Ranked Opponents Provide Opportunity for Improvement

Senior centerback Danzel McDaniel (7) tackles Oklahoma wide receiver Durron Neal (5) by shoving him out of bounds during the third quarter of the Wildcats' 31-30 defeat of the Sooners on Oct. 18, 2014 in Norman, Oklahoma. (File Photo by Parker Robb | The Collegian)

The past two weeks have been tough for the K-State football team.

After a rough loss to Oklahoma State two weeks ago in Stillwater, the Wildcats lost another close one to No. 2 TCU at home.

Senior quarterback Joe Hubener said at the press conference Tuesday that after suffering the two losses, K-State wants a win this Saturday against Oklahoma more than anything.

“We were angry after that (Oklahoma State) loss because that was a tough loss coming down to the wire, and this one just adds fuel to the fire,” Hubener said. “We are tired of losing these tough games because we know that we can play with anybody, and we showed that.”

Oklahoma is regrouping after a 17-24 loss to Texas last weekend. The Sooners held a season low 278 yards on the day. The defense did not force a turnover in the game.

“I expect the two teams to be extremely motivated and ready to go,” junior defensive linebacker Will Davis said at the press conference. “They’re upset that they lost that game. They’re going to be ready to play. We’re going to be ready to play.”

It’s easy to look at the past two games with negative feelings, but despite the losses the Wildcats have made significant improvements to their game. Head coach Bill Snyder said the offensive line played its best in the TCU game.

“I thought our offensive line played with a great passion most of the ball game,” Snyder said at the press conference. “If we block aggressively and finish plays aggressively, that was what I was looking for.”

Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Dalton Risner said he is pleased with the progress of the offensive line.

“We knew that we were struggling at the beginning of the season and noticed that we were not finishing drives,” Risner said at the press conference. “We took it upon ourselves to step up and get better in the red zone, and we have.”

In the past two games, K-State has scored a touchdown 10 of the 11 times they found themselves inside the opponent’s 20 yard line. Compare that to the first three games of the season, when the Wildcats scored touchdowns on just eight of the 18 times they were in the red zone.

On the defensive end, Davis said facing strong quarterbacks such as OSU’s Mason Rudolph and TCU’s Trevone Boykin helps the defense learn and prepare for the next game.

“I think anytime you see quarterback after quarterback that is so good at their craft it just keeps preparing you for the next week,” Davis said. “You’ve seen that level of play, and you can react and play better.”

Several younger players stepped into prominent roles for K-State’s defense. Sophomore linebacker Elijah Lee said he is pleased with how far the defense has come, but he’s not satisfied.

“We’re just now breaking the hard surface,” Lee said at the press conference. “Now we just need to be able to learn that we have to finish games.”

K-State will take the improvements and look to build on them against Oklahoma this Saturday.

“We need some uplift,” Risner said. “We need to get the season going. We’ve got a lot of football left to play. No matter what it takes, no matter how ugly it is. Just get this win.”