The K-State Wildcats (2-2, 0-1) did not want to go into their first bye week after a loss, but after losing on the road to Texas, that is how they saw the first third of their season end. The Wildcats had a full week of practice during their bye week. Not only did they begin preparing for their upcoming opponent, No. 20 Oklahoma State, but they were also able to address some personal issues.
"We have been trying to address, as coaches, the necessary things we need to improve on," head coach Bill Snyder said. "We have to have that honest self assessment in regards to players and as coaches alike. We have to be able to define what the issues are that we need improvement with. Once we can honestly do that, then it’s a matter of defining and correcting mistakes, putting a plan in place to correct those mistakes.
The WIldcats got their first look at conference play against the Longhorns before the bye week. For a lot of players, this was their first time starting on the road. It was not an easy transition, but there were positive takeaways despite the loss.
"It is like anything else in life," Snyder said. "You experience something on a given occasion, and you have a much greater awareness of what that environment is all about when you repeat the action. Even our guys who have been in the program, played and traveled numerous times, it has been quite some time since we have traveled. That takes some acclimation on their part getting readjusted to it. Then you have a number of young guys that have not traveled with you before and really have no clue. Now, having done it at least one time, that certainly enhances their awareness of what it is all about, what the problems were and maybe having the awareness to not have that be a problem."
Before last weekend, Oklahoma State looked to be the front runner for the Big 12 title. As the No. 11 team in the country, the Cowboys appeared to be firing on all cylinders. However, last weekend against the West Virginia Mountaineers, the Cowboys were held to only 21 points and suffered their first loss of the season. Despite the loss, the Wildcats know that Oklahoma State will still be a tough test.
"They will be angry. They certainly will continue to be very competitive," Snyder said. "I think it is that emotion when you lose a ballgame — the real competitive people get very upset about it, and anger can be channeled in the right direction to help perform. I guess it could work both ways. I understand that as well, but each individual is a little bit different in how he deals with that emotion. You can see it being a benefit."
During the bye week, junior center B.J. Finney said something happened at practice that he had not seen happen since he had been a Wildcat. The team broke up into four groups and every player stood in front of their group and talked about what they can improve on.
"It was good," Finney said. "It means that guys thought about it because Coach [Snyder] told us the day before, `I want you guys to focus on some things that you need to get better and help this team get better.’ To hear guys stand up and say little things that really would help this team get better, it kind of put everything in perspective that everybody has something to work on."
Few members of this year’s squad played in Stillwater the last time the Wildcats traveled to play the Cowboys. However, one player who did play was junior wide receiver Tyler Lockett. As a true freshman at the time, Lockett had a tremendous performance before suffering an injury late in the game. The Wildcats were defeated by the then No. 3 Cowboys 52-45. That was Lockett’s last game of his freshman year.
"I am looking forward to it," Lockett said of the upcoming game in Stillwater. "The last time we went to Oklahoma State, we ended up losing, and this is my last time playing at Oklahoma State. When you look back at it, you do not want the same thing to happen again. I think it really starts on the practice field, but I think a lot of players are really getting ready for this game on Saturday."