KSU looking ahead to KU, but ‘Cats must play smarter

? As part of its weekly routine, Kansas State relived every agonizing second of its 43-21 loss at Oklahoma during a film review session Sunday.

But a straw poll of players at the Vanier Football Complex would indicate thoughts already were on Saturday’s matchup with rival Kansas University.

“It was pretty dramatic how quick it was over from Oklahoma to KU,” said defensive tackle Quintin Echols, who said players were talking about the Jayhawks in the locker room after the Oklahoma game. “We’ve been thinking about the KU game for a year now.”

So even during the film review and while analyzing dozens of miscues against the Sooners, thoughts were on the Jayhawks.

“We know if we look back at the OU game, we’re going to have a tough time thinking about KU,” Echols said. “We haven’t forgotten about the OU game, but we’re kind of putting it behind us for this game. Who wants to lose two in a row?”

But to avoid a second straight loss – and a second consecutive loss to KU – the Wildcats had plenty to work on this week, coach Bill Snyder said.

Special teams, which gave up a blocked punt and a snap through the back of the end zone for a safety last weekend, must improve. A rushing attack that generated only 22 total yards has to find its rhythm, and a young offensive line has to protect quarterback Allen Webb.

But more than all of those things, Snyder said, Kansas State must start playing smarter. The Wildcats were flagged for 11 penalties and committed three turnovers against the Sooners.

“We just have to be smart about what we’re doing,” he said. “Coaching intelligently and playing intelligently is something we have to begin to do. It’s fundamentals. It’s some basic things.”

Having a rivalry game follow a loss made it easier to move on, offensive tackle Jeromey Clary said. But it didn’t help the Wildcats last year, when Kansas State opened Big 12 Conference play with a 40-32 loss at Texas A&M and then lost 31-28 to Kansas, snapping an 11-game winning streak in the series.

Even Snyder, who is known for putting no more emphasis on one opponent than another, said the Kansas game had taken on more meaning.

“They’re all significant, all extremely important,” he said. “That’s the way I’d want it to be for our players. You hope that’s the way we all respond, coaches and players alike. But the game has probably taken on more significance the last couple years than it has in the past, perhaps for both programs.”

Clary, who has started since his freshman year, remembers the blowouts – 64-0 in 2002 and 42-6 in 2003. He also remembers last season’s loss, which is why he was among those who thought about KU moments after losing to Oklahoma.

“I definitely remember the students rushing the field,” he said. “It just seemed like nothing went right that game. It was a harsh memory. This will be the last time I play KU, so hopefully it’s a good one.”