BY JACKSON SCHNEIDER
MANHATTAN, Kan. — Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman and select players met with members of the media on Tuesday at the Vanier Family Football Complex as Wildcats prepare for their non-conference finale against Nevada this Saturday.
The Wolfpack enter at 2-0 with wins over California and Idaho State, bolstering a strong offense and a potential first-round NFL draft pick in quarterback Carson Strong.
“I think he calls a lot of the things himself at the line of scrimmage out of their tempo. Although they can go fast, they'll slow it down some so that he can get them in the right call or the call that he likes and tremendous arm strength," said Chris Klieman of the opposing QB. "Mobile guy that sees so many coverages, and he's seen so much and played so many snaps. It's not easy to fool a kid like that, guys that have had that many snaps. We just have to do a great job of being able to rush the passer and be competitive on a lot of potential 50/50 throws.”
Kansas State will face a solid quarterback on one side, but will be without starting quarterback Skylar Thompson for the foreseeable future due to a knee injury sustained in last week's win over Southern Illinois.
Will Howard will step into the starting role once again for K-State, after doing so last season for similar reasons. Howard was thrown into the fire on Saturday, and by Klieman's account didn't play his best football, but the coach was encouraged by some of the things he saw out of his young signal caller.
“No, he didn't play tremendously well on Saturday for what our standards are for Will and what Will’s standards are. Some of that was we weren't great in protection one time when he lost the ball. We missed a couple of assignments in some routes where I think the ball’s put in the right spot, but we ran the wrong route," said Klieman. "Sometimes you see it from above and you think, ‘Boy, what the heck is wrong with the quarterback?’ When he's expecting a route to be open in a certain spot and that kid runs the wrong route, then you hold on to it a little bit too long. He's got to make some better decisions when he does have to hold on to it too long, but I look forward to seeing Will have a full week of practice and play the way that he knows he's capable of and we know he's capable of.”
And although the wildcat offense struggled at times against SIU, the defense kept Kansas State in the game, and ultimately may have even won it for them. Klieman says the presence of linebacker Daniel Green was a major key to the defense's success.
“It made a huge difference. Nick Allen played well, don't get me wrong, but it’s just Nick had to play every snap plus play special teams, and we end up playing an awful lot of snaps there for a while that second quarter. That really gassed Nick," said Klieman. "So, it really helped to have Deuce, just gave us some energy, gave us a great communicator back there, gave us what I believe is a really good inside linebacker to complement Cody Fletcher. So, we’re excited to have Daniel back for the whole game this week.”
Green had missed the first half of the contest due to a targeting call late in the game against Stanford in week one.
The Wildcats and Wolf Pack kick off at 1 p.m., on Saturday inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium in a game shown on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.