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WEDNESDAY POSTCARD FROM DALLAS

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View Wednesday's photo gallery | Watch video recap from Wednesday
Read transcript of quotes from Head Coaches' Press Conference


By Mark Janssen

Bill Snyder said he's still assessing the accomplishments of his 2011 Kansas State Wildcat team, but during Wednesday's press conference at the AT&T Cotton Bowl the Wildcat coach did tip his hat to his 10-2 club.

"It's certainly a young group that exceeded whatever the expectations may have been. We've had a number of past teams able to do that, and I have a great appreciation for each and every one of them," said Snyder. "I'm not going to go through and try to rank which was the best team because each one was somewhat different and the competition was somewhat different. But I am proud of this football team and I would say it's come as far as any football team we have ever had up to this point in time."


PETRINO ON SNYDER: Here's what Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino had to say about K-State skipper Bill Snyder:

"Obviously, I don't know Coach Snyder real well, but I have watched him from afar. I was amazed at the job he did the first time he was at Kansas State, how he really turned that program around and put them on the map. He retired. He saw the program go down and then he came back and did it (returned to success) in such a short period of time. He is a great football coach. He is really a credit to our profession the way he operates and does everything right. The only thing I can say, is that I don't think I will be doing this when I am 72 (years old)."

DICKEY MOLDS COHESIVE O-LINE: Every quality offensive football team starts with solid play in the trenches, and this 2011 season is no exception.

Offensive coordinator Del Miller said of the play of the o-line, "It was better than we anticipated. Coach (Charlie) Dickey did a tremendous job with those guys."

Dana Dimel, who coordinates the running game, added, "Charlie did a remarkable job. He's the kind of coach you approach with what you'd like to do on offense and he says, 'There's no reason we can't get this done," and then he comes up with a way to get it done."

K-State entered camp with returning starting tackles in Manase Foketi and Clyde Aufner, but zero starting experience with the middle three positions. Then in the second game of the season, Foketi went down with a season-ending injury, which is when Zach Hanson stepped into the role at left tackle.

Inside, it's been freshman B.J. Finney at center, Wyoming transfer Nick Puetz at left guard, and Colten Freeze at right guard, with Keenan Taylor providing some depth.

Of the o-line's improvement, Finney said, "Dramatically. Coach Dickey did an amazing job. We came into camp a bunch of misfits and he told us how it was going to be. We had to shape up quickly."

Now 12 games into the season, Aufner said, "We have a great feel for one another. We've developed a closeness on and off the field. We know as a group we have to play as one to make a successful play. Coach Dickey demands that excellence."

On the improvement of the line, Dickey said, "We were embarrassed in that first game (10-7 win over Eastern Kentucky), but we came together and got better each week."

He continued, "It was a group that developed a toughness. They worked hard and played with accountability. They wanted to do things the right way. Those intrinsic values that Coach (Snyder) talks about all the time... the guys bought into that and it made the difference."

HERE COME THE CATS: Just over 1,000 Wildcats arrived in Dallas yesterday, or will today, as part of the K-State Alumni Association travel party.

"We have the charter out of Manhattan and two bus charters out of Manhattan and Wichita," said Amy Button Renz, President and CEO of the Alumni Association. "But that doesn't count all the people who are driving down on their own. It's been difficult to know how many we'll have because the tickets have been so hard to find."

The Alumni Association will be hosting a pep rally today at the Texas Rangers' baseball stadium. Doors will open at 4:00 with the program starting at 4:45. You can also watch it online at K-StateHD.TV.

HARTMAN ON HIS FINAL GAME: Fifth-year senior, starting safety and academic All-American Tysyn Hartman was asked about finishing his career by playing in the Cotton Bowl: "It is very rewarding.  Being here five years and seeing where the program was and where Coach Snyder has taken it means a lot to me, especially my last year here. To finish on a note like this with hopefully getting 11 wins and having an opportunity to finish in the Top 5, I couldn't ask for more."

PRACTICE? WHO NEEDS PRACTICE?: Due to severe bumps and bruises, Collin Klein missed all practices leading into the Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas games.

Did that create a problem? Not at all says receiver Chris Harper: "Collin is good at virtually everything he does from bowling to playing a million instruments. It's not hard for him to pick up something. He's good at everything he does."

FAKE NOISE: In preparation for an indoor game at Cowboys Stadium, K-State has been practicing with a noise machine. 

"Coach Snyder really believes in it, but the coaches hate it," said offensive coordinator Del Miler. "It's like working in a jet engine factory."

FOND MEMORIES: Former Wildcat player and now defensive ends coach Joe Bob Clements has a pair of lasting K-State bowl memories.

"One was the hit Mario Smith put on the BYU wide receiver in the first Cotton Bowl game, and the other was the Fiesta Bowl in 1997. We couldn't have played much better ... and against a team that had Donavan McNabb at quarterback for Syracuse."

HERE'S AN INTERESTING NOTE:
Arkansas can be glad that it doesn't have a Heisman Trophy winner playing Friday night.

How about this little tidbit on Bill Snyder-coached teams going against Heisman winners:
-- 2011, Robert Griffin III, Baylor: Kansas State 36, Baylor 35
-- 2003, Jason White, Oklahoma: Kansas State 35, Oklahoma 7
-- 2002, Carson Palmer, USC: Kansas State 27, USC 20
-- 1998, Ricky Williams, Texas: Kansas State 48, Texas 7

COWBOYS STADIUM SEATING: There are 64,000 seats in Cowboys Stadium, plus 12,000 in suites, plus the availability for another 10,000-plus standing room only. The Cotton Bowl has announced a sellout of 80,000.

JERRY'S CHAIR: For K-Staters attending the game, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones personal box is on the north side (Arkansas side) at the 50-yard-line directly above the Powercat emblem. Then if Jones wants some quiet time, he has what called "Jerry's Nest" located just above the clock.

POST CHRISTMAS FOR THE WILDCATS: Each K-State player was given an iPad and a watch from the Cotton Bowl, plus an assortment of warm-ups, polos, etc.

WAKE-UP CALLS: I have to throw this in. For your wake-up calls at the Gaylord Texan guests have a choice of voices between Shrek, Princess Fiona, Donkey and Puss 'n' Boots. The call is a humorous 15- to 20-second wakeup message from your Shrek character of choice.

SPEAKING OF KID-ISH THINGS: No one is going to be more sad to return to reality than the kids of the coaching staff and travel party. They've had oodles of games for their use all week, plus mountains of candy and tubs of ice cream.

Then Wednesday, bounce rooms were brought in, which included one as a sloooow-motion bull-riding machine.

TIME TO SLOW DOWN: With game day within a day, the fun times are ending and game faces going on.

Today will be a team visit to the Scottish Rite's Hospital for Children, the AT&T Big Play Luncheon at the Hilton Anatole, and later the pep rally at Rangers Ballpark.

Following a 9 p.m. chapel, there will be a team meeting, a snack and the lights out at 11:30 p.m.

K-State's travel party will be treated tonight by a Samsung Denim & Diamonds event where "The Band Perry" will be performing. It's also the group that will sing the national anthem on Friday.

Gotta go polish my dancin' boots. (Not really, Peg)

Thanks for readin'.

Mark