One week ago, K-State head football coach Bill Snyder said his team had the best practice he could ever remember. He continually praised the high levels of effort and energy his team had been giving in the early spring practices up to that point.
Snyder met Tuesday with media for the second time this spring and said he still sees those same levels of intensity, despite the production level being somewhat inconsistent.
“I would say (the energy level) is positive,” Snyder said. “I have had absolutely no complaints with the effort level of our players. I think that is a very positive thing. The execution has been up and down. I think our spring practices have been inconsistent performance-wise, at best, but as far as the effort and attitude are concerned, I think that has been extremely good.”
The K-State defense was the high point of Tuesday’s press conference. In 2015, the Wildcats’ defense was riddled with injuries, highlighted by the loss of senior safety Dante Barnett in the first game of the season.
Barnett was labeled early on as a leader of the team, and his loss certainly took a toll on K-State last season.
“I think the biggest (issue) was losing (Barnett), who is the leader of our defense and plays a prominent role in other areas as well,” Snyder said. “That created some issues for us. As I said before, he is back and he is playing well. He has great anticipation, a great insight about the game itself and is a good leader on the field.”
The defensive injuries added up to more than just the loss of leaders. On the field, it was evident that the Wildcats struggled to slow opposing offenses.
In the 6-7 season that K-State limped to in 2015, the defense allowed 409 total points and an average of 31.5 points per game.
That tough year took a toll on players and is motivating the team in 2016.
“Everyone is extremely motivated,” senior linebacker Will Davis said. “We have been motivated all offseason. It was kind of our defensive mantra throughout the winter conditioning just to be the best, not better than last year, but the best and doing everything 100 percent. That is kind of the idea we have taken into spring ball.”
It was not all defensive talk on Tuesday, though. Sophomore running back Justin Silmon made another appearance at the Vanier Family Football Complex to speak.
Silmon is in a three-man race right now for the starting running back position with sophomore Dalvin Warmack and senior Charles Jones.
The competition between the three is something that has pushed Silmon to keep his intensity level up during practice.
“Everyone is still competing, and we are all trying our hardest,” Silmon said. “We are trying to compete and make each other better.”
So much is still yet to be decided before K-State takes the field for its annual Purple-White Spring Game on April 23 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Until then, constant improvement is the Wildcats’ goal.
“I am trying to get better than when I ended (last season),” senior linebacker Charmeachealle Moore said. “Like Coach Snyder says, you are 1-0 every day, 1-0 every play. That is what we are trying to keep in mind and get better.”