By Collin Bryant | Sports Writer
Baylor football (0-4) travels this weekend to take on Kansas State (2-1) in its second conference game of the season.
Baylor head coach Matt Rhule said his team is looking to build off the progress the team has made over the past few weeks as they face yet another challenge this weekend.
“We’re obviously excited to enter another game week going up against a great Kansas State team,” Rhule said. “We’re trying to build off of some of the things that happened over the past couple of weeks, some areas that we know we are improving in and some areas that we have to improve in.”
Junior wide receiver Denzel Mims had a career game with 192 receiving yards, three touchdowns and a highlight sideline catch late in the game. Mims leads the team with 406 receiving yards, which is good for fourth in the Big 12. His performance helped him surpass junior wide receiver Chris Platt, who Rule said will be out for the rest of the season due to an injury sustained during the Oklahoma game.
Rhule said Mims is finally stepping into his own as receiver, which will be beneficial due to Platt’s absence.
“He’s made a bunch of big plays so far this year, but this is the first time we saw him go up and make receiver plays,” Rhule said. “That was really good for the quarterback to know, that if he had one-on-one he could go over there to Denzel and he’d make the play.”
The Bears face a rested Kansas State team. The Wildcats are coming off a bye week after losing to Vanderbilt 14-7 two weeks ago. Kansas State will be opening up their conference play at home for the fifth time in school history.
Rhule said the Wildcats bring a certain physicality to the way they play football.
“They present challenges. The biggest thing is not what they do, it’s how they do it,” Rhule said. “They are just physical, and they’re going to run you over and knock you down and run you over and challenge your eyes. You get out of your gap or you do your own thing, and the quarterback pulls the ball and runs. They just challenge you with their physicality and their attention to detail.”
The Wildcats hold an all-time 8-6 series lead over the Bears and snapped their four-game losing streak after winning 42-21 last season at McLane Stadium. They have also outscored their first two opponents this season 83-30 in the first half.
The team is led by College Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Snyder, who has been with the program for 26 years. With Synder at the helm, the Wildcats have been extremely successful to begin their seasons. The Wildcats are 66-9 in the month of September entering Saturday.
Rhule said competing against someone like Snyder will only make him a better coach and give him better insight on how to grow his own program.
“We’re going to compete against each other, but really at the end of the day, having a chance to compete against Snyder makes me better, and makes me look at myself and how I do what I do,” Rhule said. “I think the way he runs his program is exactly the way I want to run this program, and any program I’m associated with. Doing things the right way on and off the field, and the way they play. It’ll be an honor to be out there with him, and I look forward to shaking his hand before and after the game.”
Synder said in his weekly press conference that he can see the improvement Baylor has continually made each week.
“They are an improved football team,” Snyder said. “I appreciate the fact that has been a continual thing for them game in and game out. They’re better in their second game than they were in the first, they’re better in their third game than they were in their second, and so on down the road, and it came to fruition for them Saturday with Oklahoma.”
Rhule believes that the Bears will have to be even more attuned to making these types of plays in down the stretch to beat the Wildcats.
“Our team knows that we’ve had the ball with a chance to win in every game in the fourth quarter, and we haven’t come through yet,” Rhule said. “We know that this is exactly the type of team that they are, so we have got to get just a little bit tougher and pay a little more attention to detail this week a little bit better, and hope that that’ll be enough, especially with them coming off of a bye.”
Baylor looks to capture its first victory against Kansas State at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Manhattan, Kan. The game will air on ESPN2.