October 8, 2008

Cats confident in ability to bounce back

Porous defense, hanging heads, dejected facial expressions, there's no shortage of similarities between the end of Kansas State's 2007 season and what's been going on in Manhattan as of late. Yet still, as unlikely is it may sound now, seven games remain to get things turned around. Doing so, however, isn't going to be easy, and will take, among other things, something that was seemingly absent during the Wildcats' collapse of a year ago: Resolve.

Players have hinted at it since the conclusion of last season, which saw K-State drop its last four games in route to a 5-7 finish, but even if they hadn't, it was there for anyone watching the Wildcats' fall from grace to see. In fact, it was obvious.

Before the dust that was the 2007 season began to settle, most players on the K-State depth chart had turned it in for the year, and a repeat performance of such an incident could be detrimental to not only this year's team, but also the squad's coaching staff and the program as a whole.

There aren't too many people outside the K-State locker room expecting the Wildcats to magically transform into a Big 12 Championship contender overnight, but avoiding a complete disaster may just come down to heart, desire and leadership; three things this team was confident it owed a surplus of before the start of the season. So during a time when talk seems as cheap as Monday night bar special, the time for it to back that claim has officially arrived.

"A lot of people outside of our organization are trying to say our season is over," said K-State quarterback and team captain Josh Freeman. 'We just need to make sure these guys know that it's not. Texas Tech is a really good football team, and we can't allow that loss to effect the rest of this season."

That, however, is easier said the done, especially when you take into account what took place in the final stages of 2007. K-State has dropped its last five games against BCS conference competition (and won only three of 12 games against BCS competition since the beginning of the '07 season), and pushing through rough stretches hasn't exactly been a hallmark of Ron Prince-coached K-State teams.

This time around, however, there is still some life left in the locker room … at least for now.

"(Senior defensive end Ian Campbell) called the seniors and the captains together after a workout yesterday," freshman safety Tysyn Hartman said. "I wasn't there because I'm not a senior or a captain. I don't know what was said, but those guys are all on the same page."

Campbell isn't exactly forthcoming when asked about the exact message of the meeting he organized this week, but it's become clear to anyone that has talked to the defensive end in the past few days, apathy has not set in … at least not with him.

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