MANHATTAN — While dealing with the disappointment that came from a 48-13 loss to Nebraska on Thursday, Kansas State may have found its inspiration for the rest of the football season.
Making sure it doesn't happen again.
The Wildcats are so eager to prove their first loss was a fluke that many lamented coach Bill Snyder giving them Friday off.
The next game can't come fast enough right now. With a trip to Lawrence for the Sunflower Showdown up next on Thursday, they are ready to start working toward redemption.
"A lot of people and coaches will say you've got to let it (a loss) go," wide receiver Chris Harper said. "I'm not going to let it go. It's going to give me fuel for the next game."
But not being able to practice Friday doesn't mean K-State players spent their afternoons at home on the couch. Senior offensive lineman Zach Kendall said he was considering calling a players-only meeting to motivate his teammates for the week ahead.
"Sometimes it means a little more when it comes from your peers," Kendall said. "Team leadership is so important. I have no doubt in my mind we're going to rally back. We have some good integrity on this team and some good heart on this team."
Many on the roster also know what it takes to come back from a deflating loss. At about this time a year ago, the Wildcats suffered a brutal 66-14 defeat at Texas Tech. But after a quiet plane ride home and pep talks throughout the week, they responded by throttling Texas A&M 62-14 the next week and winning three of their next four.
That team was 2-2 before falling to the Red Raiders, and faced an uphill climb to become eligible for a bowl game. At 6-6, K-State fell just short. This time, at 4-1, a similar response would get the Cats a solid bowl trip.
"It's a different team than last year, but a lot of us did have a hand in that," safety Tysyn Hartman said. "I'm looking forward to the leaders on this team stepping up and saying, 'Hey, we did it last year.' We've got a lot of the same guys back. We can do it again. Why not us?"
After watching Carson Coffman struggle against Nebraska, Snyder said the quarterback job is once again up for grabs.
Several other starting jobs could be as well, given how easily Nebraska won.
"We have a lot of things to reassess," Snyder said. "We can't continue the way we were (Thursday). That may mean position changes at a lot of different places."
One way or another, K-State players will be challenged to respond.
"There's going to be ups and downs in a season," kicker Josh Cherry said. "This is definitely a down for us as of now. But we're going to rebound from this. We're going to work hard this week in practice. Everybody is going to fix their mistakes. Hopefully it doesn't happen again."
Brodrick Smith out for season — During taping of his weekly television show with host Wyatt Thompson, Snyder said wide receiver Brodrick Smith will miss the remainder of the season after injuring his left leg.
Smith injured the leg while blocking during a running play in the fourth quarter against Nebraska and had to be carted off the field. Smith has caught 14 passes for 191 yards and three touchdowns this season.