Kansas State University

The five most noteworthy things K-State’s Chris Klieman said ahead of Oklahoma game

Kansas State football coach Chris Klieman held his weekly news conference on Tuesday.

Here is a look at the five most noteworthy things he had to say as the Wildcats are coming off a victory over the TCU Horned Frogs and are beginning to prepare for their next game against the Oklahoma Sooners.

1. No special emphasis for Oklahoma

This is, without a doubt, the best team K-State will play this season. The Sooners come to Manhattan ranked fifth nationally with a 7-0 record, once again on track to represent the Big 12 in the College Football Playoff.

They are averaging more than 50 points per game and are much improved on defense, compared to previous seasons. Oklahoma opened as a 19-point favorite, and that number has already risen to 23 1/2.

K-State players said Tuesday they can “shock the world” by pulling an upset this week. But you won’t hear any of that talk from Klieman.

“I don’t really believe in doing it that way,” Klieman said, “because I learned a long time ago to be careful about over emphasizing one team over another. If you do and treat it like this is our Super Bowl and we’ve got to get it done, then what do you do the next week and the following week? It’s no different than if we are playing Nicholls.”

“That is the next game on the schedule. Let’s attack this week ... You get into those 12, one-week seasons. This is the next one on the docket.”

2. Malik Knowles ready for more?

Knowles was on the field for most of K-State’s second-half plays last week in the 24-17 victory over TCU, but he was barely involved in the first half.

Why? The freshman receiver was on a limited snap count as he worked back from injury.

That could change this week. If Knowles is healthy enough to log a few normal days of practice leading up to kickoff, he will be cleared to play a full four quarters.

K-State would welcome him back on a full-time basis. Its offense was at its best with him in the game. Knowles caught three passes for 48 yards, including a 33-yard grab on the sideline to convert a third-and-long. Knowles said he felt 100% following the victory.

3. Jordon Brown remains questionable

The Wildcats have played the past two games without Brown, their No. 2 running back behind James Gilbert.

That has limited K-State on offense, as he is the team’s best passing threat out of the backfield. Klieman previously said that Brown has missed action because of injury and that he might be ready to return for this game.

For now, his status remains questionable. Klieman said Brown will undergo a handful of tests this week. The results of those examinations will determine if he is ready to play against the Sooners. Klieman said he hopes to know more by Wednesday.

Also on the injury front: Klieman said defensive back Jahron McPherson is dealing with a knee injury that won’t require surgery. It is unclear when he will be ready to return to the field.

4. Unbelievable respect

Anyone tuning into Klieman’s news conference hoping to hear bulletin-board material was disappointed.

Klieman praised the Sooners at every opportunity, especially on offense. He has nothing but good things to say about OU quarterback Jalen Hurts, receiver CeeDee Lamb and the rest of Lincoln Riley’s system.

“What Oklahoma is doing is unbelievable,” Klieman said. “What they are doing against everybody and the success they are having, the efficiency with which they are playing with and the amount of explosive plays ... When you turn on the explosive-play tape it just goes and goes and goes, because they have a tremendous scheme and guys who understand the scheme. The No. 1 thing is execution. They are executing very well.”

5. Eliminating half the missed tackles

The Wildcats have been far from an excellent tackling team this season, and they had some of their worst moments against TCU, particularly during a 46-yard touchdown run by quarterback Max Duggan.

After reviewing replays of the TCU game, Klieman proposed a goal to his defense: cut their missed tackles in half.

He’s no expecting perfection from K-State’s defense, but he thinks a handful fewer mistakes could make a big difference against a team like Oklahoma.

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Kellis Robinett covers Kansas State athletics for The Wichita Eagle and The Kansas City Star. A winner of more than a dozen national writing awards, he lives in Manhattan with his wife and three children.
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