Wildcats take advantage of bye week
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Telegram
MANHATTAN — Even a workaholic like Bill Snyder realizes that sometimes less is more.
Especially in a day and age when college football demands more and more of players.
So instead of putting the hammer down and pushing his Kansas State Wildcats to the limit leading up to their second open date in less than a month, Snyder let up on the throttle and gave the players a full weekend off.
"It was kind of an indication that it's a long season and you think they've been going virtually every day for that period of time — it's two and a half months since the first of August," said Snyder, whose Wildcats (2-4, 0-3 in the Big 12) now are back to the regular grind with West Virginia visiting Snyder Family Stadium at 2:45 p.m. Saturday. "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, so I just thought maybe we'd give them the entirety of the weekend."
Though they were just three weeks removed from the previous bye, the Wildcat players appreciated the chance to recharge their batteries for the stretch run.
"I got a chance to go home and spend time with some family and friends back in Oklahoma," said sophomore safety Dante Barnett, a Tulsa native. "It's always a good time when you get to go home and get rested and have a week off from football."
But it didn't mean a clean break from football for everyone.
"We were ready to play, but we needed the rest," backup linebacker Mike Moore said. "We got the rest and we're ready to play."
"I sat back and watched games — scouting other teams."
So did fullback Glenn Gronkowski, who hails from Amherst, N.Y., and didn't have a chance to fly home.
"A lot of people took advantage of it, took advantage of the rest and went home with their families," he said. "I can't go home, but I got some time to relax and watch a lot of football games.
"We had every single game of our opponents for the next six games. They were all on TV this week so I watched those."
A saturated television schedule certainly gives viewers — and idle players — more choices, but it also comes at the price of a longer season. Snyder, asked for his bye week preference, certainly didn't have two of them in mind.
"Probably halfway through the season would be mine, and that's what television has done to this thing," he said. "It's expanded it out so you can have more weeks and more TV games."
Snyder wondered out loud if that's a good thing.
"We talk about doing things for the student-athlete and I hope you understand what it's like to be a football student-athlete for a period of time, what they go through," he said. "When you're talking about guys up at 6 o'clock in the morning and leaving here at 10 o'clock at night after doing all the study stuff as well as the football practice and meetings and weight lifting and study tables and tutoring sessions and adviser meetings, etc., and you do that constantly throughout the week."
Even during bye weeks, the daily schedule remains largely the same, including practices.
"I think we do them a disservice by making it so long," Snyder said. "We've got a ballgame Thanksgiving weekend that they don't have the opportunity to get home.
"(The weekend off) just gave them a little more time to go home — hopefully to spend with their families. Not all of them could do that, quite obviously."
Early indications are that the Wildcats indeed made the most of the break.
"We actually had a great practice (Monday), we had a great week last week, so everything's looking good right now," Gronkowski said.
Barnett agreed that the Wildcats are looking at the second half of the season with renewed energy.
"We want to pick it up," he said. "We had a rough first half of the season, so we feel that the second half of the season we can pick things up and get to winning football games."
Snyder indicated Tuesday that wide receivers Tyler Lockett and Tramaine Thompson, who also are the Wildcats' top kick returners, would be available Saturday against West Virginia.
Lockett was injured in the first half at Oklahoma State and missed the Baylor game two weeks ago while Thompson missed both games for undisclosed reasons.
"In all likelihood they'll be able to go," Snyder said.
He also expressed hope that cornerback Kip Daily, who left the Baylor game with an injury, would be available.