Wildcats try to get right as Ragin' Cajuns visit
MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder saw the fallout of a season-opening loss to North Dakota State reflected in the faces of his players as they showed up for practice this week.
First, he saw hurt. Then disappointment and embarrassment.
Snyder eventually saw the anger he wanted to see in the minutes after the 24-21 defeat.
"Then maybe the next emotion is probably determination or rectify whatever the mistakes happened to be," Snyder said. "Everybody that cares goes through that, and I think most of our guys care."
Their chance to rectify those mistakes comes Saturday night against Louisiana-Lafayette.
It will be the first time Snyder has led his team onto the field after an opening loss since 1989, his first season in Manhattan. That also was the last time he lost to an FCS school.
In the immediate aftermath last Friday night, Snyder was surprised the Wildcats didn't display much emotion in the locker room. He wanted to see players slamming their firsts into the wall, but instead found a room so quiet he could hear chinstrap unbuckle.
That left Snyder curious about how they'd practice this week.
"In some segments of our game, we probably practiced better than any time since we started on August 2 and that is a positive thing," he said. "Really, it was that determination aspect of it that seemed to be on the field, so I appreciate that from our young guys."
The Ragin' Cajuns, who are coming off back-to-back 9-4 seasons, are also trying to rebound from a rough opener. They were beaten 34-14 by Arkansas last weekend.
"We're a little disappointed we didn't play better than we did," Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth said. "To play as bad as we felt we did and to be down 27-14 late in the third with a chance to cut it to just one score -- we're making strides, but we felt if we executed the way we'd like to we could have made that a game."
As the Wildcats and Ragin' Cajuns try to get back on track Saturday night, here are five things that could decide which team with bowl aspirations starts 0-2:
THE TRENCHES: The Wildcats returned every starter on their offensive line and were still shoved around by North Dakota State. Kansas State managed just 41 yards rushing, 17 of which came when backup quarterback Daniel Sams took a designed run for a touchdown. The Ragin' Cajuns allowed 292 yards rushing to Arkansas, including 100-yard rushers in Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins.
"There are a lot of things that need to be corrected and a lot of it is fundamentals," Kansas State center B.J. Finney said. "It's about getting back to being a tough and physical line, which we need to be against Louisiana because they have big and physical defensive linemen."
LIGHTS ON BROADWAY: Dual-threat quarterback Terrance Broadway burst onto the scene last year after an early injury to starter Blaine Gautier. Broadway accounted for 3,611 total yards and 26 TDs, and carried his momentum into this season. He threw for 171 yards and a TD against the Razorbacks.
SAMS I AM: Sams only got a handful of snaps behind starter Jake Waters last weekend, but Snyder indicated this week the athletic sophomore quarterback will play more Saturday night. Sams was beaten out by Waters in a close competition this fall, but his ability to make things happen with his feet is a nice change of pace to Waters' throwing ability.
"I wouldn't see anything wrong with both of us playing," Sams said. "When I'm in there, I basically do what I have to do, whether that's running the ball or throwing it."
BEATING BIG BOYS: The Ragin' Cajuns have been among the best in the Sun Belt he past couple seasons, but they still haven't beaten a BCS program. They were trounced twice by Oklahoma State, but nearly upset Arizona two years ago and Florida last season. And after falling to the Razorbacks last weekend, you can bet the Wildcats are circled on their calendar.
GETTING RIGHT: Both teams harbored significant bowl hopes entering the season, and the loser of Saturday night's game has an uphill climb. It'll be especially tough for the Wildcats simply because the bulk of their remaining schedule is against Big 12 opposition.
"Some of us were pretty angry with the outcome on Friday and we want to change that," Finney said. "People want to change and truly want to have something special here."