Wildcats Return to Big 12 Action
Though it's not the Wildcats' first Big 12 matchup of 2014, as K-State defeated Iowa State, 32-28, in Ames, Iowa, on Sept. 6, tonight's game feels like the beginning of a new season.
"We already have one Big 12 game under us, so it's a little bit different than in previous years, but I think there's just an excitement to get the league play going," explained senior linebacker Jonathan Truman. "We're ready for it. I know that our student body is one of the, if not the, best in the country, so I'm excited to see what they bring on Saturday."
Every game matters in the Big 12. With every game a potential championship game, there's no room for error. One slip-up, one setback and a Big 12 contender could possibly kiss the conference title good bye. The Big 12 is the only conference in the nation without a championship game at the end of the season, but the players say, that makes it all the more exciting.
"It's fun, it makes it more of a challenge every week," said sophomore linebacker Will Davis on the Big 12 schedule. "Every game is a big game. If you lose one, you're probably done and out of contention for a Big 12 title. So we just want to prepare for this game as we would any other game. It'll be a fun experience for us."
Texas Tech rolls into Manhattan coming off of a 45-35 loss to No. 24 Oklahoma State on Thursday, Sept. 24. Though the Red Raiders boast one of the best offensive teams in the nation, it has struggled this season with penalties and is currently the most penalized team in the nation with 46 total penalties for 422 yards.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Wildcats are currently among the least penalized teams in the nation with 19 penalties for a total of 147 yards.
"I think it's something Coach Snyder has always preached: 'Be disciplined on and off the field,'" said Davis when asked about K-State's low amount of penalties this season. "We take great pride in that. Penalties are part of the game, mistakes happen, but we've always looked at it as one of our goals to not have any penalties."
While traditionally Texas Tech poses its greatest offensive threat in the air - the team leads the nation with 548 completions for a total of 69,060 yards since 2000 - the team has proven to be talented in running the ball this year as well. Averaging 5.4 yards per rush and 7.3 yards per pass, there's no telling what the Red Raiders will bring to the table.
"We have to try to score every time we get the ball just like them," said K-State quarterback Jake Waters. "We know they have a great offense. In their running game, they average just about as many rushing yards as we do. They obviously can do a little bit of everything, so our defense is going to have to come ready to play again. Offensively, we are going to have to do the same thing because of the potential of their offense."
With Texas Tech quarterback Davis Webb questionable after a first-half shoulder injury against Oklahoma State, the Wildcats have spent the past week preparing for both Webb and Red Raider backup quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
"We're going to prepare for both of them," said Davis about the defensive mindset preparing for an unknown quarterback situation. "We try to prepare for everything as best we can. It doesn't really matter who's in there, we prepare for them the best we can."
Two completely different styles of quarterback, Webb's specialty is the pass while Mahomes' specialty is the run.
"What I admire about Webb is his competitive spirit. He started the ballgame against us last year and I think he's made a great deal of improvement in that period of time," said Snyder. "The other thing I appreciate is, what I saw on television, was his competitive nature and how disturbed he was by not being able to go back into the ballgame when he was injured. You watch the last half of the (Oklahoma State) ballgame, I know he (Patrick Mahomes) was 50-percent throwing, but when he finally got his comfort level the latter part of the half, he completed some passes, threw some nice balls and got it where it needed to be. On top of that, you add in that he can run the ball some and there are some built-in concerns for us."
While the Red Raider offense may pose its own threat coming into tonight's game, the Wildcat defense has been playing tougher than any defense in the nation this season, and it's ready to get back in front of its home crowd on its home turf.
"We want to show that we can be the best defense in the Big 12 and one of the best defenses in the nation," said Davis. "It'll be fun this week to get conference opened up at home since we haven't yet had a Big 12 game at home this season. I'm excepting our crowd to be big time at home again as they always are."
FORT RILEY DAY
Continuing a tradition K-State football has celebrated for nearly three decades, the Wildcats will celebrate their Military neighbors tonight with Fort Riley Day.
A day filled with tailgates for 1,000-plus troops and music from the Big Red One's 1st Infantry Band at halftime, Fort Riley Day is a day unlike any other.
"We love Fort Riley Day and everything that Fort Riley brings," said Truman. "Our partnership with them, it means a lot to us, and we just appreciate everything that they do. Everyone in the armed forces, we have such a great respect for them. I'm glad we get to do this again this year."