'Second Time Around' A Difference Maker?

Instead of trying to decipher the words to Lady Gaga's "Second Time Around" lyrics, let's all go back to the days of Frank Sinatra: "... Who can say, what brought us to this miracle we've found; There are those who'd bet love comes but once; And yet, I'm oh so glad we met the second time around." In football lingo ... Kansas State football lingo ... that means Bill Snyder has returned for the second year in his Part II era giving one and all reason for postseason hope in 2010. Kansas State defensive ends coach Joe Bob Clements offered, "A year ago, none of these players knew what to expect with a new coach, but now we have a majority of our players who can help the newcomers. If there are questions to ask, there are teammates to go to. The second year in a program always has great advantages." Mo Latimore, in his 29th season in the Wildcat football program, agreed: "Not that we weren't together last year, but you can sense a togetherness with the team and the working for the same common goal. That comes from the kids knowing us as coaches, and what's expected of them to go out and become better football players." In Snyder's first season in 1989, K-State won one game. The Wildcats lost games by an average of 32-12. In 1990, K-State improved to 5-6 for the best season the school had enjoyed in the previous seven seasons. The Wildcats scored 23 points per game, or an 11-point improvement, and allowed 27 points per game, for a 5-point improvement. Michael Smith was a receiver on those early-Snyder teams and now is K-State's receivers coach. In both instances, he says, "There's a feeling out process for both players and coaches. They (players in 2010) know us now, and we know them. That helps in how you call a game and how you use the weapons that you have. There can be a vast improvement from year-one to the second season." There "can be," but Snyder will be the first to ask, "Will there be?" Co-offensive coordinator Dana Dimel was a member of Snyder's first staff and today tutors the Wildcat running backs. While saying he "hopes" for a better unified team, he adds, "... but we're not assuming that will be the case." The reason for optimism starts with the belief that Daniel Thomas will be a better running back than in 2009 when he led the Big 12 in rushing at 105 yards per game. Even Thomas says, "I had never really played running back before. I was just out there running wild." With four starting offensive linemen back and better understanding of how to use blockers, there's reason to believe that aspect of the game will be better. "We're like a band of brothers," said center Wade Weibert. "In past years, the offensive line was always the questionmark, but this year some people look at us as a strength. We know and trust how that guy next to you is going to play. We move as one. We strive to be one solid wall moving as a unit." When it comes to size and speed, there's every reason to believe the receiving corps of Aubrey Quarles, Brodrick Smith, Chris Harper and Tramaine Thompson will be more explosive than the group of 2009. Yes, it was only spring camp, but Carson Coffman completed 78 percent of his passes with over 40 scores and just one ... that's one ... interception during the collective 2010 spring workouts. And defensively, while there are holes to fill, there are seven starters returning. In 2009 Kansas State went 6-6, but only five of those W's came against Division I opponents. Only the slightest of improvement will have the Wildcats bowling again in 2010 ... Bill Snyder's second time around in his ... second time around.