Will Davis didn’t know how Kansas State football players would respond to their worst loss of the season, but his concerns disappeared when the Wildcats met for practice Monday evening.
“We were angry and you could see that on the practice field,” said Davis, a junior linebacker. “Guys were truly focused on trying to get better and correct our mistakes. It was an angry practice and a focused practice.”
It occurred after players held a closed-door meeting in which anyone on the roster could share their feelings without coaches present. The combination felt like a trip to the spa.
“We started the week off right,” offensive lineman Terrale Johnson said. “We had a meeting and players came out fired up, just ready to get going, wanting to get better for the game. I felt like we started Monday off right. People say Monday is slow and sluggish, but we had juice and tempo out there. We got a lot of work done.”
A 55-0 defeat is the kind of result that can linger with a team and damage morale, yet players seemed reinvigorated while speaking to media Tuesday.
They say they have put Oklahoma behind them and are now focused on their upcoming game against Texas.
The Longhorns deserve their full attention. The Wildcats (3-3, 0-3 Big 12) have lost three in a row, and another loss will drop them below .500 with No. 2 Baylor up next. They can ill-afford another defeat.
K-State is confident it can turn things around, but it needs more than spirit and focus.
Coach Bill Snyder thinks the Wildcats also need improved execution and better coaching. Maybe even a quarterback change. Offense, or a lack thereof, doomed K-State the whole way against No. 17 Oklahoma and after halftime in previous games against No. 4 TCU and No. 14 Oklahoma State.
K-State gave up on its running game in all three losses, despite disastrous passing statistics.
Snyder defended offensive coordinators Dana Dimel and Del Miller for the strategy, saying “contrary to popular belief, they haven’t forgotten how to do it.” But he didn’t praise them, either.
“I concur that we need to run the ball more effectively, and certainly better and that we need to invest in it,” Snyder said. “... I want us to be a balanced football team.”
Snyder said K-State players need to execute at a higher level for that to happen. When receivers got open against Oklahoma, quarterbacks Joe Hubener and Kody Cook overthrew them. They have struggled lately.
Hubener has completed 20 of 56 passes for 281 yards and four interceptions in three Big 12 games. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass. Kody Cook had a eye-opening first half against Oklahoma State, leading the Wildcats on four consecutive touchdown drives, but he has done little since. He completed 1 of 8 passes for six yards and an interception against Oklahoma.
Making matters worse, two of those five interceptions were returned for touchdowns.
Snyder said he wasn’t sure who would start against Texas, but when pressed he admitted Hubener “in all reality” will start.
“But I want to hold everyone accountable throughout the course of the week,” Snyder said. “All of us, myself included, in how we perform during the course of the week is important.”
Passing accuracy may be the determining factor. In order to get back to its running roots, K-State can’t afford major mistakes when it throws.
Nor can it afford to let the Oklahoma loss to continue to hurt them.
“We have shown that we can play with Oklahoma State and TCU,” Hubener said. “We know we can play with anybody, it is just a matter of showing up and doing it.”
Kellis Robinett: @KellisRobinett