KANSAS CITY, Mo — Kansas State quarterback Skylar Thompson is out with a knee injury but will return at some point this season.
During a media availability on Tuesday, head coach Chris Klieman said the news came as a relief to the team, but he emphasized that Thompson has to keep his body ready and keep preparing for his return.
“When that time comes, whenever that is, he's ready to go," Klieman said. "So, I think it gave a little bit more of a lift in life to our players to say, ‘We're going to get this guy back at some point.’”
Thompson was injured while blocking for Deuce Vaughn on a run play in the first quarter of the Wildcats’ game against Southern Illinois.
Sophomore Will Howard will start at quarterback for K-State. In 2020, Howard threw for 1,254 yards with eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions.
“He's going to play and prepare like I know he will be able to," Klieman said while also stating that the burden doesn't fall completely on Howard. "Last year, his preparation was really good. Last year, I don't know if his skill set was as ready as it is now. He's 240-plus pounds. He's stronger. He's more aware of what the situation is. He is more aware of what we're doing offensively."
Klieman added it'll have to be more than just quarter backs who step up in Thompson's absence.
“It's not all on the quarterback position, just like on defense or on special teams," he said. "Everybody needs to raise their level of play when you lose a really good player like we did with Skylar. It is next man up, and we have to plug in the next player at whatever position is, but the positions around those guys in the positions on the other side, they have to raise their level of play.”
Jaren Lewis, a sophomore, will now hold the backup quarterback position. He saw no game action in 2020, but completed 8 of 17 attempts for 76 yards with an interception on Saturday.
“We're very confident in him, and if something happens or there's a situation that dictates that he could play, then we're going to have no problem using him because we’ve seen his growth over the last two years, and watched what he did in the spring and in the fall," Klieman said. "He's playing with a lot of confidence."
Kansas State hosts 2-0 Nevada on Saturday.