Through: D. Scott Fritchen
Kansas State has one more chance to be together. This is what the head coach of K-State Chris klieman reiterated at his press conference Tuesday as the Wildcats continue their preparations to face LSU in the TaxAct Texas Bowl on Jan. 4 at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.
COVID rocked last season and the Wildcats had a top-down campaign that ended without a bowl game.
K-State, 7-5, has a chance of ending 2021 in a very different way if they can overtake the Tigers, 6-6, for the first bowl victory of the Klieman era. K-State suffered a 20-17 loss to the No.20 Navy in the 2019 Liberty Bowl.
“It gives us another chance to be together as a football team,” Klieman said. “It’s a very close-knit group of guys who care about each other a lot and enjoy each other’s company. For us, being the last game on January 4th, although we will have some free time, it really did. gave almost full extra month with these guys.
“A few of these guys were in the ball game when they played at UCLA a few years ago, but probably haven’t played a lot. We didn’t have success against Navy and a lot of guys were there. for that, but Navy was a good football team, and we had a chance to win and didn’t. Going through last year, as tough as it was from a COVID standpoint, one things that are so unique about college football are the bowl season, the playoff system, and the playoffs in general.There are probably a lot of disappointed guys last season that we weren’t able to play in one. bowl game. “
Count Consensus All-American Deuce vaughn among those players enthusiastic about playing in a game of boules. This will be Bowl’s first appearance for sophomore Vaughn who is one of college football’s most exciting players.
“We are ready to go,” he said. “It’s another opportunity to go out and play together on a big stage. I think we’re the only game when it comes to bowl games so everyone is going to watch in Houston and a great place at NRG. Stadium as we play at a really good ball club. We’re really excited. “
Klieman said K-State completed an early morning practice Tuesday and the Wildcats will have two more practices before the players return home. Klieman said the majority of the game plan is set. The team returns on December 30 to fly to Houston. The Wildcats will then have five days for final preparations before the bowl game, which begins at 8 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN.
The Texas Bowl is one of the five busiest bowl games and the busiest non-New Years game since 2016, just behind the Rose, Peach, Fiesta and Orange Bowls.
“I know a number of these seniors want that last chance to play together,” Klieman said. “What a great opponent and a great bowl. I’ve only heard phenomenal things about the Texas Bowl and the way they treat student-athletes and the guys experience. Our guys are impatient because they want to play together This is a very good sign for the seniors and leaders who have been together for a very long time. ”
K-State posted a 3-0 non-conference record, followed by a 0-3 Big 12 start, which was then followed by a remarkable four-game winning streak. At one point, the Wildcats had the longest active winning streak in the Big 12. Then came disappointing losses to eventual Big 12 Champion Baylor (20-17) and Texas (22-17).
“The way we lost our last game, it’s been a while since we played football,” Vaughn said. “We had some free time after the Texas game. I’m excited to go over there and play another game of football with our guys. We’re really, really ready to go because it’s another one. opportunity to go out and show what K- State is about. “
Klieman provides latest senior quarterback news Skylar thompson
K-State’s sixth-year senior quarterback Skylar thompson is “a trend in the right direction” for a possible Texas Bowl appearance, Klieman said Tuesday.
Thompson, the only player in K-State history to pass for 6,000 yards and rush for 1,000 and who is the only K-State quarterback since at least 1990 to win 23 career games, has was knocked out of the game against Baylor with less than 5 minutes remaining in a 20-17 loss to Baylor on senior night in Manhattan. Thompson appeared to grab his lower leg after a shovel pass to Phillip brooks in the middle of the field. He was helped to the injured tent, then transported to the locker room.
It was Thompson’s second injury during the 2021 regular season. He missed two games with a knee injury earlier in the season. In the first quarter against Southern Illinois on September 11, Thompson suffered a non-contact injury to his right knee and did not play against Nevada or Oklahoma State.
Thompson has spent the last month recovering from his latest injury against Baylor.
“It’s going in the right direction,” Klieman said. “He’s practiced. We hope he doesn’t have a backhand, and if he doesn’t, in all likelihood he will play, and we’re excited about the hat. We’re still a few weeks away. Right now it’s trending in the right direction. “
If Thompson is unable to attend, in grade two Will howard will likely take the reins of the offense. Howard, a sophomore, completed 30 of 55 passes for 332 yards with 1 touchdown and 1 interception, and has 5 carries for 32 yards and 4 touchdowns this season.
“We still don’t know Skylar’s true fate as far as we believe and hope he will be able to play, but if not, Will will play this game,” Klieman said. “That’s the idea we had when we came into Texas. There was a chance he would play in a football game or two. If you’re healthy and have the chance to play, the contestants want to play. Will is a great competitor. We have to live in the present now and that’s what we do with Will. “
Thompson currently ranks in the top 10 in school history in 15 career categories. His success percentage of 68.78 in 2021 ranks first at K-State, and his 155.3 success score ranks fourth. His 7,952 offensive yards rank second all-time in his career.
“It’s high time for him to have a chance to finish in Houston playing against LSU,” said Vaughn. “That’s really big. Man, I’m glad he eventually gets this opportunity. If he’s ready to go, I’ll be there and we’ll rally with him because he’s our quarterback and our guy. I’m excited to see him come back.
“Sending Skylar T with a big win would be huge for his legacy and all he has done for the K-State nation and for us as a family here at K-State. In the locker room of this building he was a rock for us and sending it like that would be a great time. ”