There are high football hopes throughout Big 12 campuses, with the possible exception of Iowa State and Kansas. At No. 23 K-State, however, students are optimistic of what’s ahead for the Wildcats.
“We have a really good chance of winning the Big 12,” Emily Leonard, freshman in marriage and family therapy and athletic training, said. “Our defense has been really on point this year and as (Jake) Waters gets more comfortable with his team they will be tough to beat no matter the opponent.”
Waters isn’t the only experienced signal-caller in the conference, as Baylor’s Bryce Petty has continued to develop his hold as the Big 12’s best offensive player. The K-State senior quarterback hasn’t put up flashy statistics and has contributed to some of the Wildcats’ early-season mistakes.
“There has been simple things like interceptions, sacks and missed opportunities that are easy to fix, but big problems if they are not fixed,” Leonard said. “Who better to help fix those problems then the legend himself, Bill Snyder?”
A balanced attack is the “Bill Snyder way,” but he raised some eyebrows during the Auburn game after Waters attempted 40 passes.
“If Charles Jones can get more touches, we will be better off,” Kris Messer, freshman in sociology, said about his desire to see K-State’s run game develop.
It’s hard to argue with Messer’s perspective as the Wildcats haven’t seen the run game that they’re accustomed to. Jones has averaged over five yards per carry and gathered eight touchdown runs, but Messer said it hasn’t been enough as Jones has only carried the ball 11 times per game.
Messer also said he believes K-State lacks a deeper receiving corps to go along with All-American wide receiver Tyler Lockett and Curry Sexton. Over 60 percent of the receptions have gone to Lockett and Sexton along with starting tight end Zach Trujillo.
A big factor that has students questioning whether K-State will be able to claim the Big 12 championship is an unpleasant schedule. The Wildcats will have to face the top two teams in the conference on the road in Oklahoma and Baylor. Those are the games students have had circled since the season began.
Kiara Hughes, sophomore in business marketing management, said she thinks it’ll come down to who wins in Waco, Texas on Dec. 6. That also comes with the assumption that the Wildcats will take care of the rest of the schedule leading up to the season finale.
“Our main competition is Baylor,” Hughes said. “If we beat them, we will win the Big 12.”
Dan Vanschoelandt, junior in wildlife and outdoor enterprise management, is in the same thought process as Hughes, and said he thinks the program is going to have to side-step a few potential sleepers along the way.
No. 21 Oklahoma State, has done little to disappoint thus far, including a near upset of No. 1 Florida State to open the season. A Nov. 8 game in Fort Worth, Texas also awaits the Wildcats and head coach Gary Patterson’s team is far from a pushover.
However, many K-State students feel their program is among the top teams in the country. Passion isn’t slipping for the near 8,500 students who fill Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturdays. As Snyder preaches on a regular basis, the family mentality exists in every corner of K-State’s campus and throughout the city of Manhattan.