K-State Spring Practices Press Conference

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

Head Coach Ron Prince
Opening Statement...
“First of all I would like to say that this is a great time of year, the season that we are just coming through with the holidays. We have tried to talk to our players about how much we do have to be thankful for.  We have had some players on our team that have suffered some losses in their families, and so as a team we have really been thinking about those guys and trying to appreciate the situation we are in and how much we have to be thankful for.” 

“One of my heroes passed away last week, Eddie Robinson. The word pioneer and innovator gets thrown around quite a bit in this business, but that man defined it. He took something that Notre Dame was known for, barnstorming, taking their teams and playing games all over the country, and brought that to black college football. Grambling became probably as well known as any school that was not in major college football. Some of the players he had their like Shack Harris, Doug Williams, and so many others. He really was an innovator and he took his team to play all over the country, a model that many people follow to this day. I was fortunate enough to coach against him in the 1994 Heritage bowl in Atlanta. We were a huge underdog and we were fortunate enough to win the game, it is one of the ones that I am most proud of because of who the coach was. Every time I saw him at a convention he was always very gracious. He was a very humble man. He always sat in the front row of every clinic. There are all kinds of presenters and tons of people at the conventions to present on all kinds of topics, and Eddie Robinson would sit in the front row with a tablet and write down everything that every presenter had to say. He was a fascinating man. He was one of the most human people you could ever meet, just very kind and amazing. All of us in the sports world will miss him and I don’t think we will ever see someone like him ever again.”

 

“We have had our coaching clinics; we had our football 101 for the ladies. It was terrific and we had a great response and I think we got a lot accomplished there. We were able to practice and answer a lot of questions. An this week we are having our annual high school and junior college coaches clinic. Our features speaker will be Terry Bowden, and then also Jerry Moore the coach of Appalachian State, the back-to-back national champions, along with a lot of successful coaches from this region. “

 

“Next week we will draft our teams for the spring game. We will get one more week of preparation on offense, defense, and the kicking game. That will allow coach Tibesar and Franklin to get their draft strategy together. “

 

“On offense James Johnson has really done a nice job. I am really excited about him. He is starting to bring it all together as far as the blocking and protection aspect, but he has also become quite a threat with the ball, whether it is handed to him or thrown to him, just as he showed in some games last year. Now he is doing things like that on a much more consistent basis. I think it is real easy to take Jordy Nelson for granted because he is so good so often. He has had a terrific spring so far. So has Daniel Gonzales who caught our attention last spring. Both of them together have really done a terrific job. Gonzalez has really expanded his game, not only to be a terrific special teams player, but now he is a real threat on third down and in the end zone so we are real pleased with that. He told me at the first practice that he is going to be a real threat this year and that I needed to watch out for him, and so far he has done that. Jordan Bedore is really starting to settle into the center position. He is taking command of what is happening out there. You can really tell the difference when he is in there and when he is not.”

 

“On defense I really like what is happening at inside linebacker. There are a number of players that are competing for time. I think it will be real interesting to see how this will all play out. Justin Roland, Reggie Walker, and Marcus Perry are playing terrific right now. Not only are they trying to do a lot of things really well but they are practicing with great tempo. We are really pleased with those guys and I think the challenge there will be to continue to push them for playing time. They are all going to play, and they are all significant special teams players. At outside linebacker Ian Campbell and Eric Childs are doing a really good job developing more versatility. Both of them are also getting time at defensive end and they are both handling that very well. At the defensive back we are really starting to take some steps. We are real pleased with the job that coach Burns is doing. Josh Moore and Ray Cheatham, it seems like every day we go out there Ray gets a turnover or causes a big play and all of the defensive backs are getting involved and getting their hands on the ball and being disruptive in some manner.”

 

“In the kicking game we don’t really have a clear returner yet. There is no clear front-runner right now. We have some good candidates, we have some people that are making some strides, but no one has really distinguished themselves in that way. In the next couple of days that is something that we will be taking a closer look at. Tim Reyer is doing a terrific job punting the ball. The duel we have going on right now at the place-kicking position between (Brooks) Rossman and (Tim) Schwerdt is significant. Rossman continues to have the lead, but every day we try to have them in some kind of competitive situation. With the snapping duties instead of things becoming clearer it is the opposite. (Gerard) Spexarth has jumped in at the short snapping duties and doing a real nice job. He provides a little bit bigger body in there so that is interesting. (Michael) Pooschke and (Sean) Kolich are both doing a real nice job and that is becoming very competitive.”

 

On the offensive line...

“I think what we have seen is that we have a number of players who are improving their skills. When you multiply that with the number of variables that they are seeing from the defense, they are improving and they are getting challenged. It is one of those things where with all the versatility and multiplicity that we are showing on defense it has now added another brick to the load for those guys, which is good. We have been real pleased with how they are getting prepared and how they have been at practice. From a performance standpoint Jordan Bedore stands out above the rest. There is really not a lot going on right now that he is awed by; he is very comfortable out there. “

 

On injuries this far into the spring...

“They are part of the game. We don’t really worry to much about them. We don’t talk about them; we don’t make excuses about them. We try to get players in the middle of the roster developed constantly so it’s not an issue for us. It is a physical game and we try to practice in a very physical way. “

 

On players learning multiple positions ...

“I think what you are trying to do is get your players prepared for the inevitability of things. They are going to eventually have to play and it would be great to have a corner be able to go back and play safety or in the slot in Nickel. We are constantly looking at all of the match-ups that we are going o have to face throughout the year. It may be more subtle but even on the offensive line you face some of those so we are trying to build a pretty good resume of experienced players. That is really our number one job.”

 

Senior Offensive Lineman Logan Robinson

On how the spring has progressed...

“Things are going pretty good for us right now. The offensive line is really clicking as a group and I’m feeling a lot more comfortable with the offense. I remember a lot more than what I thought I did as far as audibles and things like that. The spring has been really beneficial for us.”

 

On the linebackers...

“It’s been a little different this year after going to a 3-4. There are a more linebackers having Eric (Childs) and Ian (Campbell) back there. There are a lot of different guys out there. Our linebackers have always been a run-and-hit group. If you’re not ready for it, they are going to come up and clock you, so you have to be ready for that. It’s just a different defense for us to try to figure out. As far as their play, they’ve always been really consistent with their physical play.”

 

On the addition of Alesana Alesana...

“He’s another very good player, a solid player. He’s also a guy that knows what he is doing at his position. We want good guys at each and every position and he’s just another addition to it. He’s worked really hard, which is what we do here. It’s just good to have another guy.”

 

Junior Linebacker Reggie Walker

On who is the hardest hitter on the team...

“Probably either me, Rolo (Justin Roland). Honestly, I don’t know.

 

On the aggressiveness of the linebackers...

“I’d say we are very aggressive, but once everyone starts to know what they are doing, the aggressiveness is going to start coming out. We still haven’t put in the whole defense.”

 

On if it is really different seeing Ian Campbell in the defensive backfield...

“Not really because he rushes a lot. It is kind of weird seeing him backpedal, but it’s not anything too different.”

 

Senior Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson

On Daniel Gonzalez...

“I think he feels a lot more comfortable in the offense. He has a lot more confidence in himself right now. He’s able to focus more on developing skills in the routes and try to memorize the offense. That’s one thing everybody is able to do once you’ve learned everything. You can focus on the little things in and out instead of knowing to run just that route on that play. I think he’s developed his game completely and you can expect to have a pretty good season from him next year.”

 

On the secondary...

“I think they are going to be good. Everyday is a great competition. We do slants and fades almost everyday. It’s really helps each of us out offensively and defensively to compete like that. They are all great athletes that have all different body types. You have so much speed, so much size and a combination of both. I think it really prepares us for the season.”

 

On if he is hard to defend this spring...

“You’ll have to ask them. I think everyone just wants to compete, do their best out there and try to show the coaches what they can do. At the end of every rep, we pat each other on the back of the helmet and say, Good job. I’ll get you next time.’ It’s just a little competitive spirit.”

 

Senior Defensive End Rob Jackson

On the new defense...

“We’re all starting to learn the defense and love the defense, actually. Once everybody starts playing together and know what we’re supposed to do, I think we’re going to be a good defense.”

 

On the difference in the defense from last year to this year...

“I feel like I have more support behind me. If I maintain my gap, I’m sure that they will fill their gap behind me. I don’t have to do too much. I just have to worry about my C gap and just do what I have to do.”

 

On going from junior college to Division I...

“In junior college, the expectations of hustling and running to the ball aren’t that high. I went both ways at Fort Scott. I played tight end and defensive end, so when I was on the field, I wasn’t always 100 percent. It was kind of hard for me to make that transition from JuCo to Division I with running to the football and playing until the whistle.”