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Round Table: K-State CB Danzel McDaniel is freak nasty

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This team seems like it moved on and is ready for UTEP.
This team seems like it moved on and is ready for UTEP.
Jamie Squire

Basically, here's hoping the Kansas State Wildcats players are better at shaking off hangovers than fans have been this week. If you're one of those who has had trouble getting over the aches and pains of the season's first loss, BOTC presents the following medical advice:

Get yourself some Bill Snyder-approved Taco Bell, wash it down with a stiff shot of spiked purple Kool-Aid, and get back on that ride. It's UTEP time!

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The fanbase has been in a general malaise since last Thursday night. You think there's any danger that the players have felt the letdown around campus or the community and let it affect the next game?

TB: No doubt. Of course, I'm still of the opinion that the fanbase's overreaction to KU basketball games each year has played a non-negligible part in the KU hex. A lot of the reaction I've seen around here was of the "let's go win the rest of them" variety, which is apparently the vibe the players gave in the locker room. Here's hoping that's the type of reaction we see.

" ... but the dude is don't-let-that-man-hurt-me-again freak nasty. And, this is awesome." - Curtis Kitchen, on K-State cornerback Danzel McDaniel

Jon: Sure. Of course, "affect" could just as easily mean "murderation and destruction of poor UTEP."

00:  They're "youngsters," so I suspect the effect of the letdown is non-trivial. On the other hand, I could  be imagining this, but I'm getting a very different vibe from this team after a loss than I've done in past years. They're really MAD and I think UTEP is in for a very long day.

Kitchen: Feeling the downside from the community can be a heavy burden for a group of teens and early 20-somethings, but I hear they have a solid coach who I'm sure has referenced a time or two K-State's 16 simple goals that his players can control: commitment; unselfishness; unity; improve; be tough; self-discipline; great effort; enthusiasm; eliminate mistakes; never give up; don't accept losing; no self-limitations; expect to win; consistency; leadership; responsibility.

Long answer long: This team will be fine.

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The Kansas State defense has been duly recognized for its overall effort against Auburn. Of the guys who you can rattle off as difference makers at this point, how many were on your watch list before the season?

TB: I called for someone in the secondary, and Danzel McDaniel has been a welcome surprise from a physicality and athleticism standpoint. Now I hope he gets his hands on a pass and pulls it in. Not sure you can really call him a breakout player, but Travis Britz is anchoring the defensive line, especially against Auburn.

Jon: Britz and McDaniel. Anyone else I was high on has either been a mild disappointment or, um, not appeared yet.

00: Britz and McDaniel certainly, but also Dakorey Johnson. Big kudos.

Kitchen: Y'all had your eyes on Travis Britz? Nice work. I didn't see him as a difference maker as much as someone who would just be in the right spot at the right time ... all the time. I had heard good things about McDaniel and had high hopes because I was worried about the corners, but the dude is don't-let-that-man-hurt-me-again freak nasty. And, this is awesome. Past that, nobody. Of the names I looked at early, I'm just hoping to hear they're tearing up the practice squad at this point, which I haven't heard yet ... maybe someone else has?

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Bill Snyder's comments on Jake Waters this past week were of note because they weren't dripping with the usual high praise we've heard for the quarterback for most of this young season. Anything to take away from that?

TB: Waters told the media this week he has been checking to pass plays in the red zone, and he thinks that means Snyder isn't happy with him. If you watch the play where Waters' pass to Lockett in the end zone was tipped up and intercepted, Waters checks out of the called play at the line. Dollars to doughnuts the called play was a run. I said at the time of the call I thought it was a good call, and I stand by that, but this will no doubt bring out the critics.

Jon: I... meh. Against that defense, where Waters really had no time to do much, and with the run game going absolutely nowhere, I'm not that concerned. If he checked out, it was a good check. Can't really blame Waters for Lockett not using his hands and gravity violating its own mission statement.

00: I've learned not to read too much into what Bill Snyder says at any given time, but to paraphrase the wizard, my levels of concern are negotiated daily. I still don't see that Waters did anything wrong by changing the play at the line. He couldn't control the ricochet off Lockett's fingers, but that determined the outcome of the play more than anything else, IMO.

Kitchen: Nah. I think it's just one of those little ups-and-downs things you get as you pay attention through an entire season. If Waters played at a perfect level all season, he would be the first player in the history of college football. We're just tuned in to hearing every word, and there are things that Waters has done lately that Snyder didn't necessarily like. It happens. The amount of continual high praise caught my attention more than anything said this week, so it's just sorta back to a normal level for me.

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We're a quarter of the way through this season ... how do your thoughts compare to preseason beliefs with a final non-conference game left to go before the Big 12 slate starts in earnest?

TB: The defense is better than I'd expected, though we haven't seen the secondary tested by a true deep threat. Auburn tests your discipline in so many ways, and the defense did as good a job as any of Auburn's opponents did last year, including all that ESS-EEE-SEE speed and Florida State.

And I was right about this offense in the preseason round table. We're going nowhere without a healthy Tyler Lockett. There are other serviceable players on this offense, but no other true threats. And this offensive line is good at what it does, but a really good defensive line is going to make for a long day.

Jon: K-State is in better position that I expected coming into the year. They have the exact same record, and played a much better game against Auburn than I had expected. Iowa State was frustrating, but hey, Ames. They'll be fine.

00: About the same, really. I had Auburn penciled in as a W, because I thought our strengths on offense matched up well against their weaknesses in the secondary. It turned out more to be our defense being able to stop the Auburn run game in a pleasantly surprising turn of events. But I've always said that the Big 12 season will play out differently. It's not that our offensive production is poor or that we're lacking in talent. It's more a problem of execution. When the guy who caught meteors out of the sky last year can barely catch a sure TD pass, you know there's an execution problem. Fortunately, that's totally fixable, and we're going to see that.

Kitchen: Big, twisted picture: While this team has shown it is every bit as deep as I thought it was, it is better than I thought it was going to be. I figured 2-1 at this point, but I also braced for potentially getting trucked at home against Auburn. Why? Because at the beginning of the year, when it became apparent all of the the JUCOs may not find their way to the field, I didn't believe the defense was going to be much more than average. It would fight hard, but it would be an uphill climb. Some guys have stepped up we didn't expect, and the level of play has been more than just fine.

I'm actually more concerned with the offense on the whole. It's a fine offense (for the reasons TB pointed out), but I'm not sure "fine" is going to be good enough to allow a breakthrough opportunity against Oklahoma or Baylor, or win a potential shootout scenario against a West Virginia. The offense needs to pick it up a notch if it wants to ease my low but discernible concern.