Wildcats working on playing complete games

Junior offensive lineman Reid Najvar lines up the ball during the game between K-State and Texas in Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Oct. 22, 2016. (Meg Shearer | The Collegian)

While they had to fend off the Longhorns late, the Wildcats still looked much better this week against Texas, compared to a week ago against Oklahoma. They now shift their focus to Iowa State, a team that has struggled for much of the season.

Head coach Bill Snyder and company held their weekly press conference yesterday. Here are three things that stood out:

1. K-State is still trying to find a way to play a complete game.

K-State has not played a good complete football game this season. The team has had great minutes, quarters and halves but have yet to string it all together in the form of one complete game.

The game against Texas was somewhat opposite of recent K-State showings where the first half was a struggle. The Wildcats got off to a great first half and early third quarter and then fell apart offensively before holding on for the win.

“They hung on, that is the best way we can put it,” Snyder said. “Once again, no one gave in or let up in an emotional way. I think that part was still there. It just boils down to execution and doing things right.”

The Wildcats will have their chance to put a complete game together against an Iowa State team that has only one win and has struggled on both sides of the ball.

“It is one of the big things, to always come out strong,” sophomore tight end Dayton Valentine said. “That is going to be key for us this week going to a tough place to play in Iowa State.”

2. K-State will look to continue Iowa State dominance.

The Wildcats have beaten the Cyclones eight straight times, the last loss to them coming in Ames, Iowa, all the way back in 2007. That doesn’t mean the games haven’t been close, though.

A year ago the Wildcats came back from a 35-14 first half deficit to defeat the Cyclones 38-35 on a last-second field goal.

Playing in Ames, Iowa, is also no easy feat. The last two games played in Iowa between these two teams have been decided by a combined 10 points.

Snyder said they have been fortunate to win so many close games against the Cyclones.

“In some cases, we have been fortunate,” Snyder said. “In all cases, we have been fortunate to have a lot of good young guys who do not give in and understand that it is a 60-minute ballgame. Iowa State has always been a really good football team. They have played well against virtually everyone that they line up and play against.”

3. The offensive line has improved.

In the first game of the season against Stanford, the Wildcats’ offensive line allowed seven sacks. Since then, the Cats have allowed just seven sacks total in Big 12 play. The line has improved mightily because of the addition of experience and sophomore offensive lineman Abdul Beecham.

“I think the biggest thing is that they have invested in themselves,” Snyder said. “They are here all the time, working extremely hard and trying diligently to try and improve upon their capabilities and correct the mistakes they make.”

The running game has benefited from the line’s improvement. The Wildcats have topped 200 yards rushing in half of their four Big 12 games and junior quarterback Jesse Ertz’s completion percentage has also gotten higher in his last four games since his line has given him more time to find receivers.

“They have done really well,” senior quarterback Joe Hubener said. “Obviously, they are a young group of guys and they have all really stepped up and shown what they are capable of. All of those guys are hard workers. You can see it in practice, that they are willing to put in the work to be effective.”

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