MANHATTAN — There is no issue with how well D.J. Reed is playing through three games for Kansas State as a cornerback and return specialist. He is performing at an all-conference — if not all-America — level.
Coach Bill Snyder, however, said that he would like Reed to elevate his vocal leadership. The junior team co-captain is moving in that direction, speaking up after K-State’s 14-7 loss to Vanderbilt last Saturday.
“There’s no other choice but to bounce back,” Reed said. “I’m not a loser, my team’s not a loser. We’re not losers. We have to get back to work.”
Snyder liked Reed’s strong comments and sense of responsibility.
“I appreciate that, and he’s accurate,” Snyder said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. “We weren’t a failure. The only failures are when you give up or you stop trying or you don’t learn from your mistakes. I don’t think our guys fit into that category.
“It was a painful loss and we made mistakes that created it, nevertheless that doesn’t make them losers. I don’t think anybody indicated that but it was the emotion coming out in D.J., and I appreciated it.”
The Wildcats (2-1) are spending this bye week addressing their self-inflicted wounds.
“The loss was tough on us, the fans and everybody,” said offensive guard Abdul Beecham. “I feel like the mindset is in the right direction. The leadership is stepping up. Dalton Risner, D.J. Reed, Jesse Ertz are getting the guys going and we have to keep pressing forward. I like where the energy is now but we have to keep pushing on.
“Just getting our mistakes fixed, that’s the biggest thing. (Snyder) talked to us a lot about how a loss isn’t always a failure, that it’s only a failure if you don’t correct the mistakes.”
Snyder — who was in Kansas City and spoke to the media on a telephone speaker — said the loss did “sting” and the Wildcats are going through a normal emotional progression.
“I believe our youngsters were in some pain,” he said. “After that there’s the period of time where you tend to feel sorry for yourself — it’s human nature — then you get beyond that and anger sets in. That anger is a message that we need to do something about it, and I’m hoping that’s where we are at this stage.
“The important thing is how much does one care? If someone is going through some agony and pain from the loss, it tells me that they genuinely care, which is important to me. If someone didn’t have that emotional suffering, then it would probably tell me they didn’t care, which would be a major problem for us.”
The Wildcats still have a full slate of Big 12 games, starting with Baylor on Sept. 30 at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“They realize they made some mistakes and we have some improvement to make,” Snyder said. “We haven’t gotten into conference play, yet, so our capabilities within the conference still exist without change.”
The mistakes to be addressed exist in all areas.
“Coach said there were 20-plus snaps where if this play changed, we could have won the ballgame,” defensive end Kyle Ball said. “There were a lot of areas in the kicking game, offense, defense where if one play goes different we could have won the game.”
The Wildcats will have two weeks to deal with those issues.
“Right now the bye week is what we needed to gather ourselves,” Beecham said. “It’s a good spot for us right now.”
Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.