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Tuesdays at Vanier | Week 2
September 3, 2014
By Kelly McHugh
This past Saturday, No. 20 Kansas State (1-0) opened its 2014 season with a 55-16 win over Stephen F. Austin. Immediately following the game, head coach Bill Snyder said he was pleased with the play of his offense and, though it had a few things to work on, he was pleased with his defense as well.
Yesterday - three days after the Wildcats' home-opening win - Snyder addressed the media for the first time since the game.
From his updated thoughts on his team's performance after watching film of Saturday's game to his thoughts on the Wildcats' upcoming opponent, Iowa State (0-1), the curious media asked and Snyder did his best to answer.
Here's a look at what was discussed at the Vanier Football Complex yesterday afternoon:
Overall, Snyder was still pleased with the way both his offense and defense played, however, both units have their work cut out for them this week before heading to Ames, Iowa.
"Overall, they got a passing grade, but there was still a lot of mistakes to get corrected, which is true on both sides of the ball," explained Snyder. "I thought we played well; perhaps not as quite as consistent as we would like to be, and there were instances where we might have made a bad decision, but at the same point in time during the ballgame when the same opportunity arose, we were capable of it. So it's not that we're incapable of anything, we just have to play consistently and every snap has to be the best that we have."
With kickoff set between K-State and Iowa State for 11 a.m., at Jack Trice Stadium on Saturday, Snyder and the Wildcats are focused on their first Big 12 opponent of 2014. K-State has won six-in-a-row against the Cyclones, and, though Iowa State is coming off of a tough loss to North Dakota State, Snyder takes no game lightly.
"I think the margin of victory is somewhat limited in the vast majority of games that we played with Iowa State. I remember going up there, falling behind in the first half by 27 points, but it's the same regardless of where you go or who you play," said Snyder. "Anybody can beat anybody. They're all good. It doesn't make any difference who you play, their young guys are no different than ours - they want to succeed, they want to play well. So you have to be ready to go."
• Former Wildcat offensive coordinator Mark Mangino is currently with the Cyclones as an offensive coordinator working with tight ends. On his former assistant Snyder said, "There's always a concern because of certain things that they have an awareness of as it relates to your program. Certainly Mark, having been involved with our offense during his tenure here you would have some concerns about what he would be able to convey to their defensive coaches in regards to our offense."
• The Wildcats' first-time starters stepped up in big ways on Saturday. On his group of young starters, Snyder said, "A number of the first-time starters really did very well, maybe above and beyond expectations in that regard. I thought that (junior) Matt Kleinsorge really stepped up... I thought (redshirt freshman) Ajhane Brager, who came in when Cody (Whitehair) left the ballgame, he played well... and I thought Elijah Lee, defensively, as a first-time guy and a true freshman, had a productive day as well."
• Snyder seemed pleased with the play of his running backs, senior DeMarcus Robinson, sophomores Charles Jones and Jarvis Leverett and redshirt freshman Judah Jones, and said this about having the option to use multiple backs: "Well it doesn't hurt at all. The more options that you have available, the broader based your offense can become without really altering a great deal schematically. It gives you an awareness that you have a decent amount of depth."
FROM THE PLAYERS
The media had the opportunity to talk to true freshman Elijah Lee for the first time since its preseason media day, and after his exciting debut performance, there were plenty of questions to ask him.
Lee's phone was filled with text messages and missed calls on Saturday night after making his debut performance as a K-State Wildcat. High school friends and family friend alike called and texted him to share their excitement about his outstanding opening performance.
"It was a good feeling that people were watching me and following me," laughed the six-foot-three linebacker.
Fresh out of Blue Springs High School, Lee opened his collegiate career with two sacks for 11 yards - one coming in the game's opening minutes - against Stephen F. Austin.
"I feel like it's a big accomplishment, but I have to give the credit to my coaches and my teammates because all summer and all of camp, they just kept telling me, 'Speed, speed, speed. Just keep running, don't' try to do anything else. Do what you know how to do,'" explained Lee about his early impact. "At first (playing) was surreal to me because I didn't expect to play as a true freshman, but now that I've had my opportunity, I just have to thank the coaches."
Lee became the first true freshman under Snyder to record two sacks in one game and the first overall since 2008. Though his play didn't show it, playing under the lights of Bill Snyder Family Stadium in front of 50,000-plus fans was pretty nerve racking.
"The first couple plays, my stomach was everywhere," said Lee. "It was up and down, then after the first series, I kind of got the feel. By the second series, when we went back out, it was much easier."
After his first collegiate sack, Lee described what was going through his head as, "Oh my gosh! I got a sack in my first game, my first drive!"
Though going into the game he hoped to play, there was no promise of playing time, so Lee spent the past few months earning his position.
"Honestly throughout the fall camp I just kept competing," he explained. "The coaches were saying, 'If you just keep competing, you might get a chance,' and I got my chance."
With his first collegiate game behind him, Lee now faces a new set of challenges: his first road game and first conference matchup. While he's excited to play at Jack Trice Stadium, the nerves of competing on the road for the first time are still there.
"This is my first away game, so I really don't know how to handle it," said Lee. "They say the Iowa State fan base is a lot like ours, and that it's going to be a pretty crazy environment, so I've just got to keep my head in the game."