Kansas State University

K-State Q&A: Skylar Thompson for Heisman, alternate uniforms, cowbells and more

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

It’s time for another K-State Q&A.

No need for an elaborate intro this week. That would delay me from answering your questions, which are all elite. Thanks, as always, for providing them. Let’s dive right in.

Let the record show that Skylar Thompson’s Heisman Trophy candidacy began with this question.

Thompson, a junior quarterback, is still miles away from the Heisman radar but he will certainly gain national attention if he continues to play the way he has early on this season.

He’s a new man under Chris Klieman, and he has been incredible through two games. Thompson has completed 74.3 percent of his passes for 363 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Granted, those jaw-dropping numbers came against pillow-soft competition, but what he’s done doesn’t seem like a fluke. If you pay attention to Pro Football Focus you know he’s the top-graded quarterback in college football right now.

It will take more than that to join the Heisman mix. He will need to put up even better stats as the season goes on, and K-State will need to keep winning. Saturday at Mississippi State would be a good start. Nobody wins the Heisman on an average team.

To be clear, I included this question mostly for fun. If you want to watch a realistic Heisman contender this weekend focus on Bulldogs running back Kylin Hill.

I don’t want to hype Thompson to unreachable levels. For now, it’s better to think about what he needs to do to contend for all-conference honors. Even that will be difficult with Sam Ehlinger, Jalen Hurts, Brock Purdy and Charlie Brewer all in the Big 12. But it’s fun to think about, and it’s starting to feel within the realm of possibility.

Thompson has been sensational in his first two games under Klieman. He seems on his way to reaching his full potential.

K-State did exactly what a good team is supposed to do against bad competition, so that makes me think it will play well in its first true test against Mississippi State.

We’ll see if that’s good enough for the Wildcats to pull off a road upset as a 7 1/2-point underdog, but I think they will at least hold their own in front of the cowbells.

They probably won’t pitch a shutout or possess the ball for 40-plus minutes, but they should compete.

This is one of the most intriguing games I can remember in a long time. It reminds me a little of K-State’s trip to Miami in 2011. That team had flashed some early promise and there was some cautious optimism surrounding the Cats heading into that game. But no one really knew what to expect. Then they went out and beat the Hurricanes with a goal-line stand and went on to win 10 games.

I’m not saying history will repeat itself, but there are some similarities.

We should learn more about K-State in Week 3 than we did in Week 1 or Week 2.

This game will probably be won or lost up front.

Mississippi State looked light years ahead of K-State a year ago in terms of size and strength. The Bulldogs ran at will behind Kylin Hill and shut down K-State with their defense.

That needs to change in the rematch.

I’m expecting a much better showing from K-State’s offensive line. It looked fantastic in the first two games creating running lanes for James Gilbert and his backfield pals. Blocking won’t be quite so easy against the Bulldogs, but they should be able to hold their own. They will need to move the ball effectively on the ground and to keep controlling the clock like they have so far.

Not sure what to expect from the defensive line, though. They have looked good through two games, but not quite as good as I thought they would. Wyatt Hubert, Reggie Walker, Trey Dishon and Jordan Mittie have to limit Hill better than they did a year ago.

The Bulldogs haven’t changed quite as much as the Wildcats over the past year, but the biggest names from the Mississippi State team that came into Manhattan and pounded K-State last season are now in the NFL.

Montez Sweat, Johnathan Abram and Jeffrey Simmons were all first-round selections in the 2019 NFL Draft. They all played on defense for the Bulldogs last season, so Skylar Thompson should have an easier time moving the ball in the rematch.

Mississippi State is also breaking in a new quarterback without Nick Fitzgerald. Penn State graduate transfer Tommy Stevens will probably start against K-State, but we might see freshman Garrett Shrader or Keytaon Thompson if Stevens is unable to play while dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Bulldogs also have Isaiah Zuber now, but he’s been nothing more than their No. 4 receiver thus far.

It seems like Joe Moorhead has MSU playing better offense in Year 2, but the Bulldogs have taken a step back on defense.

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

I can tell you with confidence that K-State will wear some type of alternate uniform in multiple games this season.

The jerseys will stay the same (regular mailbag readers know Klieman didn’t have enough time to order them from Nike after he was hired) but everything else is on the table. Different pants, different helmet, different socks, different arm sleeves ... You name it.

I’ve got a sneaking suspicion K-State unveils something new this week. All white?

The Wildcats began teasing their uniforms every Friday at the start of the season on social media. Today would be a good day to monitor the K-State football Twitter account. It might show something new.

As far as I know, he is heading to training camp with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Where he plays next season will depend on how that goes.

There are so many candidates to choose from.

The seven times K-State fans were absolutely sure that Brent Venables was being hired as defensive coordinator/head-coach-in waiting over the past decade have to rank near the top. That rumor was a like a zombie. No matter how many times it got shot down it kept coming back to life.

Very few came out of the coaching search last December looking great. Remember when some wanted Jim Leavitt and Seth Littrell but melted down over the thought of Klieman?

The “Starship Enterprise” vaporizing a Jayhawk was fun, because it sucked in fans from all over. K-State and KU fans were at the center of it, but casual fans of other teams had things to say about that incident.

I’m honestly trying to ignore the latest social-media debate. Was it even a problem at the first two games?

Let’s end this answer by pointing out one time K-State Twitter got it absolutely right: EcoKat. They killed that ill-conceived mascot the day she was born.

K-State DC Scottie Hazelton breaks down Mississippi State's Kylin Hill

K-State is already a top 25 team if you go by Sagarin!

Alas, obtaining a ranking in one of the two major national polls might take some time.

The Wildcats didn’t receive a single vote for the top 25 this week. So they have a lot of teams to leap frog before they crash the party. Beating Mississippi State probably won’t be enough, as the Bulldogs aren’t ranked in the AP poll and are No. 23 in the USA Today poll.

K-State will need to win in Starkville and hope for a number of losses from top 25 teams to earn a ranking next week.

Right now, I’m like Christopher Walken. I want more cowbell.

But I’m thinking my answer will change after watching a football game in Starkville. I never wanted to hear a vuvuzela again after the 2010 World Cup.

While we’re on the subject of more or less cowbell, let me say that More Cowbell is one of my favorite beers. It’s a smooth double IPA with 9% ABV. Buffalo Bayou makes it. Check it out next time you’re in Houston.

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