K-State Holds Weekly Press Conference

Head Coach Ron Prince
Opening Statement...
“We’ve been working since January to give ourselves a chance to be in a position to play well this week that’s all we’ve done. All the time we spent in the winter, all the time we spent in spring ball, all the time in training camp, has just been to put ourselves in position to be here today with a starting lineup, with a game plan intact and a game out here ahead of us. I’m real pleased with how the team has come together. I’ve enjoyed working with this team since January - it’s been a fun team to be around. This is not a team of stars by any stretch. I think that’s what makes this team a lot of fun to be around. A lot of kids who have made up their mind back in those cold days in January that they wanted to have a really good team and now its an opportunity for us to go and demonstrate that.

“This is a great opportunity for us to go play at Auburn. We’re trying to put together a scheduling philosophy. When we first got here we had conversations about how you would like to schedule and what would be your scheduling philosophy. This 12th game really has impacted college football, for the fans for the media for anyone who has an interest, in a very positive way. With a 12th game, four non-conference games on your schedule, there’s more opportunity for these games to occur. One of the teams in our league is playing another team in the SEC and I think you’re going to see more and more of that. If you listen to the television people as they come around and talk, they had a very small inventory of these types of games in years past and now you’re seeing more of this. I think the game with Oklahoma and Oregon a year ago is a demonstration of just how much attention these games can get and how exciting they are. We’re excited to be part of it. Our fans nationally have really reached out to give us their encouragement and a lot of them are going to be there, travel to the game, and we’re excited about that. Our players are excited about this. Most of them, when they signed up to come play here, never anticipated they’d get the chance to play against an SEC opponent that was in a bowl game in January. For a lot of those players, they’re excited about the chance to go do this particularly our veteran players.

“Because it’s a national television game we get the chance to go and have the Powercat and our branding opportunity national and be able to tell the story about Kansas State. That’s always a very good opportunity. We’re very excited about the people at ESPN and how excited they were to put this game together. This is something that took a lot of work by a lot of people in our athletic administration, the folks at Auburn and at ESPN to make this thing come off and we’re really excited about it.

“To play against and prepare for a national championship-caliber team, was one of our goals in our non-conference scheduling. To play a team where there’s absolutely no doubt about their reputation and ability, and that both things would be intact in the match-up was a big part of scheduling Louisville a year ago in the non-conference and this year Auburn. I think Auburn, if we were to play them in week four or five, would likely be undefeated and a top-10 team. Because it’s the preseason, everybody has their place where they’re picking teams, but I think that we’ve all seen here in the last couple years that there’s no doubt about the kind of program they have. I think they have one of the best coaches in college football. He’s a defensive coach by trade and his teams have played terrific on defense and they have a number of talented defensive players that you would anticipate would play in the National Football League in years to come. They have two of the very best coordinators in college football in Al Borges and Will Muschamp. These are guys that have extensive resumes and they’re absolutely terrific football minds. It’s a great environment to go into. I think our fans will enjoy it, for our players it will be a unique experience. With all those things, we’re very excited. As you can imagine, training camp, the summer, all those things are behind us and we’re moving forward, getting ready. In our minds, the old coaching clich that the (media) hates, is the whole idea of taking it one game at a time. It’s true and its boring, but that’s how you have to be as a coach and as a player. The most important game is the one that you’re playing next. Obviously this one has been on our mind throughout the off-season and that’s been a good thing. We’re excited about this. We expect to play well in the game, that’s what we’ve been working towards. We won’t play perfectly, I don’t think either team will play perfectly in the opening game. Because of that, I think the team that can handle the fact that their not perfect or disciplined in management, and can play with energy and poise, make the adjustments in their substitutions, etc., I think will have the best chance to win the game.”

On the challenges of playing on the road and winning on the road...
“I think winning on the road is one of the great mysteries in sports. If you say that this particular league the home team wins 80 percent of the time or 60 percent of the time, whatever it is, those statistics usually hold up in the game of football. The home field advantage, although none of the fans can actually come out and tackle anybody, they can have an impact on the game as it relates to your communication and your poise and you’re dealing with young kids. Even if you say that in the college game the home team has a certain amount of advantage and playing on the road is a challenging thing, just look to the National Football League and it holds up there and these are paid professionals. What we’ve tried to do is take a look at some of the teams that are very good at playing on the road, not just in the sport of football, but in other sports. We take a look at how they approach the game and the things that they try to put into their computer if you will on how to approach the game. I think our most meaningful win a year ago was at Colorado, the fact that we went on the road and won a game. You have to do that if you’re going to contend for a championship and play for anything significant. I hope we learned something from that. Obviously we had some other road games that didn’t turn out so good, in fact really poorly. That’s one of the things that excited me about playing this opponent having a chance to go on the road and take some of the things that we’ve been trying to teach and things that we’re studying and put them into place.”

On preparing for Auburn...
“Based on everything that happened a year ago, we’ve been able to evaluate those games and I’m certain that they’ve done the same thing. We have a pretty good sense of how they’ve played. This is a program that I’ve had my eyes on for a number of years. They had opened the season with Georgia Tech a number of times (when I was at Virginia) and we’d get a lot of cross over tape at Virginia with Auburn and the opponents being in common. I’ve had a chance to see how they play and they actually had a series with Virginia before I arrived. In the coaching business, it’s a small world and I’ve got a lot of friends that went to Auburn, played there, etc. We’ve got coaches on this staff who have played there and understand that program. Understanding philosophically how the head coach wants the game to be played, the kind of players that they have, the kind of environment that there is, you still have to go back and look at all the down and distances, the mundane stuff that game preparation brings you to. It’s a new season, they can do a lot of different things but we’ll have a pretty good sense of how they think a game stylistically favors them, so we’re trying to prepare for that.”

On the challenges the Auburn defense and Quentin Groves pose...
“It’s a tremendous challenge. I think he’s one of the better defensive players in college football. He can wreck the game by himself, just by virtue of his own talent, not with any schemes. He’s very similar to the player that Nebraska had a year ago on their defensive front and that became true with the way he played throughout the season and where he was drafted, you could see that he had that kind of talent. This is a very similar player. I’ve had a chance to coach against a lot of really good players Shawn Merriman, Julius Peppers, Mario Williams, all these guys from the other conference that I coached in and this guy is their equal. He can play as well as any of those players. He is an outstanding run defense player, he has a lot of versatility, he can line up in a lot of different places, but he is an elite pass rusher.”

On Josh Freeman’s developmental and maturation process...
“I think the first thing that everybody can see is that in big games he’s very poised and emotionally neutral. I don’t mean that he doesn’t care, he expects to do well. What we’ve seen is that in games like an Oklahoma State or a Texas game, is that he has an ability both with his arm and his legs to do real well in the game. Those people playing around him need to play well. That goes with any quarterback, they literally can’t do it by themselves. So that’s one of the things. I’ve seen him working with his teammates, his receivers, and others to make sure they’re all on the same page and I’ve been very impressed with how diligent he’s been that way. Keep in mind this kid isn’t coming into his third year or something, he’s played as a true freshman and is now a true sophomore. I’ve been very impressed with his maturity in that area. I’ve also seen him take it on himself and with a lot of pride and with the strength coach to develop his body to be able to play 14 games. That’s one of the things I’ve been very impressed that he’s done that. He’s also had to learn how to manage that kind of body. One of the challenges that I gave to him was to be everything he can be as an athlete, a big human being with that kind of talent, yet be able to run like a wide receiver and a defensive back. That’s been quite a challenge for him and the time we gave him in the conditioning test was the same that Yamon Figurs and Justin McKinney had to run. He’s come out of this very mentally strong and confident in what he can do. From an X and Os standpoint, I’m very pleased with how he’s learned to progress and his footwork. James Franklin has done a good job working with him on his footwork. Some of the things that he got into trouble with a year ago were the turnovers and what have you, and a lot of those were footwork issues.”

Senior Wide Receiver Jordy Nelson
On Josh Freeman’s development...
“He’s developed as a whole quarterback, from confidence level to the knowledge of the playbook to knowing his reads. If the first read isn’t there he’s been able to move on, maybe even to the last one. He’s been able to develop as a full quarterback. He’s still got some to do and I think by the time he’s done here, he’ll be one of the best.”

On being the number one read...
“I think every receiver wants that. When we’re out there we’re trying to get open. It’d be nice if the first read is open every time, we can get the ball out quick and move on down the field.”

On more emphasis being put on this week’s game...
“Being Auburn there’s a little more emphasis on it, they’re obviously one of the best teams in the country. You try to prepare for every opponent the same. I’m sure you’re tired of hearing that, but we do. We put a lot of time into these guys and we have one week left to really polish things up and hopefully go down there and play well. I think last week we had a real good practice. We shortened the practices up a little bit to get our legs back under us, but I think we went hard, got all our reps in. We just need to have another week of practice like that and I think we’ll be ready for them.”

On Auburn...
“They’re a great Division-I team. They’ve got the speed, they’ve got size, they’ve got everything. It’s going to take a battle Saturday. We’re just going to have to be patient, stay consistent and try not to hurt ourselves with penalties and turnovers.”

Senior Guard Logan Robinson
On the progress of the offensive line...
“We’ve got a good group of guys working real hard. I think the line is coming along really well. Coach Prince is all about versatility, he’s been working a lot of guys at a lot of different positions, trying to get the best five guys on the field that we can have for our team to give us the best possibility for winning. I think that’s great. Playing a bunch of  different roles is also going to help us in case we do have injuries and things like that, being able to sub guys in without missing a beat. In camp we were able to work with guys that we normally wouldn’t work out with and it’s really helped develop an entire chemistry as a line and not just a group a five guys that are with each other all the time.”

Junior Defensive Back Gary Chandler
On transferring to D-I level...
“I’m up to speed, I’m ready. It took me a little while to adjust to the speed of the game when I first got here but right now I’m doing real good.”

On the defensive backfield...
“As far as the defensive backs, we’ve got a lot of veterans back there and I think that’s going to play a big role in how we perform this season. As far as other people on the team that are standing out, I’d have to say Chris Patterson. He’s doing a real good job, been opening a lot of eyes in camp.”