K-State will try to get the rushing game back after bye week

Senior offensive lineman Adam Holtorf hikes the ball during the football game against Nicholls State on Aug. 31, 2019. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State Wildcats are sitting at a crossroads after dropping two conference games. After their second bye in four weeks, it is a crucial time to turn it around against a TCU team that has shut down the running game all season.

It is only week eight of the college football season and K-State will now have to go seven straight weeks without a break. The second bye week allowed the Wildcats time to focus on their own game and to clean up mistakes before the long grind ahead.

“Football is a rhythm sport, and you need to be able to play to continue to improve,” head coach Chris Klieman said in the weekly press conference on Tuesday.

The Wildcats got opportunities to see younger players in action but would rather get back to game action. “

You can only practice so much with the NCAA guidelines and rules,” Klieman said. “You get better by competition, bottom line. I’m glad we had two bye weeks. I would have loved one in week four and week 10, or week four and week nine or something.”

Senior running back James Gilbert said he is eager to get to back to pounding the stone.

“We are all hungry and itching to get back out there,” Gilbert said. “There’s a lot of football left. Seven games, that’s a lot of stuff we can play for this football team. So we are eager to get back out there.”

The 5-foot-9-inch, 198 pound transfer from Ball State leads the Wildcats with 415 yards and four touchdowns this season.

The ground game has seemingly come to a halt, and the Wildcats will have a challenge in the TCU defense that limits opponents to 101.2 rushing yards per contest.

Chris Klieman talked about what makes the TCU defense so dynamic.

“They hit their fits, they know their assignments, they know where their help’s at, they know if they are a lever player or a spill player,” Klieman said. “They do all the fundamental things right.”

Senior offensive lineman Adam Holtorf said he sees the importance of getting the ground game ready early.

“It’s going to be extremely important, as is every game, being able to come out and run the ball early, control the clock, and everything that comes with an effective run game,” Holtorf said. “It’s going to be huge.”

Not only is the ground game essential for the Wildcats, who average 217.8 yards per game, but it also will help the passing game gain momentum.

“It’s very important,” junior running back Harry Trotter said. “Establishing the run game sets up the rest of the offense, and it’s very important for us to do that so we can help Skylar [Thompson] out and help the receivers. The running game is where you can establish that and set up the pass game.”

The Wildcats will face off against the Horned Frogs on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on the Fox Sports Network.