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Recap: Kansas State Hits The Ground Running, Keeps Running To Huge Victory Over Nicholls

Chris Klieman’s debut could not have gone any better.

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Running back James Gilbert of the Kansas State Wildcats rushes for a touchdown against Nicholls - Getty Images - Peter G Aiken
Getty Images - Peter G Aiken

There were only three things that didn’t go Kansas State’s way in their opening game against Nicholls. They lost the opening coin toss, they had a touchdown catch reversed late in the first half, and they missed a field goal right after that.

The Wildcats scored touchdowns on their first four drives. They didn’t allow Nicholls to cross their 47 yard line until the second half. Seven different players scored a touchdown in the game, including one on defense.

In a way, the narrative of the game doesn’t even matter for this one. Kansas State scored early and often, and the result was never in doubt.

Key Plays Of The Game

13:07 1st [KSU 3rd & 6 at NICH 28] – Nicholls tackled Skylar Thompson for a loss, but a facemask penalty extended the drive. This play allowed the first long drive to end in a touchdown instead of just a field goal.

8:45 1st [NICH 2nd & 2 at NICH 33] – AJ Parker intercepts a Chase Fourcade pass at the NICH 48, returns it 20 yards to the NICH 28. This play set the Wildcats up for another quick touchdown.

6:21 2nd [KSU 1st & 19 at NICH 24] – James Gilbert run for 24 yards for a touchdown. Finishing off each of the first 4 drives with touchdowns set the tone for the second half.

14:52 4th [KSU 1st & 10 at NICH 38] – Skylar Thompson completes a 38 yard touchdown pass to Dalton Schoen. Another long drive ending with a score after Nicholls’ first score nearly put the game out of reach.

14:36 4th [NICH 2nd & 10 at NICH 25] – Julien Gums fumbles, recovered by Jonathan Alexander and returned 25 yards for a touchdown. This was the final nail in the coffin, officially ending any chance that Nicholls had to make the game interesting.

Key Stats Of The Game

361 Rushing Yards – The Wildcats absolutely dominated on the ground, with 4 players getting double digit carries, all rushing for 49 yards or more.

+2 – The turnover differential favored the Wildcats, as they didn’t turn the ball over and picked up two huge turnovers, which both directly led to scores..

41:09 Time of Possession – Kansas State absolutely dominated the time of possession. The running game ground the Nicholls defensive line into dust. This led to very long drives that ate up the clock and demoralized the Colonels. 

Kansas State Players Of The Game

  • Skylar Thompson, QB (16-22 for 212 YDS, 1 TD, 98.9 QBR, 3 CAR for 30 YDS, 1 TD)
  • James Gilbert, RB (18 CAR for 115 YDS, 1 TD)
  • Dalton Schoen, WR (3 Recs, 65  YDS, 1 TD)
  • Jonathan Alexander, DB (3 TOT, 2 Solo, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 TD)

5 Remaining Thoughts

Running back is now a position of strength. While I don’t think any of these guys are going to be getting postseason awards, they legitimately have four backs that could see significant carries. All could be successful if they were the main focus of the offense. There was real concern after Kansas State lost nearly all their running backs from last season, but they have plenty at the position now.

Chris Klieman’s game plan is a good fit for his personnel. There was a lot of talk about Klieman wanting to use a system that heavy on power-running. After seeing all the transfer running backs he has at his disposal, it’s safe to say that he has the stable of runners he needs. Quarterback Skylar Thompson has the perfect skillset for a run-heavy offense as well.

The lines were dominant. A Power 5 school is supposed to dominate at the line on both sides of the ball. This level of domination was something to behold though, as Kansas State was able to do pretty much whatever they wanted. If they can continue this play well into the season, they could surprise some teams in conference play. 

Kicking should be just fine. Blake Lynch missed his only field goal attempt, a 37-yarder that he really had no business missing. But he was 14-16 last year, with his only two misses coming from 50+, so I wouldn’t expect this to be anything other than a bad single game.

Take these results with a grain of salt. Yes it was a fantastic performance. However, Nicholls lost some key players on both the offensive and defensive lines from last season. You could tell that they really missed those guys. Ultimately, Kansas State did exactly what they were supposed to do against an FCS team in their first game.

Game Highlights

Chris Klieman Post Game Press Conference

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