Thursday, November 26, 2015

K-State working to ‘get house in order’

Kansas State has won two games. And though that’s not a great start to the season, the mood around the Wildcat football program resembles that of a team still looking for its first victory.

That’s what losing to Texas can do a team that had won five straight in the series dating back to 2003. After all, it was just a year ago that the Wildcats defeated Texas in the regular season finale to clinch the Big 12 title.

Now, K-State is down, trying to pick itself off the mat in the next 10 days before it travels to Stillwater, Okla., to face the Cowboys.

“Right now, we’re just trying to figure out where everybody’s head is mentally,” K-State junior receiver Tyler Lockett said. “Are we going to quit? Are we going to lay down? Are we going to just keep going out there and keep fighting each and every day? Nothing is given to us. We’re in the Big 12 and games aren’t going to get easier. It’s just seeing where everybody’s head is this week.”

But after spending 20 minutes with K-State coach Bill Snyder on Tuesday, one thing is clear — not everyone’s heads and hearts are in the right place just yet.

That, Snyder said, has to change before the Wildcats even begin to think about stopping Oklahoma State on Oct. 5.

“Well,” Snyder said, referring to the team’s unity, “it could be better.

“We’re not in a position to be able to compete until we get our house in order. When we get things corrected here, then we’ll move forward.”

From the Xs and Os, to possible changes in the depth chart, to resolving the quarterback situation, there is plenty to work out in the coming days if the Wildcats are to bounce back from their rocky start. But Snyder said everything starts with strengthening the intrinsic values that seemed to ooze from last season’s Wildcats.

“Probably just need to go back to the value system that we’ve tried to operate on for a long period of time, just those goals, so to speak,” Snyder said. “Just understanding the intrinsic values that are significant in being successful on or off the field, either one.

“There are some values you have to possess. It doesn’t make them good guys or bad guys, just some values you have to possess to have success in life and on the football field. We definitely need to be better within the system as it relates to intrinsic values.”

Where does that start?

“That starts with me,” Snyder said. “That starts with me.”

Snyder pointed to discipline, or a lack thereof, as a reason behind the Wildcats’ early struggles.

“Things that take place on the football field probably tell you that we don’t have the quality of discipline that we need right now,” Snyder said. “The discipline to do what you’re supposed to be doing, and doing it the right way every single time is important in a football game, as it is in so many things.

“If you have turnovers, penalties and missed assignments, those are by and large a byproduct of the value system and discipline and being able to stay focused so you can execute those things the right way.”

K-State sophomore defensive tackle Travis Britz said the focus wasn’t where it needed to be last Saturday in Austin, Texas. Whether it was lack of focus or not, the Wildcats weren’t very good on either side of the ball against Texas. The offense was inconsistent and turned the ball over three times, while the defense was ripped apart by Longhorns’ running back Johnathan Gray, who rushed for 141 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries.

“We lost sight of the fundamentals of how we’re supposed to play this game at K-State,” Britz said. “We’re known to be a hard-working, tough-nosed football team and we lost sight of that. We really need to get back to that.”

Lockett on watch list

After catching 13 passes for a school-record 237 yards on Saturday, Lockett was named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list by the Tallahassee (Fla.) Quarterback Club Foundation. The award is presented annually to the nation’s top receiver. Lockett has 29 receptions for 469 yards and a touchdown, averaging more than 117 yards per game this season.


Social media attack

K-State junior quarterback Jake Waters was singled out and criticized on Twitter by some fans following the Wildcats’ 31-21 loss to Texas last Saturday.

“It’s disturbing,” Snyder said. “Number one, I don’t understand it. Number two, I’m pretty confident whatever may have been said in a negative fashion doesn’t really represent the support base for this program. That’s my belief.

“What I share with our players is if you go on it, you deserve what you get. If you stay off of it, you don’t have to worry about it. That’s hard for 19-year-olds to do when they’ve grown up with that social media environment, but it really is a shame when somebody can get on and do that without eye contact. Those same people wouldn’t walk in this building and look me in the eye and say that, I assure you of that.”


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