This is technically an off week for the Kansas State football team.
The No. 19 Wildcats won’t play Saturday, and their practice schedule is less demanding. They might even devote an entire day to rest.
Still, things felt anything but relaxing for K-State players at Monday’s practice. Instead of examining their victory over Iowa State and resting, they held a quick, but intense, practice. The same was scheduled for Tuesday. Coach Bill Snyder will continue to push them until they take the field against No. 5 Auburn on Sept. 18.
Under normal conditions, players would get most of the weekend off. Not this time.
With the highest-ranked nonconference opponent visiting Manhattan since No. 2 Penn State in 1969, this is no time to relax.
“It will be here in a heartbeat, so you have to be awfully careful about not putting things off,” Snyder said. “It is our intent to treat this week like it is a game week as much as possible. My interest right now is correcting mistakes and making improvement by each individual in the program. That is exactly what I have addressed with them.
“… It is a tremendous opportunity for them, but at the end of the day the opportunity is immaterial if we don’t correct our mistakes.”
K-State was certainly mistake-prone against Iowa State, committing 10 penalties for 77 yards and surrendering 28 straight points in the first half. The Wildcats rallied to win 32-28, but focus and discipline will both be buzzwords this week. The margin for error will be much smaller against the Tigers.
“It’s going to take a heck of a lot of work,” senior quarterback Jake Waters said, “and a heck of a lot of preparation and going out and executing (to beat Auburn). It is going to be a tough game no matter what. We will be fortunate to come out on top. If we do, it will be a game that puts a stamp on the start of the season. But we have a lot of work still to do.”
For now, much of that work will be made in K-State’s video room. With an extra week to prepare, the Wildcats hope to learn more about Auburn than most nonconference opponents.
In order to emulate a normal week of preparation, coaches won’t dive into scouting reports with players until Saturday. Now is their opportunity to get a head start.
“We are going to watch as much film as we can, because we have two weeks,” cornerback Morgan Burns said. “That will give us more of a chance to prepare. That should be beneficial. It is going to be a little different, but we are adjusting everything to playing on Thursday. Coach wants to make it as close to any other game week we have had. I think making it feel like nothing out of the norm will be important.”
Even if it means working hard during an off week.
“It is a little unusual bye week,” running back Charles Jones said. “But it gives us extra time to prepare, so we are all good with it.”
No surprise with Waters
Snyder was asked several questions about Waters and his career-high 138 rushing yards on 20 attempts against Iowa State. Waters is best known as a passer.
Was Snyder surprised by that running production?
“I don’t think we ever felt like he couldn’t run the ball,” Snyder said. “We always felt like he could. I have known all along, and everyone in here in our program has known, that he has the capacity to do both. It wasn’t a surprise to us. It is a surprise to me that it is a surprise to anyone else.”
Waters said he didn’t realize how well he ran with the ball until he saw the stat sheet. He was reminded the following morning.
“I had never really carried the ball that much,” Waters said. “I was pretty sore, but it was definitely worth it.”