It’s been a long football season and for the first time since August, Kansas State has finally gotten a little break.
The Wildcats still have to wait until Sunday to find out where they’re going and who they’ll face in the bowl game later this month. Though the Holiday Bowl appears to be the likely destination for K-State, the Pac-12 opponent for the Dec. 30 game in San Diego is still unknown.
Considering that, K-State coach Bill Snyder gave his team four days off this week, as the Wildcats didn’t return to practice until today. K-State will also practice Saturday, while hosting 8-10 recruits this weekend.
“I have my feelings about it, and I think other coaches have their feelings about it, as well as support staff and the players,” Snyder said about the time off this week. “I think everybody views it probably a little bit differently. Coaches are recruiting and it gives the players time to get a little rest and focus a little more diligently on academics and the other things that are important to them.”
Though Snyder has been able to go home a little earlier this week — probably still not in time for dinner — it’s clear where his focus remains, at least until the end of the month.
“My guess is, and I’m thinking on my own feelings, that there is an empty feeling there,” Snyder said about having a slower-paced practice week. “When you are doing it, you would say you would pay dearly for an hour to just do nothing, and now I can go home at a reasonable hour right now and yet there is a feeling of emptiness.”
K-State’s practices today and Saturday will be to get back to the fundamentals and the techniques of the game, Snyder said. The Wildcats’ real preparation won’t begin until Monday when the team starts to work on its opponent in the bowl game.
The Wildcats (7-5, 5-4 Big 12) could play the loser of Saturday’s Pac-12 championship game — Stanford or Arizona State — or find themselves matched up with Oregon for the second straight season.
“I know that we will all be watching a lot of games this weekend because that can have an impact on where we go and who we could potentially play,” K-State junior defensive end Ryan Mueller said. “So, it’s very exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing the results.”
Jonathan Truman is also anxious to find out where he’s going and what team K-State will play.
“Yes, I would love to know as soon as I can,” Truman said. “It’s odd with this period of time when you know you’re playing in a bowl game, but not who you’re playing against. We know who we are playing next year already, but we don’t who we are playing in the bowl game.”
Help on the way?
Snyder said Thursday that there’s a chance both safety Ty Zimmerman and right guard Keenan Taylor could be back in time for the Wildcats’ bowl game.
Zimmerman missed the final two games of the regular season after suffering an ankle injury against TCU on Nov. 16. The senior made a similar return to the field last season after getting hurt against TCU, an injury that also forced him to miss the final two games before coming back to play Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
Taylor started the first nine games for the Wildcats, but has been out with a knee injury since K-State’s win at Texas Tech on Nov. 9.
Put it on the schedule
K-State and Iowa State moved their 2014 football game from mid-October to Sept. 6 earlier this week — a Big 12 road game for the Wildcats in the second week of the season.
It was a move that had to be done to prevent K-State from having back-to-back bye weeks next season after UT-San Antonio backed out its previously-scheduled game in Manhattan.
But for Snyder, the entire scheduling mess next season — which included replacing UTSA with UTEP — boils down to a bigger problem in college football.
“What I’m not a fan of is having back-to-back open weeks,” he said Thursday. “That’s the issue. As I’ve said, television and dollars and cents have taken over and that’s what the scheduling is all about. We had to do something to circumvent a two-week break.”
As the schedule stands now, though, K-State will still have four Saturdays off next season — three open weeks and a fourth because the Wildcats’ game at West Virginia is on a Thursday night. There’s even a chance K-State’s home game with Auburn on Sept. 20 could be moved up to Thursday night because of television, giving the Cats five open Saturdays.
Snyder doesn’t want to see the Auburn game moved.
“It’s the last thing in the world I want to do, for one reason and one reason alone, that we have a lot of wonderful fans who don’t just drive in and drive home,” he said.