AMES — Four Big 12 programs got new head coaches in the offseason.
Kansas State has easily had the smoothest transition of them all.
Here are 5 Things about the Wildcats (7-4, 4-4) ahead of Saturday’s game against No. 22 Iowa State (7-4, 5-3).
1. From Bill Snyder to Chris Klieman
Bill Snyder, the only successful coach in Kansas State history, retired after going 5-7 last season.
The Wildcats brought in Chris Klieman, who took North Dakota State to four FCS national championships in his five seasons as head coach.
In his nearly one season in Manhattan, Kan., Klieman has continued that success. He’s led the Wildcats to a bowl-worthy season with a 7-4 overall record and a 4-4 Big 12 Conference record.
Kansas State has beaten TCU, Kansas, Texas Tech and is the only team this season to beat Oklahoma.
2. Remember Courtney Messingham?
Klieman’s offensive coordinator is a name Iowa State fans are familiar with — Courtney Messingham.
Messingham was Klieman’s offensive coordinator at North Dakota State in 2017 and 2018 before Klieman brought him along to Kansas State.
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Messingham was Iowa State’s offensive coordinator in 2012 and 2013. In his two seasons as Iowa State’s coordinator, he had the second worst offense in the Big 12 — only better than Kansas in each year. Messingham was fired after the 2013 season.
The Cyclones averaged just 24.5 points in 2012 and 24.8 points in 2013. Iowa State is averaging 35.6 points this season.
Messingham’s Kansas State offense is the third worst offense in the Big 12 in terms of scoring and efficiency and the second worst in terms of yards — only better than West Virginia.
The Wildcats average 31 points per game and 382.5 yards per game.
Kansas State has scored 20 or less three times this season, including a loss to West Virginia — the second worst team in the Big 12.
3. QB Skylar Thompson is a true dual-threat
Kansas State junior quarterback Skylar Thompson has passed for 2,134 yards, 12 touchdowns and four interceptions on 162-of-271 passing.
He’s also K-State’s second-leading rusher with 96 carries for 394 yards and 10 touchdowns. When adjusted for sacks, he’s rushed 76 times for 503 yards.
In Kansas State’s upset win over Oklahoma, Thompson rushed 13 times for just 39 yards, but he made the most out of it by recording four rushing touchdowns.
Against Kansas a week later, he ran 17 times for 127 yards and three touchdowns.
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4. Kansas State has a balanced defense
Kansas State’s defense is among the best in the Big 12 and a big part of that is the fact the Wildcats have playmakers on all three levels.
They have four players with at least 46 tackles and no player has more than 52.
The top four tacklers include two linebackers — Elijah Sullivan and Da’Quan Patton — and two defensive backs — Wayne Jones and Denzel Goolsby.
Sophomore defensive end Wyatt Hubert leads Kansas State in sacks and tackles for loss with 7 and 10.5, respectively. The seven sacks are the second most in the Big 12.
Defensive back A.J. Parker is the Wildcats’ ballhawk. Parker has three interceptions and five pass breakups. Patton and Goolsby also have two interceptions and one pass breakup.
5. Heisman finalist ... on K-State’s coaching staff
Kansas State doesn’t have a Heisman Trophy finalist on its roster, but it does on its coaching staff.
Collin Klein, a finalist in 2012, is Kansas State’s quarterbacks coach.
In 2012, he passed for 2,641 yards and 16 touchdowns for the Wildcats. He rushed for an additional 920 yards and 23 touchdowns.
As a player, Klein led Kansas State to a 21-5 overall record as the starting quarterback in 2011 and 2012.
He was the quarterbacks coach at Northern Iowa in 2016.
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