If Kansas State coach Bill Snyder had his way, the Wildcats would begin every football season with three nonconference games followed by an off week.
He thinks there is no better way for a team to prepare for the Big 12 schedule.
Look no further than the 2012 season. That was the last time K-State began the year with three nonconference games and a bye. The Wildcats started 3-0 — beating Missouri State, Miami and North Texas — and two weeks later traveled to Oklahoma. The Sooners were favored, but the Wildcats won 24-19. The victory turned heads nationally and created a wave of momentum they rode to a 10-0 start.
K-State is now in a similar position. It won its first three games for the first time since 2012 and does not play again until Oct. 3 at No. 24 Oklahoma State. No one is predicting another conference championship run from this group, but there is no denying some downtime could help before meeting the Cowboys.
"From a scheduling standpoint, it has worked in our favor," Snyder said Tuesday. "That has been a positive for us. Now it is a matter of being able to take advantage of this two-week period and make sure that we heal a little bit, that we get enough rest, that we spend an ample amount of time trying to overcome some of the issues that we have and prepare for future opponents.
"All those things have to take place, and we have to be wise with how we apportion our time to do that."
The focus for this week will be simple: execution.
K-State has not looked sharp offensively, and Louisiana Tech exposed parts of its defense.
The Wildcats have struggled most inside the opponent's 20, kicking nine field goals and losing two fumbles near the goal line. Quarterback Joe Hubener found success throwing into the end zone against Louisiana Tech, passing for three touchdowns in the 39-33 triple-overtime victory, but K-State was not efficient on the ground. Fullback Winston Dimel lost a fumble at the 5 and Charles Jones struggled, though he did score one touchdown. Hubener fumbled trying to score in the opener.
Snyder also said the offensive line needs to get stronger, describing its run-blocking as "inconsistent but not non-existent."
"We just have to capitalize," Hubener said. "We have gotten in down there. We have done it. We have proven we can move the ball. We just have to finish when we are down there close to the end zone. It is as simple as that."
Snyder said K-State will spend 90 percent of its practice time this week trying to improve its weaknesses. This is a time for players to focus on their own game, somewhat like during training camp. Coaches get an opportunity to look ahead to future opponents instead of devoting all their time toward Oklahoma State.
"We have to get our issues solved and become a better football team by the end of the week, by the end of today, by the end of tomorrow," Snyder said. "We just have to get some issues solved."
Given K-State's upcoming schedule, this is as good a time as any to focus inward. After Oklahoma State, the Wildcats play No. 3 TCU, No. 15 Oklahoma, Texas, No. 5 Baylor and Texas Tech. They are all undefeated, aside from the Longhorns.
Snyder described the Big 12 as "stronger than originally anticipated, top to bottom."
The Big 12's nine-game round robin is going to be difficult. A week off before it starts can't hurt.
"After you are 3-0, it changes things a little bit," linebacker Will Davis said. "It's a lot better than being 1-2 or 2-1 or 0-3. To have that and get those three wins out of the way and then have a breather and regroup and get your mind right for conference play is going to be a big help for us."
No injury updates
Snyder said he did not have a timetable for the returns of senior safety Dante Barnett or backup quarterback Alex Delton.
"I can't tell you when I will," Snyder said. "I just don't know. Nor do the doctors."
Barnett is out with a shoulder injury. He has not played since the opener. Delton suffered a meniscus injury in his right knee against Texas-San Antonio, according to sources.
Blocking out honors
K-State kicker Jack Cantele, a Kapaun product, was honored by the Big 12 and the Lou Groza Award foundation after making all four of his field-goal attempts against Louisiana Tech. He also made all three of his attempts at UTSA.
Cantele acknowledged the recognitions were nice, but also said they were unnecessary.
"Going through what I have gone through and knowing how things can change so quickly, those are just distractions right now," Cantele said. "If I take my performance for granted and not just get better each and every day, it could all just repeat itself, and I am not going to let that happen."