Kansas State junior quarterback Joe Hubener says he didn’t sustain a concussion when Oklahoma State’s Tre Flowers knocked him to the ground on a quarterback scramble Saturday.
Hubener says he knows this because he spent the majority of the first quarter of that game on the sideline passing a complicated series of tests, administered by K-State trainers, to determine whether he sustained a head injury.
“It looked bad, but I was fine once I got back to reality and realized where I was,” Hubener said Tuesday. “It wasn’t a huge deal.”
K-State trainers told Hubener he was fit to return near the end of the first quarter, so he grabbed his helmet and began warming up for a possible return. But receiver Kody Cook — essentially the team’s fifth-string quarterback — played so well in the first half, guiding K-State to four touchdowns and a 28-13 lead, that coach Bill Snyder decided to hold Hubener out and stay with the hot hand.
Hubener returned to action in the fourth quarter after Cook injured his a shoulder while being tackled at the end of a 32-yard run.
Many were surprised by the move, considering Hubener lay motionless on the turf after he got hit in the first quarter and needed help off the field.
“I was spinning for sure,” Hubener said. “I didn’t expect to get hit. I would say I was in a little bit of shock.”
But Hubener was able to ride a stationary bike on the sidelines and pass K-State’s concussion protocol, which he explained in detail Tuesday.
First, Hubener had to explain what happened on the play in which he was injured, where was he and what quarter the game was in. Then he had to listen to trainers describe five objects and recite them back. After that, he was given four numbers, which he repeated backward. Then they listed five more objects, and he recited them back. Then they asked him to say all 12 months in reverse order.
When he passed that criteria, they asked him to complete each task a second time. Then they moved on to agility training.
“Obviously, I wanted back on the field as soon as I could,” Hubener said. “But Kody was performing well. I didn’t want to change up that rhythm. As long as he was performing, I was happy.”
Hubener led K-State to a late touchdown that gave the Wildcats a 34-33 lead — a 72-yard pass to Charles Jones — and scored on a five-yard keeper. Oklahoma State rallied for a 36-34 victory, and Hubener said he was heartbroken afterward.
Still, Snyder was pleased with his quarterback.
“I was proud of Joe for being able to come back,” Snyder said. “I was proud of him, because he was a team player. He was invested in what Kody was doing and he was trying to help Kody. When his time came he was ready. A lot of guys might not continue to keep preparing themselves throughout the course of the ballgame.”
Hubener will start against TCU, but Snyder is not sure who will take his place if he gets injured.
Cook’s status is uncertain following his injury, though Snyder said he would prefer to use him at both quarterback and receiver from now on. Snyder has not said when he expects Alex Delton or Jonathan Banks to return. He said Zach Davidson, a redshirt freshman walk-on from Harrisonville, is the sixth-stringer.
“He still has got a lot to learn,” Snyder said. “We just have to do a good job being able to define all the things that he can do and he does do well and has a good grasp of and make sure we don’t get out of that box.”
If injuries persisted, Snyder joked that defensive tackle Will Geary would be in line for snaps. Upon hearing that suggestion, center Dalton Risner volunteered to serve as Geary’s backup.
Quarterback health is of the utmost importance at K-State right now. Ironically, Hubener was hurt while trying to slide and avoid a hard tackle. Some have labeled Flowers’ hit as dirty, but Hubener shrugged it off as part of the game, saying he accepted an apology from Flowers on Saturday.
Next time out, Hubener plans to be more aggressive.
“I should have just done my thing,” Hubener said, “and tried to lower my shoulder.”
Kellis Robinett: @KellisRobinett