K-State Holds Spring Football Press Conference

Head Coach Bill Snyder

On the team coming together with the loss of some key components...
"It truly is a work in progress, as they say. As we say every year, the dynamics are different no matter how many you lose or do not lose, how many are back and how many are not. It is obvious there were some critical elements in our program that we lost. When you lose the production that we had offensively, it certainly is sorely missed. From a special team's standpoint, we did not lose all of our specialists. We retained all of our specialists except for our return guys, and obviously that is a big production that you miss. From a defensive standpoint, we lost fewer people, fewer numbers. Once again, the dynamics are difficult and they are every year. Some positions are a little harder to reconstruct than others.

"We have had four practices and tomorrow will be the fifth. That is not very many. Still, the installation part of it is just completed, but by the same token, after we practice tomorrow, we are a third of the way through. Out-of-season was significant. I do not know if we got as much out of the out-of-season as we needed to in regards to the football element of it. I think our summer is going to be a major period of time for us. Our coaches cannot be at practice, so our players organize productive practices, and that is going to be really significant. We need to just keep building the best that we can."

On team leadership...
"If you could remember a year ago at this time, I am sure that I made a statement in regards to leadership and indicated that we had quite a few guys in a leadership role. It was not as dynamic as it needed to be. It was not as vocal as it needed to be. It was not as demanded as it needed to be. I can say the exact same thing right now. We have a decent number of guys that fit the capacity of leadership. We had 15 guys that were selected by their teammates as player representatives, so that means the rest of the players see them as role models. It does not mean anything other than that. They are either their best friend or they are a role model to them, therefore they vote accordingly. That does not automatically mean that that is the kind of leadership that you need. They are all good guys and they all have leadership capacity but it has to be more dynamic and more demanding. That is the kind of leadership they can have, the kind that comes from within. My point is, I think we are probably in the same ballpark that we were a year ago today in terms of that leadership."

On the quarterbacks...
"Well, we have 200 guys out there right now at quarterback. Nothing comes along as fast as I would like for it to. I think the guys that are making a run at it make the effort, and they are all a little bit different. Their skill sets are not necessarily at different arenas but at different levels. Some guys are a little better at one skill set than the other guy and so on down the road. You take into consideration that you have to have good game management and take into consideration a guy that can make good, quick decisions. You have to take into consideration a guy that can handle the physical aspect of it as well. Everybody is kind of at a different level right now.

"I think Joe (Hubener) and Jesse (Ertz) probably have been the two that have moved forward over most of the rest. I think the young guys that we talk about all the time, the young freshman -- and I do not like to talk about a freshman -- but he has caught our eye as well. I think he is going to be in the mix. All of them just have to improve -- like our entire football team -- improve themselves in different areas. One is getting better in game management. Another one is better in handling the accuracy of pure throwing the football. One of them is a little bit better at running. As far as putting all the skills together, it is hard to assess right now who has all the skill sets to the highest degree. With four practices, that is a little difficult. I thought we practiced -- and this is inclusive of the entirety of our football team -- very well on the first day, Wednesday, last week. I thought our quarterbacks handled themselves well. Friday was not a good practice. Saturday was not a good practice. Monday was not a good practice until the very end; we had our first scrimmage and our quarterbacks and other elements of our team finished the scrimmage quite well. That means it is inconsistent at best."

Quarterback Joe Hubener
On his progress in the spring...
"That is kind of a tough question. I am just really trying to step up as a leader; that is my main objective. Jake (Waters) was a tremendous leader as was Collin (Klein), so those were some really big shoes to fill. That is my main goal -- to be more vocal, get the guys going and step up as a leader. It (quarterback competition) is competitive like everyone expected it to be."

On if he enjoys the competition...
"I enjoy it and I do not think I would want it another way. I think competition forces the best out of everyone. I think Jesse (Ertz) and Alex (Delton) and all the other guys would tell you the same thing. We want that competitive spirit, which is why we are here."

On wanting the starting job...
"As bad as I want anything. I have never started a game in high school at quarterback, so this would be my first starting job at quarterback. That is something pretty huge for me."

Quarterback Jesse Ertz
On having a dual-threat quarterback...
"I think it is huge, especially for our offense and what we want to do. Adding another blocker and keeping the quarterback with the ball gives you an advantage. That is just something that we use in our offense, and it is important for quarterbacks in our offense to be able to run as well as pass."

On how much competition there is at quarterback...
"As much as people want to make it a battle. We are competing, and that is what spring is all about. I think it is great. We both know that we both need to improve every day. That is what both of our mindsets are."

On having former K-State quarterback Collin Klein helping out...
"It is a pretty big advantage when you have that pool of information and have a resource like that that you can pull from, especially since he has been in the offense and he has run the same schemes thousands of times. When you ask him a question, he has a pretty solid answer."

Defensive Back Dante Barnett
On younger players taking on increased roles...
"Being a younger guy in the program in the past has allowed me to see some great leaders go through here. Leading up to this point, you know what is expected with this football team. Players growing up, they know the same thing. Players that have not had the chance to play, this is their chance to step up and play. That has not been a problem in the past. Every guy wants the chance to step up and play big-time football. This is a great chance for them."

On what he and the team want to show the fans...
"We are the same hard-working football team. Coach Snyder tells us that the next season is not inherited, and you have to work for what you want. We just want a chance to show the fans that we are still the hard-working football team and that we are ready to get out there and try to win the Big 12."

On being a team leader...
"It is all about how you practice. It is all about molding the team into how you want the team to be. Spring time is our first chance to get out there with the new team, so we have to find our identity first. We just have to go out there and play hard and show the younger players how we want the defense to be and how we want to run to the football. Then we can build the foundation of our football team going into the upcoming season."

Defensive Back Morgan Burns
On special teams...
"Since I have been here the last three or four years, punt returns have been huge having Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett. I think the big thing is getting guys on those units that truly care. For teams across the country, special teams are not that big of a deal. Guys do not want to be on special teams, but that is kind of where I got my start. I think guys that take pride and ownership in special teams. We just need guys like that and that will make our special teams great."

On taking pride in special teams...
"I do, when I go back home and watch the NFL or other college games, I watch punt returns or the guys that down the ball at the one-yard line. I am like, `That is a lot harder than people realize,' so I just have a lot of respect for the guys that do it. It is the longest play in football. Some plays for punt returns can last 10 to 15 seconds. You need guys that are willing to put their bodies out there and do whatever it takes. Special teams can change the course of a game. If someone has a big return or someone fumbles the catch and the punt team recovers it, that could change the course of a game."