The questions continued to hit Kansas State coach Bill Snyder during the Big 12 coaches' teleconference on Monday. Had Snyder ever heard of a team that gives up 60 points one week and scores 60 the next? And what does it mean? Well, the Wildcats responded famously in a 62-14 win against Texas A&M and enters the week alone in first place in the North. Now, Snyder insists, it's time to move forward.
Bill, you've been part of going from a loss one week to a win the next week, but have you ever been involved in as big of a turnaround as your team had and how surprising was that that you go from giving up 66 points one week to scoring 62 the next?
SNYDER: "I'm not sure I've given it a great deal of thought in that respect. I can't tell you that it's anything that was anticipated. I believed that we would play better in this ballgame than we had at Texas Tech and I believed that we would probably respond well after the loss. We just played better. We prepared better. We did probably virtually everything better. Texas A&M didn't play as well as I know they're capable of playing. We experienced the same thing the week before at Texas Tech, not that it would've affected the outcome dramatically, but I have no particular answers for it other than as a coach what you try to do week in and week out is correct your mistakes, get better and play as hard as you possibly can. At least in the first 32 or 33 minutes of the game it was the best football we'd played all year."
What does it say about your team that they were able to bounce back like that?
SNYDER: "I would like to believe that it means that there's a prideful element to our football team, a toughness to our football team, that there's the capacity for them to understand and deal with being able to respond to adverse situations or any type of situations, adverse or otherwise, and it's just a part of the growing up process I think, trying to get this thing moving in the right direction. I would hope we could continue to prepare ourselves as well as we need to and I would hope we'd be able to respond to how well we played this past week in the outcome of the ball game. We still have to be able to handle this week and get beyond last week, so we'll see if we can find out if we're capable of doing that and how we'll we're able to handle that."
Bill, I wondered if you could talk about your defensive line and its role in providing the foundation for the effort against Texas A&M.
SNYDER: "I think they're a bunch of young guys that want to do well and have kind of been maligned a little bit over the previous five games. I think they responded well, they played hard, they still made mistakes but they made fewer mistakes. They did a better job of being where they needed to be and obviously we were a better pass rush team than we had been at any time during the course of the season and they played a major role in that. The positive thing is that they made improvement, not just over last week but some over the five games and got a little bit better and took that improvement to the field. Hopefully, we can continue to make some improvement in that area."
When you took this team over, did you foresee you'd be in the middle of October in first place in the North division with the group that you kind of inherited?
SNYDER: "Well, I didn't envision it but I'd never thought about it. When we chose to come back and do this stuff, it was just kind of trying to piece things together day by day and hoping when it came to Saturday afternoon, or Saturday evenings in our case, our thoughts were always directed toward the University of Massachusetts in the first ball game. We probably have really more than we ever have done before, just taken it one game at a time. Really, anytime we start up on a new opponent for the upcoming week, I have only provisial information to go on and just because we haven't had the time or made the time to focus on two, three, four, five games ahead. No, I have never given any thought to where we might be at this point in time."
Bill, you touched on this a little bit, but right after the game Grant Gregory said something along the lines of being able to handle adversity and now whether or not your team can handle prosperity. Was that something you discussed after the game or is that just a veteran guy knowing the next challenge there?
SNYDER: "Well, we talked about that immediately after the Iowa State game and we didn't respond well in our preparation for Texas Tech and we revisited the issue immediately after the Texas A&M game for this exact same reason. Everything is responsive, regardless of what the circumstances are, it's the way that you respond to it, as we all know. I think both things are probably accurate. Grant is a perceptive young guy and has been around the game long enough to understand stuff happens and things change in a heartbeat. Young people have the tendency to get caught up in the moment and if, indeed, we don't respond appropriately and put it behind us and get ready for this next preparation, obviously, we're going to create some major problems for ourselves."
Was that an easier sell with Texas Tech still in their memories?
SNYDER: "Well, I don't know. We'll find out. We don't meet with players on Sundays so other than the end of the ball game I haven't had a chance to visit with them yet. I will do that this evening and we'll see. It's hard to tell."
Bill, how do you evaluate Tyler Hansen's first start and I know you weren't at the helm last year but he made his debut against Kansas State and was wondering if you could talk about that.
SNYDER: "Well, I saw the ball game last year. I think he's playing at a higher comfort level, obviously, with more experience on the practice field. I'm impressed with the way he moves around. I think everybody is. But not to be overlooked is he does have the capacity to throw the ball quite well so he's an excellent combination-type quarterback. He's a little scary back there and I think he's doing it with great confidence and I think they're comfortable with him doing it as well. I think he's an awfully good player."
Bill, have you even heard of a team giving up 60 one week and scoring 60 the next? What does that tell you about your team at this point and being in first place?
SNYDER: "Well, it probably tells us that we're a little bit goofy and we have no idea where we are. I haven't heard of it because I don't hear much from the outside world but why does it happen? Everybody has their own opinion about it. I think in our situation there was certainly a major embarrassment the week before. Certainly, the preparation in a lot of different ways, improved during the course of the week. I think Texas A&M is a program somewhat similar to ours in that they're in the development stages of their program and they're playing a lot of young guys. I think they're going to be an excellent, excellent football team and an excellent program. They had played well the previous two weeks and they just didn't play as well. And we played in the first 32 or 33 minutes probably as well as we could play. Hopefully, there's more there, but we did play quite well. You put all of those things together and those things can happen. As we experienced the week before, when the wheels fall off, you don't have enough time to put them back on and it can kind of get away from you. I think that's what took place in this ball game."