Sep 16, 2020 11:42 AM

🎥 K-State holds weekly press conference

Posted Sep 16, 2020 11:42 AM

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman, along with tight end Briley Moore and defensive tackle Drew Wiley, met with members of the media via Zoom on Tuesday as the Wildcats are in the midst of their first of three in-season byes during the 2020 season. A complete transcript of Klieman’s press conference – which was also streamed live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ – and players are posted below.

Watch: Chris Klieman  |  Briley Moore  |  Drew Wiley

Listen: Wildcats Uncut

The Wildcats travel to Norman next Saturday to face Oklahoma. Kickoff from Memorial Stadium is set for 11 a.m., and the game that will be televised by FOX.

CHRIS KLIEMAN, HEAD COACH

Opening Statement...

“Good afternoon everybody. Boy, a lot of emotions, a lot of things going through my mind with regards to the last six or seven months leading up to us playing a game, and I'll get to the game in a moment. But a couple of things – I really want to thank Matt Thomason, our athletic training staff, Dr. (Kyle) Goerl, Gene Taylor, our administration for allowing the players the opportunity to play. That’s the first thing. We were blessed to be one of the few schools in the country that’s getting the opportunity to play, and that was a really neat thing. I’m happy that we were able to play. I want to thank all the fans for coming out and coming to a football game under some strange circumstances with COVID. I loved the fans that came out. They were loud. They were into it. It was a home game. It was fun to see – and I know we couldn’t fill it up – but it was fun to see everybody, and I can’t thank and appreciate those people enough.

“From the football game, it didn’t go the way we wanted it to go. A lot of things played into that. You can say COVID played into that. It sure did. You can say the lack of spring ball played into that. It sure did. Lack of summer training. It sure did. Losing time in fall camp, losing players and all that stuff, it did. But, the bottom line is, you have an opportunity to compete. You have an opportunity that you don’t know how many opportunities we’re going to have this year, and we talked about that. Are we going to play nine more or are we going to play two more? None of us know this. So when you have the opportunity to compete, you have to take advantage of your opportunity and your moment. I thought Arkansas State, you can tell they played a game. They were much better prepared than we were since they played a game, and they outplayed us. Our guys have to learn from that. Our guys have to learn that if the first guy goes down, second guy goes down, third guy goes down, it doesn’t matter. You're wearing K-State and you have to make plays. We didn’t make enough plays. Young guys that played, to older guys that have played, to new guys that haven’t played, and so we’ve had a lot of conversation amongst our staff, a lot of conversations with the team. We didn’t practice yesterday. We met for an awful long time with players – leadership council, to team meetings, to unit meetings, to position meetings and really had some tough conversations. I believe moving forward there’s going to be some positive things coming out of those conversations, mainly because we don’t know what 2020 holds. None of us do, and none of us have a crystal ball to see what’s going to happen the rest of the fall of 2020. We need to be better, bottom line.”

On tight end Briley Moore...

“I knew Briley was going to play well. He had a really good camp, and he’s probably one of the hungriest guys we have on the football team. He has a chip on his shoulder because nobody thought he was good enough to play in the Big 12 or at any Power 5. He has come in and gained instant respect from our older guys that have played a lot of football to say, ‘Boy, this kid’s a really good player.’ But more than that, he handles his business. He practices hard. He competes. He holds people accountable. He does all the right things. I think we can get more out of Briley Moore, and that’s what I’m going to challenge Briley to do. He needs to be more for us moving forward, but I was so impressed with how he just came right in and made plays. I know he’s going to have a terrific season.”

On true freshmen getting playing time...

“I was very pleased with the athleticism and the knowledge of the freshman class. We’re a long way to go in our maturity level with the freshman class – not that they can’t get there – to have more guys help us. Will Howard’s a really, really mature kid. Deuce Vaughn’s a really mature kid. T.J. Smith played a little bit for us on Saturday, very mature. I can’t think of all the freshmen that played, but to play the game at the Power 5 level you have to have great maturity and great discipline, and that’s difficult for an 18-year-old. Those two guys you mentioned in Will and Deuce have that, and that’s why they were able to step up and look like they belong is that they have great maturity and discipline. We’re going to continue to practice all these guys, young and old, because, once again going back to my opening statement, you don’t know when your moment will be and you have to take advantage of the opportunities you have.”

On the injuries to offensive lineman Noah Johnson and defensive back Jahron McPherson...

“Neither one will practice this week. It’s not season ending for either one, but it will be a week-to-week basis. Both guys had terrific fall camps. Both are guys that we were all counting on, and unfortunately both guys got injured early on, which allowed other people to have the opportunity. But, we’re a better team with Noah on the field, and we’re a better team with Jahron on the field.”

On quarterback Skylar Thompson...

“Yeah, he needs to play better. He knows that. He made some really, really good throws. He made some really good reads. He was banged up. I think everyone saw that in the second half. But, Skylar will respond. Everybody needs to play better. It doesn’t matter if you're an o-lineman, to the quarterback, to the safeties, to the linebackers, d-line, everybody does. We all need to improve.”

On Tyler Burns not getting as many carries as anticipated…

“Nothing in particular. I think it was more Coach Mess (Courtney) and Coach (Brian) Anderson and how the game was being played out. Then in the second half, we weren’t playing with the lead, so we had to probably rely on throwing the football a little more than we wanted to. We weren’t having great success rushing the football – especially inside – so we thought that Deuce (Vaughn) – and I think that everybody saw that – is a really effective running back on the perimeter. We thought he gave us a better chance on the perimeter with all the backs that we had. Nothing that anybody did, it’s just kind of how the game played out.”

On the depth at safety...

“Well, another guy we were counting on was Ross Elder. Ross has had a terrific camp and has played some football for us, so we hope to get him back in the near future as well. We have to continue to improve at safety, both the free and the strong. We have to continue to build depth so that we have more guys that can play 20 snaps, 30 snaps, and not have to rely on somebody playing 70 snaps. It’s a position where we have some young players that we think are talented. There’s a lot of nuances to playing in the secondary at the college level, and especially in our scheme. Even though we need to simplify it so those guys can play, it’s still – and Coach Klanderman and I have been together for a long time – of understanding are you ready to play in that moment and you have to prove that you’re ready by how you perform at practice and making sure that you do know the reads, and do know the calls, and do know the communication. If guys, in our mind, aren’t comfortable with that in practice, they sure aren’t going to be in the game. That’s why we also have this open week and hopefully everybody will be healthy to practice, and we can get some more guys that are younger players some repetitions.”

On what they saw from Deuce Vaughn in the recruiting process...

“The explosiveness for sure, the quick twitch, the ability for a young man that’s not a great size to break arm tackles. Everybody worries about a smaller back, can they be durable? Can they take those hits? Well, when you’re not getting a square shot on guys because they’re so quick, you’re not taking some of those hits. He came in the summer with his mother, and I knew right then that he was a fit for what we wanted to do and what we wanted to build upon as far as his character and integrity with he and his mom. Then his dad being in the profession of coaching and now scouting in football, I know he’d been around what it’s supposed to be like at the highest level. How you’re supposed to be a professional, and how you’re supposed to act, and how you’re supposed to have great discipline and maturity. We were jumping up and down when we were able to get his commitment because we know that he’s a generational guy. You say that’s a big term to say, that’s a generational guy. I think as much as what he can do off the field for our football team is what he can do on the field.”

On the fans picking up on the energy Deuce Vaughn brought to the game...

“As soon as you saw him run one time, I think everybody did. ‘Holy cow, he’s an electric player.’ Not only is he an electric player, but he’s a better person, which is what I’m so excited about for his future.”

On feeling more or less encouraged after looking back at Saturday’s game....

“It’s hard for me to answer. I’m still frustrated in a number of things, but I have to kind of pause some because this is just one of those years. To think that you’re going to be out as many guys potentially as you are because of COVID, or to get guys back for two days after they’ve been out for 14 days, and then they’re going to practice for a couple of days. I’m not saying any of those things are excuses. They’re not. We need to be better. It’s just from a management standpoint, from the head coach to the assistants to the players, you don’t know who you’re practicing with on a daily basis. Offensively, you don’t know who you’re working with on the o-line or who you’re throwing the ball to. You don’t know if that corner or safety is the same guys. That’s what we are dealt with. If you could say, ‘We’re going to get everyone back and everything is fine,’ I don’t know. I don’t think any of us know. So, once again, there’s no Coaching 101 for this. I’ve talked to head coaches across the country that we’re all dealing with the same stuff. Nobody has the exact answer if this is how we’re supposed to do it. We’re just going to keep learning on the fly and coach the guys that we have for that day really, really hard and really well. When they have the chance to play, they’re ready to play. We may have that guy for two days and get him ready, and then he’s gone. That’s something you don’t think about in college football, but it is right now in college football. Every week we’re going to work with the guys we have – cross our fingers – that we continue to do the right things with hygiene and masking and social distancing so that we can keep guys around.”

On dealing with trick plays and staying aggressive as a defense...

“It goes back to discipline. It doesn’t go back to aggression. It goes back to the rules and principles of the defense. If I follow the rules and principles of the defense and I don’t lose my eyes, I’ll be fine. We have answers for everything. We have an answer for the double pass. We have the answer for the Philly Special throwing it back to the quarterback. If I follow my rules and principles from the framework of the defense, we have somebody assigned to everything. If I don’t follow the rules and principles, not just on a trick play but on a normal play or normal run, you’re not going to be successful. Those are the things that, as a staff, we have to continue to try to keep preaching, preaching, preaching. Whether it’s a young player that’s only had that snap 10 times or an older player that’s had that snap 190 times, if I follow my rules and principles I’ll be fine.”

On if this season is about doing what’s best for the long run instead of a quick fix...

“If I was in year eight, I might say that we should try to throw some gimmicks in there. Let’s try to fool some people. But we’re in year two. We are going to follow our philosophy and rules and principles, even if that is playing at a position where we are down. Even if that’s playing somewhere we aren’t as equipped at other spots because this is an absolute marathon for me here and not a sprint. I’m not sprinting to say that I have to do this so that I can go and get another job or I can do this. We, as a staff, are making sure that this is a marathon so that we, as a staff, are here for the long term. I’m not a quick-fix guy. It would be different if I said, ‘Hey, let’s go get 15 JC’s since we don’t know if we’re going to lose guys. Let’s go get 15 DI transfers.’ That’s not my philosophy. That’s not our philosophy as a program or as a staff. We had this conversation as a staff on Sunday. Do we do the gimmicks? As a staff, we said, ‘This is who we are, and this is who we have been at a previous institution.’ We aren’t going to change that. Are we going to maybe take some lumps periodically this year? We may have to, because I don’t want to say, come spring of 2021, ‘Let’s get back to what we wanted to try to do,’ because now I think you’ve lost a ton of time.”

On if he’s noticed a difference with being the hunter instead of the hunted…

“No, because I did see it from the other side, so I caution the guys about it all the time. Football is football. That’s why Briley Moore played so well. Briley had a chip on his shoulder. He wanted to experience Big 12 football. Some guys just want to be on a Big 12 roster, as opposed to playing big boy, Big 12 football. I’m a big believer – and you guys have heard me say this a thousand times – football is football, and it doesn’t matter what school you’re at, where you’re from, if you’re a five star to a no star like Carson Wentz was. If you have an opportunity to play and have a chance to play this great game, if you don’t have your A-game, you’re going to get beat. We know that in the NFL. You guys see that in the NFL every Sunday. It’s no different in college football, and in an era now where you don’t know who’s going to be around from game one to game two because of some of the issues we’re dealing with, I think it really levels the playing field in the fact of, I wouldn’t want to go into a game saying, ‘These guys are out nine of their starters due to COVID.’ I think guys would probably relax and think that it’s going to be a cakewalk. You’re going to get beat by the backups. It doesn’t matter because if you have a chip on your shoulder and want to prove something to somebody, you’re going to do that. There is so much parity in the game of football.”

On if playing a team who already played a game would happen if it was a different kind of season…

“You would rather not, but it depends. Is it a 12-game year where you can add in a game against someone from a different league? I don’t know, just like everyone else doesn’t know, in the distant future what is going to happen with week zero. Is that going to be a week where a lot of people play? If so, you’re going to be stuck. Sometimes those week zero games become, ‘Hey, let’s get a game going, and then you’ve already got your schedule.’ Shoot, the team you’re playing in week one is already playing in week zero for a money game, and they’re going to do it. Typically no, you wouldn’t want to. You’d want everyone to be in their first game.”

On if the spirit and confidence was shaken following Saturday’s outcome...

“No. Probably going back to all the things we’ve been asked in other questions about spirit and things like that, if you’re not ready to play, you’re going to get beat. I’m not saying we weren’t ready to play. I thought we had a good week of preparation. In the same respect, there are a lot of good football players across the country at every level, so you need to play really well with whoever you have or you are going to get beat. We’ve had a lot of conversations on the football team over the past 48 hours about what we all can do to be better. That’s not just on the field, it’s off the field. It’s doing the little things right. It’s making all of our meals, getting to our tutor sessions on time, being respectful in the academic center, being respectful to our athletic trainers. All the little things, in my mind, come back to bite you. It’s easy to talk about after a loss, but all the little things you don’t do correctly from a discipline standpoint can come back to bite you, and some of those things did on Saturday. So, it was probably more of an awakening. Not to our coaching staff, I think our coaching staff knew that some of these things could happen, but to an older kid or younger kid, we have to tighten our ship a little bit here. That’s the challenge to our guys. I’m excited because we have challenged those guys. I’m looking forward to seeing how guys respond. Not just in a week. You don’t tighten a ship in a week, but in the next few months, whether that’s two games or nine games.”

BRILEY MOORE, SENIOR TIGHT END

On how motivated he was to make an impact...

“There was a lot of motivation with everything going on, but I was just trying to control what I could control and do whatever I was asked to do. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to come out with a win, so it’s time to evaluate ourselves and see what more of an impact we can have on the next one.”

On what he did best and areas he can improve...

“There’s a couple of technique things that I think, towards the end of the game, whether it was fatigue or whatever, that I kind of need to work on and continue to get better at. Overall, game one knowing schemes and stuff, I felt comfortable out there. I felt the coaching staff did a great job of preparing us to know what our schemes were. When it came to those, I felt comfortable, so that was a good thing for game one in a new offense.”

On the fourth down conversion...

“It was actually a check, and from the point that he checked the play, I knew it was coming to me. Skylar (Thompson) did a great job of putting the ball outside of where the defender could catch it, and it made it an easy catch for me. That just shows the type of football player and leader and commander of the offense that Skylar is to be able to go up there on 4th and two and make a check and a big time throw to keep the chains moving.”

On the trust level between him and Skylar Thompson...

“It’s a pretty good indicator of, not just me and him, but the comfort level there is overall with our players. It happened to be me and him on that specific play, and it shows he’s comfortable putting the ball in people’s hands. If there was someone else in that situation, he would’ve done the same thing, but I think it really shows his comfort level and his confidence that he has in our offense.”

On his relationship on the field with Skylar Thompson...

“I think it’s a product of a relationship that is much longer than my few months here. Like we’ve talked about many times, it’s growing up knowing each other as well as working out in the summers and not realizing that we were going to have an opportunity to make plays together on the same field. His leadership from the moment I got here, really the moment I decided to transfer here, of walking me through what we do on this scheme, and we watched film together last week and got on the same page on certain things. Being on the same page on the field makes things like the fourth down conversion easier because I know what he’s seeing and he knows what I’m seeing. So, I’m looking forward to improving things like that and our comfort level and that area moving forward.”

On what he sees in the freshman class...

“One of the biggest aspects is maturity. These guys aren’t coming in here as immature freshmen that don’t care. They are coming in here bought in. The main product of that is, as we’ve seen, is Deuce (Vaughn). He had a great game, some explosive plays, and he has some things you can’t teach. For him to come in game one as a true freshman and do the things he did just shows how mature he is, how much he has bought in and how much film he watched during the week, things that you might not see from a lot of guys at that age.”

On his touchdown catch…

“Honestly, it was unreal. I knew the play call that there was potential to be a touchdown, and from the moment that I saw the ball released from Skylar’s hand to getting back to the sideline after he tackled me, it was just honestly unreal, felt amazing, and I wish we could’ve done more to come out with a victory so we could actually celebrate the first touchdown. But, in the moment, it was absolutely amazing. Skylar gave a great ball in the soft spot behind the defense. It was an unreal experience.”

On the home environment…

“I can’t remember the exact moment in the game, but I think it was a third down for Arkansas State that it honestly caught me off guard how loud it actually got out there with just 20 percent capacity or whatever that number may be. So, I thought about it at that time and I can’t imagine what this place is like at full capacity and everybody going crazy on third down. We’re thankful for the fans that came out and supported and all the fans that watched, and we are going to do our best to get this ship going in the right direction for everybody.”

On the biggest challenge blocking up front with the injuries…

“Guys stepped up. When you get in the heat of the battle in a game like that – especially with everything going on that’s unlike any other year – I’d really say guys did a great job of stepping up and being ready whenever their number was called. With the outcome and the way it went, we saw no matter who it is, whether it’s a starter or a backup or the third string that came in, we have to be better from top to bottom. Going in there with guys who didn’t get reps with the first team going into the week, I’d say guys competed whenever their name was called.”

DREW WILEY, SENIOR DEFENSIVE TACKLE

On how he and Eli Huggins played...

“I think it was, for me at least, an amazing opportunity. It means a lot that Coach Mike Tuiasosopo had that kind of trust in us to go out there and make plays. Hopefully we were able to make a couple plays, and obviously there are places I need to improve and I know Eli would say the same thing if he was up here. I think for both of us, it was a really good opportunity and we are just trying to make the most of it. There are places where we are going to get better.”

On how he felt like he graded out and how he can become better...

“Being honest, it kind of sucked watching the film after that game. There were some things that I felt like I did alright at, but there were some things, like getting off the ball more explosively, getting some better feet movement, like keeping my feet going was a big thing that I noticed on Saturday. My pass rush is something that I’m always trying to work on and improve. Those are the things that stuck out to me after watching the film.”

On the foundation that he was able to build going forward into the season...

“I think that was a good starting point. A place where I can look forward to and be excited about future opportunities to build off of what we were able to do on the defensive line on Saturday.”

On the changing point from the first to second half...

“I’m not sure in my mind I can tell you when I felt the changing point. I felt like, for me, it was pretty consistent. I felt like their offensive line played pretty well. It’s a pretty veteran group with a lot of seniors in that group, and I thought they played pretty well. Obviously they had quite a bit of success against us, especially in the second half and put up quite a few points.”

On the cohesion level of the defensive line...

“Cohesion is one of our strong suits on the defensive line. We are all really close. I think we play well together. You talk about Wyatt Hubert and Eli (Huggins) and Bronson (Massie) and Khalid Duke, we understand each other. Even with the younger guys, I think it’s a great group of guys and we all trust each other. We know we are going to take care of business, so I think cohesion is one of our strong suits as a d-line.”

On the true freshmen…

“We have a lot of young talent. Felix (Anudike) is a big, strong, fast kid, and he came in with a chip on his shoulder. He’s going to be a great player here. Ronald Triplette is a freshman defensive tackle who we have in our room who’s worked really hard and is going to be a good player here. You mentioned TJ Smith, he's obviously going to be a very good player. We have a lot of young guys on defense. Tee Denson, there are a lot of guys who are going to be contributors here in the not so (distant) future, and we’ve seen some of that last Saturday. I’m excited for what those guys can do.”