K-State rolls into bye week looking to improve at 3-0

Kansas State defensive end Reggie Walker (51) celebrates with fans following their NCAA college football game win, 31-24, over Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss., Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Sitting at 3-0, there's not much to nitpick with Kansas State football right now. But of course, a head coach is never totally satisfied.

"I believe that we have to stay humble and stay hungry, not be seduced by the success that we have had," Chris Klieman said.

Sitting in the top 20 nationally in both scoring offense and defense, the Wildcats likely have a lot less to work on than many teams around the country for their bye week. Klieman though wants to keep his players focused on raising the bar.

"I'm happy, obviously, that we're 3-0," Klieman said. "But, big picture, we haven't even started conference play yet. We know every game is going to be a dog fight. We know whatever we did last week has no bearing on the next week."

"I'm just trying to do my best to soak in the season we are in right now, try to get better as much as I possibly can, get this team better, and remind everybody that this - what we accomplished - is a good thing to be proud of and happy about, but at the same time that isn't our goal to be 3-0 in that sense," junior quarterback Skylar Thompson said. "We have plenty more goals to accomplish."

In this first of two byes for the season, K-State can begin focusing on a tough road trip to Oklahoma State on Sept. 28 to start Big 12 play. Klieman admits having two off weeks is a little unusual, but he's a fan of where this one fell on the schedule.

"I love to have it before you get into conference play," Klieman said. "That's big - you play your non-conference, you learn more about your team, and you learn more with what you have to do in certain phases of the game."

Thompson shouldn't have too much to clean up. He's thrown for 486 yards, completed 68% of his passes, scored six total touchdowns and has no turnovers. The signal-caller is still trying to pinpoint some improvements.

"It would just be the little things in my play that I can continue to get better at and just getting more comfortable with our offense even more," Thompson said. "I feel like I got to the point where I've pretty much mastered most of it and understood what our goal and our mission is on offense, but there is always more to grow and more to learn."

Defensively, entering conference play means preparing for the high-scoring offenses of the Big 12. That's where Klieman is most intrigued to get to work.

"I'm anxious to see just because I think, on defense, we need to get so much better and so much cleaner," Klieman said. "When I say cleaner, maybe it's in a fit and we don't have two guys in the same gap; maybe it's in a coverage and we don't pass something off that we should've passed off on an exchange route.

"The fact is that we're just scratching the surface I think, defensively, on what we can be. We also know that we have to play better on defense with the conference schedule we have because everybody can run it and everybody can throw it."

And the Wildcats are looking forward to figuring that out once again when they return from their time off.

"We are pumped," senior defensive tackle Trey Dishon said. "We have really good momentum and a good mindset going into Big 12 play. We still have some stuff to clean up, but I think we are happy where we are sitting."