Wildcats lacking identity


Wanted: An identity.

Needed: A better chemistry.

Kansas State 's football team is in the need of both as it has hit mid-season with neither area clearly defined.

Coach Bill Snyder admits, "It's concerning ... very much so."

This Wildcat team has been an enigma, to say the least.

In everyone's Top 10 at the beginning of the season, K-State climbed to No. 6 status with a quick 4-0 start. But then came Marshall , and then Texas , and then Oklahoma State.

Today, K-State is 4-3; today, K-State is unranked; today, K-State's future is in limbo.

Wildcat players bristle at the notion that this team is like the one in 2001 that finished 6-6. Looking back to that year, players and coaches, alike, say it lacked leadership, it lacked character.

Snyder admits that this club of 2003 has some of the same similarities. But in the same breath, he says it has some of the same similarities to the team of 2002 that rebounded for a 11-2 season.

With that said of this 2003 team, Snyder said on Sunday that this team "... hasn't defined itself."

And the players agree.

"The consistency just isn't there," said KSU strong safety Rashad Washington.

"I don't think the team camaraderie is there like it's been in the past," said linebacker Josh Buhl.

K-State has lost the first half of each of the last three games by a combined score of 54-27 only to rally and be in position to win each game in the last couple of minutes.

"When everything is down and we're trying to fight back, then we become a team," said quarterback Ell Roberson. "But we need to be a team when we first come out on the field."

Nothing has been more troublesome to the Wildcats than interceptions, which have numbered five in the last two games.

While saying that Roberson was better against O-State than he was against Texas , Snyder said, "I would have liked for Ell to start the ballgame better, but he did finish it well. He's still making enough mistakes that he can get you into trouble."

K-State won the fourth quarter against O-State 13-3 with Roberson completing 10-of-16 passes for 158 yards and a pair of scores.

While acknowledging that K-State was playing against a touch softer-style of defense at the time, Snyder said of Roberson, "He was focused on what he was doing, made good decisions, made himself a threat with the ball and I thought he was very, very good at that time."

And while the defense has been maligned, Snyder also points out that a lengthy kickoff return set up a 55-yard OSU scoring drive, an interception helped set up a 34-yard scoring drive, and a 19-yard punt return helped set up a 20-yard drive resulting in a field goal.

Speaking on the defense, Snyder refuses to identify the problem as not having playmakers like Terence Newman and Terry Pierce as in 2002.

"The nature of our defense over the years has been an 11-man team. It hasn't always been a 'name' defense," Snyder said. "We've played well without a 'name' defense. By and large, it's just everybody has got to be on the same page and the structure of it has got to be as such. You don't have to have a bunch of stars to do it.

"We should be able to be a sound, solid, good defensive team without a Terence Newman, without a Terry Pierce," Snyder said. "I don't know that you could look up and say we've got one guy that's going to be a dominant force on defense, but that's OK. That's absolutely OK as long as everyone else holds up their end of the bargain."

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