K-State Spring Practices Press Conference

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

Release: 04/17/2007

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State head football coach Ron Prince and selected players addressed the media Tuesday for the final time before the annual Purple and White Spring Game on Saturday, April 21.

Head Coach Ron Prince

Opening Statement...

“First of all I would like to address the situation in Blacksburg. I spent eight years in the state of Virginia, three at James Madison University and three at the University of Virginia, and in college football you can’t have a bigger rival than Virginia has in Virginia Tech. There is a lot of respect there though, respect for the coaches, the institution and the fan base. I recruited a lot of the kids that went there, so yesterday when we finally had a chance to get a call through to Blacksburg I wanted to let those people know that our thoughts were with them.”

“I want to address some of the rule changes. In anticipation of this very significant rule change, and then going back on another rule. A year ago the rule change with the clock had unintended consequences, I don’t think that this was what the people who thought of this rule intended to have happen. There were a lot of conversations about this in our national meetings and coaches meetings; I am on a committee that addressed this issue. There was a tremendous loss of plays, and therefore opportunities for most of the teams, even down through Division III and NAIA. This rule had far-reaching effects. A lot of the times these rules are top down type driven. I think that it was a pretty ground-swelled reaction to it and I am really pleased that the rule has been addressed and changed. The idea of moving the ball back to the 30-yard line is going to have a very profound effect on the game as we know it. Back in the Jim Thorpe days wherever you went down is where the ball got spotted, even if you were one yard from the sideline that is where the next play started from. The affects of the hash, and the forward pass, and all of those things really changed the game. Moving the ball back to the 30-yard line, as simple as that sounds, has really affected the NFL. If you have a kicker that can force touchbacks that is the most valuable of all players now. We have been anticipating this change for a couple of months so we have been practicing with and dealing with it.”

“We will have our draft this afternoon, where the two coaching staffs, one led by the offensive coordinator and one by the defensive coordinator, I will be the commissioner and oversee the drafting of our players and I think it will be real intriguing to see who gets drafted where. We will do like we did a year ago with the purple and white teams; I will be up in the press box for the first half. Then for the spring game activities this is an opportunity for us to really celebrate this game. This is the greatest of all team games. Since we last met I had the opportunity to attend Coach (Eddie) Robinson’s funeral, and I am just real proud to be a part of the game of football. So I think it is right that we celebrate this game that brings together so many kinds of people. Whether it is an immigrant’s son from Hell’s Kitchen, a kid that grows up in the coal mines, or the Rust Belt, sharecroppers’ kids, farmers’ kids or city kids, whatever it might be, this is a game that brings all those people together.”

On the play of Josh Freeman...

“One of things that I have tried to remind our players and coaches of daily is that he is a sophomore, this is not his fifth year or fourth year. We would like to see improvement in his game, consistency in his game, but no one has taken a more aggressive approach to this off-season than Josh. Not only with his body, which you can see, but also with his mind and how he is really determined to do really well. I think that there will be a couple of aspects of whether he does well and how well he does, that is the consistency of the offensive line and the wide receiver corp. We felt that we needed to bolster those two areas with depth and talent so that Josh can be the player that we think he can be. He is doing his part and we like what we have seen from him.”

On what position he is watching the most this spring...

“I think that the inside linebacker group is the one that I am paying attention to. Here is why, we had eight to ten players play per game last year. They came in all shapes, sizes, and skill levels, and we had two notable players graduate in that group. We had a linebacker group that was not quite as deep as, we played them players on special teams, but they were not quite deep enough for all of them to go in and play as front line players from scrimmage. So for me most of my concentration this off-season has been at the inside linebacker position.”

On the 3-4 defense...

“We played a lot of 3-4 last year, we played three-down, we played four-down, and we played five-down. We played a variety of things and I think that a little of that is lost when you start talking in generalities. All we are trying to do is build the kind of versatility in our veteran players so that you can deal with some of these games where the other team has made a conscience decision to put multiple tight ends, or multiple running backs on the field and run the ball with power and authority, and turn around the next week and play one of the teams that is going to play with four or five wide receivers. That is the nature of our league, and really the nature of a lot of leagues. I think you are seeing much more diversity in the offensive systems that you face, one guy’s spread offense is not the same as the other guys. And then from time to time if you ever want to play zone defense you have to have an extra underneath defender that can play at that linebacker level.”

On the play of the wide receivers...

“Cedric Wilson has done a real nice job, I think that Wilson along with Daniel Gonzalez and Jordy Nelson are your front guys. We are not only looking at the versatility issue but how are we going to find guys at the middle of the roster that are going to step up, last year Gonzalez was that guy. Coach (Dave) Brock has done a real nice job in setting the standard for these guys no matter where you are on the depth chart. We are starting to see some plays being made by some of those players who people don’t know by name. We also said that we wanted to address this position in recruiting and we signed four guys in particular that we think can have an impact early and it is going to be up to all of us to see how quickly we can integrate them into the system. Ernie Pierce and Deon Murphy are the two veterans that are coming from community colleges and Lamark Brown and Danny Hogan that we are hoping can contribute. As far as how long it will take them, when they are ready we are ready. I say this all the time because it is real easy to forget to mention Jordy because he is always so steady and he is always so good, but he is having a really good spring.”

On the gap between Carson Coffman and Josh Freeman...

“James Franklin and I thought that Carson had a really good practice yesterday. We had some two-minute situations and he did a really nice job. He is becoming very comfortable with the progression and the ball is coming off his hand like it does for someone who knows where the ball needs to go against the different coverages. Coach Franklin has done a real nice job working with Carson on his fundamentals, so Carson would argue with you that there is not as much of a gap as all of us think, and that’s good.”

Senior Offensive Lineman Logan Robinson

On if the practices after the draft are competitive...

“Considering the amount of guys we have – we’re only going to have about 35 to 40 guys at each practice – I think it’s more that we know what we’re doing now and getting together with the guys. It’s possible we haven’t repped with them if they are a No. 1 or 2. It’s more of getting into the system and working with them in a few reps. It will probably be in just helmets or uppers. It’s not one of those, ‘Let’s go out and hit them,” type of practices. It’s more greasing the engine of the guys we have and get ready for Saturday.”

On the Spring Game...

“It’s great. I really enjoyed it, especially the events that coach Prince has brought here. Last year we came up early and rode some of the rides and went to the game afterwards. It’s fun. A lot of the guys get into it. I really got into it. The competition is friendly. It’s a good competition for us and we really do look forward to it.”

On the spring practices...

“I think it has been really good for us, especially as an offensive line and an offensive unit. We’re able to solidify the position and show the team that we’ve made that much stride after the mistakes we had earlier on last year. It was definitely huge for us as a position and as a team to show that we’re a lot better and know what we’re doing this year. The offensive line is going to be a lot different than last year.”

Senior Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson

On who he would take as the first pick in the draft...

“I would go with Jordan Bedore, the center for us. He has the most experience and I think he’s the leader on the offensive line. You have to be able to snap if you want to play.”

On what the team needs to get out of the spring game...

“That’s the main thing that you want out of everyone is to get out of the game healthy. For an older guy, I don’t think it’s as big as the younger guys to see how you do in front of some people. It’s not even close to what a normal Saturday game would be, but there are some people there so it makes a difference. We’ll be able to see how we work with different people because we will be working with players that we haven’t practiced with.”

On if he likes the spring game format...

“I definitely think this is the way to do it. It puts a little something else on the game besides just a normal Saturday scrimmage. I think it’s also better for the fans because last year it was 21-14. Then I watched the Nebraska game and it was like 40-something to zero, with obviously their No. 1’s vs. No. 2’s. It makes it more of a game instead of just another practice.”

Senior Safety Marcus Watts

On where he deserves to be drafted...

“I don’t know. It doesn’t matter to me. It’s not a big deal to us. The coaches have more fun with that than we do.”

On who his No. 1 pick would be....

“I think the obvious answer would be Josh (Freeman). You have to go with the most experienced quarterback who has all the tools.”

On if the draft makes the game more interesting...

“It makes it more of a competition, so it’s a little more fun.”

On the importance of the spring game...

“It’s hard for me to speak on last year because I wasn’t out there a lot. Right now, I think we’re pleased with where we are at. We’ve installed a lot of the base stuff on defense with a couple blitzes here and there. We’ve installed a lot, but we are feeling a lot more comfortable with the system.”

Senior Wide Receiver Daniel Gonzalez

On what he wants to show on Saturday...

“I just hope to be consistent. I want to go out there and show what I can do and what I’ve been doing all spring. If I just go out there and play my game, that’s the best thing I can do right now.”

On the advantage of him being in spring practices...

“I think it’s time for me to make my name and try to get a feel of where I’m at right now. I know we’ve got some good players coming in, but, with me being here right now, I can try to earn a spot.”

On wanting to become a bigger offensive threat...

“I definitely want to be more involved with the offense. Jordy (Nelson) is a big weapon too. I’m not trying to fill his shoes, but I think having us both out there at the same time would be awesome.”

On being on the same team as Jordy Nelson on Saturday...

“I told Jordy before they even started to pick teams that I wanted to be on his team. I think it would be great if we were on the same team.”


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