MANHATTAN, Kan. – Bill Snyder has always been secretive when it comes to discussing injuries.
Or just about anything else in his program.
The longtime coach at Kansas State said Tuesday he expects Heisman Trophy frontrunner Collin Klein will be able to start the third-ranked Wildcats' game at TCU this weekend, but he once again refused — politely, of course — to discuss anything specific to his star quarterback's injury.
The nature of it, the severity of it, the process by which Klein would be cleared to play — even the timetable involved in making that decision, which must happen soon.
"Let's cut to the chase," Snyder said. "Would I expect him to play? I certainly hope that's the case, and I would expect that to take place."
Klein was hurt in the third quarter of last Saturday's 44-30 victory over Oklahoma State, likely on one of three straight runs that resulted in his 50th career rushing touchdown.
He remained on the ground an extra moment after a sneak finished off the drive, and then jogged over to the sideline. Klein spoke for several minutes with trainers on the bench, and then his helmet was taken away and he spent the rest of the game watching from the sideline.
All of those signs are indicative of a head injury, which has taken on increased scrutiny across the football landscape, from the professional level all the way down to youths — and is another reason why Snyder was reticent to discuss the details of Klein's injury.
"My interest in our players is beyond football, and I always want to do the right thing for young people in our program, and I think anybody would feel the same way," Snyder said. "I don't want to put any young person in jeopardy. That's why I don't address injuries."
Sure, the secrecy may give Kansas State a competitive advantage against the Horned Frogs, who will also have to spend time preparing for backup quarterback Daniel Sams.
But the sagely Snyder truly believes that it's in the best interest of Klein to keep him out of the spotlight, which is why the senior wasn't available to the media on Tuesday.
"Collin was perfectly comfortable coming here and visiting, and I wanted to not put him through that," Snyder said, "because I know the bombardment he would have had to endure."
Klein already had put together another big performance before leaving last Saturday's game, throwing for 245 yards and running for 64. He's averaging nearly 175 yards per game through the air, with 12 touchdowns and only two interceptions, and close to 78 yards on the ground.
He has 17 rushing touchdowns to go with 27 last year, making him the record-holder in the Football Bowl Subdivision for rushing TDs by a quarterback in consecutive seasons.
Considering all that, it's little surprise that he's 20-4 as a starter, and that three more wins would push him past Ell Roberson and Heisman Trophy runner-up Michael Bishop for the most wins by a quarterback since Snyder stepped into Manhattan to resurrect the program in the late 1980s.
If the kid nicknamed "Optimus Klein" is unable to start Saturday, the challenge of moving the Wildcats — No. 2 in the current BCS standings — one step closer to the national championship game will fall to Sams, an elusive freshman with more raw athleticism but far less experience.
"He did a nice job for the most part in the ballgame. He was 5 of 6 throwing the ball, managed the game well enough," Snyder said. "The more opportunities you have, the better you get."
TCU coach Gary Patterson said he wouldn't assume that Klein will play, but he also said that both of the Kansas State quarterbacks present problems with their ability to scramble.
"Sams, the redshirt freshman, as far as I could see, he ran the same plays as Collin does," Patterson said. "They both have patience running the football."
Kansas State running back Angelo Pease also said that the offense won't change regardless of who is under center, and that the Wildcats have confidence in either quarterback.
"If Collin plays, he plays, if he don't, he don't," Pease said. "The only difference with Collin is he's more of a leader, only because he's more experienced."