Kansas State University

How K-State football is mentally preparing for first road test under Chris Klieman

Nick Kaltmayer explains how K-State is simulating cowbell noise in practice

Nick Kaltmayer explains how K-State is simulating cowbell noise in practice
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Nick Kaltmayer explains how K-State is simulating cowbell noise in practice

Kansas State football coach Chris Klieman summed up the Wildcats’ first two effortless victories of the season better than any statistic or highlight video possibly could.

“Wouldn’t it be fun if we didn’t face any adversity the whole year?” Klieman said at his news conference earlier this week. “Yeah, that would be great.”

There’s not much hyperbole in that statement. K-State has steam rolled the competition on its way to a 2-0 start. It began the year with a 49-14 victory over Nicholls and then followed that up with a 52-0 thrashing of Bowling Green.

The Wildcats have legitimately not been tested under Klieman. Their offense has churned out 1,094 yards and 101 points while converting 68% of their first downs. They have been on the field for so long that their defensive counterparts have spent more time drinking Gatorade than making tackles. The Wildcats have only defended 85 plays. Linebacker DaQuan Patton leads the team with just seven tackles. His closest competitor has five.

Nearly everything about K-State’s first two games felt impressive, but it’s hard to tell what that means because the competition was completely outmatched. College football statistician Jeff Sagarin ranks the Wildcats’ schedule No. 177 out of all 256 FBS and FCS teams thus far.

There’s some concern the first two games were too easy. What happens when Klieman and K-State play a team that can challenge them? Are they ready to respond to adversity? What if they fall behind?

We’re about to find. The competition will ramp up considerably when K-State takes on Mississippi State on Saturday at Davis Wade Stadium.

“We know it is coming,” Klieman said. “To the upperclassmen, to the captains, to their credit, they came out ready to play and jumped on these two teams early and made a statement. I’m so happy for those guys, which told me an awful lot about they don’t worry about who we’re playing, it’s just coming ready to play. We know there’s going to be adversity and probably going to be adversity this week.”

K-State’s third game of the season could easily reveal more about the team than its first two.

K-State football players say it will be weird playing against Mississippi State receiver Isaiah Zuber

“It’s a good measuring stick,” Klieman said. “We need this game. We need to find out as a coaching staff and as players where we are.”

The Bulldogs came into Manhattan last year and beat up on the Wildcats 31-10. Running back Kylin Hill averaged 12.4 yards per run and Mississippi State’s defense held K-State to a single touchdown.

It was K-State’s most lopsided defeat in a nonconference game since 2004.

“Last year didn’t go anywhere near how we wanted it to,” K-State center Adam Holtorf said. “We will use that outcome for motivation, but realize that the situation is going to be different this year.”

K-State players certainly aren’t backing down from the challenge.

They were no match for Mississippi State last year, but they enter the rematch with a new coaching staff and swagger.

“Everybody on our team is so bought into our goals are and what our mission is,” K-State quarterback Skylar Thompson said. “I know we will be ready to go.”

K-State RB James Gilbert ready for Mississippi State and cowbells

“We have got to get them back,” added defensive tackle Trey Dishon. “That’s the big thing. We’ve got new schemes, a new offense, a new defense and we have got playmakers. I think it is going to be a dog fight.”

That’s something K-State hasn’t experienced under Klieman.

The Wildcats are cranking up the difficulty from Rookie to All-Madden. They are also going on the road and playing in front of cowbells. Klieman’s team is an underdog for the first time in years.

K-State is about to face some adversity.

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