Originally posted on emawonline.com
by Mason Voth (@TheRealMasonV)
For the first time in 2022, Chris Klieman and his Wildcats came to their Tuesday media session with a loss on their record. A lot of the focus during the hour and change inside Vanier involved the passing game through three games this season.
Klieman kicks things off by questioning the defense and special teams
Wildcat head coach Chris Klieman spent plenty of time discussing the play of his super-senior quarterback and what needs to change offensively, but maybe the biggest surprise of the day was Klieman deciding to start by discussing the defense and special teams efforts of his team on Saturday.
“You start with the defense, we played really good at times on defense. In that game, we needed to play great. You’re going to get into low-scoring games, you’re going to get into high-scoring games. You’ve got to find ways to stop them in critical times.”
After touching on his defense having a few lapses, Klieman mentioned a conversation he had with wide receiver and punt returner Phillip Brooks after the game.
“Then, probably the area that we need to excel the most in is special teams and I think we’ve got really good punt and kick returners.”
In fairness to Klieman, his players didn’t seem thrilled about their efforts there either. Klieman said that if you asked the key special teamers, they would have said “‘coach, we lost that phase because we typically win that phase.’ So an even matchup is a loss for us.”
Adrian Martinez needs to “cut it loose”
Most of the conversation around Kansas State football in the last three days has centered around the offense throwing the football. Klieman said Adrian Martinez needs to “cut it loose” because he believes in the Wildcat starter. He also revealed that he, offensive coordinator Collin Klein and Martinez had a meeting after the game on Saturday.
“If a mistake is made, a mistake is made but be aggressive in what you see and what you believe. We’ve seen that in fall camp and now we’ve just got to see it on a Saturday. I know it’s there and I know he can do it.”
Martinez said he was still trying to find himself in this offense and is “growing more comfortable.” When asked about his conservatism and transition back to an aggressive quarterback remarked it is a “fine line” that he is trying to walk right now.
“I think transitioning a little bit more to an aggressive mindset and not being afraid to go out there and make plays…something I appreciate a lot about Coach Klieman and Coach Klein is they are incredibly transparent, they will be honest with you. They are very genuine and you have a great idea of what the expectations are.”
Kade Warner has seen both versions of Adrian Martinez, the more aggressive version at Nebraska and the version currently at K-State. Warner remarked that the receivers also need to do a better job of getting Martinez’s trust in game situations, as opposed to just in practice.
“We built a lot [of trust]with him over fall camp, but it comes with game reps. I think as we keep going and the games go on, we’ll see ourselves open up the vertical passing game.”
Previous trips to Norman
A significant number of players on the team currently have experienced a road trip to Norman. Only the previously mentioned Martinez experienced a full-capacity Memorial Stadium, which is why players like Cooper Beebe say that they can’t draw a ton from their first trip on what the atmosphere will be like Saturday night, but the response they had in the week leading up to that game are similar.
“I am interested to see, last time we went to Norman it was COVID, so I am interested to see a full stadium,” said Beebe.
Defensive tackle Eli Huggins said there were some similarities to the last time the Wildcats went to Norman though. In 2020, the Wildcats lost to Arkansas State before going and surprising the Sooners. “It is weird how it has kind of worked out that way, losing any time is bad. I think after a loss it kind of makes you reflect and what could have been different.”
Deuce Vaughn said of the similarities, “Coach Klieman said the same thing he told us that year, yesterday in the team meeting. ‘Adversity has struck, how are we going to respond,’ that is really where he left it at.”