Kansas State football coach Chris Klieman tries his absolute hardest to keep players healthy as they make their way through preseason training camp every August, but it is impossible for him to eliminate injuries from a violent game.
Case in point: The Wildcats could be down as many three starters when they open the season against Southeast Missouri on September 2.
Right tackle Christian Duffie missed all of training camp with an injury to his ankle/foot that will cause him to miss at least a few games this year. On the other side of the ball, both senior linebacker Daniel Green and senior defensive tackle Uso Seumalo have been unable to participate in recent practices.
It’s too early to tell if either of those tacklers will be ready to play against the Redhawks.
“I think Daniel will practice towards the end of this week,” Klieman said during a meeting with reporters on Tuesday. “That is the plan. Worst-case scenario it will be next week. With Uso, we will be into next week before we know. He won’t practice this week. But it’s not long-term with with Uso, so we’re hopeful he could play.”
The defending Big 12 champions could probably afford to play without three important starters when they take the field for their first game of the 2023 season, as the Wildcats project to be large home favorites against a visiting FCS opponent. But their unknown statuses are less than ideal.
Green, who has an injury history, has made 219 tackles for the Wildcats over the past four seasons. Seumalo contributed in all 14 games a year ago and has flashed like a potential star this month at training camp.
K-State will likely turn to Damian Ilalio and Jevon Banks if it needs reinforcements at defensive tackle. Jake Clifton, Desmond Purnell and Tobi Osunsanmi could see extra playing time at linebacker if Green is at less than 100%.
Still, Klieman thinks the K-State football roster is in good shape as training camp comes to an end and the Wildcats begin to shift their attention to Week 1.
In previous years, the Wildcats lost key players for the season in both spring and summer practices. That has not been the case this year. For that, he is thankful.
“We finished up fall camp really good,” Klieman said. “We had a lot of bumps and bruises like a lot of teams do, but I don’t think we lost anybody for significant time. There will be some guys who are game-time decisions, but, for the most part, we had a pretty successful fall camp as far as the injury bug is concerned.”