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Football team looks for improvement in spring practice

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RacketCats can’t beat archrivals Kansas in Sunflower Showdown

NCAA Football: Charlotte at Kansas State Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

So it’s the Monday before spring practice, and all’s quiet in Manhattan. There’s only really a trickle of sports information to share with you today, so we’ll just jump right in, shall we?

But first things first...

WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!

That’s right. Kansas State is once again the national champion. The university’s meat evaluation team took first in the 2018 Collegiate Meat Evaluation Competition in Lubbock over the weekend. This is Kansas State’s third consecutive win.

With apologies to Arby’s, we own the meats.

Football

In 2017, Kansas State was not a team laden with seniors and/or experience. That showed on the field but with the upside that much of the team would be back in 2018. Well, there’s at least one unit that’s been decimated by the departure of stellar and experienced players, and it’s the unit that’s been a constant strength over the years: special teams.

The departure of kicker Matthew McCrane, the Wildcats’ all-time leader in field goals and field goal percentage, all-Big 12 punter Nick Walsh, and returners Byron Pringle and D.J. Reed (who was second in the FBS in both punt- and kickoff return average) makes this year’s special teams a “work in progress.” (Ryan Black, Manhattan Mercury).

Bill Snyder’s “[n]ot going as well as I would like” description of the unit hardly inspires confidence, though given his penchant for playing his cards close to his chest, it’s hard to know what the actual state of the unit is. Let’s just keep our fingers and toes crossed anyway.

There’s still plenty of experience on the field in 2018 on both offense and defense. Unfortunately, some of that experience has been forced to watch spring practice from the sidelines. Dalton Risner, who missed the Cactus Bowl with two injured shoulders, had surgery in the off-season and hopes to be ready by fall. Meanwhile, free safety Kendall Adams is recovering from a foot injury, but may be ready to practice ahead of schedule, maybe even sooner than August (Black, Mercury).

Speaking of “work in progress,” those words were also used to describe Mike McCoy who has the talent, skills, and personality to be a great Kansas State football player, but struggles a bit with the discipline Snyder demands. Specifically, McCoy is a bit of a goofball and a cut-up who has to work hard at being serious while being a football player. Snyder thinks it’s just a matter of “when,” not “if” McCoy is ready for the big time, and in the meantime, he’s getting plenty of mentoring from his teammates (Tim Bisel, Topeka Capital-Journal).

Baseball

Nope, still not talking about that. But our resolve is waning.

Tennis

The tennis team has made real strides this season. There have been match winning streaks, a climb through the ITF rankings, and this weekend, even a glimmer of hope against archrival No. 17 Kansas.

Alas, it was not to be, as the Wildcats lost the contest 4-1 to the Jayhawks in Manhattan yesterday. Kansas State’s lone point came from a hard-fought 6-2, 2-6, 6-3 win over Kansas’ Janet Koch. That tied the teams up at 1-1, with Kansas having narrowly taken the doubles point earlier. The Wildcats then lost the remaining singles matches to drop the contest, although Rosanna Maffei and Ines Mesquita were on the brink of winning their singles matches when play was called with Kansas already having secured four points.

This was Kansas’ 44th win over Kansas State, but the team is at least showing steady improvement.

One upside? Mike Goss Stadium was packed for the battle against Kansas, and head coach Danielle Steinberg is hoping for more of the same when the Wildcats take on Oklahoma on Friday afternoon and Oklahoma State on Sunday.

Miscellany

A list of top earners at Kansas State revealed what you probably already knew: the three top earners at the university are Bill Snyder, Bruce Weber, and Jeff Mittie. University president Richard Myers checks in at the four-spot, and the next several positions are occupied by assistant football coaches, including the now-retired Tom Hayes and ex-offensive coordinator Dana Dimel.