Kansas State University

Five noteworthy things K-State coach Chris Klieman said ahead of bye week, TCU game

Kansas State football coach Chris Klieman held his weekly news conference on Tuesday as the Wildcats begin preparing for their second bye week of the season and then the TCU Horned Frogs at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Here are some of the most noteworthy things he said:

More explosive

K-State hasn’t produced many big plays in its past two games, and that’s something Klieman wants to change.

Skylar Thompson guided K-State’s offense to 244 yards against Oklahoma State and then 341 yards against Baylor. It is averaging 4.5 yards per play against Big 12 opponents, with only one of its past 129 plays going for more than 30 yards.

Dalton Schoen caught a pass for 27 yards and James Gilbert escaped for one run of 29 yards against Baylor. Sammy Wheeler caught a pass for 39 yards against Oklahoma State.

Other than that, the Wildcats mostly plodded in those two games. That made it hard for them to keep up with Baylor and Oklahoma State, which both came through with a handful of huge plays.

“We need to have a few more explosive plays,” Klieman said. “Some of those are protection, some of those are making a guy miss. Some of those are getting open. That is probably the biggest statistic that we need to get flipped.”

Jordon Brown injury update

K-State was without its No. 2 running back against Baylor, and it sounds like it might be a while before the Wildcats get him back.

Klieman said Brown is still “a few weeks away.” He won’t practice with the team this week and he is unlikely to be ready to play against TCU in two weeks while he recovers from an unspecified injury.

“I would be knocking on wood for Oklahoma,” on Oct. 26, Klieman said.

Brown has rushed for 168 yards and two touchdowns while also catching five passes for 51 yards this season.

The Wildcats hope to get him back in the rotation for the second half of the season, but if he is slow to get healthy he could choose to redshirt and return for another season with the Wildcats. Klieman said he wasn’t sure if that was a viable option for Brown, a senior who began his college career at North Carolina and joined K-State over the summer as a graduate transfer.

But he saw the field as a true freshman with the Tar Heels and has only played in four games this season. So that option is on the table.

“That’s something we would look at,” Klieman said, “if he can.”

Big game from Phillip Brooks

Phillip Brooks is coming off his best game in a K-State uniform. The redshirt freshman receiver caught seven passes for 69 yards against Baylor.

His emergence, alongside Dalton Schoen, helped make up for the absence of top receiver Malik Knowles, who was sidelined because of a foot injury.

“I saw that coming with Phillip, because I think he gets better and better,” Klieman said. “With Phillip, it’s a confidence level. He is a really quiet and reserved guy, but he is a competitor. I was really pleased to see him be one of the go-to guys and make play after play. I know Skylar was excited to see that.”

Focusing within

Tempting as it may be to spend all of the next two weeks preparing for TCU, the Wildcats are going a different route over the next few days.

Klieman wants to focus on K-State this week, by challenging his veteran players in scrimmages and giving freshmen more opportunities to prove themselves in practice. The Wildcats are about to play seven games in seven weeks, and Klieman wants to know which players he can depend on if further depth issues arise.

“We want to look at some younger players,” Klieman said. “We will put guys in certain positions and even scrimmage one day with the young guys who haven’t played as much, and then look more at the areas we have struggled in, like the high red zone, between the 25 and 35 yard line, getting things established there ... We will do that today and find another area tomorrow rather than spend two solid weeks on TCU.”

Roster departure

Marcus Hayes, a sophomore defensive back and punt returner, was removed from the K-State football roster last week.

Hayes began his college career at New Mexico and then transferred to K-State during the offseason. He hoped to receiver a waiver from the NCAA that would allow him to play this season, but that was denied.

His next step is unknown.

“He decided to go in a different direction,” Klieman said. “That is his right. I didn’t agree with him, because I really enjoy Marcus. You have love the game to do it and I appreciate him being honest with me. This game is hard for a lot of guys. I have nothing bad to say about Marcus Hayes at all. I think he is a wonderful kid.”

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