The Week Ahead: Kansas State tries to recover from opening loss vs. Louisiana-Lafayette

During the Big 12 teleconference on Monday, Bill Snyder was asked about the message he delivered to Kansas State’s football players when they began preparing for their upcoming game against Louisiana-Lafayette.

His response: “I don’t think we strayed too far away from where we normally are. It’s about getting better every day. We have a lot of improvement to make. That is pretty obvious.”

There is always room for improvement following a loss. That fact is magnified following a loss to a FCS opponent. The biggest areas for improvement come on defense and in the running game. The Wildcats mustered 41 rushing yards against North Dakota State, with John Hubert and the offensive line getting outplayed in all areas. They also couldn’t put pressure on the quarterback or get off the field on third downs.

Snyder said all of those areas will be addressed in the coming days of practice. K-State will need to be ready to take on Louisiana-Lafayette, a team that won nine games last season and defeated the Wildcats in 2009.

In the meantime, Snyder is hoping his players adopt a better mental approach.

“We need to be a more inspired football team than what we are,” Snyder said. “It all boils down to caring. We will see how that plays out.

Here is a look at everything else you need to know about the week ahead:

The Game
K-State will try to rebound from a rare opening loss against another challenging small-name team, Louisiana-Lafayette. Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. on Saturday. The game will be televised on Fox Sports 1. Adam Alexander will handle play-by-play and Chris Simms will be the analyst. K-State is favored by 9.5 points, according to most oddsmakers. The over/under is 64.

The Opponent
First things first: The Ragin’ Cajuns have an awesome mascot. Just look at him. It is also fun to say “Ragin’ Cajuns” so Louisiana-Lafayette has got that going for it. In all seriousness, it also has a pretty good football team. It won nine games last year, including a win in the New Orleans Bowl, and returns quarterback Terrance Broadway, a dual-threat athlete who can make big plays. The Ragin’ Cajuns return the bulk of their starters from last year, and are considered one of the best teams in the Sun Belt Conference.

They also beat K-State the last time they played, defeating the Wildcats 17-15 in a 2009 game that featured Grant Gregory throwing a pass directly into the ground and Daniel Thomas leaping over a would-be tackler.

Louisiana-Lafayette opened its season with a 34-14 loss at Arkansas. It challenged the Razorbacks early, tying the game at 7-7 in the second quarter. But it fell behind 27-7 in the third quarter and didn’t threaten in the second half. It allowed 522 yards of offense, including 292 on the ground. That will come as good news to a K-State team that couldn’t run for 50 in its first game. Broadway threw for 171 yards, but only completed 15 of 28 passes. ULL was less effective on the ground, rushing for 85 yards.

Said Broadway to reporters afterward: “There wasn’t anything special they did to beat us. They were just playing their defense, and we were making mistakes.”

Big (passing) debut for Jake Waters
By throwing for 280 yards against North Dakota State, new K-State quarterback Jake Waters threw for the most yards in a home opener since Dan Manucci passed for 343 in 1978 against Auburn.

On Monday, Snyder said Waters had an “overall” positive debut by completing 21 of 29 passes for two touchdowns. But he wasn’t without his mistakes. He also threw two interceptions. Said Snyder: “We can’t have those.”

Depth Chart Update
Snyder is notorious for not making changes to his depth chart, but he made two small changes on Monday. Keenan Taylor is now listed as the starting right guard over Boston Stiverson, who did not play last week because of a foot injury. Mark Krause has also been upgraded to starting punter. His five punts totaled 219 yards in the opener.

September Success
Snyder rarely loses in September. Since 1992 under Snyder, K-State is 55-5 in September. Only two of those losses came at home, which could bode well for Saturday.

Links
– Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth reacts to a season-opening loss to Arkansas.

“I think they’re disappointed because I think physically they felt like they matched up with (Arkansas) pretty good,” Louisiana-Lafayette coach Mark Hudspeth said. “You’ve got to give Arkansas credit. They run right at you. They make you tackle them.”

– The Ragin’ Cajuns got beat up on the ground against Arkansas, but they are also concerned about their seconday.

– A detailed look at what went from for Louisiana-Lafayette against Arkansas.

– North Dakota State quarterback Brock Jensen proclaimed its win over K-State was the program’s all-time best moment.

– Former K-State receiver Chris Harper was cut by the Seahawks over the weekend. It seemed like Seattle was giving up on him awfully quickly considering it used a fourth-round pick on him. But it turned out OK for Harper. He is now an active member of the 49ers. I just feel bad for anyone who bought a Seahawks jersey with “Harper” on the back.

– Also surprising: former K-State safety was cut by the Kansas City Chiefs.

– Vahe Gregorian has more on the new Bill Snyder statue.


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