Barber will be the honorary captain of the Herd on Saturday, rejoining his teammate in Marshall head coach Mark Snyder on the sidelines. On the opposite sideline will be Bill Snyder, who has, in the words of Mark, "been a part of one of college football's two biggest turnarounds...Kansas State and Marshall." Snyder the younger is excited to coach against the long-time leader of the Wildcats. "What an honor to be on the other side of the field," said Mark. "You know, Snyder verus Snyder, the rookie versus the vet. You watch the film on them, they are so well coached." Snyder's also makes a well-known brand of potato chips in the Huntington area.
Bill Snyder took questions from the media on Monday's Big XII Coaches Conference call and here are his comments on game one with Florida International and this week's game at Marshall. "It was a good win in the opener, and we played fairly well, I thought. We can't afford to make five turnovers and win in future games, but found ways to compensate.
"We finished fairly late Saturday night, and now we have to get ready for an early kickoff at Marshall. We're running around pretty quickly trying to get things accomplished this week. I have coached in some pretty early (SBC) Cotton Bowl games (a 10:10 a.m., CST start in Dallas, versus this week's 9:30 a.m. CDT start), so it kind of depends on whether you're talking about Eastern or Central time for earliest games we ever played.
"I don't know how much we can get out of our 2003 game with Marshall since they have changed coaches. It's hard to compare our 2005 team with the 2003 team because this team has a lot more to prove. We're playing 21 underclassmen, and that 2003 team was a lot more seasoned.
"Our offensive line gained momentum as the game continued, and Thomas Clayton and Parrish Fisher ran pretty well for their first college games. It's indicative that the offensive line is playing well when the running game is going well. We have to do the things that allow us to become successful.
"After the game, I saw a little of our spirit begin to diminish before we went in at halftime, but we came out stronger in the second half."
In Saturday's game, K-State's Thomas Clayton ran for 177 yards and two scores to lead Kansas State to its 16th straight win in a season opener, 35-21 over Florida International of the Sun Belt Conference in the Golden Panthers' first game as a full member of Division I-A (ed. note: the Panthers were ranked among the worst teams in the pre-season, coming in at 119th of 119 schools in many polls). Allen Webb passed for 161 yards and two scores for the Wildcats, but also lost a fumble and threw one interception.
Kansas State, coming off its first losing season (4-7) in 12 years, beat a team from Florida for the first time in six tries. But it wasn't easy, even with a 407-236 advantage in total offense.Linebacker Antwan Barnes almost single-handedly kept Florida International (0-1), a fourth-year program, in the game. He forced one fumble and recovered another, setting up short touchdown drives each time, and blocked the punt that Nick Turnbull returned 17 yards to get the Golden Panthers within a touchdown late in the third quarter.
As Darren Sproles' backup last year, Clayton had 71 yards on 15 carries. On Saturday, he had more than that on his first career TD run -- an 80-yard burst up the middle on the opening snap of the second half. Clayton, who was starting for the first time, appeared to be sandwiched for a loss on the play. But he managed to slip between two defenders, put down his left hand to steady himself, and sprinted untouched to the end zone for a 20-7 lead. Four plays after that, Clayton's 2-yard run -- set up by Jermaine Moreira's 67-yard punt return -- and Webb's 2-point conversion made it 28-7.
Two big plays by Barnes kept things close, though. He sacked Webb and stripped the ball away, and Johnathan Sturrup recovered to set up Adam Gorman's 3-yard TD run. Barnes' block and Turnbull's return made it 28-21 with 3:46 left in the third quarter, but Kansas State responded with Webb's 8-yard scoring pass to Jordy Nelson with just over 11 minutes to go in the game. The Wildcats took an early 12-0 lead on field goals of 39 and 33 yards from Jeff Snodgrass in the first quarter and Webb's 4-yard pass to Victor Mann late in the second.
But the Golden Panthers pulled within 13-7 in the final minute of the first half on Josh Padrick's 12-yard touchdown pass to Julius Eppinger. That came three plays after Kansas State's Yamon Figurs fumbled on a punt return, and Barnes recovered at the Wildcats' 16. Padrick was 17-for-34 for 154 yards with one interception.
NOTES: Marshall has lost four of five second games of the season since 2000, falling at #9 Ohio State last year by 3, 24-21. MU also lost at #11 Tennessee in 2003, 34-24; at #7 Virginia Tech in 2002, 47-21; beat UMass in Huntington in 2001, 49-20; and lost at Michigan State in 2000, 34-24. Prior to that, MU won the second game of the season in 12 straight years, 1988-1999...K-State had its streak of 41 straight non-conference opponents regular season wins stopped by MU in 2003 in Manhattan, Kansas...The "Thunder Down Third" walk from the Henderson Center to the Joan C. Edwards Stadium for the football team will be at 8:30 a.m. this Saturday. MU will get up at 6:00 a.m., eat pre-game at 6:30 a.m. and bus to Huntington from the Charleston Embassy Suites at about 7:30 a.m. for K-State...Marshall will serve biscuits from Tudor' Biscuit World, a Huntington original, to the media in the press box with the early start, believed to be the earliest for K-State since the Cotton Bowl in 2001. Marshall's earliest start was the "Cereal Bowl" game with Ohio in 1975 at Fairfield Stadium, an 11:00 a.m. start to avoid conflict with the Ohio State-Michigan game on ABC Television later that day. The Herd lost, 21-38, to the Bobcats to end the year 2-9.