The value of a bye week can be very different for a lot of football teams, especially this time of the season.
For Kansas State, the bye week seemed a little like a short stay at a rehab facility — a solid 10 days working to become a better me, perhaps. Other than the obvious work to be done in execution, like tackling, lining up in the right spots, catching the ball and holding onto the ball, much of the Wildcats’ focus has been on everything that takes place between the ears.
At 2-2, this wasn’t exactly how the defending Big 12 champs probably envisioned their season starting. The Wildcats looked like a team on the ropes after its loss at Texas almost two weeks ago. A team so predictable a year ago for all the right reasons — one that didn’t beat itself with turnovers, silly penalties and always played fundamentally sound football — has looked anything but so far this season.
Fixing that has been top priority with a date at Oklahoma State looming this Saturday afternoon.
“We have to have that honest self-assessment in regards to coaches and players alike in being able to define where we need improvement,” Snyder said Tuesday. “In terms of creating an identity, that’s something that has to come from within. It’s easy for me to say do this and do that, but the bottom line at the end of the day is how they feel and what they believe is significant to them and how they respond to it.”
That self-assessment started with a drill Snyder has called upon before when teams have faced adversity.
“We did a little drill in which everyone stepped up and said, ‘Here’s what I haven’t done as well as I need to and here’s what I’m going to do to try to help this football team,’” Snyder said.
Sophomore defensive end Marquel Bryant said it was beneficial, but that at the same time, “talk is cheap.”
“It was Ryan Mueller that said you have to stand by your word,” Bryant said. “That’s a big deal. If I say I need to bring more pass rush, then I need to see that in practice. If a defensive back says I need to cover better, now we need to see it.”
Junior center B.J. Finney said these past 10 days have been a sort of wake-up call for K-State, especially after the Wildcats’ heart or focus was challenged following the team’s loss at Texas.
“It wasn’t really that guys weren’t into it — it was a reality check to make sure that they were,” he said. “Some guys think that they were, but there is always more to give. It was one of those things that they have so much more to give, and they have to sacrifice for the better of the team.
“It was good. It means that guys thought about it because Coach (Snyder) told us the day before, ‘I want you guys to focus on some things that you need to get better and help this team get better.’ To hear guys stand up and say little things that really would help this team get better, it kind of put everything in perspective that everybody has something to work on.”