QB Collin Klein spilling blood for No. 16 K-State

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 13, 2011
(Eds: APNewsNow. Will be updated.) By DAVE SKRETTA AP Sports Writer Perhaps the training room in Kansas State's football complex should be named after Collin Klein. He spends as much time there as he does on the practice field. His elbows bloodied, his body swollen and bruised, the junior quarterback is determined to lead the 16th-ranked Wildcats to a high-profile bowl game. That was on full display again Saturday night, when Klein threw for a career-high 281 yards and accounted for six touchdowns, the last in the fourth overtime to give Kansas State a dramatic 53-50 victory over Texas A&M. ''He gets beat up every game - every game you see him out there, he's beat up and bleeding,'' Kansas State lineman Nick Puetz said. ''He has amazing heart.'' Klein certainly isn't your prototypical quarterback. He'd rather run than throw, take the hit than dodge a defender. His throwing motion is a little funky, his passes look more like tail-dragging punts than crisp, tight spirals. Yet somehow it seems to work: Kansas State (8-2, 5-2 Big 12) is off to its best start since 2003. ''We're still growing,'' Klein said Saturday night. ''It's the same message after this big win as it was after any other one. It's about getting better, never getting too high or too low.'' Keeping an even keel has been tough this season. Klein, in his first year as the starter, needed to throw a long touchdown pass in the closing minutes of the season opener to escape with a 10-7 victory over Eastern Kentucky. He rallied Kansas State at Miami and Texas Tech, and was instrumental in a come-from-behind win over Baylor. He was at his best Saturday night against Texas A&M. Trailing by 10 with just over 6 minutes left, Klein dropped back and lofted a perfect throw to wide receiver Chris Harper, who caught it in stride between the hash marks and ran untouched down the middle of the field for a 53-yard touchdown. After the defense forced three-and-out, Klein got Kansas State in position to kick a field goal that sent the game to overtime. Klein nearly scored in the first extra session, fumbling just shy of the goal line, but wide receiver Tramaine Thompson was there to recover it for a touchdown. After the teams swapped field goals in the second overtime, Klein scrambled 25 yards on the first play of the third one to again put the pressure on the Aggies. Then in the fourth overtime, Klein pounded ahead for 3 yards on third-and-3 to pick up a key first down. After pass interference call gave the Wildcats the ball at the 2, there was no doubt what would happen: Klein jammed it up the middle twice, the second time giving the Wildcats the win. ''There's no word to explain Collin,'' Thompson said. ''He's the toughest player on our team.'' He also may be the most talented, even if he doesn't get much credit. He's thrown for 1,504 yards and 10 touchdowns with only five interceptions, while also running for 1,009 yards and an unfathomable 24 touchdowns, shattering the single-season school record held by Mack Herron since 1969 with at least three games still to play. To put those numbers in perspective, compare Klein to former Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch, who likewise ran an option-style offense. When he won the Heisman Trophy in 2001, Crouch ran for 1,115 yards and 18 touchdowns while throwing for just 1,510 yards and seven TDs, with 10 interceptions. ''He is all that everyone says he is,'' coach Bill Snyder said. ''He's a pretty special young guy.'' Snyder has a rule against players discussing injuries, so Klein is reticent to discuss all his bumps and bruises. He wouldn't bite when asked exactly how much time he spends in the training room in a given week, but did acknowledge he's in there quite a bit. ''We've got a great training staff,'' he said, laughing. ''We're great friends.'' It doesn't matter to him how much time he has to be in there. Klein said there's nothing that will keep him off the field the final couple games of the season, at Texas on Saturday and the Wildcats' home finale against Iowa State on Dec. 3. ''Every time I fall down there's a teammate running to pick me up and that keeps my spirits up,'' he said, ''and that allows me to go another round.'' --- Follow Dave Skretta at: http://twitter.com/APdaveskretta
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