Chris Klieman already received an early Christmas gift last week when Nebraska quarterback Adrian Martinez announced that he was transferring to Kansas State for the 2022 season. That is great news for the Wildcats because Skylar Thompson’s final game of eligibility is coming up in a couple of weeks.
Martinez started 38 games for the Cornhuskers over four seasons and has claimed several career records at Nebraska, including total offense (10,792 yards), completions (670), and single-season passing percentage (71.5% in 2020). He should be a fantastic fit for the Wildcats and coach Klieman has to be happy about his addition.
Now, what else could Klieman want to see under the tree on Christmas morning? Here are three things that we certainly think he is hoping for going into 2022.
1. Martinez Cleans Up the Turnovers
The one thing that Adrian Martinez has held against him is his tendency to turn the football over, and it is for good reason. In 38 games, Martinez has thrown 30 interceptions and lost 16 fumbles or just over 1.2 turnovers per game. No doubt, his athletic ability is rare but that is an eye-popping stat that cannot be overlooked. If Klieman can get the most out of Martinez in the spring and help him clean up the turnovers, it could take K-State to the next level offensively. Former star quarterback and current K-State QB Coach Collin Klein is a good comparison for what Martinez could be in this offense if the turnovers were to diminish significantly. That’s no. 1 on the wish list.
2. A Great Offensive Coordinator Hire
IF you don’t see the trend here, you may need to get your eyes checked. The Wildcats problem in 2021 was offense, and it would be nothing short of a tragedy to waste what will probably be Deuce Vaughn’s final year at K-State in 2022. Hiring the right coordinator to utilize the combination of Vaughn and Martinez is going to be key for Klieman and could be the pendulum on which next season swings. There seem to be three candidates out there right now, according to the Wichita Eagle: Current K-State QB Coach Collin Klein, Wyoming offensive coordinator Tim Polasek, who previously worked for Klieman at North Dakota State, and former Texas Tech head coach Matt Wells. As long as they can utilize that rushing tandem in the backfield, the offensive production in 2022 should be on the upswing.
3. Someone to Pair With Felix Anudike-Uzomah
The sophomore defensive end was named Big 12 co-defensive lineman of the year and was an all-conference first-team selection in 2021 and should be an absolute nightmare next season. He will not be sneaking up on anyone after finishing second in the league with 11 sacks and third in tackles for loss with 14.5. That means that offenses will key on him more in 2022, so someone else will need to step up and be the guy opposite Anudike-Uzomah; a guy like Nate Matlack. The freshman defensive end finished second on the team in sacks (4) and forced fumbles (2) and showed promise when given the opportunity. If he can develop himself during the offseason, 2022 could be a big year for him and the Wildcats defense.
If Coach Klieman can get Santa to deliver those three things to him on Saturday, then next season could be the best one of his career at K-State yet.
The Wildcats face LSU in the Texas Bowl on January 4th at 7:00 p.m. CT, and a win in that game would be a nice little Christmas Bonus too.