Cats taking Minutemen seriously

By Grant Guggisberg

It doesn’t matter how many times you ask him, or in what way you phrase the question.

Bill Snyder doesn’t overlook opposing football teams.

K-State could be playing Manhattan High on Saturday, and Snyder would still rattle off several reasons why the Wildcats can’t overlook their opponent.

Of course, Snyder’s not alone.

Few coaches will publicly admit they can go through the motions all game long and still win by three touchdowns. So it’s no surprise that Snyder and his players made certain to say nothing disparaging about their opponent Saturday, the Massachusetts Minutemen, a team taking its lumps in its second year as an FBS program.

When asked if his team would use this game to tune-up for its Big 12 opener against Texas the following weekend, Snyder said the focus is on this week and this opponent.

“In all honesty, I have no clue how you tune-up for somebody,” Snyder said. “I don’t know how that works. Somebody would have to tell me that — other than the week in practice that you have for them.”

No one in the Vanier Football Complex will admit it, but recent history supports the Las Vegas line that predicts the Wildcats to win by 39 points on Saturday. Unlike K-State’s first two opponents, which both had success a season ago, the Minutemen are currently mired in a 1-16 stretch that dates back to 2011. Their lone win last season came against Akron, a team which also won just won game in 2012.

While Snyder is convinced poor play could end in defeat for any team in any matchup, he said K-State’s biggest pitfall would be to become satisfied with a win in which they didn’t improve as a team.

“Complacency would give us the biggest issue,” Snyder said. “This past week, when we’re up (34-3), complacency set in over that 6 1/2 minute period of time when they scored three touchdowns and outscored us 21 to zip. If that kind of thing happens, it doesn’t make any difference who you’re playing, anybody can get anybody when you compete in that fashion.”

Despite UMass’ recent struggles, tight end Zach Trujillo had the same mentality as Snyder.

“We’ve watched them — they’re a good football team,” he said. “We’re going to have to execute to score, obviously, so we’re just trying to get better this week, hopefully play a great game, execute on Saturday.”

Trujillo said there’s no way his team is looking toward the Texas game on Sept. 21 in Austin.

“We’re looking to this Saturday,” he said. “Whatever happens after this Saturday, we’re going to try and get better for the next games.”

After losing to North Dakota State to start the season, the Wildcats know firsthand how motivated they were after losing their opener. He figures the Minutemen are just as frustrated as his team was two weeks ago.

“They want to win, just like we do,” he said. “They probably want to do everything they can to win just like us. I’m sure they’re frustrated and upset.”

Snyder can certainly relate to the uphill climb UMass is facing right now after building the K-State program from the ground up. While he stopped short of comparing UMass’ move from FCS to FBS to his turnaround at K-State, the longtime coach did say he knows how hard the Minutemen are working.

“I can appreciate what they’re doing - I truly can,” Snyder said. “And to take on that task. That’s not at all an easy task. I think they’re working diligently at it, I think it’s important for patience to be a virtue for them as well, and to support the efforts of what they’re doing.

“They’re making headway. They’re going to do some positive things during the course of the season, which I think is incremental, the way it needs to be. They were 1-11, we were 1-10. It happens.”

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