MANHATTAN — Mike Moore noticed something unusual when the Kansas State football team prepared for practice on Monday.
“Everyone was talking about fresh legs,” said Moore, a sophomore linebacker. “We felt energized, having fresh legs and fresh bodies.”
The Wildcats felt relaxed and well-rested because K-State coach Bill Snyder gave them a rare weekend off. Snyder typically asks a great deal from his players during bye weeks, but he changed his approach after a forgettable 2-4 start. The Wildcats were coming off a pair of narrow losses to No. 19 Oklahoma State and No. 8 Baylor in which they exerted considerable energy and suffered injuries, so he only asked them to practice a few times last week. Then, he gave them the entire weekend off.
He hopes a refreshed team can become a winning team during the second half of the season.
“It’s a long season,” Snyder said. “They have been going virtually every day since the first of August. The last time we had the off week we gave them a day off early in the week and a day off late in the week.…This gave them a little more time to go home and spend time with their families.”
Players from nearby cities and neighboring states left for home on Friday night and had plenty of time to relax before returning for a team meeting Sunday night. Players from far away states were able to relax around town and watch football.
Freshman fullback Glenn Gronkowski said he spent Saturday in front of the TV, taking in an entire day’s worth of college football action while keeping a close eye on K-State’s final six opponents.
“A lot of people took advantage of (the time off), either resting or going home to hang out with their families,” Gronkowski said. “I just stayed here and got some time to relax. We had every single game on of our next six opponents. They were all on TV this week so we watched those and learned a lot.”
K-State begins the second half of its season on Saturday against West Virginia. With both teams below .500, it will be an important game. The winner inches closer to bowl eligibility. The loser falls deeper into a hole.
The Wildcats, who are 10-point favorites, are optimistic they can put a stop to a three-game losing streak and claim their first Big 12 victory.
Snyder thinks an off week will help. If he could choose any time for a week with no game, he would pick midway through the season.
“I hope you understand what it is like to be a football student-athlete for a period of time and what they go through,” Snyder said. “You are talking about guys who are up at 6 in the morning and leaving here at 10 at night.… You do that constantly throughout the week and you do it for two-and-a-half months. That’s why I was talking about giving them a couple days off.”
K-State players have responded well to the down time.
“We got some time off and some time to get our legs up,” Gronkowski said. “I know a lot of guys took advantage of that and are ready to go. We had a great practice yesterday and a great week last week. Everything is looking good right now.”