A few minutes later, after the original questioner had left, Klein was nudged a bit on the 2,500-yard passing question. He'd answered it pretty straightforwardly, but you could tell he was miffed a bit to be asked if he thought he could throw for less than half the yards it would likely take to lead the league.
"That's a very astute observation,'' Klein said with a chuckle.
But here's the thing about Klein: He knows he's not a great passer. He knows he's never going to be Smith or Landry Jones or Seth Doege. But give the guy some credit. Like Holgorsen said, when he throws it, the result is exactly what Klein and the Wildcats want. He's thrown for nearly 1,100 yards in six games. Over 13, he's got a chance to reach that 2,500 mark. More importantly, it's been enough to get the Wildcats to 6-0 and No. 4 in the nation.
In a lot of ways, Klein fits in perfectly at Kansas State, and that's not just because his style of play fits the deliberate, no-flash style of coach Bill Snyder. Again, go back to the question of whether he was capable of throwing for 2,500 yards in a season, which would be fewer than what, roughly 70 percent of the starting quarterbacks in America? Give the guy some credit, for crying out loud.
He fits at Kansas State because the expectations of the Wildcats - like the expectations of Klein as a passer - are generally lower than what they probably should be. Consider that a year ago Kansas State won 10 games and had Klein and 11 other starters back. Yet in the league's preseason media poll, K-State was picked to finish in the bottom half, sixth, of the league standings.
Klein is at a loss to explain that, too.
"I really don't know the answer to that,'' Klein said. "That's probably above my pay grade.''
What isn't above Klein's pay grade is quarterbacking a team that has crashed its way into both the Big 12 and the national championship picture. Talk all you want about what one-loss teams might most deserve a chance to play in the BCS title game, but that's assuming two or more teams - an SEC survivor, Oregon, Kansas State perhaps - aren't no-loss teams. Kansas State is seldom mentioned in that group, even with a top Heisman Trophy contender and a top-5 ranking.
What people think of the Wildcats in general and Klein in particular, though, really doesn't matter to Optimus Klein.
"I've heard it many times. There are people who will think you're great and those who think you're terrible,'' Klein said. "And ultimately all that really matters is how we come together and execute on Saturday afternoons and how we prepare to be able to do that. And that's something we can control. We can't control what people think of our team, how good we are or how bad we are.''
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.