As they say, you can't win them all without winning that first one.
Bill Snyder-coached teams are always trying to win them all BUT by winning games one at a time.
"You've got to play 12 ballgames, and our approach has always been the same and that's one game at a time," said Snyder, who is set to open his 19th season as head coach of the Wildcats today in a 2:30 p.m. ABC televised game against UCLA. "It's important for our young guys to approach it that same way.
"We can't let this game ... win or lose, play well or not play well ... have an impact on the next day or the next ballgame," said Snyder.
While agreeing that a first game can help in creating momentum, Snyder also warns, "A lot of people can't handle success. What we strive for is consistency. The bottom line is that on Saturday night when it's over, we have to get ready to play the next one."
Coaches may thrive on the preparation and practice time, but most of those in uniform get a little giddy about those 12 game days. That's especially true of the first one.
"I can't wait," said defensive end Antonio Felder. "This one can set a tone for the season."
Offensive guard Zach Kendall added, "I am more excited than I can express. It gets repetitive at practice during the spring, summer and two-a-days, so I'm excited about playing this first one on Saturday."
Plus, cornerback Stephen Harrison added, "You want to play against the best teams, and UCLA is a great team."
LAST YEAR/THE HISTORY: K-State finished the season at 6-6, while UCLA ended up 7-6 and earned a victory in the EagleBank Bowl over Temple. Bruin coach Rick Neuheisel is 3-3 against K-State, which includes a 2-3 stint at Colorado. He has an 11-14 two-year record at UCLA, including last year's 23-9 Bruin win over K-State. That was the first game ever played between the two schools.
MR. THOMAS: On average, Daniel Thomas carried the ball 22 times for 105 rushing yards and 5.1 yards per carry.
This season Snyder said, "I have no anticipation of how many times Daniel will carry the ball. We don't have a pitch count for him. It will be however many he can handle and whatever we need."
While admitting that Thomas will be a marked man over last year, Snyder said, "That certainly makes it more difficult for Daniel to have the same kind of results but it also opens up other opportunities. We just need to make sure we play to those opportunities."
WILDCAT NEWCOMER: Redshirt freshman Tramaine Thompson (5-7, 164) will be making the start at wide receiver.
"When we got into spring practice he really stepped up," said Snyder. "He became more comfortable in the system, plus he has that quickness and ability to change directions, which he has put to use once the offense became second nature to him. He's a hard worker who competes every snap."
DESIRED BALANCE: When he was an assistant coach at North Texas State, Snyder said during one season his club had identical yardage between the run and the pass.
"You always like to have that balance, but each game dictates the direction you go," said Snyder.
Last year K-State rushed for 2,159 yards on 504 snaps, and passed for 2,033 yards on 298 attempts.
DID YOU KNOW: Kansas State was part of the first live game televised on ESPN when it took on Wisconsin in the 1982 Independence Bowl.
QUOTEABLE QUOTE: Here's defensive end Antonio Felder on playing against 6-foot-4, 349-pound offensive guard Kenneth Mayfield in practice.
"He's a big one. If he gets his hands on you, you're not going anywhere."
BY THE NUMBERS
3-0 - In non-conference home openers against BCS opponents, Kansas State is a perfect 3-0 with wins over Texas in 1926, Indiana in 1961 and Kentucky in 1982.
10-5-6-1 - That's the breakdown of projected starters for Saturday's game: 10 seniors, five juniors, six sophomores and one freshman. The freshman is wide receiver Tramaine Thompson.
17 - Kansas State has a run of 17 straight season-opening wins under Coach Bill Snyder. The only time the Wildcats opened the year 0-1 was in 1989 when the first Snyder-era debuted with a 31-0 loss at Arizona State.
20 - Tysyn Hartman leads the team in consecutive starts with 20. Saturday, Hartman will take his familiar position at safety.
141 - Bill Snyder has coached the Wildcats to 141 victories since 1990. That ranks fifth-high among active NCAA coaches only behind Mack Brown of Texas (195), Frank Beamer of Virginia Tech (176), Joe Paterno of Penn State (174) and Steve Spurrier of South Carolina (157).
1,265 - Daniel Thomas has rushed for 1,265 yards, which ranks 18th on the all-time Kansas State career rushing chart. Thomas needs 328 yards to reach the top 10. With a similar season to last year, Thomas' two-year total would be 2,530 yards, which would put him only behind Darren Sproles (4,979), Ell Roberson (2,818) and Eric Hickson (2,637).
PLAYERS TO WATCH
• His teammates say that CARSON COFFMAN (#14) has a new level of confidence and maturity within the system.
• K-State has a different cast of receivers from last year in AUBREY QUARLES (#89), BRODRICK SMITH (#5) and TRAMAINE THOMPSON (#86).
• On defense, JARELL CHILDS (#26) is making the move from running back to linebacker.
• Linebacker AKEEM AYERS (#10) is a candidate for a host of national defensive awards.
• Quarterback KEVIN PRINCE (#4) had three games of at least 300 passing yards last year as a freshman.
• Kicker KAI FORBATH (#25) is the 2009 Groza Award winner and has a run of 37 straight successful field goals from inside 50 yards, while he has nine career field goals of at least 50 yards.
NEXT WEEK: Kansas State faces Missouri State in a 6:10 p.m., kickoff next Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
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