While reflecting on Saturday’s win, it is hard to forget seven K-State players sat out Saturday in Norman, Oklahoma because of COVID-19 precautions.
Head Coach Chris Klieman said the Wildcats expect “maybe one or two” players not available to play at Oklahoma back for the Texas Tech game this weekend.
“Nobody has come back yet to practice, so we have to work with the guys that we had at OU,” Klieman said. “Knock on wood we didn’t lose any guys on Sunday, so everybody that was on the trip is still available.”
The Wildcats struggled early and were down 21 points with less than three minutes left in the third quarter against Oklahoma. They then scored 24 points to win the game. The Wildcats turnover margin contributed to the win.
“Without question on Saturday, it was the difference,” Klieman said. “To be able to create the four takeaways — plus we stopped them once on a fourth down and had a blocked punt so it’s almost like six takeaways. We have to be able to do that.”
K-State’s defense forced freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler into several mistakes and neutralized him late in the game.
“All the credit goes to the defensive line and to Coach [Buddy] Wyatt and Coach [Mike Tuiasosopo], we were able to rush four and put [Rattler] in some uncomfortable situations,” Klieman said. “Our coverage was better as the game went on.”
The Wildcat offensive line — which struggled in the opening loss to Arkansas State — finally clicked in the second half.
“By the second half, we really started gelling together, our communication was there despite it being on the road in a tough atmosphere,” senior center Noah Johnson said. “We played with a lot more finish and a lot more competitiveness.”
Heading into the season, the offensive line was uncertain. Five seniors left after last year and starters needed replaced.
In the Oklahoma game, the group clicked.
“We didn’t play our best game, but we made plays when we needed to, to win the game,” Johnson said. “I think it started with having a really good two weeks of practice.”
The Wildcats play Texas Tech Saturday in Manhattan.
“A really good opponent coming into town in Texas Tech. I have tons of respect for Matt Wells, not only a great football coach, but becoming a really good friend of mine,” Klieman said.
Klieman said K-State needs to move on from Oklahoma and begin to focus on Texas Tech and make a game plan.
“What you did today is great, but pales in comparison to what you can do the next day,” Klieman said. “Right now we have to move on … That’s been kind of our mantra for the last year plus: ‘Stack great days’ and, ‘Don’t worry about yesterday, worry about today’ and, ‘Let’s win this dang day,’ and we’re going to try to do that today.”
K-State plays the Red Raiders at 2:30 p.m. Oct. 3 in Manhattan.