‘We’ll find out how we will respond’: K-State aims to bounce back against Oklahoma State

Head coach Chris Klieman prepares to lead the Wildcats onto the field prior to their matchup with Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla. last year. (File photo by Sabrina Cline | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State football offices had a different air on Tuesday afternoon amid one of the most anticipated presidential elections to date. K-State coaches addressed the media as student-athletes were given the day off because of the election.

“[I’m] excited for our guys to be able to express their opinions and views on the election and being able to vote,” head coach Chris Klieman said.

The Wildcats take a shorter week to bounce back after an awakening 37-10 loss to West Virginia.

“We’ll find out how we will respond,” Klieman said. “When adversity strikes, you find the character and resolve of your guys.”

The Wildcats play the Oklahoma State Cowboys, a team currently in third place in the Big 12 Conference with a 3-1 conference record. K-State is tied with Iowa State for first with a 4-1 record.

The West Virginia defense shut down freshman running back Deuce Vaughn last week, something not experienced all season.

“As talented as that young man is, you have to find ways to take him away, and West Virginia did that,” Klieman said.

However, Vaughn improved in his blocking game.

“One of the things that we talk about all the time is don’t just think that you are a ball carrier or a pass catcher, you have to do a bit of everything,” running backs coach Brian Anderson said. “His blocking is getting better as he is getting more confidence.”

The young offensive line received praise for their performance this season, but it is still not at the level that offensive line coach Conor Riley expects.

“It’s not where I had hoped [the offensive line] would be, quite honestly,” Riley said. “We have to do a better job of staying on, finishing and sustaining blocks.”

The offensive line will have its hands full against the conference leader in scoring defense. The Cowboys limits opponents to 17.8 points per game this season.

Oklahoma State lost at home to Texas 41-34 in overtime last week. The Longhorns limited the high-powered offense to only 130 yards on the ground.

Even with the recent loss, Oklahoma State boasts one of the top-ranked rushing offenses in the Big 12, averaging 199 rush yards per game.

“They are an experienced defense that flies around, very aggressive, don’t miss tackles, they are going to blitz you and put constant pressure on you,” Klieman said. “Offensively, we have our hands full because they can beat you at every level.”

Redshirt junior running back Chuba Hubbard ran wild in the matchup last season with 296 rushing yards and a touchdown, leading the Cowboys to a 26-13 victory. The Canadian native is third in the Big 12 in rushing this season, averaging 110 yards per game.

“We have to make sure that [Hubbard] doesn’t have a huge day or everything opens up,” Klieman said.

The Cowboys hold an advantage in the all-time series at 40-26, with eight of the last 13 meetings being decided by a touchdown or less.

The Wildcats host the Cowboys at 3 p.m. Saturday on Fox.