Back to basics

The Wildcats had plenty of room for improvement as they headed into their bye week following the Sep. 18 win against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Back to basics

Bye week allowed time to heal and focus

By Herbie Teope

The Wildcats had plenty of room for improvement as they headed into their bye week following the Sep. 18 win against Louisiana-Lafayette.

Outside of Heisman candidate running back Darren Sproles, the offense has lacked consistency and became one-dimensional. Moreover, the defense, which has historically been one of the team's strongest units, has experienced mental lapses with penalties and missed tackles.

Head coach Bill Snyder and defensive coordinator Bob Elliot were critical about the play of the defense after they surrendered 342 yards, to include an 80-yard run from quarterback Jerry Babb. Both coaches identified the team's inability to make tackles as a major problem during the Sep. 18 post-game press conference.

At the sound of the opening whistle against Texas A&M Saturday, the team hopes to play like they practiced the last two weeks.

"It's always kind of nice to get back to the basics of the game," sophomore quarterback Dylan Meier said about the bye week. "We got some people healed up, which is very good for us."

Getting healed was indeed good for junior linebacker Ted Sims, who has missed all three games because of a foot injury. Sims said Tuesday that he is "90-95" percent healed and expects to play Saturday if he survives practice the rest of the week.

"It was a good week of practice," Meier continued. "We practiced hard and executed in all phases of the game. We needed it at the time and it will help us out in the long run."

Snyder also sounded optimistic Tuesday that the concerns were addressed during the last week.

"Our football team is making an attempt to improve fundamentally and they're trying to improve their effort on the practice field," said Snyder. "They are trying to improve the focus with which they practice and all those little things that you hope carry over into Saturday afternoon's ball game. They are making the effort to do those things."

Kansas State senior defensive tackle Jermaine Berry mentioned that live tackling drills were a major part of practices.

"We had a lot of drills, a lot of live tackling during practice, and we also did a lot against the scout team," explained Berry. "Everything was just live."

The trick for the Wildcats as Snyder mentioned is for the team to carry that over to Saturday. The defense must show up and play a complete game to give the Wildcats a chance to leave College Station with a victory. The Aggies offense has averaged 473 yards through three games, and the Wildcats must apply defensive pressure to quarterback Reggie McNeal.

"They are a good team, but we have to try to get to the quarterback," Berry said about McNeal. "That's our main focus. We will be going after him the whole game."

The long run that Meier mentioned begins Oct. 2 as the Wildcats set out to defend their 2003 Big 12 Championship. The team lacked an identity following their last game, but from the sounds of things, the bye week could be the catalyst that starts the team off in the right direction.

"We haven't been where we need to be, but I think during the bye week we definitely made a lot of improvement. I think everyone is starting to buy into the program, and that's what we need," junior offensive lineman Jeromey Clary said.

"I think we are really coming together as a team -- not just the offensive line, but the offense and defense as a whole. I think we made some big strides last week, and I am really looking forward to this weekend."

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