K-State Holds Weekly Press Conference

Head Coach Ron Prince
Opening statement...
“We were very pleased to get our first win of the season Saturday. A lot of things have occurred in the first two games. There’s a lot of things to look at and to evaluate. I’m real pleased with the opponents that we’ve been able to go against. Each one of them has been unique and given us unique challenges offensively and defensively and in the kicking game. On a positive note, we found more balance offensively Saturday; we continued to pressure the opposing team’s quarterback. We’re not allowing a tremendous amount of rushing yards. We got our first block of the year in the kicking game, and we got our first big punt return. Those are the things that jump right out at you, things that are positive, things that we want to build on. I have some concerns as well. We’re last in the Big 12 in kickoff returns. We’re not doing really well as it relates to offensive turnovers, too many penalties as a team - we went from 16 to nine. That’s still way too many. And too many missed tackles. So we’ve got a lot of things that we need to work on and work toward this week so we can have a chance to win again. A couple other challenges here that we’re facing from a personnel standpoint: out for the season will be Antwon Moore. He’ll be gone for the season. (Bryan) Baldwin and (Ray) Cheatham will be a game-time decision by the trainer. And on a last personnel note, there’s no change in Josh Moore’s status."

On Missouri State...
“We’re very concerned about Missouri State’s offense. They’ve got a good defense, but I’m very concerned about their offense. This is the same kind of offense that Appalachian State runs. They’ve had plus-50 point games. They have a lot of confidence; they’re winning. They have a new offensive coordinator that has come in and really electrified things for them. They’re getting the ball to their best players. They’re getting it to them in space where they can run, and so I’m very concerned about that, and I think we’re going to have a tremendous challenge ahead of us. And usually, when coaches say that about a I-AA opponent, most people in the public or in the media sometimes will snicker. But I think all of us are very aware of the events here in the last couple of weeks. (I’m) very concerned about where we are right now in our development. I want to be focused on those things. I’ve talked about those concerns. I want us to make a positive step this week in practice. I feel if we can do that, we’ll have a chance to play well in the game and, therefore, have a chance to win.”

On Antwon Moore’s injury and Chris Patterson filling in...
“Antwon has brought a lot of energy to us. He had a pretty big role in the kicking game a year ago and a pretty big role as well defensively. Against a lot of teams that had very mobile quarterbacks, Antwan was really able to help us a little different style a year ago, but still the same kind of impact. This year we expanded his role, and we could all see that he was playing at a certain speed, so we’ll miss him no question. It’s like a lot of things in life when one door closes, another one opens up. There’s an opportunity for someone else to show what they can do, and we’re going to be looking toward that this week. We won’t name who that person is so we can keep some mystery to that. It might help us. But I’m very pleased with Chris Patterson. He took a step from game one to game two, played fast, and played like the player that we knew. I think he still has improvement to come. But also, with the outside backer position with he and Eric (Childs), they’re getting a lot of action, and they’re doing a nice job for us. We were able to get all of our outside backers in the game, including Ross Diehl and (Chris) Bamberger. That helped us as well to try and get some things to teach off of. The biggest impact for us is in the kicking game. Defensively, we can find some things for guys to do and get those kind of splash plays that Antwon brought.  But the kicking game is where he was also was very valuable, so we’ll miss him there.”

On what Antwon Moore’s injury was...
“I really don’t want to discuss the specifics of it. He will be out for the year, and I don’t want to go any further. When the time is right, they’ll discuss all of those things. I just know that he won’t be with us.”

On the decision to start Ernie Pierce...
“Around here, special teams are important. There’s a standard we are going to play to. A lot of things that affect the offensive and defensive depth chart stem in the kicking game, and so we want to make sure that we’re improving in that area. There are some phases of it that I’m pleased with and I’m think we’re making advancements, but there are other areas that I’m not. So I’m going to make sure that we get all of our best players on the field all the time and we’re ready to go in all phases, not just in offense and defense, but in the kicking game. Some of the time you’ll see some movement in the depth chart, a lot of that will reflect our opinion on how things are going in other areas as well, particularly in the kicking game. We have to get Ernie in some games and get him some action. He’s practiced hard; he’s done a good job. He’s proven himself to me in what he can do. It’s just a matter of getting him into the game, and we have to make the kind of impact at that position and in the kicking game as well. So we’re hoping that this will satisfy that for us.”

On if the team has more injuries than it usually would at this time...
“It’s not any more. We usually don’t talk about injuries, because I think what happens with coaches, injuries are an excuse. The coach says, Hey, I would have a good team if so-and-so wasn’t hurt’ and that kind of thing. We don’t usually talk too much about it. Our players don’t talk about it because it’s part of the game. Teams that go on a run and win a lot of games usually don’t have a lot of big injuries to their lineup. But that’s always an opportunity for somebody else. We’ve made an effort to recruit a lot of defensive players here in the last two classes, and so a lot of those players are going to get an opportunity to play. It’s a good thing. It’s just unfortunate how it comes about. Everybody understands it’s part of the game. It’s a game of violent contact, and it’s a very physical game, and so those things happen.”

On developing the cornerback position...
“Otis Johnson is a player that is going to have an opportunity to play more. Freshman Kendrick Matthews is going to have a chance to play more. Also, we’re interested in getting Courtney Herndon in the game more often.
Chris Carney played a terrific game in our opinion. In the coaches’ mind, we thought he did a really nice job with his time, kind of like Andrew Erker did a year ago. It’s a positive thing to keep developing players like that. Coach  (Greg) Burns is doing a really good job back there with those kids. It’s just an ongoing thing. We have to continue to do that. We’re taking a look at a couple of other players as well that have the flexibility to play other positions and make sure that we have the appropriate depth, and we can go play fast and without hesitation.”

On Chris Carney changing positions...
“Carney is one of those players that played a lot of different things in high school, and we went ahead and moved him to safety a year ago. But he has also done some good work for us in the nickel. He came in and did a really nice job in the game at a position that he really hasn’t had a lot of reps at.  But he’s a very good player. He comes from a great program, and he’s been very well coached. I thought he and John Houlik on who played fast and decisive I think he and John Houlik played about as good as anybody played Saturday, and that was very positive. I’d like to build on that.”

On Football Championship Subdivision teams...
“In our profession, there’s always has been that respect. It’s well documented that kind of win has never occurred against a ranked team, particularly as ranked as high. That’s why it’s so stunning. I think over time, what you have seen is you have seen these things occur before. When I was at Appalachian, we beat Wake Forest. Wake Forest was a very good team. From time to time, you’ve seen Coach Moore and his crew and other guys go and win. In our profession, I don’t think there’s been any concern or doubt or veracity. I think, in the general public, there’s so much made of recruiting that you feel at certain levels, they have all the good players and the other team doesn’t. That’s not true. A lot of times, what you are doing is you have to make sure who has the best 20-year olds and who has the best 21-year olds not who is the best guy when he’s 15 or 16. That’s one of the things that happens though in I-AA football where I coached for many years. Your recruiting schedule is much different. You have the chance to really see the kid prove himself, and sometimes that kid is saying that he can play with the big boys, too. And they can. So whether it’s a Dexter Coakley or Walter Payton or all these players that are well-regarded, I never refer to it as a lower level, because I played with terrific players. You just usually don’t have as many, or enough to win some of those games, but it’s not like they don’t have great coaching and great players because they do. They just don’t have the volume of them. I think it’s a very complicated thing. I think the general public and the media and other people who are observing this will probably take a little closer look and not just count this one as whatever. That’s what always disturbed me being on the other end of it, because I understand how passionate these kids are for these opportunities. Our coaches made a big deal about it, and we went and tried to play well.”

On redzone efficiency and time of possession...
“I think one of the things that has happened to us, and it’s something we’re addressing and trying to work through, when we’ve gotten the ball to midfield and beyond, we’ve had to settle for a lot of field goals. That was a question mark that we had. Could we kick field goals, particularly to win games? So we’ve been able to get that addressed. I’d like to see us be able to fight through that and get some of those negative plays on first and second down out of our system so we aren’t forced into long third downs where we are just trying to get half to preserve the points. You’d like to be able to score on third down or get to that point if they are pressuring you. But when the down and distance is so long, then they can just play with a little bit higher ceiling and force you to throw it in front of you or run and tackle you short of the first down. I think some of our first and second down issues when we cross the 50-yard line have had a big part in why we haven’t been able to sustain drives, and running the football is a part of that. The field gets smaller, and so when you pass it, you have to be more precise. When you run, you have to run with a little more power and authority, and that’s something that we’re working toward doing.”

Closing statement...
“Where I’ve been the last couple of years, I wanted to make a comment here, not for any political reason, but just make a comment. There’s times in your life when you remember exactly where you are when you hear things and experience things, and tomorrow is going to be one of those days. On September 11, 2001, I can remember where I was sitting in my office and exactly what I was doing, getting ready to play Penn State, and we had that national tragedy. For those of us that live on the eastern seaboard, particularly as close to Washington, D.C., where we were, and so many of us having either family members or married into families from New York, we’ll never forget that. That will never be the same. To hear those sirens sitting in our office with those people coming from Washington, D.C., to Charlottesville, to the university hospital is something I’ll never forget. When it occurred, most of us who were there and experienced it said we would never again try to use phrases like going to war’ and those kind of things in our sports analogies. We just thought that was completely inappropriate ever again if possible. I’m not trying to make any kind of political statement in all of the hustle and bustle and everything surrounding the game and everything else. I just think that it’s appropriate for all of us to remember that this is a game. We have tremendous obligations to go out and play well, do the right thing and be good people. But based on the experience I had six years ago, I thought it would be important for me to try to remind all of us, particularly those of us who lived it and were close to it or had family members close to it.