MANHATTAN — A quarterback always has questions when he begins scouting the next opponent.
What base formation does it use? How often do linebackers blitz? Where do the safeties usually line up?
Most of his questions are team-oriented, but some are personal: How well does it defend the pass?
Collin Klein likely enjoyed watching Boston College throw for 441 yards against Miami’s secondary in a 41-32 loss last week. The Kansas State senior has always been known as a run-first quarterback, and still yearns to prove himself as a passer. His opportunity might be coming.
“We are just going to plan the game plan as the week goes along and do what we’ve got to do,” Klein said. “You are right, they (Boston College) were successful, but they (Miami) see that, too. They are working on correcting it and working on some things. We are just focused on getting ourselves better and trying to improve and come out with a win on Saturday.”
This is the way Klein approaches every game. The team comes first. Winning is the only priority. He says his passing stats are meaningful only when they help the bottom line.
Thing is, he might get to throw the ball against Miami more than he normally does. His passing stats could be the game’s deciding factor. Even if his career high of 281 yards doesn’t approach the yardage Miami allowed last week.
“I think it was 1806 the last time that we threw for 441 yards,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said.
Klein hurt Miami with several punishing runs on his way to 93 yards and a touchdown a year ago. Combined with 166 rushing yards and a touchdown from John Hubert, it’s safe to assume the Hurricanes’ main priority will be stopping K-State’s ground game this time around, especially after the Wildcats rushed for 324 yards last week against Missouri State.
That could create some big-play opportunities downfield. And with Klein now calling his own plays during portions of games, he won’t hesitate to try to exploit Miami’s secondary.
“Collin knows this offense inside and out. We all trust him, including the coaches,” junior receiver Tramaine Thompson said. “He has a better view than anybody of everything on the field and he is a good passer. So if they let him call plays or checks, he is going to call what he wants and we all trust him.”
Klein passed for 169 yards and two touchdowns in the opener. He came out aggressive on the first series and completed all five of his passes while calling his own plays. K-State gained 69 yards but settled for a field goal. From there, his completion percentage went down and he started to look hesitant.
Klein often opted not to throw downfield in the second half, and instead made plays with his feet. His decision-making led to a 51-9 victory, but he felt like he could have done more.
After watching video, he regretted throwing a potential touchdown pass high off Chris Harper’s fingers and underthrowing Tyler Lockett in another situation.
“Drive killers,” Klein said. “There are always those little things you look back on and say, ‘Darn, I really wish I could have had that one back.’ ”
Boston College receiver Alex Amidon felt the same frustration last week. He told reporters after the Miami loss that the Hurricanes lined up exactly the way he expected, and that the Eagles would have won if not for dropped passes and poor decisions.
“They kind of ran a lot of the things they ran last year, lots of zone,” Amidon said. “You could see the holes in the zone … They had a lot of holes early, so (we) took advantage of that.”
Miami coaches countered by saying Boston College’s offensive coordinator used a strategy they didn’t anticipate. That caught them off guard early and led to a few mistakes in man-to-man coverage. Boston College took a 14-0 lead, but once Miami adjusted, the game changed.
“He put a whole-new package in that he probably hadn’t done before based on the familiarity that we had with them,” Miami defensive coordinator Mark D’Onofrio told the Miami Herald. “So that took a couple of series to sort through. We went on a 41-9 run after that.”
Added Miami coach Al Golden: “They didn’t score another touchdown until play 80.”
Maybe that’s why Klein and Snyder aren’t making any bold predictions. Even though K-State defeated Miami on the road last year, it is unlikely the Wildcats can use a pass-oriented offense that catches the Hurricanes completely off guard in the rematch.
Still, Golden won’t be surprised if Klein does something special on Saturday, regardless of the way Miami’s secondary plays.
“He’s spectacular,” Golden said. “It would be hard to find a better quarterback than Collin Klein in the country.”