K-State aims for consistency against Texas Tech

Junior defensive back D.J. Render walks into the locker room before K-State's football game against West Virginia at Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Nov. 16, 2019. The Wildcats lost to the Mountaineers with a final score of 24-20. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

Consistency was the word of the day in Kansas State’s weekly press conference. The Wildcats are suddenly on a two-game skid after a shocking 24-20 home loss against West Virginia last Saturday.

K-State opened the last two games with touchdowns but struggled late to come up short. First, the Wildcats failed to maintain a 14-0 lead against Texas to lose 24-27. Last week, K-State relinquished a 7-0 lead to the Mountaineers.

“We’re still fighting consistency, that’s the biggest thing,” head coach Chris Klieman said Tuesday. “We put together some good consistent drives together, offensively. We had a big play to start the game, so there were real positives, but one of the big drives we had we ended up getting stopped at the four and not getting into the end zone, and end up getting three out of that.”

Teams have come to expect the run early, which allowed K-State’s offense to come out swinging in the passing game, but if the ground game isn’t established, it can shut down the offense.

“Sometimes it’s the worst thing that happens to you, too,” Klieman said. “You get a big play, and you just relax a little bit. I don’t think that’s the case. We were better this week than we were against Texas, but when you struggle to sustain the ability to rush the football, especially on early downs.”

In the first year of a new coaching staff, there is potential for some growing pains. Klieman said the year has been a rollercoaster.

“That’s ebbs and flows of your first year — I really believe that,” Klieman said. “We’re going to go through — and we talked about this, guys, when I took the job — we’re going to go through some ups and downs.”

The Wildcats are on a two-game skid after the second three-game win streak this season.

“We’re just not consistent enough and not making all the plays,” Klieman said. “That’s the sign of us learning the offense, learning the defense as well as just getting comfortable with us as coaches.”

Junior quarterback Skylar Thompson shows growth in the passing game during the transition with a career-high 299 yards last Saturday.

“We have gotten better at making a lot of improvement in the passing game the past couple of weeks,” Thompson said. “I’ve hit my career-high two weeks in a row, and we have left more out on the field.”

The upcoming matchup against Texas Tech provides K-State a chance to bounce back. Following a two-interception game, Thompson said he is ready to respond.

“It’s going to be a good challenge for us to come out and attack and play with confidence and bounce back from last week and take care of the football,” Thompson said. “I need to get back to that’s what keeps us in ball games is taking care of the football and moving the chains.”

Junior kicker Blake Lynch is 13 for 14 on field goals this season. The lone miss came on his first kick of the season, but he followed up with consistency.

“I think the first kick actually helped me,” Lynch said. “It allowed me to be more focused and not take it for granted, honestly. It’s a weird way to look at it because I obviously wish I would have made that one, but I think it’s helped out.”

“He’s just had a phenomenal year, and he’s just a really consistent guy,” Klieman said. “He wants to be perfect in his craft. That’s what I appreciate about Blake. Everyday he’s out there with his same routine. As a kicker, it’s about your routine, and he’s locked into his routine.”

K-State exceeded preseason expectations and is bowl eligible in the first year of the Klieman era. However, there are still two games remaining to gain momentum ahead of the postseason.

The Wildcats will travel to Lubbock, Texas, for a 6 p.m. matchup against Texas Tech.