Ron Prince said there are two types of penalties that are absolute killers. On offense, those that come before the snap of the football. The false start.
On defense, those that come at the end of the play, or after the play. The late hit, or the facemask.
"Some of them I thought were bogus calls, but you've got to live with it," said K-State safety Marcus Watts. "Every official is human. They can't see everything. But 16 penalties? We just can't win games that way."
K-State had six penalties for 53 yards in the first half, four more for 30 yards in the third quarter, and six for 58 most costly yards in the fourth quarter when the Wildcats lost a 13-9 lead.
On offense, Kansas State was flagged eight times with five false starts, an illegal formation, a delay of game and an offensive facemask penalty on receiver Jordy Nelson, who was battling to gain extra yardage after a catch.
Coach Ron Prince admitted, "It's the first time I've ever seen an offensive face mask (penalty)."
Of some of the flags, quarterback Josh Freeman said, "It was first-game jitters in some cases." And, "Just a product of not being on the same page. I'm sure the noise played a little bit of a factor, but we have to eliminate things like that."
"Some of our penalties are from lack of discipline, some just getting caught up in the moment, and some times bad things just happen," said defensive end Ian Campbell. "Some days you back up your car and bump into a pole.
"But you can't win football games with 16 penalties," Campbell said. 'We're working on it, but obviously we have more work to do."
On special teams, K-State had 12 men on the field, a holding penalty on a return, Justin McKinney had a pair of facemask crimes and Antonio Moore was charged for roughing the punter.
McKinney, who has a history of special team penalties, said, "Just being aggressive causes me to get a couple penalties." Prince said he had a stern conversation with his special teams ace, but with a smile, said it was private.
McKinney said, "He just told me to stop making foolish penalties."
A year ago, Kansas State has more penalty yardage than its opponent 10 times in 12 games. In a 23-7 win over Marshall, the Wildcats were flagged 14 times for 116 yards; against Baylor it was 11 flags for 84 yards; and it was eight flag, and nine penalty games against Texas and Rutgers, respectively.
For the year, K-State's 56.3 penalty yards per game ranked 10th in the league only behind Baylor (56.5) and Texas Tech (65.8). In 2005, K-State ranked ninth in penalty yardage with 75 per game.
"This has been something that has affected us the last couple of years," said Nelson. "We have to correct it. We just need to stay focused during the play. I think we had close to 150 yards of penalties (vs. Auburn) and that is a lot of yardage to make up in a game." So the message from the top is: "Across the board, we have to eliminate those penalties."