Bill Snyder knows how to recover from a losing streak.
If the Kansas State coach wrote a book on the subject, his peers might pre-order it on Amazon.
Consider his history:
▪ In 2013, K-State lost three straight games to drop to 2-4, the team’s worst start in a decade. But the Wildcats rallied to win six of their final seven games, including a 31-14 victory against Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl.
▪ In 2003, three straight losses sent K-State from inside the top 10 to outside the national polls. Frustration was high, but they regrouped and won their next seven games, including a 35-7 blowout of No. 1 Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game.
▪ In 2001, K-State played in a bowl game despite a four-game losing streak. In 1991, K-State lost three straight and finished 7-4. In 1989, K-State was on a 27-game winless streak when it hired Snyder.
He has been here before. No one knows how K-State will respond from its current three-game skid, but Snyder isn’t hitting the panic button.
“Keep believing in us,” senior quarterback/receiver Kody Cook said. “This is the most disappointing loss I have ever experienced in my career. I know (fans) are very disappointed right now in the last three weeks, but I think a pretty talented team in 2003 won the Big 12 championship after three losses. It can be done. We are going to bounce back. There is no doubt in my mind that we will bounce back. Coach Snyder will have us ready.”
K-State hopes to start a similar turnaround on Saturday at Texas. The Longhorns are favored by four, and they are coming off a victory against No. 17 Oklahoma, the same team that pounded K-State 55-0 last weekend.
Then again, K-State (3-3, 0-3 Big 12) has a better record than Texas (2-4, 1-2). Perhaps all the Wildcats need to bounce back is a revitalized mindset.
They won their first three games and fell just short against No. 14 Oklahoma State and No. 4 TCU. Throw out the OU loss, and they have exceeded preseason expectations. It sounds odd, but players admitted they experienced a letdown against the Sooners. They thought they were the better team and didn’t play with the same passion they showed in previous games.
“Maybe we got a little too big-headed,” defensive tackle Will Geary said.
“The biggest difference was our spirit,” quarterback Joe Hubener said. “I felt like you could feel that energy and that spirit in our guys coming out against TCU, and I don’t know that we ever had it against OU.”
Snyder witnessed similar failings during previous losing streaks.
The Wildcats tried to right their wrongs by calling a players-only meeting on Monday and taking an angry approach into practice.
So far, Snyder likes the response. It reminds him of past turnarounds.
“The biggest thing that allowed those to happen was young guys realizing that there was a reason for them to be confident if they did things that they had not done up to that point of time,” Snyder said of the past turnarounds. “When I say they, it is just not the players, but players, coaches – myself, in particular – we had taken some things for granted.
“Consequently, we got back to doing the things that we were capable of doing and a big part of it was having meetings with players about how we practiced and not taking our practices for granted. The effort level stepped up, the focus stepped up and the discipline stepped up, as I recall. I think that had an impact.”
Still, this seems like the most challenging turnaround K-State has faced. This team is decimated by injuries, something the Wildcats didn’t experience in 2013 or 2003. They are down three quarterbacks and multiple defensive starters. Talent and depth are issues. So is coaching.
Everything went wrong against Oklahoma, the worst home shutout loss in school history.
“It is not so much losing three in a row (that has hurt us),” Snyder said, “as it is how badly we were defeated this last week. That is probably the most significant thing.”
Snyder doesn’t have a long history of bouncing back from lopsided losses, but in 2009 K-State beat Texas A&M 62-14 one week after losing at Texas Tech 66-14, a 100-point turnaround.
It has happened before.
“We pull on that,” Hubener said. “Other teams have done it. We can do it, too.”
Kansas State at Texas
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Texas Memorial Stadium, Austin
Records: KSU 3-3, 0-3 Big 12; UT 2-4, 1-2
Radio: KQAM, 1480-AM; KWLS, 107.9-FM
Three things about Texas
1. The Longhorns have improved on offense since Jerrod Heard took over as quarterback. The redshirt freshman has thrown for 714 yards and three touchdowns on top of 433 yards and three rushing touchdowns.
2. Texas has been all over the place this season, beating Oklahoma and playing Oklahoma State and California tough, but also losing horribly to TCU and Notre Dame.
3. Peter Jinkens and Malik Jefferson drive Texas on defense. They have combined for 85 tackles, including 5.5 for loss.
Justin Silmon and Charles Jones vs. the Longhorns’ front seven. The Wildcats must restore balance to their offense. They can’t do that without effectively running the ball behind their running backs.
Kellis Robinett’s pick: Texas, 24-21
This game is essentially a toss up, but the Longhorns are healthier than the Wildcats and they are playing at home. That gives them the nod.