Prince and Players On Monday in Manhattan

By: Courtesy: Kansas State University
By: Courtesy: Kansas State University

Kansas State Player Quotes
Courtesy: Kansas State University

Head Coach Ron Prince
Opening statement...
“I was really pleased. I thought it was a great game the other night. It was one of those games that fans and fans of college football love. I’ve been in this type of game before a number of years ago with Phillip Rivers and we had Matt Schaub, and it’s not any fun to lose them. It was a great game. I thought our kids played with great effort. There was a lot of focus going into the game and I could see they were very genuine about their preparation and they wanted to do well in the game and went out to do that. That was a great environment for a game, a terrific opponent and a terrific challenge. I was very concerned about being able to stop them, not just because of the conventional kind of runs that they can run with the quarterback and running the option so well, maybe as well as anyone is attempting to run it in the country. So with those things, it turned out to be quite a game, and obviously we didn’t turn out on the good end of it. Negatives – the kick off coverage really hurt us twice in the game. The one for the touchdown – that’s the kind of thing we like to do. It happened to us. Statistically, to have three turnovers like we did and have one of those against you, it’s really difficult to win, much less be in the game, and I thought that was a credit to our players and our coaches. From a negative standpoint, we had an opportunity to go down and score, and you fumble. You fumble in the red zone. The only thing that’s worse than fumbling in the red zone going in and taking away points would be fumbling in your own end of the field and give them a short field to score on. From that standpoint, those are two things that really jump out right away offensively, and the one that hits our foot in the kicking game. Those are the kinds of plays that are hard to factor in when you are putting a game plan together. We work on those things all the time from a fundamental standpoint. We had been one of the better teams in the country on protecting the football. My hat is off to Oklahoma State for causing those fumbles. It was a hard-hitting game and a very physical game from that standpoint, and we’ll obviously have to improve in that area. From a positive standpoint, I thought the goal-line stand, again, was terrific for us as a defense to be able to make that kind of stand. It was real important for us. We were able to get a turnover to once again keep them from getting points on a deep ball. That was a real positive for us. There was no lack of confidence; there was nobody in the offensive side of the huddle, when we went out there for that drive with four minutes to go, that didn’t think we were going to move the ball and go score. The only thing I was trying to think in that standpoint was how we could burn enough time so they wouldn’t have enough time there at the end. The line did a real good job blocking, and Leon (Patton) had a real good run. Basically he went untouched to score the 37th point. It might have taken another play or two. We were trying to burn as much clock as we can. It’s hard enough to score, but we’re also trying to figure out how to burn as much clock and not leave them any. A minute and 10, in most circumstances, would probably be enough to protect, but we didn’t get the kind of kick we’d like and the coverage to go with it. We allowed them to get a couple of big plays. We thought maybe, since they’re such a running team, that we’d have a chance to give them a long enough field that perhaps they wouldn’t be able to run the ball into field goal range. They were able to pass it and make a play when they needed to, so credit to them.

“We’re really concerned about this week’s opponent. While we think we’ve passed the ball and passed the ball pretty decent as of late, this team is still ranked ahead of us in the nation in passing. That’s how committed they are to it. They have another quarterback that has come into the mix and picked up right where the other guy left off. I think that is a system credit. I think it’s a credit to the players. They have good players that they try to get the ball to, and they are very accomplished in doing that. From a standpoint of turnovers, if it wasn’t for a couple of turnovers for them, they’re record is a little bit deceiving. So this opponent has our attention for sure. If it doesn’t have it from a standpoint of what they can do offensively, being ranked ahead of us in passing the football, then it’s definitely from a Baylor defensive side. They’re number two in the league, tied with us in number of sacks. We take a lot of pride trying to get to the other team[s quarterback. They caught us and are tied with us in that category. I think that’s a very important statistic. It’s something that has me concerned. And they are significantly ranked higher than us in red-zone defense. They’re ranked seventh in the conference in red-zone defense. We’re ranked number 11th. So there are plenty of things here for us to have focus. And if we didn’t need that, just a reminder of the performance we put out there a year ago against this team a lot of us will remember for a long time. This is a good opponent. They’re head coach is a person that I respect and is a tough guy. He puts his team together the right way. He’s working hard at it. They’ve got a lot of things they’re trying to do from a recruiting and talent standpoint. I can see the team getting better each year with the kind of people they are putting in their program and around it, and I think this will be a real challenging game for us. We have a lot to play for. We should have plenty of focus and practice. We should have a real high expectation to play well and if we do that, in each game, we think we have a chance to win.”

On close plays...
“The one on (Jeron) Mastrud’s fumble – that was one I was thinking about challenging. But from our standpoint, the guys that could see the replay – from my vantage point, I had my back to the board – the coaches that were watching it, we felt that the ball was out. In fact, when we watched the coaches’ version of it, it was out.”

On Byron Garvin’s interception...
“I really didn’t have a vantage point. I didn’t feel like there was enough evidence that I could see to want to try to dispute that. It went against us in some way, but we’ll take a turnover any way we can get it. At the time, I really didn’t have a vantage point to really see clearly whether I would dispute it or not. There were a couple of others that I didn’t really have any kind of angle at all to see and neither did our coaches.”

On the kickoff after the two-point conversion...
“We didn’t get the kind of kick that we would have liked with enough depth on it. And where the ball got outside of our leverage, they were able to advance it down the sideline. We needed to make sure that we contained the kick first of all and then collapse on it and pin it into the sideline so they couldn’t get a return. That was something that happened in a similar manner on the one that went back for a touchdown, and it was the same side. Our right side going down did not do a terrific job in the game on those two, but the people that were folding over on the one that got away from us and scored overpursued and it got back away from us and we didn’t have contain on the back side. We should have had contain on that and turned it back into those people who were squeezing it from the field. That didn’t happen. It got outside of us. That’s happened in one other game before, one other time, and obviously we’ve addressed that. We thought we had it fixed and we didn’t. It happened on the left side. In this game, it occurred on the right side. I thought that was a real good play to their credit but something that we need to play better.”

On how the defense is playing right now...
“Well, I think what’s happening in college football is that, eventually, what most people are relying on is turnovers, and we’re no different. In those games that we’ve been able to win and been able to be very competitive in, we’ve gotten turnovers. Turnovers are sometimes a very good deodorant for some of the other things that are happening. Offensively, a lot of times it can be big plays. A big play can bail you out of some things that you may not be doing fundamentally well or whatever. But if the last three or four minutes of that game are different, if we get a stop there at the end, then we feel a little bit better about things. They are a dominant rushing football team. And the fact that they have the option intact with a very athletic quarterback who is capable of throwing it, makes it very, very dangerous for anybody. So it was one of those deals where we were going to need some turnovers, we were going to need some momentum. I felt that, offensively, first of all, if we don’t have the big return for a touchdown and we capitalize on the couple of plays where we turned it over, then we could extend the lead maybe to the point where running the football isn’t as viable. This is a team effort. It wasn’t played perfectly in any of the three phases. We didn’t get any big special teams plays to help us. That’s been a common thread in each of the games we’ve had difficulty in. Turning the ball over – that’s obviously a big no-no that will hurt you more than anything. But defensively, we knew we were in for a big challenge with this offense. This is what’s happening in college football right now. I think people are spreading you out, getting good athletes in space, and maybe having to beat a very athletic blocker or having to make a tackle in open space. We had them in as much conflict as they had us. Someone is going to be creative enough and insightful enough to get on the front end of this thing defensively and start to stem the tide a little bit. We’d like to be that group that can do that. Right now, we’re really fighting to try and correct it. We want to have a really good defense. But until you can make some of those fourth-quarter stops – we’ve had a lead in each of these games – we have to be able to make some improvement there.”

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