Cats Stay Focused, but Have Fun in San Antonio

It's bowl week, and as the team is spending majority of its time preparing to take on No. 14 UCLA this Friday in the 22nd Valero Alamo Bowl, it has also made the most of its few days in the historic city.
The Wildcats have explored San Antonio's Riverwalk, visited the Alamo, and even had the opportunity to swim with beluga whales at SeaWorld. The team has eaten at some of the most notable restaurants around town and was welcomed to the city with open arms last night as the Alamo Bowl hosted the Rudy's Bar-B-Q Pep Rally for both K-State and UCLA. 
"I love San Antonio," said senior offensive lineman B.J. Finney yesterday afternoon during the K-State offensive press conference. "It's been a blast. People have been very welcoming, very kind. Everything you hear about Kansas people taking the time to meet you and talk to you, it's the same way here in San Antonio. Everything being within walking distance and getting to hang out with teammates, it's all been great."
The week-long celebration will continue today, too, as the team will visit K-State fans this afternoon at the K-State Pep Rally in San Antonio's Freeman Coliseum at 2 p.m. 
At last year's pep rally, before the Wildcats defeated Michigan, 31-14, in the 2013 Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, nearly 5,000 purple-clad fans showed up to wish the team good luck, and, just like last year, K-State expects another exciting crowd this afternoon.
"Our fans are great," said senior quarterback Jake Waters with a smile from ear-to-ear. "I expect them to be out in full force, loud, because that's what they've done every single game, no matter how we're playing. We have some of the most loyal fans in the country."
It's been a week filled with fun off of the field, there's no doubt about that, however, the players also noted that they have been working hard and are happy with their preparation on the field this week. 
"I honestly think that so far this has been one of the best preparations that we have had for a bowl game," said senior wide receiver Tyler Lockett who, like his fellow seniors, will be competing in his fourth-consecutive bowl game tomorrow evening. "I think (Tuesday) was probably the best practice we have had all year."
Agreeing with his teammate, senior wide receiver Curry Sexton added, "Since we've been down here, we have had some of the best practices of the season. The change of scenery, the anticipation for the game, it's all building up and everyone is focused and buying in. I've been pleased with the way we have prepared."
Though for some it may be tough to balance work while surrounded by a city filled with excitement, the Wildcats know that this trip is a business trip, and they are letting nothing get in its way of preparing for UCLA.
"We've had fun, but our practices have been focused," added Finney. "Our entire game plan is on fine tuning things this week. So that's what we're working on right now, just getting everything tuned up for the game. We're maintaining that business mindset. This isn't a vacation, but it's still been a lot of fun. I think it's been one of the best bowl experiences that we've had."
With that, the players left the press conference, headed back to their hotel and prepared for another afternoon of practice. Sure, New Year's Eve celebrations may have been on some of their minds yesterday morning, but once practice rolled around, those thoughts were pushed aside as the team worked to fine tune its every play on the football field.
"The guys are really dialed in and ready to go," said junior offensive lineman Cody Whitehair. "I think that's going to carry over into the game, and I think we're going to be successful on Friday night."
Tomorrow's game will kick off at 5:45 p.m., at the Alamodome and will be aired nationally on ESPN. For everything you need to know about today's pep rally and tomorrow evening's game, you can click here to visit the K-State Alamo Bowl Headquarters
On Tuesday afternoon, head coach Bill Snyder and select players took a visit to the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital of San Antonio. 
Snyder and the players took some time outside of their busy bowl week schedule to visit with the wounded warriors and learn some of their stories. 
"It was very humbling. We only go to meet a handful of guys, but hearing their experiences and what they've gone through, at the end of the day when you sit back and think about what we go through, it's nothing compared to what they go through," said Finney. "So, we thanked them for their service and were very humbled and very appreciative of what they've done in their service to our country."
Along with Finney, Lockett, Waters and Sexton also spent time at the veteran's hospital.
"We didn't see too many of the patients or the wounded warriors, we saw a couple, but, you know, when you go over there and hear some of their stories, it's kind of crazy," said Waters. "You think you have it tough when you're going through an injury in football or you don't want to practice one day, and these guys are losing legs and can't see. That was truly humbling. I'm so glad I got the chance to go."
Along with visiting the soldiers, the football players had the opportunity to take a tour of the veteran's hospital and check out first-hand the treatment given to these American heroes. 
"The facilities that they got to use - cutting edge technology, top of the line - everything that you would want our veterans to have is in that facility," continued Finney. "It was really nice to see that they were getting that kind of treatment because they deserve it."
K-State's football players cruise along the River Walk during the Rudy's Bar-B-Q Pep Rally rally at the Arneson River Theater in San Antonio, Texas on December 31, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)

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