K-State Holds Weekly Press Conference

Head Coach Ron Prince

Opening statement...

“I thought our players played really hard on Saturday. I was very pleased with the attitude and the energy that we went down to Auburn to play with. I thought our players handled the environment well. One of the things that we thought was key to handling the environment there was to play good defense, to keep the crowd out of it and not let them get anything to be excited about. We thought that if we did that, our communication would be solid and we could continue to do some of the things that we were attempting to do in the game plan. That, for the most part, held up and I was very pleased with how the players performed in that environment.

 

“I thought our players bounced back from multiple plays and potential momentum swings, with a lot of poise. Defensively we made a mistake or two here and there and Auburn almost invariably was able to capitalize on it. There was a big play down the middle of the field against a coverage that we should have had the appropriate pressure on and the appropriate coverage on. That didn’t happen and there was a big play and they went down in (our territory) and we held them to three points. We had a big punt return against us and we held them to three points. In a couple cases where the game could have really gotten legs and gotten away from us, I thought the defense did a great job of responding, holding up, and doing very well.

 

“I thought our coaches did a terrific job of preparing our players. Anytime you’re in the first game, there’s some uncertainty as to what the other team might do. We had a pretty good idea of understanding the profile of the head coach and of the coordinators and what would be pleasing to them stylistically and the kind of game that they would try to play. I think our coaches had them down pat and we had a pretty good understanding of how the game would go. The bottom line is that we weren’t able to create enough points on offense to take advantage of the conservative style with which we knew they would want to play. The longer that we let them hang around playing that style, we knew that eventually it would take its toll and perhaps wear us down at the end of the game.

 

“As far of our players and coaches, I think they did a terrific job. We take a lot of pride in handling the end of the game very well. I think I did a poor job with handling the end of the game. With a lead, with six minutes to go, that’s been something that in our background that’s been pretty much to our favor. That was not the case Saturday, we let the game get away from us. A couple things happened on defense, in the kicking game, and on offense that would have given our team an opportunity to not allow the game to get legs and get away from us. That’s experience in a lot of areas and a need for me to do a better job teaching that situation and managing it as the coach. With that, we can’t relive the past. I thought we went down there and played hard, competed. My expectation was that we would go down and play well and win the game. I had no doubt about that, I had no doubt about our ability to match up with this team. I had no doubt about our ability to tactically match what they would try to do and how they would try and play. I want us to make sure that we understand that we can go play in these kind of environments and play these kind of teams again and do well. We’re a fast team. We have a mixture of youth and experience, and older players that are new to the system junior college players but we have talented players and they want to play well and they want to do well. Because of that, I was very pleased with their effort. Really there are no moral victories in what occurred Saturday. It was a game that we should have won, had a chance to win, but we didn’t. Because of that we are 0-1 and there are a lot of good 0-1 teams today.

“I’m very concerned about the San Jose (State) team. This is a team that won a significant amount of games last year, went to a bowl game, and based on what I saw on tape here in the last 24 hours Arizona State is a dominant team, I think they have superior personnel I think that San Jose just ran into a buzz saw with Arizona State. I think that if you had to be objective right now and watch Arizona State, they’re going to win a lot of games in the Pac 10.  I’m concerned about the size San Jose State has on their offensive line and the hard-hitting playmakers they have in their secondary. I don’t think the score of the game Saturday is any indication of how they’ve played in the past and how they’re going to come in here and play. We’ve been very focused on that.”

On Josh Freeman’s health and sliding skills...

“Josh is fine. I had a chance to go back and watch the TV copy of the game and the commentators I think were reading a little more into that. I guess the one guy may have stayed at the Holiday Inn Express so he was trying to do a pretty good job of diagnosing. I don’t know what medical college he went to but I’m sure he’s well qualified to make that assertion. Josh is fine. Yeah, the slide was ugly. He was caught in between things he was trying to do there. It was a designed play and obviously I think he’d like to have that one back from an embarrassment standpoint, but also it was just a simple matter of his cleat getting caught in the grass. That’s kind of the way it turned out and he’s fine and went on from there.”

 

On the team having any injuries after the game...

“The normal things when you play an SEC team that can run the football and play that kind of defense. Just the normal bumps and bruises but nothing of significance.”

 

On Deon Murphy’s debut...

“Like I said last week, Deon is a very confident kid and I thought he did a terrific job in the game. He played as though he’s played in games before. If you didn’t know any better you’d think that he’d been doing this for a long time. We had a certain plan in trying to block some punts in the game we thought that would be a significant part of our ability to win the game because of that we didn’t have a chance to set up as many returns for him. I thought he got the most out of it and that’s what really good returners can do. I thought he used very good judgment on when to fair catch the ball and do all those other things. In his first time in that environment, I thought he did a really nice job. I think we can see that he’s going to be a factor in how we play offensively.”

 

On the offensive line as a whole...

“On the line we graded out pretty well. From understanding what they were going to try to do, we didn’t have very many busts at all as far as mental errors. We were on top of it from a scheme standpoint. We had some guys that were terrific defensive players that we went against. One of the things that I was concerned about was getting into a two-minute drill at the end of the game. I wasn’t really excited about having the game come down to that, just having those stadiums and even here you can see when you get people down late in games its hard to go on the road and get a team in a drive to win it. That’s why those teams that can are special and that they usually win something significant. The crowd noise and all the other things, then you magnify that with the talent of the other players that’s why we were really fighting hard to get a lead and try to keep a lead throughout the game. Not only to handle the environment so we could communicate but also so that we wouldn’t allow them to be at their best. The final sequence of that game played right into the very best things that they do and it tells you why they are 34-5, the way that they can handle the end of games. They’re a very veteran team, very veteran coaches, hardened about this kind of environment and I thought they did a great job in it.”

 

On the possibility of the defense sending a message to the nation...

“I can’t say that because with six minutes to go, four minutes to go, whatever it was when they got the ball, had we been able to make that stop there, then I might be able to say that we’ve got a really good defense. You can’t say that until you can make that stop. There are sometimes defensively where the game may be fast and furious and they give up a lot of points throughout the game, but the really good defenses, the great defenses, they make that stop. We made a stop, had a critical roughing penalty on the punter we’d all like to have that one back for sure. That negatively impacted the game with time and field position and all the things that were there. With all that said, even on the long drive they had, we got the ball out down there. It was on the ground and one of their true freshman offensive tackles out hustled us for the ball. The ball’s out, the ball’s on the ground and we get on it the game could likely be over and that didn’t happen. I’m very bullish and positive about our defense. I think our kids played very hard. Reggie (Walker) played terrific, he had one miscue that cost us on a play action pass, but he played terrific. Marcus (Watts) played terrific. Rob Jackson and Ian (Campbell) played terrific and (Steven) Cline played terrific. We had penalties in all phases of the game that hurt us tremendously and because of that and we couldn’t make that final stop, I can’t say that we’re a great defense but we’re aspiring to be one.”

 

On the number of running plays vs. passing plays...

“I’m more interested in being able to move the ball than trying to go out and prove a point that we can run the ball. I don’t mean that running the ball is not important. I think that in some games you have to pass to score and then run to win. Running the football and running it effectively is never completely out of your game plan. From a statistical standpoint, we’ve never believed that there’s a certain number of rushing yards. On the opposite end, I think the number of runs plus completions is a better indicator of how you moved the ball and then how you created space.  

“We’re working on all those aspects of our game. We were very concerned about being able to go into the game and protect the quarterback the number of times that we were going to do that. We were able to perform in the shotgun and do some of those things. We had one bad snap but other than that we were able to perform pretty solidly after working on it for a year. We’re making progress, but we’re an 0-1 team. Being able to run, pass, move the ball in general, there’s really not an aspect that we don’t want to get better at, particularly screens and draws and all the other things that complement everything. "