'Cats prepare to play the also-rans
Pretend, if you will, that you're coach Bill Snyder.
Your task is readying your football team to play the lowest of also-rans of the Big 12 Conference.
Pretty much hapless teams in Baylor, which has lost its last three games by a combined score of 157-31, and an Iowa State team that has not seen victory since Sept. 6.
Your Wildcats are going to win these next two outings.
You know that; your players know that.
Heck, boys in Las Vegas have installed your team as a 40-point favorite.
So, how do you get your Wildcats ready so they won't pull a Colorado and lose one of those games that "you know" you're going to win?
There's no question that the Buffs "knew" victory was in hand when they traveled to Waco on Oct. 4. But, when CU boarded its charter for Boulder, they carried with them a 42-30 loss to a team that has won just five (5-54) Big 12 games in the seven-plus year existence of the conference.
In preparing a team, Snyder admits, "... we (coaches) have to understand, and our players have to understand, that we run a major risk if we're not seriously preparing for this ballgame."
Snyder used the weeks leading up to the Marshall game as an up close and personal example. Remember the one: Thundering Herd 27, Wildcats 20.
In trying to drive home the example with his Wildcats, Snyder put on his banker's hat.
"Whatever you do today that is positive and better than you did yesterday is like putting money in the bank," Snyder said. "You're going to get interest back at some point in time during the course of the season.
"Whatever we do today is either going to benefit us or hurt us," Snyder said. "If we step backwards, several weeks down the road, it's only going to hurt us. If we do well, further down the road it is going to benefit us."
Snyder then said that message was just as true early in the year, but added, "We didn't put enough money in the bank and it came back to haunt us."
But continuing to get that point across to 19- to 22-year-olds is easier said than done.
The Wildcat players keep up with the Big 12. They know the facts of the 117 teams that play NCAA Division I-A football. They are aware of the following:
•Baylor ranks 112th in total offense (297)
•Baylor ranks 105th in scoring defense (34.5)
•Baylor ranks 103rd in scoring offense (17.9)
•Baylor ranks 102nd in rushing defense (202)
And next week, the Wildcats are aware of the following:
•Iowa State ranks 102nd in total defense (441)
•Iowa State ranks 100th in rushing defense (197)
•Iowa State ranks 98th in scoring defense (33.4)
•Iowa State ranks 97th in scoring offense (18.6)
So to get the message across, well, as offensive coordinator Del Miller says, "Sometimes you need a sledgehammer. It's just the nature of the game."
But to hear the Wildcats talk about their two exhibition-type games prior to playing Nebraska on Nov. 15, the message has come across loud and clear.
"It's a topsy-turvy league this year," said senior center Nick Leckey. "We know that Baylor put a whuppin' on Colorado. You just never know what's going to happen. If you practice poorly, you can be beaten. We're a prime example of that."
Knowing that his days as a Wildcat are numbered, senior linebacker Josh Buhl said, "We have to look at this as another opportunity to play and another opportunity to get better. It's another opportunity to have a 1-0 game. It should be no problem being motivated."
But for the next two weeks, that will be easier said than done against a Baylor team that K-State has never lost to (4-0) and to an Iowa State game that the Wildcats have defeated nine straight times.
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