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Coach Snyder's postgame surprises Wildcats

By ARNE GREEN

Special to The Hays Daily News

MANHATTAN - When Bill Snyder called his team out Friday night for a lack of passion, Daniel Sams did a double take.

It wasn't so much that Snyder was miffed at the somber locker room mood following Kansas State's 24-21 loss to North Dakota State. It was the fact he went public with it in his postgame press conference.

"I'd say it surprised me for him to say into the media because you know coach Snyder always keeps everything in house," Sams, the Wildcats' backup quarterback, said Tuesday. "But the way I took it, it was motivation.

"For coach Snyder to say that about his team, I feel the rest of the guys (took it that way), too."

It just might have worked.

"Based on our practice (Monday) night, I thought that in some segments of our game we probably practiced better than at any time since we started on Aug. 2," Snyder said. "That's a positive thing.

"And really it was that determination aspect of it that seemed to be on the field, and I appreciate that."

Center B.J. Finney said he sensed leading up to the opener that something was amiss. But it took an 18-play, 8.5-minute game-winning drive by North Dakota State in the fourth to sound the alarm.

"It was just kind of the same monotonous routine, day in and day out, and you kind of just get absorbed in it and you just fall into a rut and you kind of go through the motions because you've done it a thousand times before," Finney said. "We're working hard - there's no way around that - but one of our coaches says, 'It's not about working hard, it's about working smarter.'

"So we've just got to do that. We've got to wake up, we've got to get into it and we've got to make it fun. And we've really got to push ourselves."

That is what Finney saw Monday, especially from a veteran offensive line that was expected to be a team strength, but which produced just 41 rushing yards against North Dakota State.

"I think a lot of guys were in it yesterday," Finney said. "They had a lot of enthusiasm; there was a lot of spirit.

"Some of us were pretty angry with the way the outcome Friday was and we wanted to change it, so that definitely showed up that everybody wanted to change what had been taking place. They truly want to have something special here."

Snyder was as disappointed as anyone in the lack of a rushing attack, even against a NDSU defense fully committed to stopping the run. But he was pleased with Monday's response.

"Our offensive line had the best practice, I know, that anybody has had since we started," Snyder said. "I think they've taken some ownership in their own responsibilities and I appreciate them and coach (Charlie) Dickey because of it."

Sams, who saw limited action but ran 17 yards for a third-quarter touchdown on his first play, said the team's body language at practice Monday told the story.

"As far as our attitudes and the morale around the team, I feel like the difference between Friday night (and Monday), I feel like we improved dramatically," Sams said. "Heads weren't down like Friday.

"We were eager to get to practice and everything was vocal. I was shocked at that, and I feel come Saturday night we will be ready."

He has learned not to question Snyder's motivational skills.

"At the end of the day, coach knows what he's doing," Sams said. "He's been doing it for a long time."