Tuesday, November 13, 2012
K-State focusing on prep, not No. 1 hype
By David Ubben
Texas coach Mack Brown remembers the week before his team suited up against rival Texas A&M in 2005. It was one final road game along the way to an eventual national title.
Brown warned his team: "Don't eat the poison cheese." Lots of people have lots of good things to say that all sound nice.
"Parents hear it and they talk. Media talks. Students talk," Brown said. "It’s all out there."
Listen too closely, though and it quickly turns poisonous.
He went as far as placing pieces of cheese at players' lockers the week before the game, he said this week.
The Wildcats face one of the nation's top offenses when they play Nick Florence and the Baylor Bears.
It didn't work. While the Longhorns survived with an 11-point win, Brown remembered his team didn't play all that well. It bounced back in the Big 12 title game before upsetting USC to win the title.
The same task awaits Kansas State when it travels to Baylor on Saturday.
"Older teams handle it better than younger teams," Brown said. "Sometimes it takes a close miss at a Kansas like we had this year before they understand it. Better listen to coaches and they better watch that video."
Kansas State hasn't had a true close call yet. It knocked off Oklahoma in Norman and held a double-digit lead in the final minutes and made one final defensive stop to preserve a six-point win against offensively challenged Iowa State.
Baylor hasn't had many issues on offense this season, ranking second nationally in total offense. Oklahoma gave up 252 yards rushing, but held Bears quarterback Nick Florence to just 172 yards on 12-of-33 passing. It was his first game without a touchdown pass, 117 fewer yards than he'd had in a game all season and his first game with fewer than 58 percent of his passes completed.
"Our structure lends itself to be stronger against the pass, and we hurt ourselves a little bit against the run because we missed some tackles," Stoops said. "The other thing, I think our guys are covering really well. The third thing, it was a 25 mph wind. We got lucky with some wind."
K-State might not get that fortunate in Waco on Saturday, but it does not look like Baylor has the recipe for an upset. The Wildcats are days removed from holding TCU to just 10 points, their lowest point output at home ever under TCU coach Gary Patterson. The lone touchdown came after a turnover in their own territory late in the fourth quarter with the Wildcats nursing a 20-point lead.
"They didn’t do anything different. They lined up and played their base defense, and we couldn’t handle their rush," Patterson said. "Really, they lined up and did what they do. They’ve been causing people problems, all season doing that. The other night was no different."
Defensive end Meshak Williams had two sacks and three tackles for loss, earning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts. Kansas State could have similar success against the Bears' passing game, and Baylor's offense has coughed up 17 turnovers, sixth-most in the Big 12.
"I don’t know that we’ve always slowed [Big 12 spread offenses] down as much as we would like. I don’t think we’re doing anything different than anybody else," Snyder said. "Our coaches put us in good schemes. We’re not real complex. Our players have invested themselves in that weekly improvement that you hope to have, and consequently, have gotten better week in and week out."
K-State ranks just fifth in the Big 12 at 5.1 yards per pass attempt this season.
The Wildcats are feeling confident at 10-0, but that confidence can turn to overconfidence and produce a loss if left unchecked.
Just don't eat that poison cheese.
"There’s no guarantees for the future. That depends on how well we prepare," Snyder said. "I’m just going to encourage our guys to not change the way we approach things and try to stay grounded, which is not something that you all of a sudden just jump up and say. That’s kind of the way we’ve been throughout our time here."