On the same day that a statue of Kansas State head football coach Bill Snyder was unveiled outside the very stadium named after him, the Wildcats lost their season opener to FCS opponent North Dakota State, 24-21, on Friday night.
The Bison are a good team, having won the past two Division 1 championships, but this was a game that K-State should have won. If nothing else, it was odd to see Snyder, a proclaimed wizard among college football coaches, lose like that in his own house.
A straight shooter, Snyder told reporters after the game, via David Ubben of Fox Sports Southwest, "Now will you believe me when I say we're not very good?"
Sure, there are some key departures from last year's Wildcats' team. Collin Klein and Arthur Brown immediately come to mind. But with all due respect to Snyder, to say this Kansas State team isn't very good is underselling its talent.
Are the Wildcats a BCS team again this year? Perhaps not, but as we noted last week in the Big 12 blog, that was going to be difficult to do anyway.
There are clearly areas in which K-State has to improve. The defense needs to be able to get off the field on third downs and the offensive line needs to be more physical off the snap.
But there were some bright spots in the loss, too. Snyder remarked on Monday during the Big 12 teleconference that quarterback Jake Waters managed the game well in his debut as a starter.
"We don't stray too far from what we're doing," Snyder said. "It's about getting better every day."
The Wildcats start off Big 12 play with two road games at Texas and Oklahoma State before hosting Baylor, but things get more manageable in the second half of the season.
K-State's next two games are against Louisiana-Lafayette and UMass. Both are winnable and both games allow the Wildcats to build some chemistry heading into their conference slate. Maybe some team leaders will begin to emerge on both sides of the ball. That was an area which was sorely lacking in the loss to North Dakota State.
Knowing how good Snyder is, this team should be better by Week 4 when it faces the Longhorns. The coach doesn't have his own statue for nothing. If you'll recall, K-State once struggled in its 2011 season- opening win over Eastern Kentucky. The Wildcats went to the Cotton Bowl that season.
When asked on Monday how he was doing, Snyder replied that he'd had better days.
Rest assured, he'll have them again before too long.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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