K-State Holds Weekly Press Conference

Head Coach Ron Prince

Opening statement...

“One of the things I wanted to emphasize after the game to our players and everybody, is that it’s hard to win a game. We’re appreciative every time we get a chance to win one. When you end the season like I did last year without having a chance to win that last game, you appreciate having the chance to go in that locker room and have a good feeling. With that said, we always want to play well too. We have two goals - I really don’t find them in any kind of conflict - we want to play well and win. I felt that we played after reviewing the tape as coaches and what happened on the weekend we felt that at least in two phases we played pretty well.”

 

“Special teams was the one that was the most obvious that we played pretty well, not just on the returns that Yamon (Figurs) had and some of the other big plays like the Marcus Perry hit that forced the ball out on the kickoff coverage that was one of the more remarkable plays that I’ve seen, it’s been sometime since I’ve seen a player go down and have that kind of ball awareness and actually get the ball out, that was really terrific. But it was some of the other plays, the block that Cedric Wilson had to spring Yamon, Marcus Watts and Yamon Figurs on the punt team putting us in position to down the ball inside the 10, the terrific job that (Tim) Reyer and (Jeff) Snodgrass did, and if Jeff Mortimer doesn’t do his job then neither one of those guys gets a chance. Really on special teams those were the things that I was the most impressed with coming out. I thought we had a good contact level and I thought we played with good speed. That’s really the part of the game when you have a I-A team playing a I-AA team that you should find yourself in the best athletic position is in special teams.

 

“Defensively many of our errors during the game were communicative, assignment type of things which can be corrected. There weren’t the kind of physical things where you felt outmatched or you felt like we had a physical problem. The only problem we had, which we knew and identified last week, was that No. 81 (Laurent Robinson) is a terrific wide receiver. We knew No. 5 (Pierre Rembert) was going to run the ball effectively and in a variety of ways to dictate coverage, and 81 (Robinson) was up to the task and probably exceeded what we thought. The player that probably surprised us a little bit was No. 4 (Pierre Jackson), the other wide receiver, who did an equally terrific job. We had our hands full with that group, we knew we would.

 

“The third phase, in which we did not play well, was on offense, we understood that. We understand that if we come out and let the other team have a lead early and if we do not capitalize and gain some kind of control early that what you witnessed Saturday is going to repeat itself over and over and over again. You’re going to get a lot of running game and then a dictation of coverage just so you can try to get the ball back. On offense we’ve got to be able to go back this week and clean up some of the things that happened. Once again the positive thing is that most of the errors that we made on offense were communicative, assignment stuff stuff with some guys and their first action back. Starting with the quarterback we had some opportunities to complete some passes and we didn’t get a chance to. It’s been a year for Dylan (Meier). I expected him to be really amped up and jazzed up and ready to go and he was. We thought it was a good idea to give ourselves an opportunity to take a shot early in the game. We think that’s a very positive thing and we’ll continue to be bold and daring. When the shot is not there, we’ve got to have the poise and the kind of concentration to be able to know where to go with the ball next. From that standpoint, some of the operation stuff where we ran the ball, the looks that we were attempting to run the ball into many of those things have to be cleaned up and therefore I think we would have had a much more productive outing.

 

“From the offensive line standpoint in particular, I thought that a couple players played with good pad level and good run and hit ability. Nick Stringer did a nice job in the running game when the ball came to his side. He ran well and tried to play a physical game. In the passing game we didn’t play as well at the tackle position and I expect better. In the interior I thought that we were adequate in the running game and the passing game. I’d like all those players in the interior to improve their game.

 

“At the running back position I expect to run the ball with power and authority every week. I think the running game is a quarterback’s best friend. If a quarterback is ever going to have a chance to get on track we obviously we need to have a little more respect for our running game than what happened.

 

“We think that the results were very clear, the things that we need to work on are very clear. We had a practice yesterday in which we started to address some of those things. We’re obviously as you can imagine here in the rest of the week continuing to do so.”

 

On Florida Atlantic...

“We’re excited about having a chance to play Florida Atlantic. This is an opportunity for a young coach like myself to be able to be on the same field as a veteran coach, a hall of fame coach who is starting a program there from scratch. It’s really a terrific job that they’ve done to this point. We think that in South Florida and in the state in general there are a lot of fast players and we won’t be surprised at all if this team can match the kind of speed that we can put on the field. It’s obviously going to be our challenge to see how physical of a game either side can make it. This is a young team, there’s some significant talent on the team. I’m really impressed with their left tackle, No. 52 (Nello) Faulk. I think he does a nice job. He’s a player that if he’s watched the tape, as I’m sure his coaches have shown him over and over again the job that Ian Campbell did, I’m sure that they’ll have a good plan for that. At quarterback, Rusty Smith and Sean Clayton have a little bit of a competition going on there. I think that brings out the best in all people so I would anticipate them playing very well at the quarterback position. Then they have a veteran player at fullback, Aaron Sanchez, who they use in a variety of ways and I would anticipate trying to replicate some of the things we saw from No. 5 (Pierre Rembert) last week. Kind of the X-factor’ in the whole thing is their tight end, Jamari Grant, who plays tight end kind of the way we’re looking for tight ends to be able play to be able to really run and be athletic, get down the field. That was apparent in how they tried to play against Clemson, he’s a very athletic player.

 

“On the defensive side really their linebacker, he’s got a great name (Cergile) Sincere, is all over the place, all over the field making plays. He’s a run and hit player. He’s a very sure tackler and so obviously we’re going to have to have our eyes on him and be aware of him at all times. They’ve really improved on their defensive front. From a year ago they’ve added size, they’ve added numbers, they’ve added more depth, it’s just inexperienced that’s all it is. It’s just a matter of time and grade for their defensive line and we obviously we want to make sure that we don’t allow them to get a jump start this weekend. They have a cornerback named Rickey Bethel who is a senior. This group here has gone and played a lot of games on the road, you can see their schedule. They won’t be awed by this experience. They’ll come in here and attempt to play very, very well and we’ve got to make sure that we don’t do anything to encourage them from our standpoint.”

 

On Thomas Clayton’s return...

“I’m expecting him to make a contribution, especially when the holes are there I’m expecting Thomas to get through them and run with power and authority. All running backs run the same when there is no hole. We want to make sure that any of the running backs who are in there have an opportunity to gain yards. I was very impressed with the fact that Leon Patton and James Johnson could get some action and they went in there and did a nice job. We’d like to continue to do that. With Thomas going in the game we want to make sure that we always have a fresh back. He was very professional with the way he handled things all last week and I’ll expect him to do the same this week and I’m anticipating him having a good game.”

 

 

On Ian Campbell being Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week...

“I think it’s a validation of how hard he practices and how hard he works. I’ve tried to make a comparison to the only player that I know like him which is Pat Kearney who plays for Atlanta. He was a walk-on at Virginia, a lacrosse player that came in and really made himself into a player just by being relentless. I don’t think that when you see Ian and you see him next to some of the players out there that the casual observer might now see him as the Big 12 Player of the Week, but it’s all about his heart. He’s relentless in pass rush and I think if you can make the game one-dimensional then you give him a chance to play to his strengths. If it’s not a one-dimensional game, it’s run and pass, then he has to add those other things to his game and he will over time. He’s a very determined young man. I like the player, I like what he’s about, I like his make-up, and I like how he approaches things. What my hope is really if anything that it influences some of those other players to see how he’s carrying the flag and raise their game to his level and that’s really what this is more about. I think it’s a good testament to the coverage that we had the other day, that he had the opportunity to get to the quarterback. That first sack during the two-minute drive he had to hold the ball a little while so his receivers could get open. At least we had someone who could hit home. If a quarterback doesn’t throw it to his first progression we’d like to think we have a chance to hit the quarterback. Ian made that statement true.”

 

Defensive End Ian Campbell

On being named the Big 12’s defensive player of the week...

“I’ve been enjoying it. It’s been pretty exciting, and is a really big honor. I was just doing my job.”

 

On being a walk-on and his career so far at K-State...

“I was always confident that this day would come. I’ve got a lot of support from back home. My family and my brothers have been a really big influence on the support. They just always thought that I could play at this level. I didn’t know how quickly it would come. I knew that I could compete and was at the same level as some of these guys that are here. Last year I spent some time on special teams, and thought I could contribute. This spring came along, and I finally got to show what I could do. Saturday came, and it was time to play.”

 

On being recruited out of high school...

“I was being recruited by several different Division I schools, but no one really wanted to commit. They said I was a little undersized and weren’t sure about the competition level I was seeing. In my heart, I always knew that I could play at this level. Since no one would commit, I decided to come here and walk on. I talked to Wyoming, Colorado State, K-State, and even Kansas a little, but I just really only had interest in playing here. The other schools gave me the cold shoulder. K-State wanted me to walk on, so I thought I’d give it a shot.”

 

Senior Running Back Thomas Clayton

On watching the game from the sidelines last week...

“It was a little tough, but the fact that we got the W’ was the main objective.”

 

On if he will try to meet last season’s fast start...

“Absolutely. There’s no question.”

 

On his punishment for the opening game...

“After I did some thinking, and sat down with Coach Prince, I think it’s fair. Honestly, I had to take myself out of my own shoes and look at the big picture and look at the situation I put everyone in. I realized that I put the program, not so much in jeopardy, but made the program look bad.”

 

On what he learned from his punishment...

“I feel like I’ve matured over the process. I think it was a worthy punishment and it was necessary. No one is above (the law).”

 

Junior Punter Tim Reyer

On which special teams unit is more important...

“A big unit for us is punt return. That’s a big opportunity for any team because you can either block it or return it. We did a good job, but we can still get better. Pretty much every unit of special teams is important because it effects field position, so I really can’t say which one is more important.”

 

On if it’s nice that people recognize special teams as an important part of the game...

“It is pretty nice because most people don’t think it’s very important. Obviously it played a big key in our win against Illinois State.”

 

On if he feels more comfortable now as an upperclassman...

“I definitely feel more comfortable now because I’ve gotten to years of experience in. Last year I went down a little bit with my performance, but I’m a lot more confident with my ability now.”

 

On Special Teams Coach Tim Tibesar...

“It’s nice to actually have a special teams coach because it puts more attention into it. Before, we really didn’t have a coach. He is doing a great job to make sure everything is together and if anyone has questions we know he is the one to go to. It makes it a lot easier.”