After numerous members of the Kansas State football roster were sidelined for undisclosed reasons — varying between injuries, positive coronavirus tests and close contacts to those active cases — last weekend, head coach Chris Klieman said he’s hopeful those who sat out will be cleared in time for next week’s Big 12 opener at Oklahoma.
“We anticipate getting a number of guys back,” he said. “Now if that’s five or if that’s a dozen, I’m not sure. But obviously we were down a number of guys — but so was everybody else in the country, and you have to be able to overcome it, and we weren’t able to on Saturday.”
Klieman was referring to K-State’s 35-31 loss to Arkansas State.
During the game, the Wildcats played without a quartet of players in the two-deep depth chart: receivers Wykeen Gill and Joshua Youngblood, defensive end Khalid Duke and nickelback Ross Elder.
“Another guy we were counting on who wasn’t available was Ross Elder,” Klieman said of Elder, a fourth-year junior who has played on special teams the past two seasons. “Ross has had a terrific camp and has played some football for us, so we hope to get him back in the near future as well.”
K-State also saw three starters forced out of the loss with injuries: center Noah Johnson, free safety Jahron McPherson and strong safety Wayne Jones. No injury drew more attention than Jones’, who remained down on the field for an extended period of time late in the fourth quarter after a collision with Arkansas State running back Jamal Jones. Wayne Jones was put on a stretcher and taken off the field in a cart.
Klieman said he spoke with Jones, an Oklahoma native, Saturday night. The coach said reviewing game file, it looked as if Jones suffered a hit akin to whiplash.
It’s uncertain when Jones will be able to return to the lineup.
“I’m not quite sure how long Wayne will be out, if it will be a couple of weeks to an extended period of time,” Klieman said. “I know in talking to Wayne on Saturday and then the trainers on Sunday, he was feeling better, but obviously we still have to have precaution and see how long it’s going to be before he comes back.”
During his weekly press conference Tuesday, Klieman said neither Johnson nor McPherson would practice this week. The good news, he said, is that neither injury is season-ending.
“But it will be a week-to-week basis,” Klieman said. “Both guys had terrific fall camps. Both are guys who we were all counting on, and unfortunately, both guys got injured early on, which allowed other people to have the opportunity. But we’re a better team with Noah on the field and we’re a better team with Jahron on the field.”