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MONDAY POSTCARD FROM DALLAS

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View Monday's photo gallery | Watch video recap from Monday
Read transcript of quotes from Defensive Press Conference

FOCUSING ON THE 'D', MEMORIES, AND ROLLING THE HIGHWAYS

Hi Y'all...

While Monday was still a relaxing holiday for some of you folks, those of us in Texas continue to slave away prepping for Friday's 76th Annual AT&T Cotton Bowl.

Monday's media session focused on the defense and starred coordinator Chris Cosh, plus Arthur Brown, Tysyn Hartman, Emmanuel Lamur, Nigel Malone and Jordan Voelker as the players facing the questions.

"We played like a band of brothers," said Voelker of the team defense in 2011. "Not just teammates, but brothers."

Malone added, "Heart. We're not the speediest guys, and we might not be the best athletes, but at the end of the day we have heart and that's something you can't coach. That's just something you have to have. As a whole, we have a lot of heart."

So why did K-State's defense seem so much better this year even though allowing only 1.3 points and 47 yards less per game?

It's in the turnover-margin department where the Wildcats had a plus-13 in 2011 to last year's plus-4, and, this year opponents turned third downs into first downs 39 percent of the time compared to last year's 45 percent.

"This was a team that made plays when we had to," said Lamur. "There were games where we gave up way too many yards, but in the end we found a way. We came together as one through blood, sweat and grinding for each other."

"Our goal in the beginning is to be the best team we can be," said Cosh. "I think teams win championships, not individuals and that's what we've bought into. We don't care who gets the credit as long as we win. It's hard to find nowadays. It's all about us and how we define it. No one else is going to define who we are.  We define who we are."

While the 'Cats did have games where it gave up 482, 575, 580 and 690 yards, don't for an instant believe that Arkansas is believing those numbers are an indication of what K-State's "D" is all about.

"We have is a tremendous amount of respect for them," said Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino. "They know how to win games. They know how to make plays when the game is on the line. They do a good job of coming up with pass rushes and certain blitzes in situations. They are a great situation football team. You look at all their wins and everything they have done to win games. They have had stops on fourth and one, they have had stops on fourth and four, they have had stops on two-point plays. We have to be really on the money in our situation football."

Hartman added, "Like Coach Cosh said, it doesn't matter how many yards you gave up or how many touchdowns the other team scored, if your team has more points than them that's really all that matters."

UNSUNG HERO: If there was an unsung hero to the defense this year Cosh said it was Ray Kibble.

"He wasn't under-appreciated in our camp, but maybe to our fans," said Cosh of his 6-foot-4, 305-pound senior defensive tackle. "I know my linebackers appreciated Ray and how he allowed them to do their thing. Ray's a hero to my guys."

A product of Houston, Texas, and graduate of Navarro Junior College, Kibble was voted first-team All-Big 12 by the coaches and honorable mention for Big 12 Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Kibble led all linemen with his 36 tackles, which included 4.5 for negative yardage.

HE'S 72 ... NOT 76: One Arkansas writer asked KSU linebacker Emmanuel Lamur if "a 76-year-old coach" could relate with today's young players?

"He does just fine," answered Lamur. "He's cool ... he can text and everything."

FOND BOWL MEMORIES: Every Wildcat that participates in a bowl game has a special memory, but few like Director of Recruiting Operations Joe "Towel Waving" Gordon.

"It was the 1994 Aloha Bowl, but for another reason than the game," Gordon said of K-State's 12-7 loss to Boston College. "My son was born on Dec. 10. I dashed back to Dallas to see him come into the world and put a pacifier in his mouth, but then had to zip back to rejoin my team (in Manhattan).

"I brought that pacifier with me and put it under my shoulder pads during the game," said Gordon. "If you watched that game I was constantly thumping on my pads where that pacifier was because I was dedicating that game to my son."

Gordon blocked a BC punt that resulted in K-State's lone touchdown of the game. Gordon was named the Defensive Player of the Game for the Wildcats.

That son, LeAndrew Joseph Gordon, is now a junior in high school and a standout receiver/defender in the Arlington, Texas, prep ranks.

ROLLING ALONG WITH JOHN BROWN: Driving the team semi to Dallas was John Brown. He clocked the distance at 517 miles and says he got a whopping 5.6 miles to the gallon. It takes roughly $1,000 to fill his two 150-gallon tanks.

K-State brought its own weight equipment, blocking sleds, plus all the normal gear totaling 73,000 pounds.

WHAT'S GOING ON TODAY: It's Tuesday, so it's going to be an evening of fine dining at the Lawry's Beef Bowl at Lawry's The Prime Rib.

During the day, it's more meetings and practice for the players, plus media day for the offensive coaches and players.

Oh, for those wanting to, the Dallas Stars are playing hockey tonight.

WHAT TIME IS IT? Monday afternoon the Cotton Bowl threw a pizza party where the Cotton Bowl watches were distributed to the players. Cotton Bowl footballs were also handed out with the players scurrying around getting signatures from one another like 12-year-olds at a Major League Baseball open house.

NO NEED TO WORRY: I had a couple e-mails noting that the Wildcats might be having too much fun and not focusing on Friday's game with the Hogs. That's not a concern. It's a long week and the Cotton Bowl does a magnificent job of providing a couple hours of fun activities early in the week that will dwindle down as Friday's 7:32 p.m. kickoff approaches.

Even coach Snyder was handling a pool stick Sunday night, but here's guessing that will be the last time this week.

That's it from the "Big D" for this day.

Thanks for reading.

Mark Janssen