No. 3 Wildcats still playing like underdogs

No. 3 Wildcats still playing like underdogs

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) It may seem odd that an undefeated team, ranked third in the country and barreling toward the BCS title game, would consider itself an underdog.

Old habits die hard at Kansas State.

``We're always going to consider ourselves the underdogs just because of what everybody says all the time about us and how we're not the best athletes and everything else,'' punter Ryan Doerr said. ``I don't think really much has changed to that.''

Despite its recent success, including wins over West Virginia and Texas Tech the past two weeks, Kansas State still has much to prove.

Voters in the coaches' and Harris polls have them slotted behind unbeaten Oregon, and Notre Dame is giving chase, and that poses a problem with the two polls making up a big chunk of the BCS rankings that determine who plays for the national championship.

``We still have a lot of people doubting us,'' fullback Braden Wilson said. ``That's one of the things that drives us. We still think about that. We still use that.

``But at the same time, whether people are telling us we're going to win or telling us we're going to lose, it's not going to change how we approach the game,'' Wilson said. ``When people are doubting, it's just a little more motivation.''

It's easy to find examples of how players have developed this underdog mentality.

Kansas State rarely gets big-name recruits, and most of the players making up the roster were rated three stars or less out of high school. So they're saddled with a reputation of being not quite as fast, not quite as big, not quite as strong as many other schools.

Maybe those perceptions are why Kansas State was picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 last year by the league's coaches, only to win 10 games. Or why the coaches still guessed the Wildcats would finish in the bottom half this season.

So while Kansas State (8-0, 5-0) is undefeated heading into Saturday's game against Oklahoma State, players are more than happy to keep their underdog status.

``It's a good mindset for this team to have because it doesn't allow us to overlook anybody or any game,'' wide receiver Curry Sexton said. ``Obviously you don't want to start getting high on yourself because that's when you get knocked off.''

Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said he does not believe in underdogs, because the competitive balance in the Big 12 is too great to say anybody is an underdog.

More important to Snyder is whether his players consider themselves to be the favorite.

That's why he consistently mentions the nail-biting nature of Kansas State's 10-7 win in the 2011 season opener against Eastern Kentucky, and why he reminds players that this year's 14-point victory over North Texas was probably about half of what the margin of victory could have been.

For Snyder, it all goes to prove two points: No team can be taken for granted, and odds-makers do not make one iota of difference.

``Somebody's betting money somewhere and established a point spread, and I guess they win a certain portion of the time to end up making money,'' Snyder said, ``but they're wrong an awful lot of the time.

``The point is, we see them, we know what kind of football team they are. Everybody that plays them knows what kind of football team they are.''

To everybody outside of the Vanier Football Complex, the Wildcats still seem to get overlooked. To those inside, that's just fine.

``I think this team is very confident but not overconfident,'' Sexton said. ``We feel like we can win every ballgame, but we're a team that doesn't allow our confidence to get in the way of what we need to do on the field.

``We realize that we are what we got, and we go out there on Saturdays and we just have to do our jobs,'' Sexton added. ``Underdog or not, we're just going to play like the underdog.''

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.

Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.

"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."


"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."

Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.


Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.

"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.

Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

The Redskins seem to love former Cowboys. They signed another one today.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media is reporting that Washington has agreed to terms with cornerback Orlando Scandrick. The early numbers put the contract at up to $10 million over two years.

Scandrick, 31, has played for the Cowboys since they made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. In nine seasons in the league, Scandrick has eight interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

He has been plagued by injuries the last three years. Scandrick was out for the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL. In 2016 he missed four games with a hamstring injury and he finished last season on injured reserve with a back injury. Whether his struggles last year were due to injuries or age remains to be seen.

Scandrick joins Nosh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, and Josh Holsey at cornerback for the Redskins. Holsey is the only natural slot corner in the group and he played very sparingly as a rookie last year. Scandrick likely will fill the slot role until Holsey is ready.

We will see what the signing costs in terms of salary cap impact when we see the details of the contract. The phrase “up to” generally means that there are incentives included in the deal so we will have to see.

In recent years, the Redskins have signed former Cowboys defensive linemen Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, and Terrell McClain.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.