Big 12 Football Notebook: Game Day, Ups and Downs and ‘Getting Better Weeks’

Big 12 Football Notebook: Game Day, Ups and Downs and ‘Getting Better Weeks’


First-year Kansas State head coach Chris Klieman has been favored in the vast majority of games his teams have been involved in over the past several years. The head coach at North Dakota State from 2014-18, Klieman’s teams were 69-6 over that span, and rarely on the short end of pregame odds. That script will be flipped this week, as K-State off to a 2-0 start, hits the road for the first time in 2019 to face Mississippi State.

“It has probably been a while (since his team hasn’t been the favorite), but I don’t think you approach it any different way,” said Klieman preaching the importance of a measured, daily approach in practice. “I’m a big believer that what happened the previous Saturday doesn’t have any bearing in how you play this week.”

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Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley certainly benefits from the rule that allows offensive linemen to be three yards downfield on pass plays without being flagged. With an offense full of speedy receivers and athletic linemen, the Sooners are well positioned to take advantage of that rule. However, Riley is not a fan of it.

“I think they ought to adjust it. I don’t think a lineman should be able to go three yards downfield and still throw a pass. But it’s part of the game right now,” he observed.

Opposing Big 12 coaches should be lobbying the NCAA Football Rules Committee with that statement as ammunition right now. Ironically, the one of the members of that committee is Oklahoma associate AD Zac Selmon.

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Everyone around the Iowa State program is fired up about the long-awaited arrival of ESPN Game Day to campus. The Cyclones, certainly a deserving candidate, host Iowa in the Cy-Hawk game this Saturday.

Matt Campbell
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell

ISU head coach Matt Campbell, while acknowledging the hoopla, sounded the typical cautionary note about not letting events around the game overshadow the actual contest. That’s a common refrain for any head coach, and not a surprise coming from Campbell, who evinces an old-school vibe in many of his approaches to his job.

“There is certainly a lot of excitement around this game, but you have to make sure you don’t get caught up so you don’t miss the game,” said Campbell, who has provided an outstanding blueprint for building a program. We have to keep our attention to detail and stay in the moment. We have grown greatly over the past three years, so every (one of these games)  has been drastically different.  With Iowa, they’ve been established, and you know what you are going to get, and that’s why they have been so good – their consistency.”

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Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells has his team off to a 2-0 start, yet his time on the weekly Big 12 conference call with the media was initially met with silence. Wells, after waiting for a few moments, quipped, “Awesome, no questions today?” That apparently broke the ice, with a couple of queries following.

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Kansas head coach Les Miles saw his team drop last week’s  game to Sunbelt Conference member Coastal Carolina, negating some of the momentum it had gained with a week one win of Indiana State. However, like many coaches in  rebuilding mode, he knows that the path to improvement isn’t always one of steady forward progress.

“I anticipated a step back,” he observed. “But this team is getting better. You need to understand this is an amount of time, and we are just getting started. Down the line we will be much better than we were today.”

Miles also noted that he does not treat or view players that only have a year or two left any differently, despite the fact that they will not be around to enjoy the fruits of the seeds being planted today.

“I never look at the older guys that way,” he emphasized.  “I have never seen a  separation in class when I talk to my team. I see the room. It’s a team.”

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TCU was one of two league teams to have an open date last week, but Horned Frog head coach Gary Patterson didn’t complain about the early season break.

“Off weeks are not off weeks. They are get-better weeks,” he said. “We went recruiting, and we had a game plan practice. We are a completely different looking defense than what we looked like two weeks ago. Everybody calmed down, and the athletic ability is there. We’ve also been able to get some guys healthy.”

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Texas dropped a back-and-forth battle to LSU, and Longhorn head coach Tom Herman addressed the setback head on. While UT came up short in an offensively-charged battle, there was much to like about his team’s performance, and a growth lesson to take as well.

“You are only a failure if you chose not to learn from your mistakes. It stings, but there is a lot you can take from it,” Herman noted. “If there was one thing that we learned, it was don’t try to do more than your job. I think we had some guys that were a little bit out of place because they thought one thing rather than being focused on doing their job.”

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