Chris Klieman could have picked any number of things as the most impressive part of Kansas State’s win over Nicholls on Saturday.
There were the 49 points the Wildcats scored. Or the 35-point (49-14) margin of victory. Or the 300-plus rushing yards, with five players scoring touchdowns on the ground.
But Klieman, fresh off his first game (and win) as head coach, chose none of those.
“I think just the way we were able to convert on third down and keep drives alive,” Klieman said during his time on the Big 12 coaches teleconference Monday, referring to his team’s 83.3 percent (10 of 12) success rate on third downs. “I don’t know if we’ll have (another) game like that. I’d love to have a bunch of games like that. But just the amount of third downs we were able to convert led to the time of possession.”
The Wildcats held the ball more than two-thirds of the 60-minute game; K-State had the ball for 41:09 while Nicholls had it the remaining 18:51.
Colonels coach Tim Rebowed joked afterward that the disparity, particularly in the first half, “was really ridiculous.” The offense’s lack of on-field time, Rebowe said, did its cohesion no favors.
“Not to take anything away from (K-State’s defense), but we played 17 snaps in the first half. Offense just didn’t have the ball,” Rebowe said. “The first play of the game, we gain 9 yards and then we throw a pick. We couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively. (Kendall) Bussey, I thought, ran the ball hard, and in the second half, (Julien) Gums had the big long run, but he also put the ball on the ground. So again, the offense was just not getting on the field too much.”
Klieman couldn’t complain.
“It really kind of steamrolled in the first half getting 28 points and holding the ball for all but 17 plays,” he said. “That’s probably the most impressive thing: the conversions we made on third down.”