SAN ANTONIO – Full disclosure: As a Kansas State alum and passionate Wildcat football fan, this is an article that I was hoping to have to never write.
But on Wednesday, media reports leaked that the Texas A&M Aggies had agreed to terms with the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator and prodigal son, Collin Klein, for the same position.
And on Thursday, Klein was seen getting off the plane for the first time at College Station.
New Texas A&M OC Collin Klein touched down in Aggieland 👍 pic.twitter.com/mjdBX69S0Q— TexAgs (@TexAgs) December 7, 2023
Klein, 34, goes to Texas A&M after being K-State’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach for the last two seasons. He originally joined the Kansas State staff in 2014, as a graduate assistant under Hall of Fame Coach Bill Snyder, before leaving to become Northern Iowa’s quarterbacks coach and finally working his way up to coordinator, under current head coach Chris Klieman.
Klein’s coaching career launched after a playing career that had the former Cat quarterback finish third in the voting for the Heisman Trophy, leading the Wildcats to an 11-1 regular season and the Big 12 title in 2012. Texas A&M fan favorite Johnny Manziel won the Heisman that same season.
So what kind of an offense does Klein employ? What will new head coach Mike Elko’s offense look like? Read below for more on what Aggies fan can expect from their offense for next season.
Klein’s offense plays to QB’s strengths
Under Klein’s direction, Kansas State’s offense ranked No. 23 nationally in offensive yards per game at 446.1 this past season, and is ranked at No. 10 in scoring offense at 37.8 points per game. So what is it exactly that he does?
First, know that Klein’s offense is predicated on playing to the quarterback’s strengths. Many people will wrongly think that since Klein was known to run the ball in college that he has to coach the same way.
Well, you’d be wrong. No matter what type of quarterback he has, he gameplans specifically to put the quarterback in the best possible position to succeed going in.
Kansas State running Bash QB G/H Counter pic.twitter.com/o73NDaHpFC— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) October 3, 2022
In 2022, while using two vastly different quarterbacks due to injury, Klein called very different games for both of them.
Transfer QB Adrian Martinez ran far more frequently, rushing for 10 touchdowns and 627 yards on the ground, while averaging 15 carries per game. With Will Howard, more of a pocket quarterback this past year, he ran far less frequently, averaging less than seven carries per game. Both, however, were ultimately successful and led K-State to the Big 12 title.
2022 Kansas State running Switch 4 Verts out of Empty Quads FIB (Formation into the Boundary) pic.twitter.com/ZjweNvrGF4— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) December 6, 2023
Running game creativity
Where Klein makes his money is in his creativity in the running game. Everything in his offense starts with ball control. His offensive philosphy will mesh well with the defensive-minded Elko, who won’t mind reguarly winning the time possession battle and minimizing his team’s turnovers.
Klein’s offense utilizes multiple personnel groups and motion, creating mismatches and angles to run the ball. He routinely takes advantage of his tight ends and frequently moves them out wide, enabling them to catch passes against smaller defensive backs while also having extra blockers in the run game.
Kansas State running a Beautiful Counter to their Jet Sweep— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) December 3, 2022
🌪️ Same Spinning Guards that Baylor used vs. TCU pic.twitter.com/e1dfoRtSwH
But the key to his offense is that it uses different offensive line splits according to the defense that he’s facing and he often pulls his linemen to open holes in the running game. Check out this video of him pulling the entire offensive line below.
🚂 Kansas State pulling everybody! pic.twitter.com/dKFAZgLprL— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) October 30, 2023
Multiple players contribute
Klein’s offense was the number one offense in the red zone this past season - with good reason.
Whether its going bunch formation or empty backfield, Klein’s offense provides plenty for defenses to have to account for going in. Players at each position on the team know they’re expected to contribute.
Aggie players will enjoy playing in the offense as it is just as likely they’ll go hurry up as it is they’ll slow it down and pound the ball. Wide receivers routinely not only catch passes, but often get the opportunity for carries, making the defense chase sideline to sideline and play in space. It is also heavy in play action pass.
Kansas State running Jet Power Read— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) December 3, 2022
📖 Arc the Tackle to Read the 4ipic.twitter.com/JyV1qhYKmu
In just his short amount of time as an offensive playcaller, Klein has shown an accumen of knowing the momentum of the game. As a former quarterback, he knows what it’s like to be under center and in high pressure moments.
No matter the experience of his signal caller, Klein as a quarterback coach will have them prepared for what they are facing. And while being sound with the football is paramount, he sprinkles in some flair just for fun.
In this particular clip below, Klein has his quarterback handoff before pulling his linemen and throwing back to his QB, who gets to talley a touchdown reception to his long list of acclades.
Kansas State running Diamond Power Read with a QB Throwback Screen pic.twitter.com/W5LYPNz4Gg— Coach Dan Casey (@CoachDanCasey) September 6, 2023
But he’s also competitive and creative with a drive to succeed. Under that quiet exterior is the same warrior that bled over and over, helping bring K-State fans tons of joy and the school two Big 12 titles -- one as as player and one as a coach.
A&M fans are getting a great person, first and foremost, representing their university. He’s soft-spoken and articulate but will admit when things go wrong. Players will love playing for him.
But Aggies, enjoy him now, because if he and the team have the success they’re hoping for, he’ll be on every athletic director’s list of potential head coaching candidates.