Oklahoma Oklahoma St Football

In this file photo, Oklahoma State fans raise their paddles before a game against Oklahoma in Stillwater, Okla., on Nov. 27, 2010. Fans will be back in full force Saturday as Oklahoma State welcomes Kansas State to tow in the Big 12 opener for both teams.

By the end of practice this week, Kansas State’s players might be hard of hearing. That’s because, from the time practice starts until it ends each day, noise will be their constant companion.

“Crowd noise all periods of the day: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, to help our offense like we do when we’re at home,” K-State head coach Chris Klieman said during his weekly press conference Tuesday. “We do it on Wednesday and Thursday to help our defense.”

The rationale is simple: Last year, the coronavirus pandemic capped crowd sizes — and in some cases, restricted all fans from attending. That’s a thing of the past.

“In 2020, you didn’t have to worry about that (crowd noise) stuff,” Klieman said, “and now you do. It’s obviously an impact, so we’ll have crowd noise pumped in all three days.”

Sophomore quarterback Will Howard started four games away from Manhattan last season.

None will look like Saturday’s contest, when he’ll be welcomed by a packed house at Boone-Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla.

That’s why practices this week will be so focused on his own voice.

“We’ve got to work the cadence ... because we know it’s going to be a very hostile, very loud environment,” he said.

“This is my first time being in a game where crowd noise on the road is probably going to be a big impact. It’s going to take some getting used to at first, probably, but I’m excited. I think it’s going to be really cool to play in front of a lot of fans at that place. I’ve heard it’s a really, really fun place to play. So I’m excited.”

Center Noah Johnson, who will be the man responsible for snapping the ball to Howard, is optimistic the Wildcats’ prep work will pay dividends Saturday.

“Hopefully the speakers will be played louder than the actual fans will be,” he said. “I don’t know how loud it’ll be at Oklahoma State, but I know we’ll be prepared for it.”

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