K-State prepares for first big test at Vanderbilt

Wildcats ranked No. 18 in AP, coaches polls

K-State running back Dalvin Warmack stiff arms a Charlotte defender Saturday at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. (Emily DeShazer/The Capital-Journal)

MANHATTAN — The 2016 football schedule was a departure from the norm for Kansas State, opening the season on the road against a top-10 team at Stanford.


K-State coach Bill Snyder likes to ease into the year, playing at home against opponents the Wildcats should easily handle to provide an opportunity for younger players to get their feet wet.

That was the formula this season. The Wildcats opened with a 55-9 victory over Central Arkansas, a top-20 FCS team, and Saturday they took care of FBS newcomer Charlotte 55-7. The starters did their job, then gave way to the back-ups for plenty of second-half action.

“A lot of guys played well,” Snyder said. “Whether it’s consistently throughout the ballgame remains to be seen. There are things to correct. I don’t think (Charlotte) played as well as they are capable, whether it’s travel or whatever it was, but I know they are a better football team than that. We did some good things.

“I’d like to think we made improvement in the areas we needed to make some improvement, but we uncovered some other things that have to be addressed. We’ll see.”

The schedule progresses as K-State concludes the nonconference portion of the schedule with a road game at Vanderbilt at 6:30 p.m. Saturday in Nashville, Tenn.

“We’re looking forward to playing an SEC opponent, somebody who has played some big dogs,” said Wildcat running back Alex Barnes. “They have a lot of experience playing some of the top teams in the country. We want to be one of the top teams so we want to give them what they’re used to.”

K-State has inched its way up the national rankings, starting at No. 20 in The Associated Press preseason poll, moving to No. 19 last week and coming in at No. 18 in the latest poll released Sunday. The Cats also are No. 18 in the USA Today/Amway coaches poll, up one spot from last week.

Vanderbilt is 2-0 with a schedule similar to K-State. The Commodores opened with a 28-6 win over Middle Tennessee State and Saturday beat Alabama A&M 42-0 as quarterback Kyle Shurmur completed 15 of 18 passes for 202 yards and four touchdowns and ran for one TD.

“I’m really excited,” said K-State running back Dalvin Warmack. “That’s an SEC team and an adrenaline rush. It’s a great chance for us to showcase what the Big 12 stands for and what K-State can do.”

K-State played SEC teams the past two years in bowl games, beating Texas A&M last year in the Texas Bowl and losing to Arkansas at the Liberty Bowl the previous season.

The last time the Wildcats played an SEC team in the regular season was 2014, losing at home to Auburn, and the last regular-season road game against an SEC team also was a loss to Auburn in 2007.

The Wildcats took care of business against Central Arkansas and Charlotte and while they wouldn’t admit it, Vanderbilt had to be in the back of their minds.

“When you’re getting ready for that very first ballgame it seems like it will never come — for players, anyway — so they had ample preparation time for the ballgame,” Snyder said after Saturday’s game. “Then you’re into the season and your preparation time is very, very limited. We can’t do anything on Sunday with goofy rules and we try not to have to practice on Fridays so we have a limited amount of time, comparatively speaking.

“It happens so quickly. In preparation for this ballgame, a lot of that time is spent traveling. I told them today is too late to get started. I know they want to enjoy what’s left of the weekend but we have to get started right away on Vanderbilt.”

Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.



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