The last time Kansas State coach Chris Klieman lost back-to-back games, he was in his first head job at Loras College, a Division III school in Iowa.
Klieman said he took nothing away from that season that helped him go 69-6 at North Dakota State, or so far in his first Power-5 job at K-State.
“This is a new season, new stuff,” Klieman said. “Let’s focus on K-State.”
Saturday, the Wildcats dropped their second straight with a 31-12 loss to Baylor. It was K-State’s worst offensive performance at home against an unranked opponent since 2009.
After losing to Oklahoma State last week, Klieman’s message was one of love, the players said. Klieman said he admired his team’s effort, even in a loss.
After the loss to Baylor, senior receiver Dalton Schoen said he sensed a bit more urgency.
“His message was that we’re going to get this figured out now,” Schoen said. “It’s not like we’re just going to wash this season or forget about the seniors or anything like that.
“It’s really nice to hear that this coaching staff isn’t going to give up on us and say, ‘Oh, it’s a rebuilding year.’”
When the Wildcats got back to the locker room, sophomore defensive end Wyatt Hubert addressed the team about accountability. Schoen said he could tell it came from the heart.
Schoen said Hubert called out the defense for missed tackles and called out the offense for not getting the ball in the end zone enough. Schoen said Hubert told every player to take a look in the mirror and ask themselves if they were doing enough.
Just three weeks ago, K-State was coming off its first road win over an SEC team in school history.
“The main thing, being part of a team, you have to take ownership when something goes wrong,” Hubert said. “No one has to worry about the coaches because they are taking full ownership for what they are doing.”
Although the Wildcats said their confidence was not lost after the 19-point home loss, Schoen said they need to get back to having fun.
Schoen said he remembered in the first three weeks, defensive players would run 50 yards downfield to celebrate a touchdown, and offensive players would do the same after a takeaway.
He said in the first three weeks, more players were playing to have fun rather than to not make mistakes.
“I feel like we tightened up a little bit last week and we played to not mess up,” Schoen said. “I think it’s maybe had some carryover. I think it was definitely better today, but we have to get back to our roots, where it was at the beginning of the season.”
K-State hasn’t had a lot of reasons to celebrate over the past couple of weeks. The Wildcats have scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns in garbage time.
They have gotten to the red zone only five times.
Although there are plenty of ways to point out the Wildcats’ shortcomings since the win at Mississippi State, Hubert said the team isn’t hitting the panic button.
“I think back two years ago, the year we won the Cactus Bowl,” said K-State’s Jordan Mittie. “We went on a three-game losing streak, and we turned it around at the end of the season and finished with a winning record at 7-5.”
Klieman spent just one season at Loras, the last time he lost back-to-back games. The Duhawks finished 3-7 that season.
Although the Wildcats are 0-2 in the Big 12, they still have a winning record and go into the bye week with a chance to shore up offensive execution and what Klieman called an “awful display of tackling.”
“Everyone’s got to get invested a little bit more, so that we can get this thing turned,” he said. “We’re gonna get it turned.”