Kansas State was down a starting defensive back and lost a first-team wide receiver during Saturday’s 20-18 home loss to No. 14 Oklahoma State.
Justin Gardner, who started the past five games at cornerback, didn’t play Saturday. Head coach Chris Klieman offered little insight afterward.
“(Gardner) was not available today,” Klieman said. (He) could not go today.”
Malik Knowles, a sophomore who has been in the starting lineup at receiver all seven games this fall, did not play in Saturday’s second half.
“I think there was something wrong (with) his lower body,” Klieman said.
Gardner, a 6-foot-3, 191-pounder from Charlotte, N.C., joined K-State as a transfer from Hutchinson Community College after beginning his career at Oregon State in 2017.
He entered Saturday ranked first in the Big 12 with 1.33 passes defensed per game. Gardner had four passes defended in K-State’s road win at TCU on Oct. 10, the most by a Wildcat since the 2018 season opener and tied for third-most by any player in a single game in 2020.
Gardner’s two interceptions this fall also were tied for the most in the conference prior to Saturday’s slate of games. He had one pickoff in K-State’s come-from-behind win over then-No. 3 Oklahoma on Sept. 26, then recorded another against Kansas last month, returning it 24 yards for a score.
Knowles, who received votes for Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year last season, saw his forgettable sophomore campaign continue Saturday, hauling in just two receptions for 16 yards. He only has 93 receiving yards and one touchdown on six catches in seven games this season. This comes on the heels of a redshirt freshman season in which he caught 27 passes for 397 yards in 11 games, missing two contests because of injury.
Moore sits out
Kansas State tight end Briley Moore, who leads the team with 19 receptions this fall, did not play Saturday. Prior to the game, he was seen on the field wearing street clothes. Moore suffered a back injury in the second quarter of last week’s game at West Virginia and has not played since.
Cowboys banged up, too
Oklahoma State wideout Tylan Wallace, the Big 12’s leader in nearly every major receiving category — including receptions per game (7.0), yards per game (117.6) and total yardage (588) — was held out of the lineup Saturday, reportedly batting a muscle injury that occurred in a practice earlier this week. His only appearance in the game came during the fourth quarter, when he took the field for an onside kick by K-State. He knocked the ball out of bounds before returning to the Cowboys’ sideline.
Star running back Chuba Hubbard, who ranked third in the Big 12 entering Saturday with 110 rushing yards per game, carried the ball only six times for 31 yards against the Wildcats. He did not log a rushing attempt in the fourth quarter, as he was dealing with an apparent leg injury.
Starting right tackle Teven Jenkins, a Topeka native who starred at Topeka High, went down in the first quarter and shuffled the Cowboys’ offensive line.
The Cowboys also played without starting safety Kolby Harvell-Peel. A junior, Harvell-Peel snagged a team-high two interceptions in Oklahoma State’s five games prior to Saturday.