K-State Opens Klieman Era with Visit from Nicholls

Sep, 8, 2018; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; during the game between the K-State Wildcats and Mississippi State Bulldogs at Snyder Family Stadium ©Kelly Ross

MANHATTAN, Kan. (Release) - K-STATE OPENS KLIEMAN ERA WITH VISIT FROM NICHOLLS
Kansas State opens a new era of Wildcat Football under Chris Klieman as the 2019 season kicks off with K-State hosting Nicholls at 6 p.m., on Saturday inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The contest will be shown on Big 12 Now on ESPN+ with Drew Fellios (play-by-play) and Mike Golic Jr. (analyst) on the call. The game can be heard across the 39-station K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson (play-by-play), former K-State quarterback Stan Weber (analyst) and Matt Walters (sidelines) calling the action. The game will also be on Sirius channel 111, XM Channel 200 and in addition to the TuneIn app. Live stats are available at k-statesports.com, and Twitter updates (@KStateFB) will also be a part of the coverage.

A LOOK AT K-STATE

• K-State boasts 40 returning letterwinners – including 18 starters – from last season as the Wildcats usher in a new era of K-State football.

• Klieman’s staff features nine new coaches with Courtney Messingham leading the offense and Scottie Hazelton leading the defense, while quarterbacks coach Collin Klein returns for his fifth season in Manhattan.

• The Wildcats bring back a career 14-game starter at quarterback in Skylar Thompson, who enters his junior season as one of only two players in school history to reach 2,000 career passing yards prior to the end of his sophomore season.

• Thompson, a team captain, will have an experienced offensive line in front of him as there are five seniors in the mix to start, while they six possible starting linemen have combined for 96 career starts, including 38 by left tackle Scott Frantz, 30 by right guard Tyler Mitchell and 25 by center Adam Holtorf.

• The Wildcats do not return any rushing yards by running backs from last year – a program first since at least 1949 – but they did bring in graduate transfers James Gilbert (Ball State) and Jordon Brown (North Carolina), both of whom are career 1,000-yard rushers.

• At receiver, Dalton Schoen returns for his senior year needing only 10 yards to hit the 1,000-yard mark for his career, while the tight end spot will be stabilized by sophomore Nick Lenners and senior Blaise Gammon.

• Much like its counterpart on offense, the defensive line is stacked with a two-deep of veteran players, headlined by senior tackle Trey Dishon, senior end Reggie Walker and sophomore end Wyatt Hubert, the latter coming off Freshman All-America honors in 2018.

• Linebacker returns the team’s leading tackler a year ago in Da’Quan Patton, while two of the three defensive backs who led the team in picks last year – AJ Parker and Kevion McGee – are also back.

• The kicker and punter spots are held down by players who were phenomenal in 2018 as kicker Blake Lynch is back after making 87.5-percent of his field goals last year, while punter Devin Anctil held a 43.6-yard average in 2018.

A LOOK AT NICHOLLS

• Nicholls returns 40 letterwinners, including 12 starters, off a team that finished the 2018 season with a 9-4 record and a 7-2 mark in league play to win the Southland Conference.

• The Colonels advanced to the second round of the FCS playoffs where they lost to Eastern Washington, a team that made the FCS Championship but was downed by the Chris Klieman-led North Dakota State Bison.

• Nicholls enters the 2019 season by being ranked in the top 25 of the FCS, garnering an 11th-place ranking in the FCS Coaches Poll and a No. 12 spot in the STATS FCS Top 25.

• Tim Rebowe enters his fifth year at the helm after spending the previous 11 seasons as an assistant at Louisiana. He holds a 25-22 record in Thibodaux and has led the Colonels to consecutive FCS Playoff appearances.

• Quarterback Chase Fourcade enters his fourth year as the starting quarterback as he was named an FCS Preseason All-American and to the Walter Payton Award Watch List as the FCS Offensive Player of the Year.

• Fourcade has thrown for 7,728 career yards and 53 touchdowns, including career highs of 2,930 yards and 21 scores a year ago.

• Nicholls’ leading rusher from a year ago is also back in Dontrell Taylor, who just missed out on a 1,000-yard season with 990 yards and nine touchdowns.

• Fourcade also chipped in in the rushing game by totaling 659 yards and 13 scores.

• The Colonels’ leading returning receiver is Dai’Jean Dixon, who finished second on the team last year with 753 yards and seven touchdowns on 53 catches.

• Defensively, Nicholls brings back its leaders in tackles (Khristian Mims – 76), tackles for loss (Evan Veron – 22.0) and sacks (Sully Laiche – 8.5), while two of the three players with a team-leading two interceptions are also back in Mims and Darren Evans.

A LOOK AT THE SERIES

• This marks the first time that K-State and Nicholls will meet on the gridiron.

• Similarly, the Wildcats have not faced off against members of the Southland Conference on too many occasions as they are just 3-0 against the league, all coming since 2003.

• Interestingly, K-State has scored exactly 55 points each time it has faced a SLC member. In 2003, K-State downed McNeese, 55-14, while the Wildcats earned a 55-16 win over Stephen F. Austin in 2014 and a 55-19 triumph over Central Arkansas in 2017.

A NEW ERA

• The 2019 season opens a new era of K-State Football as Chris Klieman will lead the Wildcats for the first time this Saturday against Nicholls.

• Klieman was named the 35th head coach in school history on December 10, 2018.

• The previous 34 head coaches have combined to earn a 20-11-3 record in their first game leading K-State.

• Klieman is 2-0 in his inaugural game as the new head coach, earning a 48-3 win over Concordia (Ill.) as the new head coach at Loras College in 2005 and a 34-14 win at Iowa State as the new head coach at North Dakota State in 2014.

LOOKING FOR 200
• Bill Snyder Family Stadium is entering its 52nd year in 2019, and the Wildcats can hit a milestone win in the facility this Saturday as they hold a 199-116-3 (.631) all-time record.

• The record has been even better since 1990 as K-State holds a 153-40-1 (.791) mark when playing at home, including a 74-6 (.950) mark in non-conference games.

TEAM LEADERS

• Kansas State announced last Friday that seven players were voted team captains for the 2019 season.

• The list includes: Skylar Thompson, Trey Dishon, Denzel Goolsby, Wyatt Hubert, Dalton Schoen, Reggie Walker and Adam Holtorf.

• Each are serving as full-time captains for the first time.

• Hubert is just the eighth sophomore in program history to be named a captain. He is joined on that list by Mark Simoneau (1997), Terry Pierce (2001), Josh Freeman (2007), Alex Hrebec (2009), current K-State QB coach Collin Klein (2010), B.J. Finney (2012) and Dalton Risner (2016).

A WINNING HISTORY

• A proven winner with a championship history, Chris Klieman comes to Manhattan after capping his five-year stint as head coach at North Dakota State by winning his fourth national championship in 2018.

• Klieman guided the 2018 Bison to a perfect 15-0 record, making NDSU just the fifth team in FCS history to go undefeated and untied on the way to a national championship.

• A native of Waterloo, Iowa, Klieman has a career record of 72-13 (.847), as he went 69-6 in his five seasons at North Dakota State and 3-7 in one year as the head coach at Division III Loras College in 2005.

• Klieman’s overall winning percentage ranks fourth among all active NCAA coaches – regardless of division – and tops among active FBS coaches.

MESSINGHAM LEADS THE OFFENSE

• Kansas State’s offense will be guided by Courtney Messingham, who came to Manhattan after spending two years at North Dakota State and winning and pair of national championships.

• In 2018, Messingham’s offense set the school and Missouri Valley Football Conference records for points (622), touchdowns (80), rushing offense (4,293), total offense (7,076) and rushing touchdowns (54).

• Messingham’s appointment in Manhattan is his second in the Big 12 as he was at Iowa State from 2009 to 2013, the final two years serving as coordinator when the 2012 Cyclones ranked in the top five of six categories in ISU history.

HAZELTON LEADS THE DEFENSE

• Scottie Hazelton will run the K-State defense after spending the last two years as coordinator at Wyoming and the three years prior working for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

• A 23-year coaching veteran, Hazelton’s defenses at Wyoming both ranked in the top 25 nationally in total defense and in the top 30 in scoring defense.

• In his first season coaching the Cowboys in 2017, Hazelton’s unit led the nation in takeaways by forcing 38 opponent turnovers thanks to a nation-leading 18 fumble recoveries and a No. 2 national ranking with 20 picks.