Kansas State University

K-State Q&A: Backup QBs, true freshmen and Chris Klieman’s stamp on Wildcat football

Chris Klieman turned some heads this week when new wallpaper went up in the K-State football complex.

His “Pound the Stone” slogan for the upcoming season replaced Bill Snyder’s “16 Goals for Success” in the team’s meeting room, and that felt strange for people who were used to looking at the old art work.

It also seemed odd that the new graphic was accompanied by a pair of pick axes instead of sledgehammers, but I won’t get into that here.

Strange or not, it’s a good move by Klieman. A new era of Wildcat football begins next week and the team should embrace that future more than its past. Klieman has his own coaching style, and he’s not afraid to put his own stamp on K-State football.

I’m not sure that ever happened the last time Snyder retired. He kept an office at the football stadium and he loomed large over the team throughout the Ron Prince era. Maybe that didn’t have much of an impact on things. But I imagine it was tough on that coaching staff.

Things seem different now. Klieman is doing his own thing. That can’t hurt as the season approaches.

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Now, let’s get to your questions. Thanks, as always, for providing them.

Chris Klieman said earlier this week that the Wildcats are “a ways away” from naming a backup quarterback and probably won’t do so before the season-opener.

That surprised me.

Based on the glimpses of practice we have seen, it seems like Nick Ast is the leader in the clubhouse. Coaches have also had higher praise for him than John Holcombe throughout preseason camp. My money is on Ast. I think the walk-on from Cimarron will begin the season as K-State’s QB2.

If that’s what happens, it will be fascinating to see how Holcombe responds. He is the most physically gifted passer on the entire roster and a freak athlete. His ceiling is high. Many assumed those attributes would lead to him serving as Skylar Thompson’s primary backup this season. Things might still play out that way, but Ast has given him all he can handle.

Holcombe is only a redshirt freshman. He has plenty of time to develop into a starting quarterback. How he handles this season as QB2 or QB3 will be important moving forward.

It’s not a bad idea. John Holcombe is built for short-yardage runs and giving him a goal line/wildcat formation would help keep him involved with the offense.

And I love me some Taysom Hill. Shoutout to Pocatello, Idaho!

But I don’t see this happening. The wildcat formation was a staple under Bill Snyder. Klieman doesn’t love it. He didn’t use it much, if at all, when he was at North Dakota State.

If the Wildcats want a quarterback to run near the goal line this season, they will probably just let Skylar Thompson do it.

Joe Ervin will play immediately at running back. He won’t challenge for the starting spot, but he’s ready to contribute. The 5-foot-8 athlete from Rock Hill, S.C., has impressed K-State coaches throughout preseason camp and will get some touches in the Wildcats’ running back committee behind James Gilbert, Harry Trotter and Jordon Brown.

I also think Chris Herron helps at receiver this season. He came to K-State as a quarterback and might still have a bright future there. But he’s too athletic to keep off the field. He has looked good running routes this month and should get some looks.

On defense, Logan Wilson could see some action at corner.

You’re also going to see a boatload of freshmen on special teams. One big difference I’ve already noticed under Klieman is that he likes to recruit players who are physically ready for college football. Clyde Price and Jacardia Wright, for example, look like seniors in the muscle department. They may not help a ton at running back this season, but they could make some big plays on special teams.

Nicholls is the best FCS team K-State has faced since Klieman came to town with North Dakota State back in 2013. So the season-opener might not be a walk in the park.

But I’m expecting the Wildcats to win comfortably. Klieman has all the respect in the world for FCS football and has lightened the conditioning load throughout preseason camp to make sure K-State players have fresh legs for this game.

No one is overlooking this opponent.

I can’t pull off the bucket-hat look the same way Chris Klieman and the rest of K-State’s football coaches can. I’m not big on wearing long sleeves in August, either.

Give me a baseball hat with a flat bill, a dri-fit polo and some sun screen.

If I have to wear a giant sun hat, I prefer the straw kind. At least then I can pretend to be Raiden from Mortal Kombat.

Never was much of a fan of the “FAMILY” block of wood.

The new sledgehammer has promise. I am intrigued to see how the Wildcats incorporate it on gameday. But it still has to prove itself before I proclaim it No. 1 in the K-State Inanimate Object Power Rankings.

So I’m going with Phil the Bobcat.

He has given us some awesome moments over the years.

More football? Sure. I’m good with that.

My only request for Week Zero games is that they be unusual matchups. Miami vs. Florida (the premier game being played on Saturday) is cool and all, but I would watch that any time of year.

College football should use Week Zero to showcase teams and matchups that aren’t always in the spotlight. Arizona at Hawaii (also being played on Saturday) is a perfect fit. Maybe let some MAC teams play this weekend instead of on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the season. I would rather watch that as an appetizer to the full season.

It baffles me that this remains a topic of debate with some K-State fans.

I blame KMAN sports director John Kurtz, who finds a way to mention Daniel Sams every single time he goes on the radio. Shame on him.

Jake Waters won the job six years ago. It’s time to let it go, especially because he went on to throw for 5,970 yards and 40 touchdowns while the Wildcats went 8-5 and 9-4.

He’s the only quarterback in school history to surpass 3,500 passing yards in a season. Waters was a surgeon in the pocket.

Sams was a great talent, too. I wish he would have stayed at K-State and we could have seen him run the offense all by himself as a senior.

But Waters was the right choice. The biggest mistake Snyder made with Waters at quarterback was asking him to run so much. Think about this: K-State’s most efficient passer (ever) was asked to carry the ball 272 times. No wonder he hurt his shoulder as a senior against Oklahoma.

He should have been throwing to Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton way more than he already was and made a run at the school’s career passing record.

The entire town.

A national championship would buy him some serious naming rights. Klieman, Kansas has a nice ring to it.

I can’t think about basketball right now. Ask me again in October.

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