'I'm asking for your help': Kansas State coach Chris Klieman implores media to spread positive message

Arne Green
Topeka Capital-Journal

MANHATTAN — As the Kansas State Wildcats went back to work this week, looking to bounce back from a third straight loss, Chris Klieman gave his players high marks for resiliency.

"Thank heavens we are a close team, because you can be divided when you have adversity strike, and I've been pleased with our leadership — our older guys, the (leadership) council — being able to bring the guys together," Klieman said Tuesday, reflecting on Saturday's 33-20 loss to Iowa State. "Guys know it. Guys know that we need to take ownership and get this thing righted in the right direction."

But more importantly, Klieman added, his players need to remain positive. So much so that he even implored the media to cut them some slack.

"Sometimes we have a tendency to take it from a negative standpoint," he said. "I'm telling you guys, 18- to 22-year-olds can't handle the negative side. I'm asking you guys. I'm asking for your help. We need to be more positive.

"I know we can play better. You know we can play better. But we've got to give these kids more positive things, because we've got a great locker room in there and kids who care about each other, kids who love each other, coaches that believe in these kids, and we can't give up on them."

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With the Iowa State loss, the Wildcats fell to 3-3 overall and 0-3 in the Big 12 heading into this Saturday's 11 a.m. game at Texas Tech. But the players' spirits remained high.

"Obviously you're going to win some (and) you're going to lose some," said cornerback Julius Brents, a transfer from Iowa. "But the way our guys have responded in the locker room, just having a positive attitude, picking everybody up has been really quite interesting to see.

Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman is trying to send a positive message to his team after three straight losses.

"I've been part of some teams where something may go wrong and you may hear outside noise, but the way this team has responded has made us all want the team to get better."

Offensive tackle Cooper Beebe saw a team redoubling its effort to get back on track.

"I think we've done really well," he said. "We've lost three in a row and obviously that hurts, but (during) weights Monday, I see dudes working their tails off, because we want to win.

"We have a team that's capable of winning in this league. People are starting to do a lot more extra stuff. We want to win."

Quarterback Skylar Thompson urged his teammates after the game to look within for ways to help reverse the team's fortunes. On Tuesday, Klieman included the coaching staff in that equation.

"We took ownership on Sunday for some things that we had some mental errors on either side of the ball or on special teams," he said. "You can't put that on the kids."

And that was his message to the team.

"We spent all day Sunday and half of Monday talking about that," he said. "Then we met with some guys on the leadership council on Monday afternoon and the team late Monday afternoon to try to explain to those guys, 'Hey, we've got to take some ownership in this too, as coaches.'

"Everybody needs to give a little bit more. Everybody can step up a little bit and everybody can probably own their role a little bit more, but that's coaches as well. This isn't just the offense, just the defense, just one part of the offense, one part of the defense. This is a collective group and it starts with us."

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Those remarks were not lost on Thompson, a sixth-year senior.

"We met with Coach Klieman and Coach Tru (Trumain Carroll) as well and just kind of had an open discussion about where we were at as players, what we felt like maybe needed to be adjusted throughout the week, what could help us out, and also what the coaches are thinking that maybe we can switch up a little bit to kind of help us out throughout the week," Thompson said. "I'm very thankful to be part of a program where my coach listens to me, listens to us players, and is open to what we have to say.

"He often takes our advice and applies it to whatever we ask. I obviously haven’t been anywhere else, but I know it's not like that everywhere."

Now, Thompson added, it's up to the players.

"All we can do is control what we can control and be better throughout the week of preparation, and, ultimately, when Saturday comes, just cutting it loose and falling back on our training," he said. "You can't rise to the occasion on Saturdays and expect to win. It all depends on how you carry yourself, how you train throughout the week, and over the offseason.

"That's where that comes to light, and you're able to fall back on your habits. So, that's what we have to really work on.”