Wildcats aim to decrease penalties before Big 12 play

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K-State defensive end Jordan Willis rushes Florida Atlantic's quarterback during the game between K-State and Florida Atlantic in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Sept. 17, 2016. (File Photo by Emily Starkey | The Collegian)

Kansas State has ranked first or second in the conference in fewest penalty yards per game each of the previous five years. If the Wildcats want to continue to lead in that stat, they will need to improve from their first two games.

The Wildcats already have 20 penalties in two games for 149 yards, and 12 of those came Saturday against Florida Atlantic. You probably could’ve predicted, head coach Bill Snyder was not happy.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Snyder said certain measures need to take place in practice to prevent the penalty issues.

“It is a discipline element, and that requires accountability and coaches are responsible for implementing the accountability,” Snyder said. “It is not after the fact on gameday, it is during the course of the week. We have to do a better job of holding players accountable when those things take place in the course of a practice week.”

It’s not the first time K-State has gotten off to a slow start discipline-wise. A year ago, the Wildcats struggled with penalties early on; they had 17 through two games. But they improved down the stretch.

In the final eight games of the regular season, K-State had just 32 total penalties to jump to No. 1 in the Big 12.

Senior defensive end Jordan Willis said he knows the team wouldn’t have gotten away with sloppy play against stronger teams.

“Obviously if we were playing a better opponent, it would’ve affected us a lot more than it did, so we’ve got to be better moving forward,” Willis said.

Junior linebacker Elijah Lee said they have to be more disciplined once Big 12 play starts.

“That’s not who we are,” Lee said. “We’ve got to start focusing on doing the little things right cause you know having those types of penalties in league play will kill us.”

Penalties were not the only standout from Saturday’s blowout win. The running game showed promise as it now seems the Wildcats have a wealth of talented backs.

The competition now seems to be a four-way race after impressive performances from sophomore running back Dalvin Warmack and redshirt freshman running back Alex Barnes against Florida Atlantic.

“It is pretty intense,” Barnes said. “All four of us are trying to get on the field, but it is a brotherhood. We are all out there each and every day suffering through practice, but we enjoy it and we make each other better.”

Snyder said one of the running backs will have to put himself above the rest.

“All of them have certain things that they bring to the table, and it’s not the easiest thing in the world to get them all the time of experience that you would like to have but you wait for someone to step up,” Snyder said.

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