HOUSTON (AP) — Quarterback Skylar Thompson will return from an ankle injury to start for Kansas State in the Texas Bowl on Tuesday night, but LSU interim coach Brad Davis won’t say who will fill that role for the Tigers.
“We’ve got a group of guys who have all been preparing for this opportunity,” Davis said. “Really, the biggest piece for us as a coaching staff is putting together a scheme that lends to what each of those guys do well.”
Myles Brennan is injured and Max Johnson transferred to Texas A&M. Freshman Garrett Nussmeier was listed first on a depth chart that LSU released this week, but it’s unclear if he’ll play because one more game would burn his redshirt year. LSU has asked for a waiver to prevent that from happening, but Davis hasn’t said if it was approved.
“You’ll have to ask him that,” Davis said. “But he’ll be in the running to play.”
If it’s not Nussmeier, LSU’s other options are walk-on freshmen Tavion Faulk and Matt O’Dowd.
The uncertainty carries over to Kansas State’s preparation. Linebacker Cody Fletcher isn’t sure what to expect from LSU’s offense because “we don’t know who’s going to be back there.”
But the Wildcats are thrilled to have their senior signal-caller back for the Texas Bowl, returning after missing the regular-season finale with an ankle injury. He threw for 1,854 yards and nine touchdowns this season.
Neither team qualified for a bowl last season. LSU enters the Texas Bowl having won its last two games, and the Wildcats will try and end a two-game skid.
AT THE HELM
Davis will lead the Tigers after coach Ed Orgeron, who reached a separation agreement with the team in October, chose not to coach the bowl game.
New LSU coach Brian Kelly, who signed a 10-year, $95 million deal in November, has been working to assemble his staff.
TAKING THE REINS
Kansas State coach Chris Klieman fired offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham after the team’s last regular-season game and elevated quarterbacks coach Collin Klein to the role for the bowl game.
Though it’s an interim role for Klein, the former Kansas State star quarterback is thrilled to get a chance to run the offense. Klein started at Kansas State from 2010-12 and finished third in Heisman Trophy voting in 2012 after throwing for 2,641 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Klein hasn’t changed too much for the bowl game but is putting some of his touches on the offense.
“We’ve done a couple of things,” he said. “But it’s about trying to keep things as simple as possible while still making a few tweaks here and there, just so they can play fast and confident and finish this thing.”
Thompson is looking forward to working with him Tuesday.
“I’ve always felt like him and I are just on the same page,” he said. “I know what he’s thinking before he’s thinking it and he knows what I think before I’m thinking it.”
ON THE RUN
LSU suffered a blow when top rusher Tyrion Davis-Price, who ran for 1,003 yards this season, opted out of the Texas Bowl to prepare for the NFL draft. Corey Kiner will fill in against Kansas State; he rushed 65 times for 271 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman this season.
TEXAS TIMES TWO
This is the second trip to the Texas Bowl in recent years for both teams.
LSU beat Texas Tech 56-27 in the 2015 game — which featured current NFL stars Leonard Fournette, who ran for 212 yards and four touchdowns and added a receiving score for LSU, and Patrick Mahomes, who threw for 370 yards and four touchdowns for the Red Raiders.
Kansas State beat Texas A&M 33-28 in the 2016 game. Jesse Ertz threw for 195 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores to lead the Wildcats to the victory.