May 24, 2024

Avery Johnson bringing tremendous value to Wildcats’ offense

Kansas State Wildcats Football

Kansas State quarterback Avery Johnson carries the ball during the third quarter against TCU Saturday October 21, 2023 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. (Lynn Harrington/stayaliveinpower5)

MANHATTAN, Kan. — The quarterback raised several eyebrows when he rushed for five touchdowns in the victory at Texas Tech, and followed that up with another stellar performance in the win over TCU.

It’s no mystery that Avery Johnson has provided the spark Kansas State’s offense needed. Splitting game reps with incumbent starter Will Howard is helping with Johnson’s experience, and the two gunslingers are being effective together.

Defenses has to respect Johnson’s breathtaking mobility and load up the box to stop him, but in return that opens up the play-action pass downfield. Coach Chris Klieman used both quarterbacks against the Horned Frogs, and the offense racked up a season-high, 406 yards in the first half.

Operating with two quarterbacks is not ideal, but Klieman is making it work. After all, Johnson trusts him, and knows Klieman is going to put them in the right place, at the right time to be successful.

“I would say it’s different just because I never done it before but I wouldn’t say it’s weird in any way,” Johnson said. “I have 100 percent confidence in Will, and I’m sure he has 100 percent confidence in me.”

The two signal-callers communicated with each other after every drive on Saturday night, with what worked and what didn’t. Howard has schooled Johnson on what it takes to be a Wildcat quarterback. Johnson is enjoying every minute of it too, and continues to soak up Howard’s knowledge like a sponge. The two have a great bond  together because they have the same goals, which is to make the offense successful, and win games.

“At the end of the day I don’t really care how it gets done, as long as we come out with a win when the clock hits zero,” he said.

Johnson completed five of his 10 passes for 90 yards against TCU. His three-yard touchdown pass to Treshaun Ward in the first quarter, was the first of Johnson’s career. Not to mention he carried the ball 16 times for 73 yards. Offensive Coordinator Collin Klein found a way to get Johnson more involved in plays through air, and on the ground. There’s no denying his skill set gives the offense options. However, it’s still Howard’s team, and he threw for three touchdowns last Saturday.

Johnson knows he wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything without the big boys up front executing at the point of attack. Everyone got involved in the ground attack in game seven, and Kansas State (5-2) racked up a season-high, 383 rushing yards. Johnson understands that doesn’t happen without elite blocking.

The Kansas native just wants to keep everything running smooth when he’s behind center, and to make others around him better during the process. As long as Johnson has proper protection, he’s confident he can make all the necessary plays. The Wildcats have arguably the best offensive line in the Big 12, and that’s not by accident in Johnson’s eyes.

“When you see them starting to get more comfortable, and settling in, it really shows out there,” the true freshman said. “So I’m confident in the guys in being able to give me time whenever I drop back to pass, and being able to open holes, I just got to make sure I’m fitting it in right, and I’m making plays to escape.”

Johnson was very impressed with the atmosphere at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The former four-star prospect loved how the fans sold out the game, and packed the Catwalk. Johnson takes pride in feeding off the crowd’s energy, and can’t wait to play in front of them again this upcoming Saturday when Kansas State hosts Houston.

“I’ve said it 100 times before, we have one of the best, if not the best fanbase in College Football, just to see everybody come out and gather behind us was a big deal.”