Ad Astra Brands

What Chris Klieman is Saying Ahead of Kansas State’s Game against Troy

SHARE NOW
MANHATTAN, Kan. (247Sports.com) – Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman speaks to the media ahead of the Wildcats’ game against Troy on Saturday, September 9, 2023.

Opening Statement…

Good afternoon, everyone. Looking back at Saturday, it was great to get so many guys into the game. We played a lot of players, and there’s nothing better than getting the experience of game reps. There are a lot of things to learn, a lot of things to teach from. We definitely played hard. I thought we played physical, (but) some technique things in all phases – in offense, defense and special teams – we need to get better at. We spent a little time on that yesterday, and then we’ll take some time over the next couple of padded practices to work on some more technique things that we’ve got to shore up a little bit. I was pleased with the way the guys came out and played hard in the first game. Now we have to turn our attention to Troy, a really good Troy team, a veteran team that has won an awful lot of ball games. It’ll be a great challenge for us come Saturday.

On how the true freshmen played against SEMO…

Pretty seasoned for being as young as they were. Their errors were more technique errors and not a lot of assignment errors, which is really encouraging that they’re paying attention and learning from the older guys. Now it’s maybe block destruction, maybe it is where their hand placements are at, whatever it may be, but I don’t think the stage was too big for them as far as getting the call and executing the call.

On the backup quarterback situation…

We will, once again, play it week by week. I will tell you that Avery and Jake split a lot of the two reps during the week.

On what they can learn from the Tulane loss last year as they face Troy…

Same thing we talk about every week. You got to prepare Monday through Friday to give yourself a chance to be successful on Saturday and any team can beat you. I don’t care what level they’re at. If you don’t have your A game and that’s not just physically, that’s mentally, that’s emotionally. This team is a really good football team and could beat a lot of Power Five, group of five, whatever you want to say, beat a lot of teams in general because of their depth and because of their ability. So for us, it’s still about us. We have to take care of making sure that we’re prepared not only schematically for the things we’re going to see but emotionally and physically as well.

On what he learned from rewatching the game…

It was a solid effort. You know, there’s some things that we need to sustain and get off blocks better offensively and defensively, our perimeter run, we feel like we need to sustain blocks better. And that’s everybody. That’s not just wide outs, that’s tight ends, that’s O linemen that are pulling and then we need to be able to get off blocks on the perimeter. Those are the two things that I saw. And a lot of those were, I’m in the right spot, but had poor technique.

On touchdown celebrations…

I didn’t know about a lot of them and I still probably don’t know and I probably don’t care to know about them. The only one that jumped out at me just because I was in with the defensive guys was Duke casting the rod and reel with fishing. That was the only one that I saw. And so if there was other ones, I’m sure somebody will tell me about them later.

On Troy winning 12 straight games…

Just belief and confidence with just feeling they’re always going to win. When you have success you feel like you’re going to find a way to win and they won a number of close games last year. And so when you get into a fourth quarter a game with these guys, which I firmly believe it’s gonna be a four quarter game. These guys are gonna really believe that they can win because they’ve done it before when they have a veteran quarterback that’s played a ton of football so the moments not going to be too big for, him the stage isn’t and all those things because he’s been in big environments and you’ve played big games. And then the amount of guys that they have back on defense. There’ll be ready for our environment they face.

On Troy’s two-back system…

The fact that you don’t know which way the run could go for starters, and they both can run, they both can block really well. They’re both good receivers out of the backfield. There’s some things that we are going to clean up with both those guys as far as some route running, but just the fact that you can’t say well, it’s gonna go this way or gonna go that way because they both could lead for each other and then, you know, it gives us more things in the pass game probably as much as anything.

On Jake Clifton…

Doubtful for Jake this week. That’s why we didn’t list him on the depth chart. Be a long shot, but I doubt it.

On Cooper Beebe switching sides on the offensive line…

It’s really impressive. You know, it’s like Jake Clifton playing Sam, Mike and Will. It’s really hard to do, just goes to show you somebody that’s been in the program that just understands how all five have to work as one and he listens, he pays attention. He’s got the skill set to do a lot, you know, he helped us that he played left tackle for a whole season. But with Duff down it just opens up so many more things because we have more interior guys right now. We do get John Pastore, missed an awful lot of time in fall camp. He was cleared to come back to activity this week, which whether or not he’s going to be ready to play this week. Time will tell but it gives us another body there with depth.

On Cooper Beebe being versatile…

I think the key is we’ve had some swing guys but to do it at the high level. I mean, he could be an all conference player at many spots on the offensive line and it’s gonna allow us to stay fresh with some of the other players. You want Coop in the game and so if there’s ways for us to get Hadley and TP in the game together then he’s got to go play tackle and that’s something that Riley is going to continue to just put different guys out there and make sure that they mesh all well together.

On what about Troy impresses him…

Just in the first game, running back. He had some big home runs, just style of running, he’s a physical runner, he’s got great vision, great quickness, quarterback like I said, seasoned guy, puts the ball on the money. Defensively, I think they’re very aggressive. They tackle well, they’re opportunistic, and that was, from that first game, I know there was a number of kids that maybe not on the roster, same as ours. Just always feel like they were going to find a way to win the game. I mean, that’s a sign of a culture that expects to win, not hopes to win.

On Keagan Johnson…

We’ll find out this week. He did some limited things yesterday. And so we’ll just have to play as the week goes.

On the wide receivers…

I was pleased you know, Jadon Jackson came in and played really well. He blocked exceptionally well, which is kind of an underrated stat that he did a really good job blocking at the point of attack and then caught the big ball on the post route. RJ was what I expected RJ to be, seen it all through fall camp as a guy that can be a number one receiver. Phil, I thought played well. I was excited to get the young guys in there with Spivey and Brown and then Seth will get pushed back into that rotation a little bit. He was banged up, played just on special teams, we will get pushed into the rotation now as well.

On Uso Seumalo…

Kid loves to play and he’s a really good football player. It’s fun to see how he’s matured and how he’s such a great teammate, how excited he was for Damian, how excited he was for any of the defensive linemen that make a play and very unselfish you know, wants to play but wants what’s best for the team and I’ve just seen him mature as a person so much. I credit coach Tui, credit his teammates, credit a guy like Eli Huggins that helped him along the way but make no doubt, when Uso was in the game, that pile moved the other way and he can penetrate and I just don’t think you’re going to single him a whole lot. If you do, we hope you do because he’s a man in there.

On recruiting Uso Seumalo…

Well, our recruiting staff did a great job too, Taylor Braet and his staff you know, just knowing the Kansas junior colleges so well. And then Tui just having a connection with him from the island. A lot of different common people that they both knew and you know, just kept building the relationship with him. And when we brought him here, it’s like a lot of guys in their first year from junior college. It’s difficult because it’s a big transition from playing at Garden City to playing here and he struggled a little bit to start with, but we hung with him, he hung with us, he got better and better as the season went along. He got to learn from an All American type player in Eli and rather than you know, being upset that he wasn’t playing, took more ownership saying I’ve got to do these things so I can be more dominant and just watching what he did all last fall and probably more importantly what he did this winter, spring and summer to prepare his body for a long grind of a Big 12 season.

On what they say to Will Howard after a mistake…

You don’t say a lot to Will, he got hit on the play and he was going to try the knife one in to Sinnott and he got hit, the ball flooded on him but he didn’t know he was gonna get hit either and his eyes are downfield, so you don’t really say a whole lot to Will. Will was his biggest critic. Will is so hard on himself if he makes a mistake. That could be a mistake that looks like a big one like that one. Or if he misses a throw that he thinks he should make or misses a check he thinks he should make. Will is such a perfectionist but that one was tough to blame him.

On how Treshaun Ward can help the offense…

I think we’re still learning actually. As he gets better and better learning our offense. I think he’s comfortable outside the perimeter. And he showed that where he’s gaining more and more confidence in between the tackles. You can see he can be a really good start and stop, slashing type runner. Great vision, great quickness. But he just needs to see more of those plays. And part of that is practice time. When you don’t have spring ball and you’re thrown into the mix and in fall camp, we’re splitting a lot of those reps because we have three or four tailbacks on each field when we do our double rep stuff. He’s not taking every rep so I know he’s going to improve. Just with his vision and understanding how the blocks are being made.

On the secondary against SEMO…

Jacob Parrish, I thought was really good. I thought number one was an excellent receiver that can play in a lot of Big 12 teams. I thought he did a really good job on him. I thought Will Lee, for his first game of Power Five, played really well. I thought Keenan Garber played really well for his first game as a significant contributor where it wasn’t thrown in the mix as a wide receiver the week before. Thought Colby McCalister and Jordan Wright did some good things. I thought Jack Fabris came in. He just needs to keep learning what we’re doing but he came in and made a great open field tackle, so we just need to keep giving those guys reps. That’s part of the reason like today we’ll do some twos versus twos, just K-State versus K-State to keep working some of the base fundamentals of what we do offensively and defensively, we’re going to need those guys. Now it’s going to help a bunch, we’re going to get Sigle back this week. So we’re not going to have to play those guys as many snaps but you’ll probably see them more on special teams.

On Chris Tennant…

I think the fact that kickers and punters, you probably got to treat a little bit more like pitchers. How much can you kick? How much can you do those things, how much stress, when you kick off that many times, that’s a lot of stress on the leg and then he had a 50 yarder of maybe cutting a day out of it for him and not kicking him, today we will kick him but we probably won’t mess with him on Wednesday at all. And yesterday, he just kicked some PATs, so just trying to find the balance for him of staying sharp but not wearing himself out. And that sometimes takes time and I think we learned some things last year. That’s part of the reason we were a little fearful of giving Ty all three, but that was about a six game stretch and we thought he could probably handle that. That’s really difficult when you’re talking about a 12 game stretch when you throw the amount of practice reps you have on there too. So we have him on a little bit of a pitch count.

On the intermediate passing game from Will Howard…

Throwing the ball to either RJ or Phil, moving forward, so that they could catch a curl, catch a hitch and get vertical and give them good ball placement so they could catch it and gain some yards, I thought we were really good with our receivers of getting north and south after a catch on third and eight, second and eighth and getting first downs and a big part of that is timing and ball placement. And you saw that last year with some of the routes we threw to Sinnott, where he would throw it on a back shoulder so Ben didn’t get hit or throw it between defenders. I saw that again this past Saturday when we threw the one to Ben on the sideline, you know, before the defender could get there. It’s just nonstop timing and that’s why it’s so important that we practice at full speed, you know, with tight ends, running backs, receivers, so that the quarterback can get that timing and make sure that it is all rhythmic when it comes to the passing game.

On if passes that Howard made against SEMO would not have been made last year…

I don’t believe so. Just seeing that those passes were completed last year with confidence, I think just had him so much more capable and ready to answer the bell this year. And not fear putting it in those spots. And a lot of that is just every rep you get every time you’re out there you’re seeing more and more pictures of the defense of man, I gotta keep that safety over here and then I can flip my eyes back and throw it here. Those are the things I think he’s improving on.

On backup linebackers against SEMO…

Really well, a lot of those are ones we talked about. Early on in the press conference of young players that just need technique work whether it was Tobi, Austin Romaine, Asa, Palmer, just needing more and more reps so that their technique and block destruction continues to improve and they hit their fits with good speed and tempo. Because they’re in the right spot. And so that’s a credit to coach Stanard of making sure those guys know what they’re doing now. They got to cut it loose. Like you saw Austin Moore when he sees it, man. He goes, when Daniel Green sees it, he goes and there’s just that split second, where we’re still hesitating, which I understand for the younger players because they’ve got to see it. But the more you see those pictures, the more you can hit that with confidence. And that’s what I’m excited about. These are all young players that, you know, didn’t have mental errors, didn’t line up in the wrong gap. Didn’t understand the checker adjustment, those guys knew it all. And now they just need that game experience.

On the backup QB situation…

Biggest thing was a chance to have him play. You know and have him not come in and it’s the last series of the game and hand it off three times. And then you say that cost him one of his four games. But I’ll caution everybody, we thought the same thing with Will Howard and all sudden he played six or seven games. And that’s why we wanted to make sure we got a really good, extensive look so that, we hope nothing happens. But if something does, it’s not like well, we’ve played him and handed it off for two plays. Now let’s throw him in a game against Baylor, TCU or Texas Tech, whatever it may be. And that’s why we did it that way. And the other thing is Jake missed about a week of practice because he was nicked up, Jake’s back healthy, which we’re excited about because it gives us another option. We’ll keep evaluating on a week to week basis.

On true freshmen playing against SEMO…

We’ll see what happens the next week to the next week. But you need those game reps if you can get them because you don’t know when you’re going to have to have them and you don’t want to have to have them be the first real experience of playing not just special team snaps but offense and defensive snaps.

On Will Howard bouncing back from mistakes…

You got to flush it pretty fast. Not only that, but you can’t look at the scoreboard and say oh, I should have thrown it because we’re trying to get the signal in because the one thing I did like was the tempo of our offense. We got back on the ball and did some things really quickly and caught them off guard. And if you’re looking to see, should I have done something or finding the replay, you’re probably costing yourself four or five seconds and giving a defense a chance to align and so we did a lot of different cadences so to speak and a lot of different tempos on offense and Will realizes that whatever that last play was, I gotta move on and get ready to go the next one.

On the defensive line against SEMO…

I thought they did really well. Mott played an exceptional game. He was our defensive end of the game. Uso was our D tackle of the game. I thought Khalid did what I thought he was going to do with the big time sack in there. We played an awful lot of players in there that I thought Stuff made a couple of really good plays just running to the football, same with Nate. We have a lot of depth there and if we can keep that depth so that we keep the snap count to a manageable amount so that they can play Mach one every snap. That’s what we’re looking for.

https://www.81speedway.com/