Kansas State beat Mississippi State 31-24 yesterday in Starkville, and this was about as good a non-conference road game as the Wildcats have played in recent memory. More importantly, the signature win allowed Chris Klieman and his new team to round into the conference schedule with an unblemished 3-0 record.
What did we learn from yesterday’s hardscrabble win? We learned we could beat ourselves with ridiculous miscues and still somehow win the game, as Jon Morse notes in his instant recap of the game.
That the win came in a road game over a ranked SEC opponent means that Kansas State is edging its way back onto the public college football conscious. (We made the Banner Society’s The Top Whatever, y’all!)
Even noted K-State hater Kirk Herbstreit had to eat a tiny bit of crow for picking against the Wildcats:
.@KStateFB HUGE win in Starkville!! Congrats Coach Klieman!— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) September 14, 2019
This is a good team, maybe even a great team. Despite making huge, momentum-changing mistakes, the team somehow picked itself up and did just enough to win the game. At no point did the players or the coaches panic or second-guess themselves. They did not play scared. Down late in the fourth quarter, there was no confusion, no sudden change in the playcalling, no desperate heaves of the ball leading to game-killing interceptions. The players stuck with their game plan and calmly executed it, almost like they knew they were going to win.
Such confidence, such self-assuredness? It’s going to take some getting used to. It’s been a minute.
This is a good team, maybe even a great team. All through the game yesterday, the players swarmed around the ball, and most importantly, around each other. When Skylar Thompson was pushed out of bounds at the end of a run, there were three offensive linemen immediately surrounding him. More importantly, when key players made game-changing mistakes, their teammates stood by them, as did their head coach:
A couple of guys made mistakes. We need those guys.
That kind of trust in your players might be its own reward, but it also wins the dang day.
Many were underwhelmed by the Klieman hire back in December, and maybe rightly so. It felt like an insider hire, and it bucked the current trend of hiring young FBS assistants/head coaches with innovative offensive philosophies and their own hype trains. But three weeks into this season, nobody is second-guessing the hire.
Oh weird Kansas State hired a football coach with a 10,000-2 record and became good at football, unbelievable— Big Nude Saturday (@thejasonkirk) September 14, 2019
There may not be a better marriage of program and personality than Klieman and Kansas State, and personally, I think we’re headed for big things.
Bring. It. On.
The VolleyCats could not quite duplicate the football team’s efforts and dropped a four-set match to Weber State and then dropped a tight five-setter to Dayton.
Despite the results, Kansas State played well in both matches. Against Weber State, four players reached double figures for kills: Peyton Williams (14), Gloria Mutiri (13), Brynn Carlson (12), and Anna Dixon (10). But Weber State hit .298 for the match, the most against the VolleyCats this season, and that proved to be the difference.
In the Dayton match, Kansas State had 60 kills total and outhit their opponent .202-.190, but could not prevail in the final set when Dayton went on an 8-4 run.
Up next, the VolleyCats wind up the non-conference slate at the North Texas Challenge beginning on Thursday.