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Chris Klieman Is Optimistic About Kansas State's 2024 Season

Updated: Jul 11

Coach Chris Klieman was at Big 12 Conference Media Days in Las Vegas with optimism for the upcoming season for his Kansas State Wildcats. K-State is attempting to become a perennial power team in the new-look Big 12.

The Big 12 has lost Oklahoma and Texas to the Southeastern Conference which opened the door for the former Pac-12 Conference teams (Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado) to join the remaining 12 teams left behind. There will be some hurdles for Kansas State this upcoming season, but Klieman did not seem to have much concern.

New Offensive Coordinator

Former Kansas State star QB turned K-State offensive coordinator Collin Klein left to join coach Mike Elko at Texas A&M. Klieman promoted offensive line coach Connor Riley to co-offensive coordinator with Matt Wells. Wells is the former coach at Texas Tech and Utah State. He has been credited with developing Green Bay Packers QB Jordan Love while at Utah State.

"It was maybe the right time for him to get back on the field and truly coach," Klieman said about Wells.

"A wealth of experience and a wealth of knowledge with quarterbacks, and I've already seen, in a short period of time, just the second semester, the value of him being with (quarterback) Avery (Johnson)," Klieman said. "There is a great mesh there. There's a great comfort between the two guys. They are on the same page an awful lot. And I know that Avery, as well as our offensive staff, coaches, coach Riley, our offensive coordinator, are excited about some of the things that coach Wells will bring to K-State, especially the pass game."

Klieman said he believes the right choice was made in promoting Riley and hiring Wells. The Kansas State offense will look quite different this upcoming season.

Kansas State's Defense

The K-State defense returns 79 percent of production from last year's team. The losses include Daniel Green and Khalid Duke to graduation, Nate Matlack, Kobe Savage and Will Lee to the transfer portal.

"There's such talented offenses in this league and skilled players, for us to have bookend corners back in Keenan Garber and Jacob Parrish is really important to us," Klieman said. "Those guys have played a lot of football. And then to have most of our safeties, VJ Payne and Marques Sigle played a lot of football, Colby McCalister has played a lot."

"And then we've got some freshmen that are ready to step up as redshirt freshmen, a couple of transfers, a kid named Jordan Riley that I think people will learn and know an awful lot about by the end of the season," he said.

Klieman said he is very high on the Ball State transfer to help in the safety position replacing Kobe Savage.

"I'm really comfortable and excited about the amount of defensive linemen we have that have played a lot of Big 12 football, as well as some of the new guys we have coming on, some freshmen that will be redshirt freshmen that I think can be really effective pass rushers," Klieman said.

He said he is also high on the defensive front led by Brendan Mott and Cody Stufflebean.

"That is the thing about our defense and good teams and championship teams down the road is their depth," DE Brendan Mott said about the depth of the defensive line.

The Running Game

DJ Giddens is still the featured running back at K-State after a quietly good season in 2023 rushing for 1,226 yards, 10 touchdowns, and another 3 touchdowns receiving.

"It will probably be similar in the fact that DJ can carry it 30 times, and he did that a few times for us last year," Klieman said. "He can carry it 20 times. DJ is an every-down back and underrated in our league."

"So we've got another tailback in Dylan Edwards that's a really good complement to DJ with some speed as well as electricity elusiveness in the open field that's probably the thing that excites us the most offensively we have a lot of guys around Avery," Klieman said.

Klieman hinted plenty of times during the day that the Kansas State offense has a real chance at being even more explosive this year.

The Schedule

K-State opens the season by taking on UT-Martin on Aug. 31. Then a trap game road trip at Tulane on Sept. 7 before returning home to play against Arizona on Sept. 13.

Kansas State will not face Utah in the regular season but will still face Oklahoma State at home on Sept. 28. Road games include trips to Colorado (Oct. 12), West Virginia (Oct. 19), Houston (Nov.2) and Iowa State (Nov. 30). The other home games include Kansas (Oct. 26), Arizona State (Nov. 16) and Cincinnati (Nov. 23).

Audio of Klieman's remarks at the Media Days events can be accessed here, here, here, here and here.


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