MANHATTAN — Kansas State football running back DJ Giddens may be a man for few words, but boy did his actions speak loud and clear.
By the time the dust had settled on the Wildcats' 44-31 Big 12 victory over Central Florida on Saturday night at sold-out Bill Snyder Family Stadium, the man they call the silent assassin had quietly but authoritatively turned in one of the more impressive games in school history.
With Treshaun Ward, the other half of K-State's running back tandem sidelined, the Wildcats turned to Giddens, their 6-foot-1, 210-pound power back, to carry the load and he delivered to the tune of 207 yards and four touchdowns, not to mention a team-high eight catches out of the backfield for another 86 yards.
"We challenged DJ," K-State coach Chris Klieman said after watching the Wildcats (3-1) bounce back from last week's loss at Missouri run over Big 12 newcomer UCF in their conference opener. "We said, 'We're going to give you the football. You need to step up. You have all the ability in the world. We've got to believe in you and we're going to keep giving it to you and keep giving it to you.' "
They did just that, handing it off to Giddens 30 times, and he punished UCF by running over, through and even around the Knights' defense from the get-go.
"They were on me a lot this week," Giddens said of practices leading up to the game. "Especially since about Monday or Tuesday, all the coaches kept talking to me and they were in my ear.
"It felt good to be someone they could trust and lean on, so I'm proud that they did that."
Giddens, who had been the thunder to Ward's lightning in the backfield, showed he was no one-trick pony. Although he shed tacklers left and right, he also made plenty of them miss on the way to the first 200-yard game by a K-State running back since Alex Barnes had 250 at Baylor in 2018.
"Probably just that I'm versatile," Giddens said. "I can catch the ball. I run the ball and catch the ball and make a cut or two.
"I watch Deuce a lot. A couple of moves that I made tonight, I'd seen him make it. It's like I stole them from him."
Nifty moves aside, what stood out to Klieman was how physical Giddens was on his touchdown runs of 1, 9, 18 and 3 yards.
"Just how hard he ran, and he wasn't coming down with first contact and he made people miss in the open field," Klieman said. "He ran through arm tackles. He caught the ball out of the backfield.
"They were doing some things that the running back had to be able to make plays and doing some things outside with our wideouts that are really good, so we had set him up with matchups in the pass game, too."
Giddens also was quick to credit his much-maligned offensive line, which had not performed up to expectations through the first three games. It didn't hurt that veteran right tackle Christian Duffie was back from an injury to play for the first time this season, sharing snaps with Carver Willis, which in turn allowed All-American Cooper Beebe to remain at left guard the entire game.
"I've got to shout out to the O-line," Giddens said. "And Will (Howard) for trusting me and throwing the ball.
"That's what it was, and I tried to make one or two people miss."
Howard, who played the entire game at quarterback after being listed as questionable with a leg injury, was not surprised by Giddens' performance.
"I think DJ had a heck of a game, and that was a long time coming," Howard said of Giddens, who rushed for 518 yards last year as a true freshman while backing up Vaughn. "I think that kid, he's been primed for it and he was ready for the moment.
"And I think him seeing that for himself is going to give him a lot of confidence going forward."
Leave it to Beebe, regarded as one of the nation's top offensive linemen, to summarize.
"(Center Hayden) Gillum kind of made the joke, he's like Forrest Gump. He's always running," Beebe said with a smile. "He just runs. He doesn't say much (but) all he does is run.
"But you've got to have DJ do him, and I'm just excited to see what he did tonight."
Arne Green is based in Salina and covers Kansas State University sports for the Gannett network. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @arnegreen.
This article originally appeared on Topeka Capital-Journal: Kansas State football running back DJ Giddens delivers against UCF