K-State Coordinators Speak to Media Prior Season Opener

MANHATTAN, Kan. (Kansas State Athletics) – Kansas State offensive coordinator Collin Klein and defensive coordinator Joe Klanderman met with members of the media on Thursday at the Vanier Family Football Complex prior to the Wildcats hosting South Dakota for their 2022 season opener. Links to video and audio of both press conferences are above, and a transcript of select quotes are below.

COLLIN KLEIN, OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR
On DJ Giddens becoming the No. 2 running back..
“You can tell he really studied his butt off over the summer, came back and really picked up right in fall camp and was really up to speed on his past pro, splits pick up stuff. He was assignment sound and knowing what he’s supposed to do. That allowed him to play faster. We knew he had it in him as an athlete, but then being able to show that on the field with his knowledge was evident, and he really did a nice job.”

On showing too much on offense game one…
“Yes, there’s certain things but some of that takes care of itself a little bit just based on who you’re playing and what you need to bring to the table in certain packages that week. Some of that will take care of itself and something we got to stay on top of our own self scout tendencies as we move through the season. But, you know, bottom line is we need to play clean, we need to play well, we need to be fundamentally sound in all aspects because it doesn’t matter what scheme we try to run or not run. If we can’t do that, it’s going to be difficult.”

On the pace he wants to run the offense with…
“A little bit of a game flow. It’ll be, again, back to a large part in execution. We’re only going to be able to go as fast as we’re able to execute and operate. Making sure that we’re staying sharp and getting ourselves in certain positions. This is going to be a great first challenge for us. I mean, they do a lot of great things. They’re a very, very well coached. It’s important that we play well and clean and how that goes will be a little bit week to week.”

On his favorite memories of fellow Ring of Honor inductees Tyler Lockett and Arthur Brown..
“I’ll tell you what, two special teammates, there’s no doubt about it. Starting with Arthur, he was just such a steady presence, not just on the field, obviously with his play, but just from a leadership standpoint. He never said too much but everything he did say everybody listened because it was from his heart. So competitive, worked so hard. We’d practice our butts off and he’d go in the weight room and get some extra shoulder work or this and that, and it’s like holy cow, I mean the dude’s a machine. He’s just incredible. Tyler, there’s so many because we worked a little bit more hand in hand on offense. I think the Oklahoma State game comes to my mind his true freshman year. He gets hurt on that touchdown catch early in the game, ends up getting pretty seriously hurt and still returns the kickoff return there in the second half that kept us in the game. And again, just so raw, genuine, unbelievable leader, unbelievable talent and an unbelievable teammate.”

On if he knows what his emotions will be like on Saturday…
“Not really. I’m sure there’ll be a minute to be able to step back and reminisce a little bit. Again, it’s about this week for me, it’s about our guys and making sure that we’re in as good a position as we can be, as prepared as we can be to let them go out there and play the best clean game they possibly can and get after.”

JOE KLANDERMAN, DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR
On his comfort level with the safety group…
“Yeah, we’re just getting a lot more seasoned. There’s going to be some young guys that are going to play for us. VJ Payne is going to play, Nickendre Stiger is going to play, guys that are new to the program. Kobe Savage is going to play, although he was here in the spring, so we feel a little bit more comfortable with him. Drake Cheatham, I mean these guys are going to get time, so I’m eager to see what they do on game day, but they’re certainly impressive in practice.”

On Josh Hayes
“Yeah, he’s just dynamite, just so mature. He’s been around championship teams and been around really great defenses. I appreciate his perspective in the room, just reinforcing all the things that us as coaches are trying to get through to these guys. He’s been living example of that. He was a guy that also played as a young guy. I remember Josh back when, shoot, I can’t remember the year it was probably 2017. We were playing in the semifinal game at North Dakota State and Josh was our third corner I think at the time and both No. 1 and No. 2 got injured in the semifinal game. He had to start in the national championship game. That was his first start, and he didn’t back down from it at all. I think he’s trying to get some of that through to some of these younger guys now that are going to get their chance on Saturday.”

On how much Khalid Duke will be able to play Saturday…
“I think his knee looks fine. I think he’s been running around great. I think his wind is pretty good, I won’t say it’s 100% yet. I think he’s going to be a work in progress in that degree, but we plan on using him a lot. He’s going to be a significant contributor here right out of the gate.”

On what he wants to learn most about his defense Saturday…
“I feel like I know how Deuce Green is going to respond, I know how Eli Huggins is going to respond, I know how Julius Brents is going to respond. I want to find out how some of these newer pieces are going to respond. All indications are they’re going to respond just fine, but that’s the biggest question mark as we continue to build trust throughout the year, trust within the unit, trust within each other. Those guys are going to have to ball out on Saturday. So, I’m excited to turn them loose see what they do.”

On his excitement about this defense after camp…
“Still potential right now. Until we actually put it on the grass, I don’t want to say anything. We’ve got to go out there and earn it. I think that we’ve made that clear to them from the outset, that this is not necessarily a carryover from what the 2021 team was. This is a whole new group of guys. We can carry that legacy with us, but that’s not our team. We’ve got to go out there and we’ve got to execute. We’ve got to get off the field. We’ve got to keep points off the board. We’ve got to get the ball back to our offense. I’m extremely excited about this group, but the proof is in the pudding.”

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