Each week, we'll sift through coach Bill Snyder's thoughts on the upcoming game and opponent to uncover the nuggets of information that are noteworthy or interesting.
Here are the highlights from Snyder's first weekly PC of the 2013 season as the Wildcats prepare to open their schedule at home Friday against North Dakota State, the defending FCS national champions.
"Playing on Fridays is a mess, I assure you."
Several times during Tuesday's press conference, Snyder had to correct himself after referring to the season-opener against North Dakota State as "Saturday night's game." As K-Stater's know, Snyder is a man of habit and routine, and something tells me that having this game on a Friday night cramps his style.
"A work in progress. That's probably true of our entire team. I think it's just a matter of trying to get better. I see the steady improvement that I think that we're making. Ask me Saturday morning and I'll probably have a little bit better answer. But I think they're getting a feel for each other. I think there is greater continuity right now than there was at the outset. I think they have a better understanding of the global concepts, so to speak, in regards to what we're doing, and how each one of them fits in."
This is Snyder's take on the defense. What was most interesting was the tone with which Snyder spoke about the defense. As much as Snyder typically deadpans through these weekly press gatherings (he even joked after one reporter's question: "How long is this thing supposed to last?"), you could sense an upbeat tenor as Snyder spoke of his defensive outfit.
He constantly preaches competition, and he mentioned that he liked the competition along the defensive line and at cornerback. I think Snyder sees the potential that this unit has if the new starters like Dante Barnett, Dorian Roberts, Marquel Bryant and Blake Slaughter gel quickly and adjust to being "the guy" at their positions.
"We might have five guys that are there in position to be on the field on Friday night. ... What's that mean? It means we have five guys, and how good they are remains to be seen. They've made progress, and I feel good about the progress they've made."
This is Snyder specifically addressing the defensive line. It's about as straightforward as you can get right now. There are five guys that will play on Friday. Beyond that, who knows what will happen. One thing is for sure, the sooner this group gets up to speed, the better the outlook for K-State's season.
"He (Daniel Sams) has practiced well. You'll find Jake (Waters) is in the huddle and he'll be right in there with him helping Jake with anything he might need help with, although that's not a great deal right now. He's right there to help. He's been a good teammate."
I think a lot of Wildcat fans were concerned about how Daniel Sams would take the news that he would not be the starter. Snyder seemed to calm those fears by acknowledging Sams' continued willingness to compete as if the position were still up for grabs. With Sams having missed some time during the preseason, who knows, perhaps Sams could be the starter by Big 12 play.
Something tells me that won't be the case, though. Snyder was quick to add "although that's not a great deal right now" when speaking about how often Waters needs help. Waters seems to have the same work ethic and drive that took Collin Klein to new heights, and I think he (Waters) might be the starter for good.
"Right now, we're thinking that there might be two that we would not redshirt, and the rest we probably would."
Snyder did not specifically mention them by name, but he did say that the coaching staff has identified two freshman that will probably not redshirt. Many Wildcat fans believe defensive end Jordan Willis is one of those two based on his physical stats and the need at the position.
So Wildcat fans ... who is freshman No. 2?
"That competition is not over. It's not written in stone."
Snyder addressing the competition at cornerback. This was in response to a question about Dante Barnett, whom many believe is poised for a big-time season after being thrust into the starting role late last year after Ty Zimmerman went down with an injury.
"We've been through the age-old issue of our scheduling — non-conference scheduling. The hope has always been that you would have the opportunity to play your two-deep, so that young people who at some point in time during the course of the season are going to have to get on the field. You are far more than fortunate if you can escape injury during the course of the season. So that guy that may sit on the bench for a game or two, at some point in time he's going to be on the field and be put in a position where he's going to have to do things that will help define losing or winning. So to have a non-conference schedule that gives you an opportunity to put those guys in there really is beneficial to our program. I can't speak for anybody else, but it is highly beneficial to our program. Now, the problem exists — we don't have that opportunity. You look at North Dakota State and you read all the stuff. It's a tremendously talented, gifted and quality football team, and next week, same thing."
North Dakota State is not your typical FCS rummy. Ask KU fans about this.
K-State knows the danger FCS teams present, as UMass and Eastern Kentucky nearly pulled off shocking upsets against the Wildcats in 2009 and 2011, respectfully.
I thought this answer was an interesting look into Snyder's non-conference scheduling philosophy, for which he clearly does not apologize. This game, which was scheduled back when Ron Prince was still treating the K-State nation to "bold and daring" football, fits the Snyder scheduling philosophy ... on paper. The problem is North Dakota State is a very good football team, one that is capable of playing with FBS-level teams.
So the weird thing is despite NDSU being an FCS opponent, they actually don't mesh with Snyder's preferred non-conference opponent profile.
But despite all that, the fact remains that while yes, NDSU has wins over FBS schools like KU and Minnesota and Colorado State, the Wildcats present a much different reality for the Bison. There's been a lot of bravado coming from the NDSU faithful this offseason, but I came across this article today that finally sheds a ray of reality on the uphill battle the Bison will face this Saturday ... err ... Friday night.