K-State Holds Weekly Press Conference

Head Coach Ron Prince
Opening statement...
“We were real happy to open the 2008 season with a win. After reviewing the tape, we found lots of opportunities to improve. There are things that we believe we have to ability to improve and the talent to improve on, but we feel that, if we drag our feet, it could really hurt us in the future. First of all is our tackling. We felt that we missed way too many and, not only that, but we felt that we didn’t break enough from the offensive side. We had the opportunity to make the most out of some runs. We had the opportunities to have some more tackles for loss. The number of plays that went for one yard or zero yards could have been tackles for loss. So, on both sides, we really found the opportunities on the tape to improve there.

“Number two is turnovers. We committed two and didn’t get any. It will be really challenging for us when we get into conference play to be competitive, to be able to win, and to be able to accomplish our goals with a minus two turnover ratio in games. We had the opportunity to get a couple turnovers and just couldn’t close the deal on defense. We were pressured in the pocket and we could not provide a consistent enough pass rush to pressure their quarterback. I thought we really need to improve there, considering the amount of passing we will see in conference play. Then in the run game, we surrendered too many long runs and obviously didn’t create enough of our own.

“So we found plenty of opportunities in there and we feel these are all things within our abilities to do something about it, but we will have to demonstrate that we can do that. We were pleased with the number of young men that contributed for us. We have tried to do this several times since we have been here, but our performance dropped off significantly in the second half and that cannot happen if we want to accomplish what we want to accomplish with the kind of depth that we would like to play with. I thought we played fast in the early part of the game but I thought that dropped off when we got into the latter part of the game, particularly in the fourth quarter. I know that playing fast and doing real well, part of that is being decisive, and so we need to a real good job of coaching those players in the middle of our roster so they can play as fast as our first team guys. Not a negative, just found lots of opportunities.

“It was good to win. I felt positive about it. We had some really strong performances. Brooks Rossman was our special teams player of the game. We have asked our kickers to help us out by kicking kicks that we can cover. He had a couple touchbacks and the hang time was significantly better. Courtney Herndon was our defensive player of the game. He did a really terrific job. We are asking him to do quite a few things in the kicking game and coverage things of a specialty nature. He is a veteran player that has a really diverse role now and he has accepted that and we thought he did a really nice job.  Our offensive player of the game was Nick Stringer. We thought he really played his best game of his career.”

On concerns with Montana State...
“They have a quarterback that is a Division I transfer. I coached Division I-AA football for good period of time and any time we had a Division I quarterback, we felt that we had a significant advantage. They have somebody that is coaching him that coached in the PAC-10 and has been very successful at that level, so we know that their quarterback will play very well.

“They have eight seniors on offense, nine players on offense with two or more years of experience and, at that level that is what determines how successful a team will be. I think if you look at the height and weight on their roster, a lot of these players you’re not going to see a difference between their team and what we are going to be playing against week in and week out. They have a terrific running back tandem, and I think this is one of the best sets of tight ends I have seen at that level, maybe ever. They do a great job of utilizing three of them. We have seen them all in very diverse ways to take advantage of their skills. They can catch, block and have good size. So that will be a challenge for us. They have as well of coached and precise offensive line as we’ve seen in a long time.

“Defensively they have seven seniors and seven players with two or more years of experience. They are deep and experienced in the front seven, particularly for that level. If you have that kind of depth and experience, you can expect to go deep into the playoffs. They are extremely multiple this will be as multiple a defense as we see on our schedule. They are very well coached and very well coordinated and they take advantage of the skill levels of their defenders. I think this is why they were able to win 59-3 in their first game. Also this is, by and large, the same team that beat Colorado two years ago.  Their head coach has 177 wins, half of his staff has a BCS background and the other half is made up of former players that have been around the system for a long time. So we understand that we have quite a challenging match up ahead of us.”

On offensive line and redshirting players...
“We are taking a look at the offensive line and how some of the others are playing right now and make sure we do a good job of going forward. We will make some decisions for sure. Injuries will be a factor in that but what you see on the depth chart is how we plan to go forward. It is one of those things that I think can be real tricky. You don’t want to get to cute with wanting to have enough people to go forward and do a nice job with. Those are the decisions we have made and we hope to stick with that and see if we can stay healthy.”

On the wide receivers...
“I think, as long as they stay healthy, then, with that group, it will stay mostly the same. With the offensive line, linebacker crew and the secondary, the ones that played will be the ones that we will work with all year. But with injuries, we will have to make adjustments as need be throughout the year. I think that Deon Murphy has done a good job helping the wide receivers and he is going to play a significant role in what we are doing. The message that I hope it sends is that when you’re ready, we’re ready. Players that come focused, prepared and ready to play, we have no problem putting them in the game. And those players need to make a significant impact in the kicking game and we try to find places for all these players in the kicking game. That makes a big difference for us and we expect a lot out of that group for us. ”

Wide Receiver Lamark Brown
On his versatility to play on special teams...
“I love covering kicks. I’m sure there are other players out there that don’t want to be on special teams but I have no problem being on special teams at all. I’m on kickoff coverage and the punt team, and they both give me a great opportunity to go out and play and show that I can play multiple positions.”

On the wide receiving squad’s performance Saturday...
“I think we surprised some people. I don’t think that many people expected us to have that much of a difference in our receiving core.  We have a lot of playmakers lining up out there and we try to challenge each other every day to go out and make plays on the field.”

On Brandon Banks and Aubrey Quarles...
“Both of them have improved tremendously since they arrived this summer. They have just been working hard every day to get the plays down and to do their job when we go out on the field. I think they adjusted faster then me coming from a junior college. They came in with a mindset of learn first then make plays second and when I came in I tried making plays first then learn.”

Wide Receiver Brandon Banks
On what he brings to the offense...
“I think I bring the quickness and just be a different type of receiver. I’m not really a big-time possession receiver. I just try to be that guy that will do my job and do whatever coach tells me to do. I like to catch a short pass and take it the distance. Aubrey (Quarles) and Lamark (Brown), they can do the same thing but they are more of a possession receiver.”

On the balance at the receiver position...
“Well it’s nice to have a lot of weapons out there for Josh (Freeman) to throw to. I think for this season, if they try to key on me, then Aubrey (Quarles) and Lamark will just as big of targets as I am. So if they try to key on me, it is just going to hurt them worse.”

On the toughest thing he has adapted to playing for K-State...
“It would probably be the atmosphere here. It’s a big time atmosphere. Playing in a big-time conference and coming from a place where a couple thousand people watch you play and not that much recognition to a lot of recognition and thousands of people are watching. That would be the biggest thing I think for me right now.”

Linebacker Antwon Moore
On what advice the 1998 team gave the team...
“They basically said to buy into the system and become the best player that you can be. Watch a lot of film on your opponent and things like that. They wanted us to understand that we have the opportunity to become a great player and do all that you can. They said to understand that the coaches are here to give you help and to make you a great player.”

On the tackling of the linebackers...
“We did miss a few tackles here and there because I think people were getting fatigued. We have to learn that when we do get fatigued, that we need to push that much harder so we can continue to perform well. I was real pleased with the new guys that came in and played Saturday. Olu (Hall) played well. His strength and speed helped us out a lot. I think the junior college players helped us out on both defense and offense Saturday.”

On Olu Hall’s mentality...
“I think Olu told you guys a story because he is really not that mean of a guy. He is a real nice guy. We have a blast being around each other but, when it comes to business, he is a real hard worker. He stays focused when it’s time to think about football, school, and other related things. He’s a good guy.”

Junior Defensive Back Blair Irvin
On playing his first Division I game...
“I was just excited to be out there. For the past four or five years, it is something that has been in my mind just coming out that tunnel and being able to perform in front of people, and showing them what I can do. Having the opportunity to do that is very exciting.”

On how he ended up a K-State...
“I went to junior college at Coffeyville. I was committed to Auburn the whole time. I ended up (visiting) K-State and pretty much fell in love with it Coach Prince, his staff and the state of Kansas. I have been in Kansas for the past three years now at Coffeyville, and the people were great. When I came here, it was no different the people were great and I loved them.”

Junior Wide Receiver Aubrey Quarles
On playing in front of a larger crowd...
“It was crazy out there. It was something I’ve never experienced before. It took some getting used to at first, but after that first kickoff, it was just a regular football game something I’ve been doing my whole life.”

On adjusting so quickly from junior college...
“I think I have a pretty good hold on the offense. It took a little time getting used to at first, but over the summer we took a lot of preparation in seven-on-seven and going over the plays with the players. Everybody helped me out a lot. Now I have it down, so I’m ready to go.”

On his first kickoff return as a Wildcat...
“It didn’t feel so good getting tackled by the kicker. That is the number one rule you can’t get tackled by the kicker. I only had one man to beat, but it felt great because, once I caught it, I could see my team had good blocks and it was just wide open. I just had one man to beat and couldn’t get it done. Hopefully we can do that next week.”

Defensive End Ian Campbell
On the defensive play against North Texas...
“I think we were very aggressive. I don’t think we were necessarily assignment sound. I feel, technically speaking as far as footwork goes and the pass rush goes I felt like we could have been a lot better than we were. Some guys had some pre-game jitters, and we were wanting to get that win so bad that sometimes you play out of your own game by trying too hard. I think the guys as the game went on kind of got out of that and started playing like themselves.”

On starting the season off with a win...
“I think that anytime you can get a win in college football, it’s a big deal. Coach Prince talks about it all the time. It’s not easy to win. We put a lot of hard work in the last eight months. For us to go out and get a win and get the 2008 season started off on the right foot is great.”