K-State Looks to Improve in Return to Alamodome

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K-State returns to the Alamodome Saturday. The territory is familiar, and the Wildcats will look to eliminate mistakes from the South Dakota game as they take on the University of Texas San Antonio.

“Maybe there is a motivational factor there,” said Coach Bill Snyder. “But for me, and I hope for our players, it is another preparation. We are not going to fret about it.”

Freshman center Dalton Risner said returning to the Alamodome was motivation for the team.

“The mindset for all of us is that we are going back to the Alamodome where we played UCLA, and we just need to go out there and get on them early,” Risner said. “We need to do what we have been doing in practice, get on top of them and take everything wrong that we did in the South Dakota game and do it right this time.”

K-State has not lost a non-conference road game since 2009. The trip to San Antonio will put the Wildcat’s inexperience to the test.

“As of right now, everyone knows we are young,” said sophomore linebacker Elijah Lee. “We want to prove to everybody that just because we are young, we do not have to count ourselves out.”

K-State’s defense did not disappoint in the 34-0 shutout over South Dakota.

“It’s a big accomplishment to shut any team out,” said Lee.

It was the first season opening shutout for the Wildcats since 1999 and the 22nd shutout in Snyder’s 24 season tenure.

“I thought it was great to get a shutout,” Snyder said after Saturday’s game. “No matter who you line up and play against those are not easy to come by in this day and age.”

Defense aside, it was K-State’s special teams that got things started last Saturday with a 100-yard kickoff return from senior Morgan Burns. Matthew McCrane extended the lead to 10 after converting a 23-yard field goal early in the second quarter.

McCrane is a sophomore this season and hopes to continue to build on last season’s success. McCrane tied for sixth in the nation with a 94.7 field goal percentage, making 18-of-19 field goals on the year. 16 of McCrane’s field goals were made from 30 yards or more.

McCrane said he is ready to prove that last season was no fluke.

“I would not want to say there is pressure,” McCrane said. “It is more of wanting to prove people wrong.”

Along with proving people wrong, McCrane said he is looking to improve aspects of his game, including ball height after having kicks blocked in games against West Virginia and TCU.

“Trying to sacrifice distance for ball height has been a big improvement from last season,” McCrane said. “I think it was evident this last Saturday.”

Joe Hubener will take his first start as a quarterback this Saturday, taking the reins of the offense that will look for greater execution in the red zone to eliminate short field goal pressure on McCrane.

“It is an exciting opportunity,” Hubener said. “Having never started in high school, this is my first career start. I have something to prove, so hopefully we can go down there and get the win.”

K-State kicks off against UTSA at 11:00 a.m. in San Antonio.

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