Coming off a loss at Vanderbilt and facing a bye week without an opponent to immediately prepare to face, it was a common assumption that Kansas State was in for a hard practice session last week.
It surely wasn’t easy, but not necessarily the boot camp that might have been expected.
“We’ve been a little lighter during the off week this past week than we have in previous weeks,” coach Bill Snyder said Monday on the Big 12 teleconference. “In fall camp since we were down to one practice a day we had an awful lot of days, more so than normal, so we went a little lighter in that respect on the field as far as the amount of time.”
The Wildcats (2-1) are facing a grueling schedule with nine consecutive Big 12 games, beginning Saturday when Baylor (0-4, 0-1 Big 12) comes to Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
“I think there’s probably three of us that had open weeks prior to the beginning of conference play,” Snyder said. “That’s a pretty diligent schedule, quite obviously, but it is what it is. The preference would always be to have an open date during the course of the (conference) season or, if not a second open date, one that takes you about halfway through the season.”
Baylor — which has a bye next week after five games — is winless under first-year coach Matt Rhule but is coming off its best performance in a 49-41 loss to Oklahoma.
“The obvious thing is they are an improved football team,” Snyder said. “I appreciate the fact that has been a continual thing for them game in and game out. They were better in their second game than they were in their first, better in the third than they were in the second and so on down the road and it came to fruition for them on Saturday with Oklahoma.”
Rhule, who came to Baylor from Temple, is pleased with the steady progression despite earlier losses to Liberty, UTSA and Duke.
“I think they’ve gotten a lot better week to week and we’re hopeful we can do that again this week,” Rhule said. “I think we’re one of those teams that every game is going to come down to five, six or seven plays and you just hope you can be on the right side of those five, six or seven plays that happen in a ballgame.
“I’m definitely proud of how far they’ve come because we’re starting to play more and more winning football. We faced a great team the other night and I think we showed that we wanted to battle and compete. We didn’t get down when we got behind, so now we have to continue to improve to put some production behind that mentality.”
Rhule, who played at Penn State for coach Joe Paterno, expressed admiration for Snyder and his program.
“I’m absolutely looking forward to coaching against him,” Rhule said. “I played for a legend, I’ve worked for a legend and to have a chance to coach against a legend is extremely exciting to me. I went to the Fiesta Bowl summit last year and my wife was sitting with coach Snyder’s wife and when I recognized it was him I almost was panicked with fear. I have such respect and reverence for coaches that have done what he’s done.”
Rhule described the Wildcats as “my kind of football team.”
“If I could think exactly what I wanted a football team to look like it would be them: Tough, hard-nosed, physical, disciplined, present tremendous challenges for you schematically on offense with a quarterback who can run and throw, every side of the ball complements each other,” he said. “They are exactly what I would like one of my football teams to look like and there is no greater coach to have a chance to be on the sideline with than coach Snyder.”
NO COMMENT — The first question posed to Snyder on the teleconference, from a Manhattan newspaper reporter, was about the national anthem protests prevalent in the NFL.
Before the question was finished, Snyder cut it off saying, “I don’t want to go there.”
TV UPDATES — This week’s game against Baylor, previously announced as a 2:30 p.m. kickoff, will be televised on ESPN2.
The Big 12 announced that the Wildcats’ game at Texas on Oct. 7 will have a 6 p.m. kickoff on FS1.
JENKINS STEPS IN FOR COWBOYS — Oklahoma State was without two starting offensive linemen in Saturday’s loss to TCU, giving Topeka High product Teven Jenkins his first start.
Jenkins started at right tackle in place of Zach Crabtree, who is expected back this week, but right guard Larry Williams is out for the season so Jenkins – a 6-foot-6, 310-pound redshirt freshman — is listed as a potential starter at that spot for the Cowboys’ game against Texas Tech.
“We have to continue to practice and get better and try to get those guys ready and accelerate a little bit more so than what a freshman would do,” OSU coach Mike Gundy said. “That’s part of football. Some years you have injuries that affect your team more than others and right now we’ve got some young guys in there playing that really aren’t ready to play, but they’re in there and we do the best we can and we try to come up with a good game plan to give them a chance for success.”
Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.