Why Kansas State football is embracing a short week of preparation for Texas
AUSTIN, Texas — A short week of preparation was just fine with Kansas State running back Deuce Vaughn. He couldn't wait to play another game.
Center Noah Johnson was just grateful that he had another game to play.
For the Wildcats, there was nothing like a disappointing loss to fuel their desire to get right back on the horse.
Never mind the aches and pains. The fact that they only had six days to get ready for their 11 a.m. regular-season football finale against Texas at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium on Friday was a small price to pay.
"(To) get back to the facility and get back to work is pretty cool because this taste is only going to last tonight," Vaughn said last Saturday following the Wildcats' 20-10 home loss to Baylor. "Because (Sunday) you're getting ready for Texas and you have to go down to Austin and play in a pretty hostile environment in a huge stadium against a team that is going to be pretty hungry for a win.
"So we'll definitely be on our p's and q's."
Johnson, a super-senior who came back for the extra season granted by the NCAA because of the COVID-19 pandemic, was especially appreciative that last week's senior day at Bill Snyder Family Stadium was not his farewell to football.
"If this would have been the last game, it would have been just a bad taste in the mouth," he said. "We're going to finish this season strong and I don't like looking too far ahead but we've got a bowl game, and so there's still a lot of our story that we get to write.
"This last chapter was disappointing, but it's going to make these next couple of chapters even better."
Still, the fact remains that the Wildcats — and Texas, too, for that matter — had one less day to heal at a point in the season when bumps and bruises are the rule rather than the exception.
"Obviously, we're banged up quite a bit just like a lot of teams are, so it was a physical game on Saturday night," K-State coach Chris Klieman said Monday during his weekly news conference. "We've got to do a great job of working to get our players back physically as well as mentally and stuff without banging them a ton this week, but getting our work done so that we can field the best outfit we can for next Friday morning at 11 o'clock.”
That meant dissecting film of the Baylor game Sunday, followed by an hourlong walk-through on Texas and some more work in the evening. Regular practices resumed Monday.
"Our bodies are going to have to recover a little bit faster. That's what it is," said senior safety Ross Elder, who had a career-high 10 tackles in the loss to Baylor. "Texas, from what I've seen is still a good football team.
"(No matter) what everybody else says, they're still a good football team, so we're going to prepare just like every other team, just like we have all year."
While the loss to Baylor ended a four-game winning streak for K-State (7-4, 4-4 Big 12), Texas (4-7, 2-6) has dropped six straight, including a 31-23 decision at West Virginia last week.
"When you watch Texas on film, they're a really talented football team," Klieman said. "I don't know what is going on. I don't know why they're struggling, other than this league is really tough and it's a grind to win football games.
"Watching them on film, they're a really talented crew, so we've got to rally our forces, too."
K-State could be without starting quarterback Skylar Thompson, who hurt his ankle late in the Baylor game. Klieman said Monday that there's an outside chance he'll be ready to go, but if not sophomore Will Howard will get the start and Jaren Lewis will be the backup.
For Texas, its top two quarterbacks are considered day-to-day. Starter Casey Thompson aggravated a thumb injury in the West Virginia game and backup Hudson Card, a redshirt freshman hurt his ankle in the fourth quarter.
If neither can go, walk-on Ben Ballard would be next man up.
Asked about having to prepare form multiple Texas quarterbacks in a short week, Klieman pointed out that Texas faces a similar predicament.
"It's really challenging because we don't know who's going to play quarterback, but they don't know who's going to play quarterback for us," he said.