Three days have passed and Kansas State is still feeling the sting of losing to Baylor last Saturday night.
“Mine has turned into anger, and I would hope that our coaches and players follow suit,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said Tuesday during the weekly press conference.
The Wildcats had just climbed to No. 1 in the BCS for the first time in school history and stood just two wins away from playing for the national championship.
“Anger isn’t a bad emotion at all to have in the violent game of football,” K-State tight end Travis Tannahill said. “Now, it has to be controlled… The anger can motivate you, help you get out of bed in the morning, fuel you in practice when you’re tired. Anger is a good thing, a natural response to have after a loss.”
Now, after the 52-24 loss at Baylor, K-State is in need of a lot of help if the dream of playing for the title were to become an attainable reality again.
K-State still has much on the line, though, starting with a big-time game against Texas on Dec. 1 in Manhattan. A win over the Longhorns (8-2, 5-2) would give the Wildcats the Big 12 title outright and secure at least the Fiesta Bowl, on senior night, nonetheless.
But before K-State — now ranked No. 6 in the BCS — can turn all of its attention to beating Texas, it first has to figure out exactly what went wrong on Saturday.
Snyder has a few ideas.
“From an offensive standpoint, we struggled staying on blocks, we had difficulty in our pass protection, had difficulty in regards to assignments, had a couple dropped balls,” he said. “There was just a lack of consistency in moving the ball.”
The nation’s last-ranked defense held the Wildcats to just 24 points and 362 yards. Quarterback Collin Klein threw a trio of interceptions and the Wildcats (10-1, 7-1) failed to run the ball with any consistency, finishing with just 76 yards on 31 carries.
“The penalties and turnover did cost us, they hurt us pretty bad,” K-State center B.J. Finney said. “But we’re going to have to play through that stuff. That’s adversity. I think it opened a lot of guys’ eyes on the team as far as not taking anything for granted. We weren’t disciplined in the way we played and it showed.”
Snyder said that was the most frustrating part of the whole night — that K-State, a team known for not beating itself all season, did exactly that with so much on the line.
“We’ve been good about not being penalized, one of the top teams in the nation,” Snyder said. “And we have a plethora of penalties. One individual gets three penalties, for the exact same thing. Two of them — we gained possession of the ball, got penalized and gave the ball back. Those are major things.
“Throw in the three interceptions — I think we had four interceptions going into the ballgame and we end up with three in that ballgame. We did some things out of character.”
Defensively, the Wildcats were equally sloppy. They allowed five plays of more than 20 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run, a 27-yard rush and pass plays that went for 43, 38 and 22 yards.
“Defensively, we gave up big plays that hurt us, some that were repetitious where we failed to get corrections made,” he said. “We struggled in terms of tackling. We missed a lot of assignments — double digits. We were obviously not very good against the running game. That was the most yardage Baylor has accumulated in the rushing game the entire season.”
Baylor rushed for a season-high 376 yards against a K-State defense that entered the game ranked second in the Big 12 against the run — orchestrated by former Wildcats defensive coordinator Phil Bennett.
“They had a great gameplan and they were giving us stuff we weren’t prepared for and we hadn’t seen,” Finney said. “And we didn’t play well enough as a unit to outperform Baylor.”
Snyder said as well as Baylor played defensively, he felt K-State exposed itself some too, allowing for the big, gouging plays.
“When I say that, I mean we exposed deficiencies you create when you’re not assignment sound and you don’t get into appropriate schemes,” he said. “There are a variety of different things. And Baylor played extremely well. Phil had them well prepared, but we allowed some things to happen that is not normal happenstance.”