K-State Holds Weekly Press Conference

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

Release: 10/29/2007
Courtesy: Kansas State University

Head Coach Ron Prince

Opening statement...

“I thought we had a pretty challenging game last week from the standpoint of the skills from that team. As you can see, they have three very good quarterbacks, a number of very good wide receivers and some very good offensive linemen. We thought it would take one of our better performances, defensively. I was very pleased with the creative nature of the game plan, how aggressive it was. I thought we used a lot of our players on defense to try to reach those objectives. To put pressure on the quarterback in the shotgun, as quickly as Baylor gets the ball out, that was pretty challenging for us. That took a lot of thought and I thought that was a real positive the way the defensive staff and their kids, the plan that they had and how they put it together. I thought it was a real good way to bounce back from some of the challenges from the week before. There were times in the game that we had some plays that we felt like we should have been able to minimize that we didn’t. Some yards were given up that we wish we didn’t. It was far from perfect, but I was very pleased from a turnover standpoint and from the aggressive nature of the game plan and some of the things we were able to do. The play of Clayton Cox and the play of Moses Manu and (Courtney Herndon), that was real important to how we wanted to play.

“From a special teams standpoint, I thought the first half was about as bad of a half as we’ve played around here. We had eight plays that were significant, were negative. We’re looking for positive plays in the kicking game and we had eight plays that were negative from the standpoint that we had an opportunity to make a play in the kicking game but did not or we had a penalty or had some kind of failure to cover to prevent a big play. The field position, even though we got the turnovers and et cetera for our offense, the field position game in another contest someday down the road would have hurt us. The second half I thought we improved, except for the kickoff to open the second half. I thought we got better in that area. The punt return by (Jordy) Nelson was terrific, a lot of people did their jobs to make that happen. Deon Murphy is sick about it if you can imagine, so that’s good, that’ll keep him humble, keep him striving. Both of them did a really good job back there. A lot of kids were involved in trying to make that happen.

“From an offensive standpoint, Baylor did a really good job of giving us nothing easy in the first half. We really didn’t do much to play fast. We were out of sorts, out of balance, didn’t have much tempo. This is one of those growth moments where players who have an outstanding game perhaps one week or have a certain style which their last opponent plays and you have to make a transition to a new style or new opponent, this is an example of where we cannot start of slow in the future like this. It’s one of those things where you like to say you can learn lessons when you win. The lessons are many. I thought in the second half we stopped feeling sore, tired and sorry for ourselves, if that’s the way you want to look at it, and we went out with more aggressiveness. We called the game from a more aggressive standpoint and I was much more encouraged. I’ll take that kind of effort, regardless of the production or exactly how it turns out, over the stop and start, herky-jerky type play that we witnessed in the first half and that won’t be able to sustain us. I thought what we did in the second half from a responding standpoint, we responded in a number of areas and I was very pleased with that.

“We’ll have some issues going forward. I just received news today that we’ll be without Ross Diehl, he won’t be available. We’ll continue to be without Byron Garvin. Right now, we’re waiting to hear on Lamark Brown, what his availability might be. We expect Deon Murphy to be available and some of the other guys that are a little bit beat up, but Garvin and Diehl are the only two guys that I can tell you that will be out.

“I’m very concerned about this game, this opponent. Everybody understands that Missouri is a terrific offensive team, terrific defensive team, one of the top-ranked teams in the nation. Iowa State out-gained them, had more first downs, more yards, more yards rushing, an astronomical time of possession. They just had some penalties and turnovers at the wrong time. The red zone performance by Missouri was 5-for-5 I believe. I think this is a team that is obviously improved here down the stretch. They had a terrific performance against Oklahoma, particularly defensively they did a really nice job. They’re getting better at the wrong time for us. We need to continue to improve.

“Our team has a lot to play for, have a lot to be motivated to play well. This week will do us a lot of good to practice, to be able to continue to improve our depth and introduce some players who may not have a lot of attention so far in the season into our rosters and into our two deep and start to get some more plays. It thought the play of Courtney Herndon was particularly important to us and Clayton Cox, because that demonstrates that we can continue to introduce players throughout the season who can make splash plays. The play that Courtney made was reminiscent of something that Antwon Moore might have made earlier in the year. The play that Clayton Cox made was something like a Rob Jackson or Ian Campbell type of play so that was good for us.”

On the team sustaining and growing from the ‘Growth Moment’ – the improvement from the first to second half last week...

“I think it has to. I think we’ve played too hard and too well for it not to. I’ve been really pleased with the effort of the team. That’s the one thing through all the games this year that I’ve been very pleased with how their effort and energy has been on game day. The games haven’t been easy, haven’t been walk-aways. Even the ones where the final score may appear to be one thing, we have felt very challenged and threatened throughout those games and have tried to make sure we have created that type of atmosphere. I’ve been very pleased with how they’ve responded. This will be a good situation for us to be able to go demonstrate what we can go do on the road. We’ve been aspiring to play better on the road this season. This will be a terrific test for us in that category. Until I see otherwise in practice, I’m going to say that we understand what we experienced and try to move forward from it.”

On Leon Patton’s increased role against Baylor...

“In some games you have a match-up that you like or a style that the defense is going to present you and sometimes the player is just improving. We wanted to try to give him an opportunity to run the ball in this game. We thought he could do real well against them. His style – he’s a short player but he’s not small, very compact, very strong guy – we thought he might have the opportunity to get some tough yards in there and he didn’t disappoint in that category. We’ve got two good running backs and we’d like to be able to make sure that we can take advantage of whichever one gives us a better match-up in a particular game. They’re both team players in that regard. They both get their carries, but they’re both pulling for each other and that’s what makes it unique.”

On Clayton Cox ...

“The thing that we’ve noticed about Clayton (Cox) is very similar to what we noticed about Ian (Campbell) a year ago, in that he has a tremendous motor. If the quarterback gets past his progression, has to go on to his second choice or third choice, a lot of times guys like Ian Campbell and Clayton Cox are going to out-hustle the guy they’re going against. By sheer effort they’re going to keep coming. What happens with a lot of defensive players is that if their first move doesn’t beat the offensive lineman cleanly, sometimes they’ll stop and watch to see where the ball is going because so much of the game now is quick passing. To break a player through that to the point where you say keep rushing even if your first move doesn’t make a hit, use your counter and then whatever else you have in your bag of tricks to set the player up. He’s willing to do that and he’s willing to keep hustling at it, particularly if the pocket breaks down. We have a number of players like that. I think Moses Manu played a really good game in that same regard and that’s who we have to be. I was real pleased with how he did that plus I think the thing that might go unnoticed is that Clayton was on the kickoff coverage and made two real important tackles for us, did a really good job. That’s the kind of kid he is, a very unselfish, team guy. He wants the team to do well. I was very proud of him. On Friday night I told the team that I thought Clayton would have a really good game. I could see it in the game plan where he was going to have an opportunity to do some things that I know he’d been anxious to do. He played that way against Texas and did a nice job for us. His role came up again this week and he was able to make the most of it so we’d like to see that continue.”

On the team becoming bowl eligible...

“I don’t mean this in the wrong way, but I think there could be as many as nine or ten bowl eligible teams (in the Big 12) and so six wins really might not make you bowl eligible if you dig what I’m saying. We really haven’t discussed that much. We know that we’re in the hunt if we do the things that we’re supposed to do. Just by going out and playing well and practicing this week and handling this game, which is just about all this team can handle right now, we would stay in it. All the teams that are trying to fight to stay in it are going to start to play each other. This is where we want to be able to play our very best football in November. Some of the things that we’re demonstrating would help us if we can manage and take out of our game some of the things that are hurtful to our efforts then we can be at peace with how we go down the stretch here and I think we can do some things. I don’t think that six wins will be good enough so we really haven’t addressed that except for the fact that we don’t think six wins will be enough.”

On Jordy Nelson being an All-American type player...

“I don’t know if any other player means more to his team than he does to ours. I’ve coached All-American players in the past and the way I look at it and what makes him an All-American is, yeah, statistically he stands out but if you look at the team, we know it, you know it and the opponent knows it, that we’re trying to get it to him and he still gets it and he still does something with it.”

Junior Linebacker Ian Campbell
On the Baylor game...
“In the first half of the Baylor game some things weren’t going right for the offense, and the defense was doing some nice things. Special teams weren’t great at the time, but we came in at half and emphasized the things we have been emphasizing on all year- just do your job. It’s kind of been a common phrase among us; almost a team identity, as much as we are K-State and the power of one. Do your job and things get done. In the second half we went out there and really went into that role; we did our job, and things worked really well for us in all phases.”

Senior Defensive End Clayton Cox

On his inspiration from fellow walk-ons...

“(Other walk-ons inspired me) big time. People like Jordy Nelson and Ian Campbell had a lot to do with it really. These guys came from Kansas too; they came as walk-ons, and now they are big time players. It was good for me, and I could see that it could be done, so that had a lot to do with it.”

On K-States defensive takeaways...

“It’s been huge. They (coaches) tell us every week- turnovers, you guys have to cause turnovers. We have been getting interceptions, but they (coaches) have been emphasizing that we don’t get enough fumbles, so we work on that a lot in practice. This game we finally got some fumbles caused.”

Senior Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson

On defenses double-teaming him...

“I don’t think I have honestly seen too much of that (double-teams) so far. Every once in a while it will happen, but I don’t know if it’s on purpose or if it’s just the coverage they have called. I think with the way Daniel (Gonzalez) played Saturday, and they way Deon (Murphy) is able to perform when he gets his chances, I think it’s tough to do that (double-team).”

On heading into the last third of the season...

“I think we are getting into rhythm. We are figuring everything out; we are getting comfortable. I think the coaches are maybe getting more comfortable with the plays that we are going to be good at, and we just have to continue. Last year we got in this groove, and then we kind of fell off at the end, so we just need to keep it going. Take it week by week, and don’t look too far ahead.”

Sophomore Quarterback Josh Freeman

On K-State’s biggest difference from last year...

“It’s our second year in the system, and I think the second year for anything is always a better year. More people know what Coach (Prince) expects. We know the offense better, and we are able to actually run it now instead of kind of blindly playing.”

On the possibility of going to a bowl game...

“Coach (Prince) addressed it. He said in this league there is going to be probably seven or eight teams that end with seven or eight wins, so six is not going to get it done this year. We are going to have to win more games than that.”

Senior Defensive Lineman Steven Cline

On his interception against Baylor ...

“I couldn’t even tell you what was going through my head. I dropped back and my eyes just lit up. I probably couldn’t even tell you what I did after I caught the ball. I remember one of my own players coming in and hitting me, and I think I kind of hit him. It’s an exciting occurrence, and it’s kind of a freak accident for a defensive lineman to intercept a pass.”

On his ability to catch the ball...

“Oh, I’ve always had good hands. I grew up playing flag football. My brother always used to take me out and make me run routes after school. I used to be a tight end, quarterback and fullback until I got big.”

On where the defense needs to improve the most...

“The biggest thing that we need to do as a defense is we need to learn how to finish, and complete a game. We still haven’t played a complete game. We just need to finish a game, get a fourth quarter pass rush, and just iron out all of the little things we have to do as a defense.”


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