Wildcats find plenty to play for after disappointing loss against Horned Frogs

TCU cornerback Nick Orr prevents K-State senior wide receiver Curry Sexton from reaching a pass from sophomore quarterback Joe Hubener late in the fourth quarter of the No. 7-ranked Wildcats' 41-20 loss to the No. 6-ranked Texas Christian University Horned Frogs November 8, 2014, at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas. (Parker Robb | The Collegian)

K-State head coach Bill Snyder left his team to ponder one question following Saturday’s 41-20 setback against No. 5 TCU: “How much do you really care?”

The answer was overwhelming.

“Sunday evening some guys came in to look at video tape, and you have some dialogue with them and there’s some anger in their voices,” Snyder said Tuesday at K-State’s weekly press conference. “I appreciated that and I shared that with them. You’d like to think, as I indicated before, that they’re going through that process because they genuinely care. If indeed they are, that mindset and that anger will turn into determination.”

Saturday’s 21-point differential was the worst defeat for No. 13 K-State (7-2, 5-1) since Nov. 17, 2012 when the then undefeated Wildcats saw their national championship hopes crumble in a 52-24 loss to Baylor. Similar to that night, Saturday’s hiccup likely cost the Wildcats a spot in the first-ever College Football Playoff.

“That’s something that we were shooting for, obviously every team in the country is — if you’re not, why are you playing?” senior linebacker Jonathan Truman said. “After that loss we realize that’s something we might not be in for. Then again, we have so much to play for, (including) a Big 12 championship and a great bowl game. Right now our focus is on West Virginia and really rebounding on this and going and winning.”

The Wildcats enter their bye week this week in a tie for first place in the Big 12. If K-State is able to win versus West Virginia, Kansas and Baylor, they would be guaranteed at least a share of the title.

On top of that, K-State is battling for bowl position, which includes the Cotton Bowl, Alamo Bowl and Russell Athletic Bowl as possible landing spots.

However, it’ll first depend on how K-State responds to their recent loss next Thursday in Morgantown, West Virginia against the Mountaineers (6-4, 4-3).

“Under the circumstances, it’s easy to say that the feeling of the loss can linger on longer with period of time that you have,” Snyder said. “More often than not, people would say ‘get over it,’ but by the same token you go through those stages of human nature, and if you really care, there is going to be disappointment that is going to linger. We can say get over it, get beyond it or get past it, but if it meant a lot then that’s going to be there.”

Sophomore linebacker Will Davis said the team has already “shelved” their performance against TCU after watching the film Monday and is ready to use the idle week to prepare for the No. 11-ranked passing and No. 15-ranked total offense in West Virginia.

Meanwhile, Snyder said it’s business as usual despite coming off their worst loss of the season.

“I do not wipe away anything clean, good, bad or indifferent,” Snyder said. “That is at least my theory. I think we will approach this the same way that we always do: with an open mind and honest assessment, define what we did well, what we did not do well and how we can improve on those things we did well and how we can correct the things that we did not do well, which there was a plethora of those.”

Notes from Tuesday

· Snyder indicated that sophomore quarterback Joe Hubener could be instilled in the “Wildcat” package if needed.

“We’re prepared to do that, to have Joe on the field,” Snyder said. “He showed the other night that he’s making headway, which he truly is. He’s very capable and all the coaches feel comfortable with him so that’s not out of the question by any stretch.”

· Senior defensive end Ryan Mueller has just 26 tackles and 3.5 sacks through nine games after a stellar last season. Despite the drop-off in several statistical categories, Snyder believes he’s having just as solid of a year.

“He’s played well,” Snyder said. “He may not have the numbers, but he’s played equally as well, I think, as he did a year ago.”

· Senior wide receiver Tyler Lockett was named one of 10 finalists in the Football Bowl Subdivision for the 2014 Senior CLASS award Tuesday. The award honors senior student-athletes for their work in four areas: community, classroom, character and competition. Fans can vote for finalists through Dec. 15 on the award’s website. The award winner will be announced in January 2015.