Malik Knowles catch against TCU

Kansas State receiver Malik Knowles (4) catches a pass thrown from Skylar Thompson while being covered by TCU’s Kee’yon Stewart (2).

Malik Knowles has played close to three combined quarters in Kansas State’s past two games. He departed in the opening period against Baylor on Oct. 5. And in K-State’s 24-17 victory over TCU last week, he didn’t trot onto the field until the second quarter. He went on to play the rest of the way.

Now, as he continues to work his way back to 100% from a lingering lower-body injury he suffered in last month’s win at Mississippi State, one question looms largely: When will the Wildcats’ most explosive pass-catcher play a full game again?

During his weekly press conference Tuesday, K-State head coach Chris Klieman offered three words: “We’ll find out.”

Knowles, he said, didn’t practice Monday. And at the time of Klieman’s presser, he wasn’t sure of Knowles’ status for Tuesday. But if Knowles receives the go-ahead from the team’s training staff, it bodes well for him heading into Saturday’s game against No. 5 Oklahoma.

“We’ll see if he’s medically cleared to have a normal day or normal week. That’s the biggest thing — he didn’t have a normal week of practice (last week),” Klieman said. “If he had a normal week of practice, he’d be able to play more. I’ll probably know more by the end of the day Wednesday.”

Though Knowles started slowly Saturday — he didn’t catch a pass in the second quarter — he came alive in the second half. He led the team with 48 yards on three receptions, which tied for another team high.

One was a difficult catch up the sideline where he had to jump up and contort his body to haul it in over TCU corner Kee’yon Stewart in the third quarter. He added two more receptions on the Wildcats’ go-ahead (and eventual game-winning) 95-yard possession in the final period: a 5-yarder to start the drive and another for 10 yards on a third-and-9 to give the hosts first-and-goal at TCU’s 7.

Whether Knowles is fully cleared or not, Klieman said other players need to help, too.

“Everybody has to to find a way to continue to contribute,” Klieman said. “But we’re hopeful to get a healthy Malik back.”

A redshirt freshman, Knowles has 13 catches for 190 yards and two touchdowns this season, averaging 38 receiving yards per game. All those totals rank second on the team to senior Dalton Schoen.

He’s also been a key contributor on special teams, with a team-best 170 yards on kick returns. That includes a 100-yard touchdown against Mississippi State that netted him Big 12 special teams player of the week honors two days after the Wildcats’ win in Starkville, Miss.

Klieman ‘hopeful’ injured DB returns quickly

Jahron McPherson went down with an injury during Saturday’s victory. A junior defensive back, McPherson sat out Monday’s practice.

But Klieman said he’s optimistic McPherson won’t be sidelined long.

“We’re hopeful. It’s a knee injury, but not a significant knee injury,” Klieman said. “What’s ‘significant?’ Well, there’s no surgery involved, so I think it’s going to be more of a day-to-day basis.”

McPherson, a Basehor native, has started all six games at nickelback this year. Though he hadn’t tallied any stats in Saturday’s game at the time of his injury, McPherson has had a breakout 2019 campaign.

He already has 18 tackles this fall, just one shy of his total in 10 games last season. McPherson made one start in 2018, finishing with 19 tackles, two pass breakups and an interception.

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