K-State Spring Practices Press Conference

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State head football coach Ron Prince and selected players addressed the media for the second time this spring on Tuesday afternoon in the Vanier Football Complex.

Head Coach Ron Prince

Opening Statement...

“We’ve just finished our first four practices. The weather did not cooperate with us on Saturday, we would have liked to have been outside but there was a nice crowd. We tried to get our players to perform a little for the public and the media. I think that we have had some very spirited practices, and I thought that we have moved very well. Our conditioning has held up, we have been able to get a lot more plays in and at a higher tempo than we have up to this point. I am very encouraged by that, and I have been very encouraged by the players seeing the positions where we are having some competition, and how they have responded to that.”

 

“Yesterday was very important for us because it was our first special teams practice. Along with some of the fundamental periods that we have in practice, one of the things that we are focusing on is tackling. I felt that in some of the most critical moments last year we did not tackle very well. It has been one of the things that we have been focusing on during the off-season as coaches in our discussions, not only from the mechanics of tackling but having a plan based on your position and where you might find the runner. We worked on a variety of things yesterday along with some of the specialized things. We have worked on our placekicking; we have had (Brooks) Rossman and (Tim) Schwerdt head-to-head, I would say that Rossman has the slight edge at this point. With our long-snapping at this point I would say that (Sean) Kolich has the slight edge over (Michael) Pooschke. With our gunners it is probably too early to determine who our gunners will be, and who will replace Yamon Figurs. Marcus Watts continues to be as good of a special team’s player as he has been in the past along with Marcus Perry.”

 

“For the first time this spring we were able to work on our two-minute operation with Josh (Freeman) and Carson (Coffman), that was real important for us. We worked on both end-of-half and end-of-game situations. From a coverage standpoint, as well as a passing and protection standpoint it was very challenging for both groups, which is a positive for me. Neither of the coordinators were very happy so that is probably a good thing.”

 

“The pass rush has been very good. With a lot of veteran players out there, Rob Jackson, Eric Childs, Moses Manu and Ian Campbell they have made it very challenging on our offensive front. We have also seen some growth in some players. Alesana Alesana has been a nice addition for us, Derek Meyer has done a nice job working in there, and we are getting a lot of quality time in there from (Jordan) Bedore.”

 

“This last practice yesterday was very trying. It was one of the toughest practices that we have put them through in a spring situation, to see how much we could get out of them, and too see how far they could push themselves. It was a first glimpse into what kind of team we could be.”

 

On the team’s off-season leadership...

“It is unusual for a freshman to know anything about spring ball but I think Josh’s experiences here last spring, coming in as a high school player on a college campus helped him to measure himself before we went out there with the pads on. Obviously workouts are run by the players when they do get together but we have three very interesting kids in Marcus Watts, Jordy Nelson, and Ian Campbell who all came to college not as highly touted players, and we are hoping that their leadership and personality will reflect the teams’. If the team plays as well as any three of those players then we will have a real good team. Those guys are very purposeful and they want to have a good season, they are used to having success. It has been real encouraging that players like Rob Jackson, Cedric Wilson, and Leon Patton who have had opportunities to play in games and have some success and now they have had a much more collaborative mentality towards what they want to work on in the off-season. So I would say that it has probably been much more of a group effort than any one player, and that is one attribute that we hope this team will identify.”

 

On the attitude of Carson Coffman ...

“There are some players that you really can’t put your finger on exactly why they just win. They seem to get their team into the end zone more than other guys. I think to this point that this is Carson’s greatest strength. Carson’s greatest strength is that he is a winner. James Franklin was telling me the other day that Carson has not lost a game as a starter. That kind of experience is valuable and I would not want him to approach this in any other way. Obviously this is his first spring, he red-shirted a year ago. I am glad that he feels so confident. As his development continues, I hope that if he gets the chance to get in games he knows that we are expecting him to do the same things he did at the other level.”

 

On the competition between Coffman and Freeman...

“I think that from a technical standpoint, as far as knowing the plays and understanding coverage I would say that Josh clearly has a leg up on Carson because of his time in grade and being here last spring. From a confidence standpoint I think it is very hard to shake either one of them. These are two players that grew up with each other, they know each others game, they are very positive with each other, most of the time there is some pretty good ribbing going on. I think from Carson’s standpoint he is looking at it as he has an opportunity to catch up and make up some ground. Josh has done some things though this off-season to add some things to his game that perhaps were not there in the past.”

 

On coach Mike Kent’s training program...

“One of the things that we have talked about since we arrived was being a fast team. There is the capacity to play and be in terrific shape, there is a stamina and endurance capacity to it, but there is power, explosion, and strength that goes in there as well. I think that Coach Kent’s program has always produced the very best in those aspects whether it has been at Louisville or Pitt or different places that he has been. He has a very challenging and positive aura around him and I think that the players have embraced that. He does challenge them and he is a very easy person to talk to if you are a player. He is very position specific, we are not trying to make weight lifters out of our players, we are trying to make athletes that can play at a high speed for a long time. I think the thing that he excels at is training that kind of speed and explosion.”

 

On the versatility of the team...

“I think for our team we invest so much in the kicking game that if we have players that are out of shape, or too heavy then that limits us when the ball gets put in the air. Ian had a pretty significant role in the kicking game last year as well as some of the other players that have moved on. When we talk about versatility in our team, part of that is having the speed, the stamina, change of direction and lateral quickness so that you can continue to play in the kicking game. That is what a lot of this training is about. You go play a full series and then all of the sudden you have fourth down, third down is not the last play of the series, fourth down is. We are trying to get to the point where that is a real advantage for us like it is for Virginia Tech and like it has been here in the past. That kind of versatility has been the emphasis of what we are doing this spring. That kind of versatility is just as important as where they play on the defensive front.”

Senior Offensive Lineman Logan Robinson
On the offensive line gaining consistency as a unit...
"I think we've come a long way. We really worked hard during winter conditioning to come in, watch film and learn our calls. We worked on things individually as far as our pass sets and what to do against different defenses. Personally, I think we are miles ahead of where we were last spring at this time. As far as getting the camaraderie and gelling as an offensive line, we need a few more weeks. That's exactly what spring ball is here for. I think we're doing a good job."

On moving to different positions along the offensive line...
"The hardest one would be the center. Trying to snap and step is one of the hardest things to do. You could ask Trevor Viers that because he was moved there this year. Both Coach Prince and Coach McCarty really want us to know what to do at every position. When the other group is going and you're standing back watching he goes, 'What's your call at guard? What would be your call at tackle?' He wants all of us to know the offense inside-out and backwards so, if there is ever a time that you should go in for somebody and that's normally not your position, you know what to do. You don't have to worry about not knowing the calls or anything like that."

Senior Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson
On being versatile at the wide receiver position...
"It affects us a lot because we have three or four different positions that you could play. If you're versatile and you know all the positions, it gives you a better chance of getting on the field. If you focus in on one position and just learn the routes for that position, then you're possibility of getting on the field is not very good because you'll either have to be the best one at that position or beat the person out. So, if you know the whole offense, all the schemes and are versatile, then it increases your chances of getting on the field."

On if there is a different approach this year...
"I don't think there's a different approach. We know the plays better this spring than what we did last spring. We're just trying to get into good plays, stay in those good plays and eliminate the bad plays, which I think will make your offense better."

On the player-run practices during the winter...
"You can't judge based on who was there and who wasn't because people have class and other things to do. But, I think we had a great showing. The quarterbacks and receivers stayed after a lot and threw a lot of balls. For the most part, we had all the receivers there and all two of the quarterbacks were there. I think that really helped out a lot going into the spring. We were able to get our timing down and were able to get to know each other. I think that helped us out a lot."