Wildcats Hold Final Open Practice

Courtesy: Kansas State University

Head Coach Ron Prince

Opening statement...

“We had a stormy practice and a stormy day here. The guys are tired. They look tired and weren’t very sharp today. Our tackling has improved over the last week but we’ve put them through a pretty hard week and obviously they don’t look very sharp today. It concerns me a little bit – the concentration and focus. We’re going to need better than that to win two weeks from now.”

On personnel issues...

“On a personnel issue, Junior Moran has left the team for personal reasons. He’s not going to be playing anymore football and has returned back to Florida, home, to finish school. Other than that, right now everybody is working – we have some guys finishing up academically or whatever it might be. We are dinged up a little bit, not very fresh right now. Hopefully we’ll be able to get our legs back underneath us here in the next week.

“We have a couple guys not feeling well that the trainer held out. There’s been some sickness that has gone through the team here and there and caused some guys to miss a day here and there – that kind of thing.”

On punting out of the field goal formation...

“It’s just one of the things you have to do on the checklist before the pre-season is over so if you need it during the season you can. We’ve had some long field goals in practice that we’ve been working on and we feel good about that but we’d like to be able to take advantage of the defense if they’re all coming up to block those long field goals. We’d like to be able to – if we got in the situation – to play field position game if we need to.”

On if a candidate has emerged at kicker...

“I would have said yes going into the last couple days but right now I’m undecided. We’re going to go through next week with the kicking duties (open). We’re seeing some improvement but I’m seeing some of the same mistakes from the same guys. All of the players kicking off have improved, not only the depth of their kicks but the manner and style of their kicks. From the placekicking standpoint I’m not very pleased right now.”

On who has emerged as candidates for return duties...

“Deon Murphy and Leon Patton right now in both phases, both the punt and the kickoff. Justin McKinney has done a nice job. We’ve whittled a couple of guys down that can’t seem to hold onto the ball. We’re working Dee Bell back there, I think he’s got a bright future returning kicks. That’s really the group that we’re working with right now and obviously we can put Jordy Nelson back there if we need to.”

On the main concerns heading into the opener...

“We’ve got to get fresh, we’ve got to get focused. We’ve worked them really hard, we needed to, that’s where our team is right now. We need to work very hard. I’m not real happy with the way things are right now and I don’t like our focus. We need to be that kind of team – a tough, hard and calloused team – to go through what we’re going to go through and win the games that we want to win. I kind of expected that going into it but the mental part of it I’m not real pleased with.”

On the offensive line...

“I’ve seen a lot of improvement on the offensive line. Right now I’m trying to find a left guard, we don’t have one. I think the other positions are doing a really nice job, starting to become solidified, but right now it’s an open tournament to see who can be the left guard when we go play Auburn. I’m not real pleased with any of the candidates right now.”

On Josh Freeman’s progress...

“Josh has done a nice job. Today he had a couple passes that weren’t great but he’s done real well in practice. He’s had a lot of throws, a lot of fundamental work and done a good job. I told him the other day that I thought it was one of his best footwork practices that I’ve seen him have. He’s been really focusing on that. Particularly a man of that size, if you can get your legs underneath you and have good balance when you throw – it’s like a golf swing – you have a chance to make big plays. We think that’s a little bit of the issues that he’s had in the past, all young quarterbacks do, and I thought he made some strides this week to get towards that. Right now we’re going to focus on getting a little bit of the timing and chemistry down with some of our top guys next week.”

Sophomore quarterback Josh Freeman

On how practice went today...

“Practice started slow but overall we got better today from a scheme standpoint.”

On the upcoming season...

“We are really excited about the upcoming season. We just finished what seemed to be a long camp but we got a lot done. We have some great new guys in Ernie Pierce and Lamark Brown, and we got them integrated into the philosophy we are running this year. I feel we are ready to get this season started.”

Senior wide receiver Jordy Nelson

On this year compared to last year at this time..

“We are more confident this year. We are making plays and the defense is playing well but we need to be more consistent. We have good knowledge of the playbook and we are working well as a unit, the offensive line has come a long way and with new guys Ernie Pierce, Lamark Brown, and Deon Murhpy, we should have a good offense.”

On the offensive line...

“They have come a long way. They are a lot farther along than they were last year at this time. They have all benefited from another year in the system and they have been working really hard since two a days.”

Junior Wide Receiver Deon Murphy

On practice today...

“It was a normal practice today. We need to keep working hard and keep practicing hard everyday until September 1.”

On the upcoming season...

“I’m really excited. We need to keep working hard and keep practicing hard. I’m very excited for the season to start and I know the whole team is as well.”

On coming from a junior college...

“It was a lot harder transition than I expected. The workouts and practice are very demanding. It is a real big difference.”

Senior defensive end Rob Jackson

On his improvement going into the season...

“I’m feeling really good. I had a really good camp and I upped my play a couple notches since last season. I think I’m ready to go. I think I’ll be prepared for the Auburn game.”

On the play of the defensive line...

“Once everybody gets on the same page and everybody knows their assignments and what they’re supposed to do, I think we’ll be really good. We’ve got speed and strength but this defense is kind of complicated, but it’s coming along really well. Once we get on the same page, we should be a really good D-line.”

Junior defensive end Ian Campbell

On winning on the road last season...

“It’s pretty difficult to win on the road and one of our first losses was suffered at Baylor, which was a very tough game for us. We weren’t quite the team that we were later on in the season. We had some let-downs at Missouri and KU, but we all know that. When you have a tough road game and you’re not playing up to your ability, it makes it very difficult to win. So we’re trying to make sure that we are playing up to our abilities so that we don’t have that kind of game.”

On the atmosphere at Auburn...

“There’s really not much you can do to prepare for that kind of environment. They’re going to go down there, they’re going to get warmed up, they’re going to see all those people and they’re going to get over it. I think the 55,000 Wildcat fans are going to be just as loud as the 90,000 Auburn fans.”

Junior linebacker Chris Patterson

On special teams play...

“Special teams is a big, key phase in the game. You can win or lose a game on special teams. If you miss a field goal early on, you could lose a game by one point and that could come back to bite you. Special teams is very important.”

On a mentor on the team...

“Ian Campbell has really helped. We play the same position, he’s ahead of me but he’s really been helping me out. He hasn’t been selfish by any means. He’s really been helping me along. He’s been checking with me and just making sure that I know what I’ve got to do, just to quiz me to make sure I don’t get confused out there.”


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