How Kansas State football linebacker Daniel Green is refining his technique after second targeting call

Wildcat linebacker ejected twice in first four games

Arne Green
Topeka Capital-Journal
Kansas State middle linebacker Daniel Green (22) has been ejected twice in four games for targeting this season.

MANHATTAN — Daniel Green wasn't quite ready to agree with the targeting penalty that knocked him out of the second half last Saturday against Oklahoma State. 

But after his second disqualification this season for the same infraction, neither was he running away from it. 

"I was really shocked about that one," Green, Kansas State's junior middle linebacker, said of the call for leading with his helmet while tackling OSU quarterback Spencer Sanders late in the second quarter. "It's a situation where it's frustrating, obviously, but I only can control what I control and just get better."

Because he sat out the second half of the Wildcats' 31-20 loss to Oklahoma State, Green is eligible to return for Saturday's 2:30 p.m. Big 12 home opener against No. 4-ranked Oklahoma. That was not the case in the season opener against Stanford, where he was ejected in the fourth quarter and had to miss the first half the next week against Southern Illinois.

"We can't afford to lose Daniel Green," K-State coach Chris Klieman said after the game. "He's too good a football player, and it's two games out of four that we've lost him for a half.

"Now fortunately we get him back for next week, but (backup) Nick Allen played really well. But Daniel's got to change his game a little bit."

If there was a silver lining for the Wildcats, it was the play of Allen, a junior from Blue Valley Southwest High School, whose 10 tackles in the game tied Cody Fletcher for team high.

But Klieman on Tuesday called it imperative that Green make some adjustments.

"One, Daniel’s got to continue to work on keeping his eyes up and seeing what he hits," Klieman said. "I think anytime it goes to replay, it's never probably very good, and we've got to make sure that the game remains safe.

"So, they're going to call that, and we as coaches all understand that and appreciate the fact that we want to make sure and keep the game safe. So he's got to learn to tackle with his eyes up and see what he hits a little bit better."

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Green said he knows what he has to do.

"Just really, really focusing on keeping my head up and tackling more with my chest instead of my shoulders and stuff like that," he said. "It's kind of just you're playing fast and just playing football — things that I now have to really hone in and practice at getting better at."

Allen praised Green for remaining engaged after the ejection, as K-State shut OSU out in the second half. Green saw it as his way of contributing.

"My role changed and I became more of a vocal guy on the sideline, still locked into the game, talking to my teammates, telling them what I see and what we can get better on as a defense," he said.

The fact that has Allen proven himself to be a capable backup was a positive, but Klieman knows that playing without Green long term is not sustainable.

"Nick's playing really well and made some really splash plays," Klieman said. "It's just that Nick's also a starter on all four special teams, and he's playing every snap of the second half.

"We have to be able to have somebody spelling him on special teams or when Daniel’s around and plays a full game, Nick’s got to be able to spell him too so we keep both fresh. They’re both good players.”

More:Kansas State football vs. Oklahoma State report card: Not a good night for the Wildcats

Kansas State football injury updates, including latest on Skylar Thompson

Speculation swirled over whether quarterback Skylar Thompson will play Saturday against Oklahoma — Klieman said it's unlikely — or if Will Howard will be ready to make his third straight start in his place.

But Klieman also shed some light on three other injuries, saying that he expects Reggie Stubblefield to play after missing the Oklahoma State game. Tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe and safety TJ Smith are less likely to be available, Klieman added.

More:Skylar Thompson, Will Howard or Jaren Lewis? Who will start at quarterback for Kansas State vs. Oklahoma

K-State's Landry Weber is a Campbell Trophy semifinalist

Kansas State senior wide receiver Landry Weber was named a semifinalist Wednesday for the 2021 William V. Campbell Trophy. The award recognizes a player as the best football scholar-athlete in the nation for combined academic success, football performance and exemplary leadership.

Weber was one of 176 players from all NCAA divisions and the NAIA chosen. He became the eighth K-State player in as many years to be named a semifinalist for the award, including older brother Stanton in 2015.

Other Wildcats semifinalists were Tyler Lockett in 2014, Will Davis in 2016, Trent Tanking in 2017, Dalton Risner in 2018 and Adam Holtorf in 2019. Lockett, Risner, Holtorf and Tysyn Hartman in 2011 all were finalists for the award.