Oklahoma football: Running K-State quarterback Collin Klein making more plays with his arm

JENNI CARLSON COMMENTARY — Kansas State isn't throwing more this season. Its quarterback is just throwing it better this season. Wildcats QB Collin Klein has obviously worked on his throwing ability in the offseason and it's something the Sooners are going to have to keep their eye on.
by Jenni Carlson Modified: September 17, 2012 at 8:25 pm •  Published: September 17, 2012

NORMAN — Watching video of Kansas State last week, R.J. Washington had one particular play that stuck in his mind.

Collin Klein took a shotgun snap and turned to hand off the ball.

“Run!” Washington thought as he watched. “Oh, wait.”

Oh, wait is right.

Klein faked the handoff and faked out pretty much every Miami defender. They bit on the run and left a tight end running open down the middle of the field. Klein hit him perfectly in stride for a big gain and a cautionary tale for Washington and the Oklahoma defense heading into Saturday night's showdown.

“They'll run, run, run, and then hit a play action with somebody running wide open down the middle of the field,” the Sooner defensive end said. “They have such a successful running game that it's hard not to be good off play action.”

But now, Klein looks more capable than ever at making teams pay with his arm.

When these teams played a year ago, the Sooners bottled him up and throttled the Wildcats. But beware, Sooners. This run-first, big-brute quarterback has a new weapon in his arsenal that could spell trouble — an accurate arm.

Last season, he completed only 57.3 percent of his pass attempts. That ranked dead last among starting quarterbacks in the pass-happy Big 12.

His completion percentage this season: 72.9 percent.

No doubt some of that is due to K-State only having played not-so-great opponents — Missouri State, Miami and North Texas — but against three similar non-conference foes a year ago, Klein had a completion percentage of only 59.6 percent.

The Wildcats aren't throwing it more this season, but Klein is throwing it better.

Much, much better.

That was what he hoped for when he spent the offseason working religiously on his passing skills. The truth is, the quarterback position is still somewhat new to him. He didn't start playing football until ninth grade, and after a redshirt year at K-State, he actually switched to wide receiver for a year.

His father, Doug, is a former quarterback coach — his first full-time job was at Kent State where he worked alongside a defensive ends coach named Bob Stoops — but Klein had never broken down his passing skills like he did this year. No aspect escaped scrutiny. Reads. Arm angle. Footwork. Release point.

His throwing motion still isn't the prettiest, but it's proven effective.

Against Miami, he scorched the Hurricanes for 84 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries and 210 yards and one touchdown on 9-of-11 passing. That pass to the wide-open tight end went for 58 yards, Klein's longest pass this season.

(The tight end, by the way, was Deer Creek High product Zach Trujillo.)

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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