"They were 13-2 last year. We have our hand full this week against McNeese State," said Wildcat…
Mission accomplished: two games, two wins.
Mission accomplished: two games, two wins.
Or, make that, motto accomplished, but only to a certain degree. For the second consecutive year, the motto of the Kansas State Wildcats is "1-0." Win each game ... one at a time.
But while not totally showing it in a 42-28 victory over California, or a 41-5 win over Troy State, this year the Wildcats are taking that "1-0" theme a couple more steps.
Senior strong safety Rashad Washington explains, "Instead of one game at a time, it's one practice at a time. We want to play better each Saturday." Backup cornerback David Rose extended that line of thinking: "We want to be 1-0 each time we play, but we're also taking it one quarter at a time, one practice at a time, one play at a time. We want to be 1-0 on every play. If we do that, we'll end up on top."
K-State hasn't necessarily been 1-0 with every play, but it has won six of the eight quarters and tied another. And the Wildcats have averaged a whopping 7.1 yards on their 131 offensive snaps. While the defense allowed a 4.2-yard-per-play average to the Golden Bears and Trojans, KSU senior linebacker Josh Buhl is just as committed to the extension of the Wildcats' "1-0" motto. "We've broken this season down to where every single thing counts," said Buhl. "If you take a snap off and give up a TD, you may not reach that goal of being 1-0 on Saturday. We're going to play every play like it's the last."
Like every season, coach Bill Snyder has talked about getting better with each game and each practice. But he's also said he's interested in seeing how the commitment, the self discipline and leadership, in general, comes around. The players, however, are not concerned. Senior center Nick Leckey admits that it's too early to talk about the personality of this team, but he did say, "I think we have good leadership, but it's a long season. I think the senior leadership has been good because we are having fun and looking forward to coming to practice.
That's part of good leadership." Laughing, Leckey added that he "savored" two-a-days in early-August. "As funny as that sounds, I just wanted to savor being around everyone on the team," Leckey said. Washington added, "I think we learned a lot from that 6-6 season (2001). We had leaders then, but they weren't vocal. I think last year's team, and this one too, learned from that experience."
With Terence Newman now in the NFL, sophomore free safety Jesse Tetuan points to Washington, who has emerged as the leader in the secondary. "He played all of last year. He is doing really well, plus you just admire the way he acts," said Tetuan. "Everything he does is right. He's someone you can look up to. He's just taking over like Terence did."
Still, Snyder has concerns. Up to 12 part-time starters from the 11-2 2002 team were lost to graduation, which means new players are stepping into new roles. "The concerns are always going to be those positions where you lost those starters and someone who has not been a starter in that position or perhaps has not played a great deal is going to fit in," said Snyder, who had eight first-time starters on the field against Cal. "It takes a little time to develop. You can say you basically have many of the same guys you had last year, but they are in different positions."
Kansas State's next opportunity to go 1-0 will be Saturday night at KSU Stadium in a 6:10 p.m. kickoff against McNeese State. The Cowboys are ranked No. 1 in NCAA Division I-AA football following a 42-0 victory over Henderson State to open the season.
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