By Matthew Girard Kansas State Collegian
MANHATTAN, Kan. (U-WIRE) -- With three games in the books, the football team has the weekend off before opening Big 12 Conference play Oct. 2 at Texas A&M. The Wildcats (2-1) finished their non-conference schedule Saturday with a 40-20 victory over Louisiana-Lafayette.

Along with the completion of the non-conference schedule with a winning record for the 16th straight season, Wildcat fans witnessed senior running back Darren Sproles break his own single-game rushing record with 292 yards on 38 carries, earning him Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors.

Sproles moved into second place on the Big 12's all-time rushing yardage list with 4,211 career rushing yards - 1,079 yards behind former Texas Longhorn Ricky Williams.

In the last four years, the Wildcats are 2-2 in games following a bye week and have not won a game coming off a bye since a 64-0 win over New Mexico State in 2001.

Coach Bill Snyder said during his weekly press conference Tuesday that the team will spend the week working on fundamentals and preparing for the Aggies (2-1).

MORE MOVES ON DEFENSE

The coaches made another depth chart change on defense this past week, with junior defensive back Bret Jones moving into the starting free safety position and senior defensive back Jesse Tetuan switching to strong safety.

"He's just one of those guys that seems to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time and has consequently been able to make some plays for us," Snyder said of Jones. "He can run well, and he's got good ball skills, and that's evident by the interceptions he's had. He's just earned his way there."

Jones came into the game against Louisiana-Lafayette with two interceptions, leading the Cats with six tackles and a sack against the Ragin' Cajuns.

Snyder said more moves may be on the way for the defense.

"We are still trying to keep it competitive, and that creates some uncertainty," he said. "Yes, there is still some progress to be made."

BOOST OF CONFIDENCE

After bouncing back with a win against the Ragin' Cajuns, several Wildcats said the victory gave the team a renewed energy heading into the bye week and conference season.

Snyder said the win was a sign of his team's improvements.

"I hope, as always, that we continue to improve and continue to make strides, and I think that if you go across our football team, that was evident this past week," Snyder said.

Tetuan said having no game on Saturday gives the team a chance to get better and takes the pressure off.

"It's a chance to not rush, to relax and a chance to get better without feeling the pressure of a game," Tetuan said. "It gives us a week to practice tackling, without having to be worried about being tight on Saturday."

CATS ON THE ROAD

For the sixth season in a row, K-State will open its Big 12 Conference schedule on the road when the team travels to College Station, Texas, in two weeks. In that stretch of road conference openers, the Wildcats are 2-4.

K-State will take on the Aggies in one of the the largest stadiums in the Big 12 - Kyle Field, which holds more than 82,000 fans.

Junior tackle Jeromey Clary said it is one of the loudest stadiums in which he has played.

"Kyle Field is definitely going to be a tough place to play," Clary said "It holds a lot of people, and they are right on top of you."

(C) 2004 Kansas State Collegian via U-WIRE.