MANHATTAN (AP) — Will Davis was on the sideline three years ago when Kansas State shattered all preseason expectations and climbed to the top of the Top 25, a feat that the linebacker and his teammates so often credited to coach Bill Snyder’s 16 goals for success.
Since then, those goals have been printed throughout the stadium that bears Snyder’s name: on cups at concession stands, banners on concourses, even the walls of a new locker room.
Their meaning holds such significance within the program that players carry them on small cards at all times, even though most have them memorized before they come to Kansas State.
So it’s no surprise that the Wildcats (3-4, 0-4) are clinging to those same goals to help turn around an uncharacteristically poor start to their season.
“Coach Snyder talks about them all the time,” Davis said Tuesday, on the heels of a fourth consecutive loss. “One of his 16 goals is ‘Don’t accept losing.’ We’ve taken that to heart. We’re competitors. We hate losing. We hate it so much. It motivates you, and each time you lose it motivates you even more. We’re hungry.”
Kansas State was trying to avoid its first four-game skid since 2005 last Saturday at Texas, but the Longhorns won a rain-soaked 23-9 victory behind 274 yards rushing.
At best, the loss was more competitive than the 55-0 blowout to then-No. 19 Oklahoma that led to Snyder writing Kansas State students an apology letter. But it was still far from the team that lost by a combined five points to then-No. 20 Oklahoma State and then-No. 2 TCU.
Matter of fact, since Trevone Boykin’s 55-yard game-winning touchdown run for the Horned Frogs, the Wildcats have been outscored 78-9.
Snyder said that differential is the byproduct of poor execution in each phase of the game, and that critical penalties and special teams miscues were a problem against the Longhorns.
“That’s an easy cop-out to say execution, but we’ve made so many mistakes,” Snyder said. “There are so many mistakes that, had we executed well enough, we would’ve put ourselves in a position to be successful.”
Kansas State was idle this weekend before facing No. 2 Baylor (7-0, 4-0) on Thursday night. But while the losing record, the mounting injuries and the dynamic offense the Bears run could be downright discouraging, the Wildcats are taking a different approach.
Several players perked up when asked about the losing streak, pointing to the 2013 team that started 2-4. That group went on to win six out of its last seven games, including a victory in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
So, for the next nine days, Snyder’s 16 goals will be at the forefront of those aspirations. Among them is No. 4, “Improve.” And No. 9, “Eliminate mistakes.”
“Guys have the right mindset,” Davis said. “We’re getting better. We’re improving and correcting mistakes. It’s a process, but we’re on our way.”
Notes: Snyder confirmed CB Danzel McDaniel will miss the remainder of the season with an unspecified injury. He also left open the possibility of a medical redshirt for S Dante Barnett, who has been sidelined since the opener. ... The last time Kansas State lost five straight, Snyder was asked about retirement. So, what about now? “The decision from my standpoint would not be based on wins and losses,” he said. “It would be based on the impact that all of that has on a program and young people that are in it.” ... Speaking of streaks, Kansas State hasn’t lost five in a row since 2008, when Ron Prince was the coach. He was fired later that season, paving the way for Snyder’s return from retirement.