Tuesdays in Vanier | A Look at Week Five

The overlying theme of the afternoon seemed to be leaving the Auburn game behind and focusing on the rest of the season starting with this weekend's matchup against UTEP (2-1) at 11 a.m., in Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Moving on and moving forward, the Wildcats are continuing to take this season one game at a time.
"Saturday's (practice) was kind to tough, but now we're over Auburn," said quarterback Jake Waters in a matter-of-fact tone to the media surrounding him. "It was definitely a big game, but we're over it. We know we have a lot of season left and a lot of opportunity to improve ourselves, get better and win some quality football games. So when you go at it with that approach, it's not hard to get up for practice and get ready."
COACH BILL SNYDER
Snyder opened his press conference answering questions about his defense. The group as a whole held Auburn - boasted as one of the nation's toughest rushing offenses going into last week's game - to just 128 yards on the ground. It marked the first time the Tigers were held under 200 yards since Gus Malzahn took over as head coach two seasons ago.
"I thought it was awfully good," Snyder said to the media about his team's defensive effort last week. "I thought all of our youngsters played well. They played within the system and our coaches did a really marvelous job of preparing them."
Snyder explained that discipline and success on the defense go hand-in-hand, and that is exactly what the nation saw from the Wildcats last week.
"It was being engrained and being where you're supposed to be, that takes a tremendous amount of discipline," said Snyder. "I think since we have enhanced our discipline, we have become a better defensive football team across the board."
Feeding off that discipline to achieve success was senior linebacker Dakorey Johnson. For his efforts - a career-high six tackles, including two for loss and one interception in his first-career start - Johnson was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week on Monday morning.
"He runs well," Snyder said about Johnson, "and that's a benefit for our defense. It was a matter of him being able to adapt to the system, understand his responsibilities and have the discipline to carry out those responsibilities. He's gotten better and better and better about it. It paid off this week."
Moving forward, K-State has now shifted its focus to UTEP, its next opponent, and has left everything else in the rearview mirror. 
"By now, we have to have put it behind us and be reengaged in the upcoming opponent," said Snyder on moving forward. "UTEP has the capacity to be a very fine football team. They're a very aggressive football team. They fly around. They play hard, and those kinds of teams can always create issues for you. So, if we're emotionally caught off in a variety of different things, you can get knocked on your back side."
FROM THE PLAYERS
While Snyder was happy with the defensive effort and discipline last week, so were the Wildcats, and while the defense admits it's far from perfect, there's no denying it put on a show for its Thursday-night national audience. 
"I was impressed," said Waters. "They played so well. They deserve so much credit for what they did. No defense has been able to do that (to Auburn). They were flying around. They just went out and they did their assignments. That's what we've been seeing from them all along, but for them to go out and do that on a big-time stage, that's was awesome."
But how did they do it? How did a defense made up of former walk-ons like linebacker Jonathan Truman and defensive end Ryan Mueller stop an offense that has caused so many other teams around the nation havoc because of its talent to run the ball?
Truman said it all started with his team's preparation.
"We took our preparation very seriously," he began. "We knew they were going to have a great offense, so we took that challenge to heart and we prepared well. We have trust in our teammates. As a defense, we're a tight-knit group and we came together. We can play well when we need to, and we always need to."
Preparing and coming together was key for the K-State defense to hold Auburn to just 20 points (the fewest points its scored in 16 games), however true freshman Elijah Lee added a few more things. He said defenses have to, "play physical; everyone has to get to the ball and everyone has to play fast," to find success as a defensive unit.
Despite the apparent success of the K-State defense, in the end, the Wildcats are not satisfied. Auburn's 20 points scored were 20 too many for K-State to be happy with. 
"It was hard knowing that we could have pulled out the win, but we also proved how good we could be and showed we could compete with anyone in the country," continued Lee. "With it only being the third game of the season, we still have a whole season to go and we have a lot room to improve from here on out."
Truman agreed that the K-State defense has room to improve and knows his team will continue to give 100-percent day-in and day-out as it continues on this season. 
"We played well, but we're just looking at the mistakes and at the things that we plan on doing better. If we're not getting better, we're getting worse," said Truman. "(We) have that confidence of playing well in the past, but obviously we have a lot of things that we need to work on still. Our focus is on UTEP now, so we're focusing on that game and focusing on our preparation. We're ready to go this week."
FOR MORE INFORMATION
K-State fans now have the opportunity to watch the weekly Bill Snyder press conference on K-StateHD.TV for free. For video from this week's press conference, click here.
For everything you need to know about this weekend's matchup between the UTEP Miners and the K-State Wildcats, visit www.kstatesports.com/gameday
Thirteen former Wildcats are currently with teams throughout the NFL. For an update on those players and how they performed in the third week of the NFL's 2014 season, click here
 

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