Alabama’s 45-20 win over Kansas State was convincing on several levels. Trailing by 10, the Crimson Tide took the next five possessions to open the game.
But Kansas State managed just a field goal and a touchdown in the final three quarters as Alabama ran away with the game.
Here’s a video of Wildcats coach Chris Kleeman’s postgame comments at the Sugar Bowl.
“Yes, let’s start where we need to start. Thank you K-State fans. Thank you, K-State nation, for coming in large numbers. Seeing 10,000, 12,000 people rooting for these guys at last night’s pep rally is the reason we all came to K-State.
The fans that were there today were amazing. We have made a good start. I wish we had given them a better performance after that first season. But my hat’s off to the best fans in college football for supporting these great guys.
RELATED: “Slap in the face”. Alabama personally captures K-State’s heart on 5-star reviews
We talked in the locker room. It’s obviously disappointing with how we’ve performed, but don’t be defined by one moment. He will be remembered for his hard work. And this job will forever be remembered in Kansas State history because these guys were Big 12 champions and deserved it, and won the Big 12 title and got to represent our conference in the Sugar Bowl.
We didn’t play our best football today. Give Alabama credit, but credit the guys who stayed in the fight for four seasons.”
Coach, have you ever missed a 4th down at the goal line and everything went wrong and every gamble felt like it was going to fail?
Kliman: “Yes, I would do it again. Deuce [Vaughn] I would say let’s go again. And we wanted to go forward at halftime. One minute down, one minute down or whatever. Make really good calls, don’t just make them.
And throw, they’re at the 1-yard line and we’re going to try to take advantage of the timeout and get the football back. I mean, we were in attack mode from the start.
And give those guys credit. We didn’t hit when we had to fight. Don’t send them 99 yards to make it the way they were at the end of the first half.
21‑10 games ‑‑ I never doubt myself ‑‑ and you know that from being around us. “And we’ve been fourth all season when we had a chance to go 17-14.”
Along these same lines, coach, at what point do you decide to go for the onside kick to start the second half?
Kliman: “When we were talking in the locker room. We’ve done these drills every week all year. The guys will tell you, every week, we put it in. Every week we put it in. We didn’t execute it the way we were supposed to execute it. tried to put it in the middle of the guy.
This is a solid hit. Tai [Zentner] Probably didn’t hit the way he wanted. But we knew we had to take risks because we struggled to slow them down the last two times.
Whether it’s 80 yards or 45 yards, we’re here to win again. We’re not here to keep this thing close, anyway. We are here to win. We thought this was the best opportunity.”
Coach Kliman, you talked about the importance of looking at the whole thing with this team. What makes this group special, and also on the field?
Kliman: “Yes, just the power of belief and the power of player possession. Those guys took ownership of the locker room and the football team.
As a head football coach, knowing that your phone isn’t ringing at night and your kid isn’t doing something they shouldn’t be doing is pretty special. And I’ve never been around a successful football team on the field.
These guys were great kids off the field. And that translates to great players on the court, because they are disciplined and committed. They are tough. They are selfless. That’s what I’ll remember about this group.”
Coach, on Alabama’s first two drives, you held them to a combined 26 yards. Deuce [Vaughn] 88 yards rushing. What changes, if any, did you see that led to Alabama hitting five in a row?
Kliman: “They managed to hit a bomb against us. That was our fear. They are very talented. Their quarterback (Bryce Young) is a pretty good player. They have good wide receivers. And I thought they did a really nice job.
We’ve got them on third and 10 and maybe off the field again. And they throw it into a really good run. I miss the child. We miss the cup and he picks it up to make it 10‑7 very quickly. I thought we might have gone off the field, but we didn’t.
That’s all. We’ve talked all year about not giving up explosive games; Today they were able to match us.”
Coach, you got Adrian [Martinez] a few ssss in the first half there. Did you manage to execute the two-guard strategy as intended?
Kliman: “I was delighted to get the chance to play in the Adrian Cup. He came here and transferred here to win the championship, hoping to be able to play in a bowl and help us win the Big 12 championship.
When he was injured, it was about trying to get him back to health.
It became Will Howard’s football team. Everyone knows that. But Will and Adrian are so close, I thought it was important for CK (Collin Klein) and I to try to find a way to hit Adrian a few times.
We managed to do it. I saw a big smile on his face. It was a big smile on Will Howard’s face as Adrian got the chance to play in the bowls.”
Coach, Brian Branch, you’ve seen him all over the field as a secondary teacher. But what made you feel that he was able to cover your grievances?
Kliman: “Yeah, they have really good defensive players. They fight exceptionally well. “They got off the block and played well.”
Coach, if you don’t mind me asking about the opposing quarterback (Bryce Young). It’s a career day for him. What were the challenges of trying to defend against him?
Kliman: “He won the Heisman for a reason. We were mixing in three-man runs, four-man runs, and five-man runs. We managed to get some shots of him. We managed to shock him a little. But when you play as many snaps as he does, it’s hard to upset him for long. Credit to him.
And I didn’t get a chance to meet him. I think I ran into one of their coaches. Just thank him, thank him for playing, because that’s what college football is about. Bryce was happy to play. I thought it was really good for college football and really good for kids to watch.”