August 31, 2013
By Kelly McHugh
Last night was the hottest home opener K-State had seen in over a decade, and even in the shade on the turf of Bill Snyder Family Stadium the temperature read 99 degrees at kick off.
But despite the heat, nothing stopped the 53,000-plus Wildcat fans, K-State's largest home opener in history, from packing 'The Bill' with purple.
Despite falling 24-21 to North Dakota State, the Wildcat fans continued to cheer to the final drive for the 2013 K-State football team.
On the field, the new West Stadium Center echoed the east-side fans, making the gameday atmosphere on the field even more intense than usual.
Mix that intensity with the record-breaking attendance, and guys like starting quarterback Jake Waters had their first taste of the Wildcat football atmosphere.
Waters, a community-college transfer from Iowa Western, said never before had he performed on a stage so large.
"It was the biggest crowd I've ever played in front of," Waters said after the game, "which is cool because that's what every athlete wants to play in front of - on that big stage. I was pumped up, I was ready to go. This is what I've been working my whole football career for. It didn't turn out the way we wanted it to, but it was a great experience and we've just got to bounce back and find it deep inside of ourselves to make the best of it."
Waters is confident he can turn around the mistakes that contributed to Friday-night's loss and find more consistency among the offensive.
Overall, he went 21-of-29 for 280 yards, had two touchdowns and also threw two interceptions.
"I think we showed them what we were capable of, but we've just got to be more consistent," Waters said. "We had flashes of really good plays, some great catching, but we had some let downs and that kind of hurt us, so we have to be smarter with the ball."
Those "flashes of really good plays" Waters talked about were displayed in his throwing game, and specifically his two touchdowns.
Waters first-career K-State touchdown came on a 45-yard pass to wide receiver Tramaine Thompson in the beginning of the second quarter. Waters spiraled a brilliant throw deep into the left corner, landing it in Thompson's hands for the score.
Despite throwing an interception, which closed the first half in a turnover for K-State, Waters opened the second half strong with a 56-yard touchdown to Tyler Lockett.
It was another spot-on throw from Waters.
"It was just pretty much one-on-one with Tyler," Waters said about the second touchdown. "We had a good play call, so we just stuck with it and he made a great move on the stop and go."
With both touchdown throws Waters showed Wildcat fans nation-wide what he was capable of, but he now knows success is going to come down to proving consistency and not making mistakes in his games to come.
"Jake threw the ball reasonably well," head coach Bill Snyder said, "he just made some mistakes and got into a little trouble. When you turn the ball over, then you got some problems. Overall for his first ballgame, I thought he played reasonable well."
Reasonably well isn't good enough for Waters, and while he planned on debuting his K-State career with a win, he's ready to move forward and put this game behind him.
"Its not the way we all wanted to start off, which is tough, but we've got to move on because it's over," Waters said. "We've got to come back and work tomorrow. We don't want to lose any games, but this is the first game for a lot of us and we learned a lot. We just have to figure out what we need to do to win.
"You can take some stuff from this game, but we've just got to move on from it."