Just four games into the Kansas State football season, self examination is par for the course as the Wildcats use their bye week to determine just exactly what went wrong in two early losses this season.
But K-State’s leaders never expected to be answering questions about teammates not fully invested in the program.
In a somber, deflated locker room last Saturday in Austin, Texas, not everyone was feeling the kind of hurt and disappointment that junior linebacker Jonathan Truman was feeling, which didn’t sit well as the Wildcats try and regroup heading into next Saturday’s matchup with Oklahoma State in Stillwater.
“They just have to look into themselves and really think if they have invested so much, and we fell short obviously, in the game — if they don’t hurt inside, they didn’t give enough,” Truman said. “If they don’t feel upset, there’s something wrong there.”
The term “buy in” has become cliché in the world of sports, often used as a buzzword to explain why teams suddenly turn the corner in a season and realize their potential. But in the case of the Wildcats, with so many new starters, the possibility of some players not caring as much as their teammates seems to be a real issue.
“There’s a lot of guys that, like coach always say, genuinely care,” Truman said. “If you genuinely care about this football team, and you put everything that you have into improving and everything you have into making this football team a great football team and then fall short of that goal, it’s going to hurt. There’s guys that are upset, and that’s natural. You’re going to be upset if you fall short of your goal.”
Truman said the captains are trying to get the team back on track, but they can only do so much.
“There’s leaders on the team that really try to get the guys going,” he said. “It just comes down to who’s willing to follow. With great leaders, you have to have great followers as well. Not everybody can be a leader and not everybody can be a follower.”
Charmeachealle Moore said the scene in the locker room after the Texas loss was one of hurt and genuine shock. The sophomore said there was a letdown factor involved with losing to Texas after teams in the past sustained so much success in the last decade.
“We were hurt and we were wondering why,” Moore said. “That’s not the outcome we wanted after the game, but it happened. So what can we do to get better?
“We talk about being a unit, being a family. When one person hurts, everybody hurts. Every loss affects the whole team.”
Losing games makes winning games feel that much better and Truman said his teammates need to remember what it felt like to lose to help motivate them.
“One word of advice from me is to remember the pain — remember how it feels to lose,” Truman said. “If you don’t remember how it feels to lose and really feel that pain, you’re not going to stop it from happening again. I hate losing, it hurts, and so I do everything I can for that feeling not to come back.”
With an entire week to practice and focus inwardly instead of preparing for a specific opponent, junior receiver Tyler Lockett said the team needs to take a step back and figure things out.
“I think a lot of people needed this bye week to just get their heads together, relax and think about the future and what we are trying to accomplish this year,” Lockett said. “This year isn’t over with — we just lost to Texas. There are still eight games left in the Big 12, so we can still accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish. It’s just going to take a lot of hard work and dedication to get there.”
Truman said the team needs to work to find the same level of intensity regardless of who’s in the game.
“Right now, we have a ton of guys that have killer instincts,” he said. “I can’t say the same for a number of guys, though. So if we’re all on the same page when it comes to that, I think we can get it together.”