football Edit

QUOTES AND VIDEO: Chris Klieman speaks ahead of Tulane matchup

Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman spoke to the media Tuesday ahead of the Wildcats game against Tulane on Saturday. Here’s everything he said:

Klieman’s opening statement:

“Recapping the game on Saturday, just really pleased with the guys focus and effort and staying engaged through the delays we had. We had the delay to start the game, to shrinking our warm-ups and handling the adversity of the first break – I didn’t realize how long it was, but it was close to an hour – and to come back out and make some plays and then to go back in at halftime and continue to keep our focus and not let our guard down, played really good football in some tough conditions and tough environment with the ball being so wet. I was happy we were able to control the line of scrimmage and we were able to make some plays on defense with turnovers and that helped get us some short fields – and we’ve got to capitalize on the short fields we got from an offensive standpoint – but once again they were playing a lot of cover zero and just getting everybody up into the box assuming that it was hard to throw the football, and then we popped a couple runs so that was big to see. Excited about getting that win and moving on and now we’ve got a really good Tulane team coming in. They are 2-0 and playing well. I’ve got a ton of respect for Coach Fritz, known him a long time, and they’ve got really good players. I think they’ve got a really good quarterback and obviously they can really run and have good athletes on both sides of the ball.”

On what goes into preparing for the delays experienced Saturday:

“We kind of planned it out on Friday and Saturday of what would happen and what could happen. You never know how long they are going to be but it’s a benefit of being at home when those things happen because a couple players got a chance to get more treatment during that time and whether it was getting the stem or getting some ice and getting warmed back up, to having snacks and food and beverages and then going into the weight room and having that turf area to stretch out and not be crammed into a locker room I think those things are all a benefit. Then, just continue to meet with the guys and talk about, ‘OK, here’s the next part of the game plan and here’s an adjustment we’re going to make.’ Just always trying to keep them engage and not let them just hang out for 45 minutes.”

On improvement from Week 1 to Week 2:

“It’s a hard thing to gauge because of the weather. I was pleased with how hard we’re playing right now on both sides of the ball. We’re playing really hard and it’s making up for some of the alignment errors and mental errors we’re having, blowing a coverage or maybe having a false start, whatever. We’re playing hard enough to overcome that but we’ve got a lot of things to clean up in all three phases from a technique standpoint.”

On offense and needing to prove that they are capable of throwing the ball consistently:

“Just wanting the opportunity to do it more than anything. I don’t know if it’s proving it, it’s just that we didn’t do it in the first game because like we talked about we were trying to save things back and had a lot of good things on the card, Coach Klein did. And it’s going to be hard to get to them with as much rain as we had and as heavy as the ball was. I’m still excited about some of the things that we are going to do in the passing game and I think you saw glimpses of it in the first two drives when it was dry out there. I thought Adrian (Martinez) did a really nice job of coming to maybe a third progression of his reads and finding Malik (Knowles) a couple times. But yeah, we’re just in my mind maybe scratching the surface of what we’re going to be capable of throwing the football.”

On what watching film taught him about the K-State defense Saturday:

“It was really good. We were fortunate, they misfired on a couple of deep balls that we have to have a little bit better technique on, but we were able to really slow down the run and that was so critical for us because that’s what really makes them go is if they can run the football it sets up their shot, play-action things. And we were able to do a really great job with tackles for loss and putting some pressure on the quarterback to maybe make him throw the ball early. Had a couple of really big interceptions. Kobe (Savage) made a great play. It was an underthrown ball but that was part of the weather and part of the elements and he made a play on it. I thought Cincere (Mason) made a great play. Nick (Allen) and (Daniel Green) were in the right place at the right time. (Green) really made a heck of a play just spying the quarterback and making a great catch. When you turn the ball over I don’t know if it was three or four possessions in the third quarter, it can really change the momentum and it definitely did.”

Klieman on Tulane schematically:

“Offensively, a lot more RPO stuff. A quarterback that can really sling it and he’s a good athlete that can run. They have a number of receivers and tight ends that can beat you with their speed and athleticism. The RPO game is something that we have to be really alert to. And then on defense, probably the multiple fronts that they can get into and multiple looks. The one thing that’s challenging is we have two games to go off of from this year that are not competitive games, so we have to dig a little deeper to find competitive games because I don’t think that they showed a whole lot in those two.”

On confidence boost for Martinez when he completes a long pass:

“It’ll be as much of a relief that’s over with and ‘let’s go play football.’ Getting the right conditions and saying ‘let’s throw it around a little more’ out of some open sets. People are going to continue to try to stop number 22. So people are going to continue to put more people near the line of scrimmage and if they don’t then we’re going to nickel and dime them in the throwing game and let Deuce run wild. But we’re believing that people are going to have to play less deep coverage – and Missouri did that late – they just said ‘we’re going to play cover zero’ most of the time and they either hit us for a not necessarily a tackle for loss but they got the ball out of Adrian’s hands quickly or maybe knocked us down for a yard, or you saw that if we bust through that early part of the line then it’s going to be a big play. I’m excited for us to continue to improve on it and part of it is good that we’ve had really three weeks of practice with Adrian and the tight ends, receivers and backs. So we’re getting a lot of work in and it’s going to pay off.”

On when he first saw Kobe Savage on tape:

“I loved his junior college tape. Got a chance to visit with him pretty quickly after watching the tape and offered him when he was on a bus trip at Tyler. I loved his personality and demeanor and then when he came up on his visit I just knew he was the right kind of guy. The right fit, the right maturity. He loves ball. He’s an absolute football junkie and he just hangs out in the football offices to be a sponge and learn more and more. The kid plays reckless and he has fun.”

Klieman on his relationship with Tulane head coach Willie Fritz:

“Willie was at Sam Houston State when I was at North Dakota State. I was the defensive coordinator at the time, but had really good battles with him. So much respect for Willie with what he did at Central Missouri for so long and then going down to Sam Houston and turning that program into a perennial power at the FCS level. He went to Georgia Southern and did some really good things and had an opportunity to go to Tulane. The athletic director at Tulane is a really good friend of mine, Troy Dannen. Troy made a great hire in Willie. So much respect for Coach Fritz. I see him at conventions and he’s doing great things and a great job down there and he’s a winner.”

On the two of them knowing each other’s style from previous games:

“We’re both so different from when it was at Sam Houston and North Dakota State with what they do offensively and defensively and what we do offensively and defensively. Once again, I wasn’t the head coach at the time but just tons of respect for the quality of a man he is and the quality of a program that he runs.”

On the secondary and defense as a whole preventing big plays:

“Last week was huge for us and I know the weather played a factor but we only gave up two explosive (plays) on defense. We had nine on offense. That was a big win for us in the explosive play battle. So you have that and I think we were plus-three in the turnover margin and we had a big play in special teams. You do those three things with explosive plays and turnover margin and a dynamic play on special teams, you should be successful.”

Klieman on Hayden Gillum:

“He’s playing really well and gaining more and more confidence with the more reps he gets. He’s a great communicator and another guy that just has a blast whether it’s in practice or a meeting. You just see him sitting over there in the corner during a meeting and he just has fun. He loves football and he loves this team and he’s playing at a high level.”

On looking at Tulane from last year and how Hurricane Ida may have played a role:

“Yeah, absolutely but sometimes the schemes aren’t (impacted). Whether or not you don’t look at their record – you say ‘what was their scheme?’ and ‘where were they having success?’ The guys that are returning ‘what positions were they playing that they had comfort in?’ Both sides of the ball. I know they have a new offensive coordinator, so you watch some of his stuff from his previous job. I mean, it’s just trying to come up with a plan A and a plan B and making sure that we can play fast and play physical.”

On an update for Shawn Robinson and Will Honas:

“We are getting closer probably on both of them. I don’t have a definitive timetable on either of them, but we’re hopefully getting closer.”

On Khalid Duke’s play:

“He’s healthy which is fun to see and fun for him to be healthy. He just needs to continue to get reps at the linebacker spot compared to where he’s played here in the past. I saw a guy who from game 1 to game 2 gained a lot of confidence in his alignments and his disguises and his ability to see the plays faster. It’s just going to continue to click for him at the outside linebacker spot. He’s a dynamic player and he wrecks shop in there when he comes and fills on a hole or blitzes. It’s a grown man coming in there and I’m excited because Khalid’s best football is still coming as he gets more comfortable.”

On sticking with Deuce Vaughn and wearing teams down over time with running game:

“No, it was the conditions. I think we were going to be a lot more open and pitch it around a lot more until the rain came, and Deuce would’ve been a part of that as well, but then we got up 20-6 and it was soaking wet and a downpour and it was let’s not turn the ball over, let’s give it to Deuce. Plus, with the amount of pressure we were seeing we did not want to take sacks. We did not want to take a bunch of negative plays. Another guy that was really really good on Saturday was Ty Zentner. A few of his punts were really good. They didn’t have any return yardage and they pinned inside the 5. Ty’s kicking the ball really well.”

On whether there’s confidence in those behind Deuce Vaughn:

“Yeah, we are. DJ is going to be a big factor. It’s just I’ll keep going to it, when a guy is warm and playing all the time and not sitting on the sidelines soaking wet, you’re going to give it to the guy who is your guy, for starters. I feel bad for Anthony (Frias). He sat cold and wet all game and then he didn’t hold onto the football. That’s not Anthony. Anthony’s going to be fine. He’s beating himself up too much and we’ve got a lot of belief in him. I didn’t want to do the same thing to DJ. Deuce is fresh, he’s warm and he’s carrying the load. He’s a pretty good football player and DJ had an impact, he had a big run for us.”

On building depth with Giddens:

“Absolutely, and DJ Giddens is the clear number two for us.”

Klieman on Josh Hayes’ impact:

“Huge difference. That’s not an indictment on any of our other players, it’s just a guy who is a sixth-year guy that has seen 40-plus games of football as opposed to younger players who have not seen as much football. So to get Josh back there from a leadership standpoint, from an ability to play man coverage and I think everybody saw his ability to play the alley and hit, that’s what I know of Josh Hayes. I was excited to get him back and guys like Nickendre (Stiger) and VJ (Payne) are going to continue to learn from him. It’s a difference when you’ve got a sixth-year guy.”

On a quiet start for Ekow Boye-Doe:

“I think it’s going to get busy over the landscape of the Big 12 season, and probably this week because I think these guys are really going to throw it around. I think he and Julius (Brents) will be challenged and I know they are both excited to be challenged coming into this part of the season. Maybe right now they’ve been doing a nice job of keeping their depth on things and there hasn’t been a lot of time to throw the football so people are throwing underneath, but those guys know it’s coming.”

Klieman on the defense demonstrating a mob mentality:

“For us that’s mind on ball. Those guys are flying to the football and that’s the kind of tenacity and physicality that we want to have. I think that’s so critical to our success is – they run if there is loafs on the field and they get passed up by a teammate. We chart all that stuff and those guys are excited for each other when they make a play. We’ve got to continue to build depth on the defensive side and we’ve got to continue to eliminate the technique errors we have. Once again, the tenacity and the physicality and the speed that those guys are playing with makes up for a lot of it.”

On the defensive line play:

“We are rotating a lot of guys in there. Brendan Mott played really well. Felix (Anudike-Uzomah) and Nate (Matlack) are always going to play well and are mainstays in there. I thought (Jaylen Pickle) did really well in there. One of the guys that he backs up Eli (Huggins), but I thought (Robert Hentz) did well and was very disruptive. It helped us to get Eli out of there some – Eli made a great play on a screen for a tackle for loss – but having a fresh, healthy D helps Eli. We’re playing a lot of guys and all of those guys are having production.”

Klieman on Brendan Mott’s progression:

“I saw it in the spring as far as we didn’t have any of those defensive lineman and he and Cody Stufflebean might have been the only two we had, and Titus Tuiasosopo. Those were really the only three we had, so (Mott) got to go against the best and I saw him get stronger and get more explosive in the summer and earned a scholarship over the summer. The fact that he’s solidly in the rotation and in the mix and playing a lot of snaps there’s not much of a downfall when he goes in the game. He keeps Nate fresh and he keeps Felix fresh and I’m excited for him because he’s earned everything he’s gotten here. He came here maybe 210 pounds and now he’s about 245 and really explosive.”

On assessing the offensive line given what’s been seen:

“It was obviously really good. We rushed the ball extremely well. We have to find more snaps for (Andrew) Leingang and probably for Carver (Willis). And then either Dawson (Delforge) or Sam Heck have to provide a little bit more depth for us. We didn’t rotate probably as much as we should have on the offensive line. Part of that is we keep talking about it, the elements and getting the guys who have been playing in those elements out there to keep them there. But we have to continue to emphasize playing more guys there.”

Klieman on Uso Seumalo:

“He’s learning how to play our system and our front. Once again, Eli (Huggins) has been huge for him. He does not stay blocked in there. He plays really hard. His best football is in front of him this year. He’s going to be a factor.”

On what he wants to see growth-wise from the defense:

“You guys need to figure that out probably, and we need to see if anybody else can figure it out because we are doing some different things that maybe someone who doesn’t see us all the time thinks maybe it’s the same as what we did last year. But we’re doing a lot of different things than what we’ve done, and I’m excited to continue to see us grow and evolve.”

On why every team needs an Austin Moore:

“I wish we had 15 Austin Moores and we’re getting close to having 15 Austin Moores. Guys that just come in and keep quiet, walk-on kid, work his tail off, was on the scout team his entire freshman year. A lot of freshman hate the scout team – which I don’t blame them, it’s hard work and you get beat up down there – but it’s how do you handle your circumstance and that was the circumstance that Austin had and when we would come in here on Sunday morning I’d say ‘who was scout team defensive player of the week?’ and every week Conor Riley could’ve said Austin Moore. And we spread it around with a lot of guys that year, but Austin could’ve been the guy every week and he played hard every play. He got himself an opportunity to backup (Cody Fletcher) and he didn’t complain that Fletch was playing 60 snaps and he was playing 10. We played him some on special teams, he got beat on a couple of teams and we replaced him. Then we put him back on and he never complained and earned himself the starting job this year and he’s one of our most productive players.”

On tendency to peak before OU week:

“No way. We can’t. We’re not good enough to do that and Tulane’s too good of a football team to do that. We talked about this before we played South Dakota and I appreciate our upperclassmen, our seniors and six-year guys talking to me and talking to our guys about it’s about us, not our opponent. That showed me great maturity by those guys to tell me, ‘hey coach, we don’t need you to tell us about what South Dakota’s like, it’s about us. We don’t need you to tell us what Missouri’s like.’ We all know who the opponents are. It’s about us and our preparation and these guys know it. There are no shortcuts to success. If you prepare mentally and physcially it gives you a chance to be successful on Saturday. Do you win? Depends how you execute. But if you don’t prepare mentally and physically, anybody can get beat in college football.”

Klieman on the jersey tease:

“I didn’t know that by the way. Al Cerbe is in charge. I’ll let Al have the room. I think it’s going to be unveiled this afternoon. Something that Al and I have been visiting about and some of it is supply and demand and shipping and receiving. Everything seemed to go as planned to Al and so this was the time to do it. Pretty simple there.”

Klieman on special teams success:

“The amount of time we put in on it and frankly, how important it is to the Austin Moores and the Seth Porters and the Tom Heltens. I could go on and on about these guys – Nick Allen – that it’s so important to these guys and I just go back to last spring when we had no d-lineman and we had our team going on at one end and we had our long snappers and kickers playing d-end and linebacker and d-tackle trying to give a look for our offense, and myself and a couple of other coaches took every young player that we didn’t know if they’d have a role on offense and defense this year and said we’re going down to the other end and upwards of 30 minutes a day just doing drill work and hoping it would carry over. I look at a kid like Desmond Purnell, who is having a huge impact on special teams, he had the block of the whole thing on punt last week. And we talk about it a lot, that ball was kicked and we thought we had hooked up everybody, but the one guy that we were worried about was the shield player that’s supposed to keep everybody inside of him and Desmond Purnell blocked him from the time the ball was kicked until we got into the end zone and did not let that kid outside on contain. Why was that important? Because Des, that was your only job on that play. There’s times the ball is kicked out of bounds and Des blocked that kid until it was kicked out of bounds. That’s an unselfish kid and if you want to be really good on special teams you have to be unselfish.”

On that attitude:

“It comes from all of the above. We have special teams meetings here every day. I will never miss a special teams meeting. I will always interact and get involved because I think it’s important the players see that the head coach is involved in special teams and involved in the drill work. I’ve helped design and scheming it with Coach Burnham. You have to show the importance of it and our guys, you ask the older guys, they know how important it is because it can change the momentum of the game. And it did in the first game against South Dakota and it absolutely did coming off of that break to stop them, they kick it and it’s 20-3. The crowd was phenomenal on Saturday through the delays, but that was as loud as I had heard it in a long time.”

Klieman on being linked to the Nebraska job:

“First, Scott Frost is a friend of mine and I hate to see it because that’s part of the profession. I don’t know what’s going on at Nebraska, or what has gone on – I’ve talked to Scott a few times during his time there – but I really like it here at Kansas State. I love our players and I love our guys. It’s pretty simple for me and I’ll just say one name: Gene Taylor. Gene is my guy.”

On defensive philosophy for moving defensive backs around in formation:

“Part of it is tempo. Because when an offense is going fast you don’t want guys adding an extra 600 yards on their legs. And part of it is Ekow is that much more experienced into the boundary and we want to get Julius’ length to the field sometimes. I think Coach Malone does a great job mixing that up so they are not always the left, not always the right, not always the field and not always the boundary. I’m excited for Omar Daniels. Omar Daniels came in and played limited snaps but made a couple of huge plays, so we’re gaining depth at corner. We’ll keep moving those guys around and make it hard for them to figure out where they are at.”