After bouncing back with a 48-27 Week 2 win over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, the K-State Wildcats finish off its nonconference slate against the UMass Minutemen on Saturday in Manhattan.
The Wildcats season got off to a rough start in Week 1 with their 24-21 loss to FCS-powerhouse North Dakota State. But in Week 2, K-State picked up the pieces and dominated the Cajuns.
Now K-State is hoping to end the nonconference season on a high note before traveling to Austin, Texas to face the Longhorns in Week 4.
“Coming into Week 3 with two weeks under our belt, as long as we keep getting better every day, it puts us in a good position to play well that third week,” K-State junior tight end Zach Trujillo said. Trujillo has two catches for 36 yards this season thus far.
Trujilo’s statements mirrored those of his head coach, Bill Snyder. At his weekly press conference, Snyder said that the Wildcats have to continue to improve against the Minutemen.
“Continued improvement is vital to our program, hand-in-hand with discipline and doing it the right way every time,” Snyder said.
According to Snyder, he saw the improvement he was looking for in Week 2 in the first half against the Cajuns. But he said he then saw the Wildcats take a step back in the second half when K-State’s 31 point lead was dwindled down to 17 points.
“After the first half of the ball game last week, I was pleased with the progress that we made and I think that there were stages in the second half, basically a six-and-a-half minute period in which I thought it all went out the window,” Snyder said. “What we don’t have are those things on a consistent basis.”
One thing that became apparent against Louisiana is that Snyder will utilize both Jake Waters and Daniel Sams at quarterback. Junior Waters threw for 278 yards in the game and rushed for a score, while sophomore Sams added 63 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown.
Snyder said that the relationship between his two quarterbacks is beneficial to the team’s chemistry both on and off the field.
“As a coach and as a person I have truly appreciated the fact that they root for each other and help each other out because that is what teammates are really all about,” Snyder said. “We have always talked about being a good teammate and they both treat each other with respect and are good guys and handle the situation as well as you possibly could.”
Playing opposite of the Wildcats on Saturday are the Minutemen, a team that is just in its second year at the FBS level and has struggled in the past few seasons. Last week, UMass fell to the Maine Black Bears, an FCS team that won just five games in 2012, 24-14. The Minutemen also lost to the Wisconsin Badgers in Week 1 45-0, putting the team’s record at 0-2.
Snyder said that despite their struggles, the Minutemen are a team that will come into Bill Snyder Family Stadium highly motivated to get off the schneid.
“I know they are upset but it sounds to me like they are all on the same page and they care, and will be a highly motivated football team because of it,” Snyder said.
Like the Wildcats, UMass has also utilized a two quarterback system. Between sophomores Mike Wegzyn and A.J. Doyle, the Minutemen have thrown for 313 yards and two scores.
Freshman Stacey Bedell has carried the load on the ground for UMass, racking up 128 yards on 35 carries this season.
Ultimately, this game is K-State’s game to win or lose. And with the Wildcats opening game in Big 12 against the Texas Longhorns looming on the horizon, K-State is looking to tie up the loose ends to an inconsistent start to the season thus far.
“You always talk about starting and finishing the game, but somewhere in between you need to play pretty well also,” Snyder said. “Just the consistent discipline is vital to the improvement that we have to make. Yes we made some improvement but at some inopportune times we took some steps back from that.”