Not surprisingly Kansas State is preparing for UCLA as their "statement" game. They are preparing for this game as if it's a "branding opportunity" for the Wildcats program during the second tour of Coach Bill Snyder (HT Bring On The Cats):
Damion McIntosh, a former offensive tackle at Kansas State and a 10-year NFL veteran, delivered a lesson in marketing at his alma mater this week.
McIntosh spoke to the K-State football team about the importance of building a brand, something that remains a work in progress for the 2010 Wildcats.
"I don't know that they've really established that to this point in time," coach Bill Snyder said.
As branding opportunities go, it doesn't get much better than a nationally televised showdown against UCLA on the first football Saturday in September. Win or lose, the Wildcats will know more about themselves after Saturday's season opener at Snyder Family Stadium.
"It'll be a good judge for us to see how we're going to do this season," quarterback Carson Coffman said.
Read rest of the piece from the Topeka Capital Journal here. Now we serve those quotes up not to provide "bulletin board" material. I don't think they are. I think they are candid reflections of a very well coached football program being led by a gracious individual in Coach Snyder, who are going to be locked in for this Saturday. So we can't really take offense over that.
However, I think if you combine the above referenced piece with the LA Times note about Josh Smith referring to the fired up "Purple People Eaters" in Manhattan (linked in the Spaulding Roundup this am), I think you can get a sense the kind of intense atmosphere Bruins are going to be experiencing tomorrow. That concerns me a bit and I am wondering right now what kind of composure the Bruins will show tomorrow afternoon.
While our team went 7-6 last year, what I really appreciated about the season was how we were scratching and clawing away in every game. We had a huge win in Tennessee in a very tough and intimidating situation (against an intense but a classy home crowd). We hung in there against Stanford with Kevin Prince. The game against Southern Cal was lot closer than the score indicated. The only game we were in deep trouble from the beginning was against Arizona. Even in that game our defense hung in there until the offense just frustratingly stalled against Arizona's defense. Then against a very well coached Temple squad (Jon Golden is going to be one everyone's "want list" this coming season) we pulled away against a most partisan Owl crowd on the DC ice rink at RFK.
So the composure from last year was good. Yet for some reason in the back of mind, I am wondering how the new starters on defense and the repatched offensive line are going to handle themselves. Part of me thinks that we are going to be all right in defense. While we are going to miss Reggie Carter's heart, I think the healthy combination of Patrick Larimore and Steve Sloane could be an athletic upgrade. I am excited to see what the combination of Nate Chandler, David Carter, beefed up Justin Edison, Cassius Marsh, Keenan Graham et al. can do. Yet, in the back of mine I am concerned about what kind of poise and experience they are going to exhibit tomorrow.
Similarly on the offensive side don't really have to do much about our OL issues. We are dealing with injuries and suspensions. That's fine. Life sucks in college football sometimes (especially for us Bruins in this past decade). Yet we are going in with a crew who are all seniors. Right now I really have no clue how they are going to handle themselves. We have read about center-QB exchange issues. Yet Ryan Taylor seems like a steady and composed dude. So what should we expect tomorrow?
We know Kansas State are going to be fired up. Backed by those crazy, good natured "Purple People Eaters" they are going to be looking at UCLA as their "branding opportunity." The question is what are we going to see from a UCLA bunch that has some talent but lacking in experience (as starters) in key positions on both defense and offense. Should be interesting to see the kind of composure we see from our Bruins tomorrow. I am hoping we are going to show the same intensity and fight we showed in Knoxville, Corvallis/Palo Alto (where we fought till the bitter end) and DC last season.
Just like Kansas State a tough loss is not going to be a huge setback for UCLA in this game. We are going to be all right if we come out let it rip and fight to the end, and then work on holding serve at the Rose Bowl. Yet in the back of mind I am feeling anxious. Perhaps it's just the nervous energy around the most anticipated football season in almost a decade.
UPDATE (N): Kansas State's official site declares - "K-State Fans Make a Statement: UCLA Game Sold Out":
Kansas State fans have stepped up once again in support of Wildcat Athletics as department officials announced Friday that all tickets to Saturday’s Family Reunion matchup with UCLA are sold out.
The capacity crowd will be the fourth at Bill Snyder Family Stadium since the 2006 season and the second straight for a season-opener after last year’s total of 50,750 for the inaugural K-State Family Reunion against UMass was the largest season-opening crowd in school history.
"Our fans have shown once again their extreme passion and loyalty to Kansas State University, and Coach Snyder, our student-athletes and our staff are very appreciative of their support," Athletics Director John Currie said. "We are looking forward to an exciting day in Manhattan and showcasing our University and football program to a national audience."
Game on. GO BRUINS.