Since their first game of the season, the K-State secondary has been a big asset in controlling the tempo of the game. Whether it’s running or passing defense, they have been equally effective as the Wildcats sit at No. 20 in the country with only 315.8 yards in total defense per game.
At his Tuesday press conference, head coach Bill Snyder spoke about the growth of multiple players within the secondary, along with the group as a whole. While preparing for the No. 11 Sooners, play in the defensive backfield will be as important as it has been all season.
In typical Bill Snyder fashion, the now 75-year-old head coach complimented the unit, but isn’t going to give full credit due to a few missed assignments in their 45-13 win over Texas Tech.
“We had some difficulty in the passing (defense) on three or four occasions that evolved around (them),” Snyder said. “Aside from that, they have played well and if you take those four or five away, then you could say, ‘Yes, they have gotten better week in and week out.’ But you can’t take those (plays) away. You got to do something about getting it right.”
Even with their mistakes against the Red Raiders, Snyder said he believes that his team has a very important quality that can aid continued improvement: investment.
“I think that (the defense) has improved,” Snyder said. “They are intent upon developing their craft, so to speak, and are doing it collectively as an 11-man team.”
While showing an ability to shut down deep passes, the secondary has also been good at stepping up and stopping the run. The Wildcats defense, allowing only an average of 81.4 rushing yards per game, ranks fifth in the country in rushing defense.
“They’ve been challenged in a few of the early games with the run offenses and they’ve proved that they can come down and make hits and big stops for us,” senior linebacker Jonathan Truman said. “Obviously we have been challenged in the past through the air, and they’ve done a great job and it shows how they prepare well.”
Having garnered plenty of praise for his playmaking abilities, junior defensive back Danzel McDaniel continues to impress Snyder and his ability to commit to K-State’s defensive system.
“(McDaniel’s game has) elevated throughout the course of the season, as he’s made that progress as he becomes more familiar with the system,” Snyder said. “I like his commitment to what he’s doing, he’s a young guy that really wants to be a quality player and is willing to make the commitment to work at it, and does.”
Snyder said he also likes the attitude that McDaniel brings to the field with his hard-hitting mentality.
“I think it is beneficial in regards to creating an attitude about how you play,” Snyder added. “It’s beneficial to his teammates because it kind of rubs off on them as well.”
Snyder turns 75
His age might make him the oldest coach in college football, but it doesn’t come close to diminishing the appreciation that K-State’s players have for him.
“It’s definitely special to see,” senior quarterback Jake Waters said. “It’s his birthday, but you would never know about it by the way he’s going to act and by the way he goes about things. It’s just kind of special to be coached by a guy that’s been through everything you can think of and has coached so many great players. For him to coach us and give all of his time to us is a unique and special feeling.”
On the subject of his birthday, Snyder iterated what he had learned in his many years and what he thought that the younger generation should focus on in their own lives.
“If you pay attention, you’ll learn an awful lot,” Snyder said. “Part of it is choosing the right people to embrace in your life, making family important, being who you are and work at whatever it is that you do. There is just a ton of things that you learn by having good people in your life. I learn something every day from good people.”
In his 75 years, Snyder points to one person who has been a “guiding light” for him throughout his life.
“As I’ve said so many times, my mother was the true guiding light in my life,” Snyder said. “She was there forever, I think. Any good things that I’ve learned have come from her.”
Hold off the celebrations, however. As he has done his whole career, birthday or not, he said he’ll be “celebrating” the night doing what he has grown accustomed to on any weeknight during the season.
“I’ll be right here (working),” he said. “Doing what we always do.”