Special teams success at Kansas State predated Chris Klieman's arrival as head coach in by many years.
The ability to manufacture points in the kicking and return game played a key role in Bill Snyder's historic resurrection of the Wildcat football program starting in the late 1980s.
That said, it didn't take Klieman and his staff long to embrace that history, and especially this season it has paid off big. So far, the Wildcats have blocked three punts and a field goal, and then last week Phillip Brooks made school history by returning two punts for touchdowns in a 55-14 blowout of Kansas.
And for Klieman, who won four FCS national championships in five years at North Dakota State before arriving in Manhattan in December 2018, it only made sense.
"When we were at North Dakota State, we were better than everybody, offensively and defensively," Klieman said. "Where here, it's much more competitive offensively and defensively, and you may not have an advantage on those things, so you better find a way to have an advantage on week-in, week-out basis.
"So we, collectively as a staff said, you know what, we're going to put more time into special teams than we think a lot of people are, because it has to be the edge."
So far, so good, for the No. 16-ranked Wildcats, who are 4-1 overall and 4-0 in the Big 12 heading into Saturday's 11 a.m. game at West Virginia.
Brooks, who returned four punts for 189 yards against KU, said excelling on special teams is built into the Wildcats' DNA.
"It's another aspect of the game. There's offense, defense and special teams," Brooks said. "I feel like we take pride in special teams. Special Teams U.
"And with the history of having great returners, I felt like I just needed to contribute to that to the best of my ability."
K-State's success in the return game showed up last year as well, when they took four kickoffs back for touchdowns. And since 2005, the Wildcats lead the nation with 55 kickoff or punt return scores.
"It's awesome, man," K-State defensive safety and special teams contributor Ross Elder said. "We've got a lot of players that buy into it, like (safety) Brock Monty and (wide receiver) Landry Weber.
"And Stanton Weber (special teams quality control coach), you've got to give him credit for coming up with the schemes. He spends more time than anybody in the country on special teams."
Stanton Weber, a former K-State wide receiver and special teams standout, spent two years as a graduate assistant under Snyder before moving to his current position on Klieman's staff.
"He's a former player who's been on this team and been a part of the great success on special teams," assistant head coach Van Malone said of Weber. "We couldn't do many of the things we do without Stanton and his work behind the scenes.
"He does a great job of digging out tips and helping us as coaches to be able to find things to give to our players, coming up with plans and critiquing opponents (and) scouting the opponents. That's been big-time important to us as we've gone through the season."
Instead of having a designated special teams coordinator, Klieman assigns all his assistants different units.
"I think it's important that our players see that and they recognize the importance of special teams," Malone said. "You have one play to be special, and we've had some units go out there — specifically the punt return unit — and make big plays for our team.
"As we go through the season, seeing that these games will continually be close, we feel like that's our edge."
Monty is the driving force among the players on special teams, though he's not alone.
"He's the captain of our team and kind of runs our special teams, and he sets the tempo," Klieman said. "(Linebacker) Cody Fletcher's on most, Ross Elder's on most, Landry Weber's on most, (running back) Tyler Burns is on most (and wide receiver) Seth Porter is on most of those.
"We have a core group of guys, and it's led by Brock Monty. I told the guys in the locker room, for a kid that's not a starter that's a captain, he's one of the best leaders I've ever been around. I love the fact that he challenges the guys as well, and he watches film with the players as well without the coaches, to try to make sure that the guys are dialed into whatever the schemes are."
Klieman didn't fool himself into believing that K-State, competing in the rugged Big 12, would dominate opponents the way his North Dakota State teams did.
"My previous place, we were favored by four or five touchdowns every time we played, so you didn't need to be as dominant on special teams," he said. "(At K-State) we're not favored in very many games.
"We're usually the underdogs, so you better win on special teams. Our kids know that our ability to win that battle on the special teams and win that phase every week, gives us a great opportunity in the fourth quarter of tight games."