Kansas State University

K-State Q&A: Bat Cats, backup quarterbacks and Chris Klieman’s ceiling in Year 1

It’s time for another K-State Q&A.

There are lots of fun topics to cover this week, so let’s get right to them. Thanks, as always, for your participation.

Let’s do the math. If Chris Klieman’s fighting Wildcats go undefeated in the regular season, they will be 12-0. If they follow that up with a win in in the Big 12 championship game, that’s another one in the victory column. And if they go on to win two games in the College Football Playoff, add two more for a perfect record of 15-0.

That, my friend, is their ceiling.

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

It’s much harder to predict a realistic best-case scenario for K-State football next season. A new coaching staff means more unknowns than usual and a lack of depth at key positions means injuries could have huge impacts.

The spring loss of linebacker Justin Hughes and the spring suspension of receiver Hunter Rison have already lowered the team’s ceiling to some degree.

The Wildcats went 5-7 last season. There is hope they can improve immediately under Klieman, but he may need time. The same can be said for new coaches at Kansas, Texas Tech and West Virginia, making the season even more difficult to predict.

I personally think bowl eligibility would be a nice accomplishment next season. But I don’t think that is the team’s best-case outlook.

Looking at the schedule, I see mostly toss-up games. Nicholls and Bowling Green are probably victories. Texas and Oklahoma are probably defeats. I can be talked into anything on the other eight games.

So if you’re shooting for the moon, I suppose 10-2 is their ceiling. But nobody wins eight straight toss-up games, especially when a nonconference road test against Mississippi State is involved. K-State gets seven home games next season, which is good. But two of its first four games are on the road, which is bad.

I’m not sure what K-State’s backfield will look like next season or if its defense has enough depth to stand up to Big 12 offenses all year long. But Skylar Thompson could be much improved at quarterback and there is some talent on the roster.

Something like 8-4 feels within the realm of possibility.

There’s no way this is a hot take, but I’m putting my money on John Holcombe.

Coaches liked what he did last season as a redshirt freshman and he seemed a step ahead of Nick Ast, Ryan Henington and Jaren Lewis in spring practice.

He’s also a capable runner, which is something the Wildcats might need with such a big question mark at running back. At 6-foot-4 and 249 pounds, Holcombe is built like a defensive end. I could see K-State getting him involved in some type of wildcat package that complements Thompson.

It will be interesting to see if Chris Herron can push Holcombe in summer practices after he arrives. The incoming freshman looks like he has lots of talent and could maybe enter the QB equation right away.

But Holcombe still looks like QB2.

Collin Klein is my first pick. The former Heisman Trophy finalist had scholarship offers to play college basketball and is very gifted on the hardwood.

Give me Justin Eichman at center. At 6-foot-9 and 317 pounds, nobody is stopping that guy in the paint.

Blaise Gammon seems like a good option at power forward. He’s 6-7 with the speed of a tight end.

Not really sure who to pick at the guard spots. But I’m going to select Brandon Banks and hope he has point-guard handle. That guy was fast. I will also take Tyler Lockett and hope he can shoot. I know he at least played high school basketball.

My sixth man will be Chris Harper, because he brings good size and energy off the bench.

It will probably be a while.

The first hearing for his domestic court case has been postponed (again) until July 16.

A year or two ago, Bruce Weber mentioned that he was so busy with basketball season that he was only sleeping a few hours each night, if at all. So I asked him where all his energy came from. Coffee?

He shook his head furiously and said “yuck.” He apparently hates coffee.

And so do I.

He went on to say he does drink the occasional shot of Coke for a caffeine boost. I rely more on full glasses of iced tea and Dr Pepper. So we disagree there.

But I’m definitely not a coffee guy. I never order anything at coffee houses. I relate to the man in the following Simpsons clip.

I do like to run a few miles in the morning when it’s warm outside, thanks for noticing.

Never tried any kind of a run with the word “marathon” involved. I’ve toyed with the idea of training for a half marathon, but never followed through.

My longest run of all time is 10 miles. I’m not currently motivated to top that. I’m really more of a 5K/10K kind of guy.

Not as often as people tell me I look like Jason Statham (I wish), but yeah.

I could be the stunt double for most skinny bald actors that wear glasses.

West, portrayed by Brian Huskey, does seem like an appropriate match with him being a reporter and all. He also has a beard. I’m quite a bit younger, though.

The Bat Cats can clinch a spot in the Big 12 Tournament by winning one of three games in Lawrence. One more loss from Texas will also get them there.

So if that’s something you care about, then you should definitely go. The weather looks good Friday and Sunday. Both teams have talented Friday pitchers. Why not?

This is also a rare opportunity to see both KU and K-State not finish last in the Big 12 baseball standings. It seems like one of them usually finishes ninth and gets left out of the Big 12 Tournament. This year they will both likely avoid the cellar and laugh at Texas.

A sweep would also get K-State back to .500, which would give Pete Hughes a shot at an overall winning record in his first season.

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