By Mark Janssen
Bill Snyder will turn 71 years of age in just over a week, and this year's football team is making him feel every one of those nearly 26,000 days of life.
UCLA - K-State trailed 10-7 early and led by only slim margins in the fourth quarter - 17-16 and 24-22 - before a Daniel Thomas touchdown with 58 seconds left made it a 31-22 victory over the Bruins.
IOWA STATE - The Wildcats trailed 20-17 with 11:26 left in the game before a Thomas run, followed by a Josh Cherry field goal, made it a 27-20 win over the Cyclones.
CENTRAL FLORIDA - K-State never led in the game until 24 seconds remained when Carson Coffman dashed into the end zone for a four-point, 17-13, victory over the Knights.
Overall, Snyder said of Saturday's victory, "It speaks favorably for the young people in our program. When we had to have it, we were able to get it."
He would later add, "How far do we need to go? Further than we can see, but, by the same token, I'm proud of the fact that three times we have come back to win games. It exposes a bit of character in our program."
Defensively, the Wildcat coach was not happy to see Central Florida go up and down the field for 344 yards.
"I'm not a fan of the bend but don't break (defense). I'm too old for that. We need to be able to put the brakes on at the other end of the field more consistently."
Still, the defense allowed just one touchdown and two field goals in 13 UCF possessions, while it held Iowa State just one touchdown and two field goals the week before. (A second ISU score came on a pass interception return.)
On offense, despite having 10 miserable series through three-plus quarters, in the end, Coffman and his Wildcat teammates went on a synchronized march of 13 plays for 67 yards.
It was a time when Snyder said Coffman "put the ball on the money," and the offensive line "did the best job they had done the whole ballgame."
It was a drive where receiver Brodrick Smith said of his quarterback, "He showed a lot of heart."
And overall, defensive back David Garrett said, "Being able to come back shows a team that has stayed together. We know how to finish the game."
Saturday, K-State won the fourth quarter 14-6 against a Central Florida team that had not allowed a fourth quarter score this season. For K-State's season, it outscored UCLA 14-9 in the final period, lost the period to Missouri State, 14-7 (when multiple backups were on the field), topped Iowa State, 10-3, and was better than Central Florida when it counted, 14-6.
"I think it demonstrates a toughness in our team," said Coffman. "We've shown the ability to respond to situations."
Coffman's center Wade Weibert added, "I think it shows how we are hungry and resilient. This team is tired of losing and coming up short in games. Defeat stared us in the face, but we found a way to win. We were able to keep positive and move forward. As Rocky Balboa said, 'It's not about how many times you get hit, but it's about keep moving forward.'"
Linebacker Blake Slaughter summarized, "We're not trying to get behind. We want to start fast, stay consistent and finish strong. But to do what we've been doing does say something about the character of this football team."
A football team that is 4-0, but as the players say, it's a team that has so far to go.
Garrett said, "We've shown how good we are here and there, but not consistently. We're not maintaining our good play."
Agreeing was wide receiver Tramaine Thompson.
"We're a great football team, but we haven't shown how great."
Weibert added, "We've found a way to be 4-0. We've been good enough to get it done each game, and that's our goal. We want to be 1-0 each Saturday."
And, a couple Thursday's, as well, as K-State entertains Nebraska on Oct. 7 and travels to Kansas on Oct. 14 in its next two outings.
We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at email@example.com.