Of course, Bill Snyder lauded the efforts of senior running back Daniel Thomas, whose career-high 234 rushing yards and two touchdowns paced the Wildcats in a 31-22 win over UCLA in the season opener for both teams on Saturday. However, the Kansas State coach during the Big 12 coaches teleconference on Monday believes there's room for his squad to improve. He was displeased with six turnovers that arrived at "inappropriate times" and two turnovers that "will get you beat."
You had talked last week about your scheduling philosophy but I'm wondering if your team can get more out of a win like they had on Saturday than they would have against perhaps a lesser opponent. BILL SNYDER: "Well, if we could always guarantee they were going to be wins than the answer might be yes."
Walk us through that game a little bit and what do you think that does to the confidence level of this team? BS: "Well, I would like to think they were a confident football team going into the ballgame. Each individual is a little different, so you never know for sure, but I do believe there was a fair degree of confidence going into the ball game. And if, indeed, that was the case then it was a reassuring event. I think everybody goes into an opening ballgame with a good deal of uncertainty about how good or how not so good you might be. The first ballgame at least gives you a little bit of a foundation to build upon. We still have a long ways to go and most people probably feel the same way about their teams. But it does define a little bit where you are at this particular point in time."
Bill, it's the first time since 1998 that the Big 12 had three 200-yard rushers and Daniel Thomas was one of them. Can you talk about what Daniel does? BS: "Daniel played like Daniel does. He's been pretty consistent over the period of time, 12 ballgames that he's participated in for us. He's a fluid runner, a good-sized back and still has the capacity to make sudden changes. He stays on his feet well and he's an aggressive runner as well. He played like he has in the past. He's one of those guys you have to be a sure tackler to get him to the ground or he's bound to stay on his feet."
We've seen a lot of good running backs in the Big 12 over the years but to see three 200-yard runners, is that any indication there's a change in some philosophy, though? BS: "It's hard for me to speak to because I don't know that much about all the other teams as we speak. I would guess some people who are running the ball well are feeling good about their offensive line and feel pretty good about who's carrying the football. I don't think you'd have that opportunity to have that kind of yardage if they weren't pretty capable people."
Watching the film, what's the biggest area for improvement to make before week two? BS: "Well, obviously, we turned the ball over twice, so first and foremost is to retain possession of the ball and eliminate that particular facet of what will get you beat. It very easily could have. We gave up points with turnovers. I thought we got penalized at inappropriate times. We had a substantially large number of penalties. We have one a third-and-one and it puts you down to third-and-six. We have one on the goal line that'll set you back. Penalties are never good but certainly in critical situations they're very detrimental. First and foremost it's something we need to improve upon."
Have you heard anything more about Ethan Douglas at this point? BS: Ethan is having some MRIs as we speak. I think it's probably going to be some time before we get him back. I couldn't tell you for sure right now."
With Daniel running the way he did on Saturday, what kind of chance does he give you guys if he can continue along those lines this season? BS: "I guess the answer is I really don't know. I think we need for him to be able to continue to perform at the level he has in the last 12 ballgames. It certainly doesn't hurt our chances but being successful game in and game out, so much of it has to do with people who line up at the other side and I suggest to Daniel, and I know he has, credited his offensive line. It's important that they continue to play as well as they have and retain their health. Again, I can't put a percentage on it at all but I can certainly say if he's not performing that well it certainly diminishes your chances."
How would you assess Carson Coffman's performance? I know he had a little (cramp) there and had to come out, but how do you think he performed? BS: "He did the things for the most part. We had a center-quarterback exchange that cost us a touchdown that I wasn't very happy with but he did what we asked him to do in the ballgame. We didn't do all of the things that you like to do with your passing game, but he was efficient throwing the football, which we asked for him to do. He didn't turn the football over in that respect. He got us in and out of the right things at the right times. For the first ball game, we didn't ask him to do a great deal. With exception of the turnover and a few possessions here and there I thought he managed the ballgame well."
With what you're asking him to do, is it kind of a ramp-up process? BS: "I think so. There are so many things that enter into it. In the first ballgame what entered into it was that it was the first ballgame. From here on, yes, that certainly would be a direction but a lot of that depends upon the people that line up on the other side and what they allow you to do and don't allow you to do in terms of how you prepare for them and what you see on game day and how much of any one thing that you do. But cut all that out of there, the answer to your question is yes, that's pretty much accurate."