Big 12 probably already out of contention for playoff spot

Kansas State head football coach Chris Klieman walks off the field after the team's win over TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, on Oct. 10. Klieman said Tuesday that the Wildcats are missing more than 20 players this week after recent positive coronavirus tests.

Chris Klieman put it bluntly: The Kansas State football team will try to do “the best it can” in practice this week. Klieman, the Wildcats’ second-year head coach, said during his weekly press conference Tuesday that following a recent coronavirus outbreak among its younger players, the team is “down upwards of 20 guys right now.”

Most worrisome, Klieman said, is that the number is rising.

“We have to be really creative with what we do this week,” said Klieman, whose team is in the middle of its third and final open date of the season. “We have a few young guys who have already had it. If they haven’t had it, they’re probably either in quarantine or isolation.”

The number of positive tests within the football program recently has spiked. Last week, the Wildcats had just one active case. Numbers from the Riley County Health Department on Monday revealed that the football program’s active cases had risen to nine over the weekend. That number rose by one more Wednesday, with the Wildcats now dealing with 10 active cases.

Because of the outbreak hitting younger players particularly hard, Klieman said the team will devote more of its practice time to preparing for Iowa State, which K-State plays Nov. 21.

“But we’re going to have to go against each other to do that, because we aren’t going to have any scouts this week due to COVID,” Klieman said. “It’s just an interesting week of trying to get better with our young players and the kids who are still around as well as keeping the team moving forward with respect to game planning for Iowa State.”

The plethora of players in quarantine or isolation doesn’t just alter the focus of this week’s practices; it also affects the length.

“We probably won’t be out at practice as long, just because of a lack of numbers,” Klieman said. “We have plenty of things to work on in all three phases. I was pleased with our growth on Saturday. In the same respect, (I was) disappointed because we need to win those close games and had opportunities. We’ll push forward to continue to try to find ways to win those games.”

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