This picture essentially represents the dawning of the re-birth of K-state Football. Ironically, the success of Snyder 2.0 was kicked off by starting a Sophomore qb ahead of the Senior qb who played the rest of the year on Senior night Nov. 6th 2010.
2010-11: 7-6 (3-5), Pinstripe Bowl berth - After missing out on a Big 12 N division championship, and a chance at a bowl game in the final game of the 2009-10 season, the 2010-11 'Cats made it a point to get Head Coach Bill Snyder those extra bowl practices he counts so much on. After starting the year handling both UCLA and Missouri State in "yea you probably should have fashion", KSU ran into its first gut-check in week three closing out the short lived Farmageddon series at Arrowhead in Kansas City. And much like the first year, Snyder and crew came away with a win in dramatic fashion 27-20 thanks in part to a late game forced fumble by Brandon Harold, allowing Josh Cherry to connect on a 42yd FG eating up enough time to make Iowa State's final possession a short clock and down 7. That was likely the only exception to the Daniel Thomas show (the norm for the 2010 season), other than this Coffman-Smith 47yd TD pass. After sweating it out in the early season conference game show down, the following week looked like a scene out of Will Smith's Independence Day with a bizarre rain-delay scenario against the University of Central Florida winning by a narrow margin of 17-14. Feeling good about 4-0, hype was in excess leading up to a rare Thursday night slot in the final conference match up between K-State and the University of Nebraska. In fact, even radio hosts were having epic meltdowns of why Big 12 fans would necessarily miss the "great" fans of the Cornhuskers. Well turns out the hyperbole of the week ended up being just that, as the T-Magic carved up Chris Cosh's defense as if they were wearing boots in a freshly poured concrete pad. Of course the best way to recover from a humiliating loss to Nebraska, is to humiliate one of their former qbs turned head coach, Turner Gill on yet another Thursday night (thanks Dillons and FSN). How bad was it? Well 59-7 features many embarrassing moments for the Kansas Jayhawks. Among them were ankle breaking moves by Tramaine Thompson, a blown 12-men on the field call TD score for KSU and I believe Collin Klein's first of many rushing TDs in mop up time. After a good ole fashioned shoot-out in Waco, TX that featured just about every trick in the playbook, including a Daniel Thomas pass, it was evident that K-State did not have the defense to go far in the conference schedule. So the 47-42 heartbreaker did no favors for the morale as the high-powered Oklahoma State Cowboys came to town. In an odd change of events, the defense actually did quite well against the Dez Bryant less Cowboys, but the offense was way out of rhythm that day dropping their second in a row 14-17. Realizing something had to change Coach Snyder put the program in the hands of a young Collin Klein, and well we all know what he was able to do with 4 pass attempts on the day. Sitting at 6-3, the wildcats appeared to be in position to end the year with a decent record, but had three roadies to close out the year, in which they went 1-2 against Missouri, Colorado and North Texas. And to be honest, as ugly as the North Texas win was, it should have probably been a loss. So at 7-5, KSU found its way to the inagural Pinstripe Bowl in new Yankee Stadium. How fitting it was in a year full of precipitation hampered games, that a record snow fall met the football team as they landed in NYC hours before the blizzard was in full swing. The game wound up being no easier or frustrating for the team than the travel, and day to day logistics as Syracuse won the bowl game rubber match 36-34, thanks in part to poor judgement on the part an officiating crew. Either way, symbolically Adrian Hilburn said goodbye to poor football in Manhattan for years to come as they closed out the year.
2011-12: 10-3 (7-2), Cotton Bowl berth - Now that Coach Snyder finally got those lucrative extra bowl practices, 2011-12 was going to be interesting to see just what would result. During December 2010 was when names like Finney, Arthur Brown and Sexton were surfacing. So in the third annual Family reunion, it's safe to say disappointment was an understatement. Funny thing is, it would be just a sign of things to come, as that was only one of 8 games to be won by a TD or less. Just like in 2010, the Cats would find the 'gut-check' game in week three after rolling Kent State in week two 37-0. It was one of those Jimmy Fallon "Thank You" cards written by Bill Snyder to Ron Prince as there was an actual quality BCS-AQ team road game on the non-conference schedule. For most of us outside of the football program itself, it was with 2:00 min left in the game when it was evident the youngsters bought into themselves, each other and the 16 goals, thanks in part to one Tre Walker. This was in fact just the beginning. As it was evident we finally had good linebacker play, something long gone since Brandon Archer. So the following week it would come down again to a LB making a play to close out the game to seal the deal (well, actually Anthony Cantele was responsible for the 36-35 edge). Ultimately Jordan Voelker would help finish off the game improving the Cats to 4-0. As the Missouri Tigers came to town the following week, it would be John Hubbert's time to shine. Though it was only a 24-17 win, it felt much like the 2009 K-state vs KU game, where Mizzou really was never close to winning the game as the defense disrupted them all day. In fact it was a few questionable fumbles withheld/overturned by the officials that kept some drives alive for them. The road came calling the next week, and KSU relied heavily on special teams between Tyler Lockett and Ray Kibble to make points and prevent points against Texas Tech. Meanwhile Nigel Malone notched another interception on the year, this one for a score. As the 'Cats traveled to Lawrence for the second year in a row, they nearly duplicated the 2010 game by scoring 59 points once again, and doing a victory lap around the lower bowl of the entire stadium. So again, like 2010 came a home game match up of an undefeated KSU team at 7-0, and nationally ranked Oklahoma Sooners (in lieu of Nebraska this go around). And much like the 2010 Nebraska game, the 2011 Oklahoma game featured a KSU defense getting carved up. So at 7-1, many fans thought the scales would tip once again as they did in 2010 as a road match-up against the top 5 Oklahoma State Cowboys was next. Well in primetime, opposite of "The
game lame of the century" was quite possibly the most entertaining game of the year, thanks in part to Lockett, Klein and crucial turnovers, despite starting out with a 0-14 deficit. Klein and the Cats went down to the wire in a shootout in Stillwater coming up short 45-52 as the final seconds clicked off the clock with the ball in the redzone. Between a blowout and a heartbreaker, one had to question the amount left in the emotional tank. Well no sooner than the next week was there proof in a 4OT victory over the WTF aTm aggies. The 'Cats would close out the year with a 17-14 win over Texas (with only 150 or so yds of total offense) and another swallow hard win over Iowa State to close out on Senior Day in the first week of December, earning them a spot in the Cotton Bowl against the Arkansas Razorbacks. As far as the Cotton Bowl goes, yes Arkansas was the better team. However, even though I agreed with the amount K-state came out throwing at the beginning of the game, it was evident how much a few dropped passes can really take the wind out of the sails of a football team.
So the past two years ended up netting a 17-9 record. What I think we can extrapolate, is that Bill has successfully purged any lasting mindsets from the Ron Prince era. After capitalizing on bowl practices, the guy got time to start molding former scout team and redshirt youngsters into young men who believe what he preaches works...and it does. The key to moving forward will be what remains of last year's leaders. Last year featured a team that just really bought in to the 16 goals. As long as you're exchanging kids on 4 year cycles, your dynamic is guaranteed to never be the same. So assuming 80% of the team is as dedicated as last year's, it's how those current upperclassmen can impress upon the JuCo transfers and Grayshirts and what not. Everyone wants to point out how the OL only returns 2 starters from last year, but we said the same thing last year when only 3 starters returned. And as we were hearing things about Finney during the Pinstripe Bowl practices in 2010, so too were we hearing about the emergence of Boston Stiverson during this year's Cotton Bowl practices. While we might be a little green this year there, I once again will put faith in Coach Dickey to get the job done. He might not be able to exactly duplicate last year's success, but I believe he comes close. Point is, I'm not too worried. Also as much as the returners bought into the 16 goals, I believe they will continue to execute those principals; namely get better every day. Specifically to quote Chris Harper from today's Mercury article:
The senior said he looked at past K-State history to determine what Klein could be capable of this go-round.
"If you look at quarterbacks in the past, most have thrown for more than 1,000 yards after their second year starting," he said. "Collin has put in so much work, it's almost like it has to happen."
Point is, we all know Snyder's stance on having a balanced offense. He's three seasons down in round 2, and hasn't had one yet. So to think that he's still not trying to get back there is ludicrous. Lastly, I want to counter the skeptics who point to the 8 wins out of 9 games won by a TD or less. They all say K-state doesn't repeat that fortune. Agreed. But that statement also operates under the assumption that all things will be equal to last year; as if there will be 9 games again this year decided by a TD or less. Look if this team strives to get better every day, you better believe they're going to try to win more games in convincing fashion this year. I would think the amount of close games is reduced to closer to 4 games this year. Do the 'cats win them all? I don't know. But I do think games like Baylor are won by more than 1 pt. I believe we don't lose to OSU as its now a home game, and they lost a ton. I believe we fair better against UT than last year now that it's a home game as well as Miami. That already cuts out half of those. Oh and A&M and Mizzou aren't even on the schedule, so there's another two games. Regardless, I'm a firm believer in drawing comparisons between Snyder 1.0 and 2.0. This go around he's on a little faster pace, but I compare last year's team to the 1995 team. The first break out team. The bell curve is still climbing, and I feel confident in a 10 win guarantee for 2012-13. Now it might be 9 in the regular season and a bowl win, but I don't believe in this "they might be better, but not in the win column". The only way for this team to "get better" is to win as many or more games. Go State.
p.s. shouldn't season tickets be showing up in the mail box soon?!?!?!