MANHATTAN — Kansas State’s football team has always thrived in the underdog role, often finishing higher in the conference standings than the preseason predictions.
This season K-State received positive preseason buzz. Coming off a 9-4 season and a Texas Bowl victory in 2016, the Wildcats were picked third in the Big 12 poll and ranked No. 20 by the Associated Press and No. 19 in the USA Today/Amway coaches poll.
With a 3-2 record, 1-1 in the Big 12 after a loss at Texas, the Wildcats haven’t fared so well in the spotlight.
“At the outset of the season I think our players had a little bit of a misperception about how good we were,” coach Bill Snyder said Tuesday. “There was probably too much outside influence in regards to (being) a playoff team, a conference championship team etc.”
There is still plenty on the table for the Wildcats, who will try to bounce back against No. 6 TCU (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Snyder Family Stadium.
“We had high expectations, and we still do,” linebacker Jayd Kirby said. “We have to take things one game at time and focus on the right things.”
The right thing, for Snyder, is the day-to-day process.
“We’ve got to get back to what our premise is, and it’s that 1-0 concept,” he said. “It’s about today. Let’s do all we can do today. Let’s be the best we can be today. Let’s be better today than yesterday.
“It’s valuable in our program. I don’t know if everybody wants to be that way, but that’s the way I like to see our program and it has benefited us many years in the past.”
K-State bounced back from its first loss at Vanderbilt with a victory over Baylor and now, after the 40-34 double-overtime loss at Texas, has back-to-back home games against the No. 6 Horned Frogs and No. 12 Oklahoma.
“We have to look at what’s in front of us and not too far ahead,” defensive end Kyle Ball said. “We’re focused on TCU and then we’ll go on to the next week and do every week like that.”
The process began in a positive way at practice on Monday, although Snyder wasn’t ready to give a complete passing grade.
“I’m probably going to wait a couple of days to make a real determination in my own mind,” he said. “I thought they came back with some determination. I don’t know how angry they were but they seemed to have a determination about them in practice.”
PERSONNEL MATTERS — Snyder indicated that quarterback Jesse Ertz’s status against TCU will be a game-time decision. Ertz left the Texas game in the third quarter with an apparent knee injury and was replaced by Alex Delton.
“I don’t know if Jesse will be 100 percent or not,” Snyder said. “Ask me on Saturday and I’ll give you a better idea when he tells me.”
As for nickelback Cre Moore, who also was injured against the Longhorns, Snyder said “it doesn’t appear that he will play.” Johnathan Durham would be the probable starter in Moore’s place.
LET’S RACE — Snyder continues to make cracks about the speed, or lack of speed, of wide receiver Dalton Schoen, who outran the Texas defense for an 82-yard touchdown and also has a 70-yard TD this season.
“He’s slower than I am,” said the 78-year-old Snyder.
“I must be getting slower because yesterday he said we were the same speed,” Schoen responded. “Maybe we’ll have to settle it with a race after practice. I’ve been getting comments about my speed my whole life so I’m kind of used to it now. I just try to take the disrespect and turn it to my advantage.”
Contact Ken Corbitt at (785) 295-1123 or @KenCorbitt on Twitter.