K-State offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Courtney Messingham

K-State offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Courtney Messingham speaks with reporters in February.

As Kansas State offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham assessed the team’s preseason camp two weeks in — the Wildcats reported Aug. 1 and held their first session the following day — he took a level approach.

The good: K-State is “well ahead” of where it started.

The bad?

“We’re a long ways away from being ready for gameday,” Messingham said in a post-practice interview Thursday. “But I feel good about the direction we’re going, there’s no doubt about that.”

Therein lies the biggest question Messingham still has about his unit with the opener against Nicholls State rapidly approaching. How, Messingham asked, is the team going to handle the pressure of the bright lights?

“There are a lot of days where I feel really, really good,” he said, “and there’s days where we walk off the practice field and say, ‘OK, we’re not ready yet.’ But that’s OK, because it’s not Aug. 31 yet.”

Part of first-year head coach Chris Klieman’s staff, Messingham said he’s repeatedly emphasized one point to his new players: it’s not “his” system. It’s “our system,” which he shares with the rest of the coaching staff.

“Being with them for the first time, we’re trying to teach them what our system is going to be,” Messingham said. “If you would go and ask Skylar (Thompson), he would tell you, ‘I have input. I’m a part of what we are trying to do.’ That’s what we’re trying to get the O-Line to understand, the tight ends to understand. It doesn’t matter the position.”

Conversely, Messingham wants a shift to happen at some point. Yes, the offense is the same one he used at North Dakota State with Klieman — and alongside fellow NDSU-turned-K-State offensive assistants Conor Riley and Jason Ray — to great success in the FCS.

But before the Wildcats take the field Aug. 31, Messingham said a change must occur among his players.

“By the time we kick off, it needs to be ‘ours,’” he said. “They need to have answers and take ownership in it.”

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