We might have hit a tipping point with this football team.
After being dismantled by Oklahoma after already facing two straight “shoulda, coulda” losses, K-State players made it clear.
This team doesn’t want a win, they need a win.
“Considering all the facts, we’re hungry to get back in the win column,” junior linebacker Will Davis said at Tuesday’s press conference. “I think we need one for the mental state of this football team. A lot of guys are hungry.”
That hunger is a hunger that hasn’t been satisfied in over a month with their last win coming in that triple overtime thriller versus Louisiana Tech on Sept. 19.
“It doesn’t feel that long… but man…,” junior quarterback Joe Hubener said. “We’re as hungry as anybody. We need to pick up spirits as much as anything. I don’t think the locker room vibe is negative at the moment, but I feel that continued losses could have that effect.”
Now, a weary and yearning Wildcat team heads south to take on Texas, a team that has had its own success deficiencies this season but seemingly turned the corner two weeks ago with a 24-17 win over the same Oklahoma team that ruined K-State’s homecoming on Oct. 17.
The shutout, which was the first in almost two decades, shined a bright, harsh light on K-State’s offensive ineptitude that had only reared its head in only one half of every game until the full collapse that happened last week.
Frustration and fingers were pointed straight at offensive coordinator Dana Dimel, whose pass-first play calling versus the Sooners seemed maddening; the Wildcats went three-and-out in the first two drives of the game as Hubener threw six straight passes without a first down.
Head coach Bill Snyder said he has heard the moans and groans generated by the Wildcat fan base, and while he believes that changes must occur in the offense, play calling may not be the biggest concern.
“I concur that we need to run the ball more effectively and certainly better,” Snyder said. “There was a criticism about throwing the ball at the outset of the ballgame instead of running it but you look at the first play of the ballgame, if we don’t overthrow the ball, we have seven points on the board, and that happened to us six times in the course of that ballgame.”
While play-calling and execution are fixable concerns for this K-State team, injuries continue to be the biggest obstacle the Wildcats have had to overcome.
Sophomore linebacker Elijah Lee and sophomore safety Kaleb Prewett both went down during the Oklahoma game, and their statuses for Texas are unknown.
Both of those injuries have compounded on the Wildcats’ already messy and confusing injury situation, which has crippled K-State so far this season.
“It’s a difficult time,” Snyder said. “I haven’t experienced that here. I’m not saying others haven’t — that I don’t know. The unfortunate thing is they’re, for the most part, substantial injuries and it really takes some time and effort to heal or to overcome.”
It is definitely a lot to overcome, but K-State is looking to its recent past for inspiration to guide them out of this losing skid.
“I think the biggest thing we compared it to is that a couple years ago the football team started 2-4,” Davis said. “We are 3-3 right now. That team turned it around, and they took it upon themselves to turn it around. That is the same thing we have to do. We have to take it upon ourselves as players to turn it around.”
That 2013 team Davis referred to recovered and ended up winning six of their last seven games, including beating Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to wrap up a successful 8-5 campaign.
K-State’s first step toward that recovery is in Austin, Texas, where they take on the Longhorns on Saturday at 11:00 a.m.