaughn leads the Wildcats in both rushing and receiving yards, with 319 yards and four touchdowns on the ground to go along with 13 receptions for 360 yards and a touchdown through the air.
“Deuce Vaughn is a true freshman but they’ve done an excellent job of moving him around and using utilizing his skill set to create explosive plays,” Brown said.
Vaughn is third in the Big 12 in all-purpose yards with 669, behind only Iowa State’s Breece Hall (766) and WVU’s Leddie Brown (730). Neal Brown credited Kansas State’s coaching staff for being able to put players like Howard and Vaughn in positions to succeed.
“I think [offensive coordinator] Courtney Messingham’s a really underrated offensive play-caller,” Brown said. “He takes what his pieces are and he does a really good job getting the most out of them.”
K-State is riding a four-game winning streak into Morgantown on Saturday. Despite relatively low yardage totals, the Wildcat offense in third in the conference in scoring (35.2 points per game). K-State is also fourth in scoring defense (23.8 points per game).