The last time K-State played a Big 12 game, the conference title was on the line. In fact, the same team that K-State defeated in that game is the one the Wildcats will be taking on this Saturday. K-State will open up their Big 12 season on the road against the Texas Longhorns. Despite K-State’s recent success against the Longhorns, coach Bill Snyder emphasized that this is a new year and that what happened in the past is in the past.
“Last year was last year, and the dynamics are so different every year. What you did in the past has no bearing on the future,” Snyder said. “It is still a game at a time, a snap at a time. I think our young guys are anxious to get started in conference play. I think, for me, hopefully for them, it enhances their enthusiasm about improving their play as well. We have to be careful and do not get caught off on who you are playing. Instead, we need to focus on ourselves. We continue to try to improve and address correcting the mistakes that we have made — and there are a plethora of those that have to get corrected — and we just have to keep working at it. I hope that our players’ focus is there going into the ballgame.”
The Longhorns started the season ranked No. 15 in the country with high expectations. They returned the most starters from the previous season and looked poised to return to the main stage. Since then, Texas has lost two of their first three games, and head coach Mack Brown’s seat looks to be as hot as ever. Snyder and Brown have always been open about their friendship as two of the most tenured coaches in the league. Snyder understands the potential challenges facing Brown.
“I can’t tell you what he is going through, but I can tell you that he is a very talented and quality leader and very good with young people,” Snyder said. “His background and history speak for itself. I know when they don’t have the success that they want it is painful for him as it is for anybody. He cares about his players, and he hurts for them as well. He has established himself — I don’t think that anybody in their right mind doubts that. My sense is that he just handles it with class and continues to do the things that he knows are the right things to do. We have all been through it one time or another, and he will work his way out of it. I don’t have any doubt about that.”
Through their first three games, Texas’ run defense has been their achilles heal. In their game against Brigham Young University, the Longhorns allowed BYU’s sophomore quarterback Taysom Hill to run for nearly 260 yards. Snyder’s offenses have been infamous for the quarterback run game, but sophomore quarterback Daniel Sams knows it will not be as easy as BYU made it look.
“I get excited, but at the same time, Texas knows what we do as a team,” Sams said. “They know we are running the quarterback run game, so I don’t really get too excited — not saying what BYU did was a fluke — but I am sure they are prepared more against what we do than what happened against BYU. Like I said, I am just ready for whatever comes. That stage itself and the spot that me and my teammates are at right now, we just have to prove ourselves, and I cannot wait for that to happen.”
The Wildcats will begin to defend their Big 12 title in front of a crowd of 100,000 at Texas Memorial Stadium on Saturday. Despite their early problems, K-State players feel ready to begin conference play and take on this season one game at a time.
“Well we are always amped up when we start conference play. It always means a little more,” B.J. Finney, junior center, said. “The thing that is nice is we get to wipe the slate — it is a clean start. Every game gets a little more important from here on out. Just trying to make strides to improve every day and make sure that the progress is showing is what we are going for.”