K-State Holds Weekly Press Conference

Head Coach Ron Prince
Opening statement...
“The objective in every game is to play well and to win. I thought we did some terrific things in the course of the game on both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively. We led in the first quarter, the second quarter, and fought back to take a lead in the fourth quarter. We played a good team, and we responded very well in all those situations and made it an exciting game all the way to the very end. The game didn’t go perfectly by any stretch. We had some things occur in all three phases that we’ve looked back to address and are looking to correct for the future.

“The game that we just played can be summed up in three points. We found no game-changing plays in the kicking game, whether it was the score or the momentum, and that’s to our opponent’s credit. In fact, when it came to the exchange in kickoffs, we were at somewhat of a disadvantage. They had four touchbacks and we had one. Number two, we had a lead in the fourth quarter, and despite three interceptions on the day and a terrific fourth-down stop to set up the ending of the game, we couldn’t get the big stop when we needed it. Once again, this is to our opponent’s credit and is something we want to continue to work at. We had the ball with two minutes to go, down by six, and failed to move the ball into the opponent’s territory to end the game with the ball in our hands. We were kind of in control of our own situation there.

“I thought our kids played extremely hard. I thought they had focus and preparation heading into the game. They knew what was at stake to play well and win, but that didn’t happen. We and I accept and understand that everybody is disappointed, but Colorado does not care one bit about our disappointment. We understand that, so we’ll prepare and correct and focus on that opponent and the issues that go with it. There are some significant issues in that game. The things that I can see, obviously, and I’m sure somebody will ask, this has been a reoccurring thing in both of our losses having a lead in the fourth quarter and not being able to make the big stop, not being able with the ball in our possession with two minutes to go and win the game, and the absence of a pretty significant kicking game play. So that’s the formula that we put together. We need to do well in the kicking game in order to do well. We have got to find those plays, and we have to be able to, despite all of the good things that have occurred in the course of the game, make that stop at the end. As a football coach and as a football team, when you have the ball in your hands at the end of a game, you’ve got to feel real good about your ability to go down and execute, score and win, and we were unable to do that in both of our losses. So those are the things that are pretty clear that we need to correct. And like I said, the game didn’t go perfectly, but we still had our chances to win.

“My focus is clearly on Colorado. It’s not surprising to any of us that their coach would have his team prepared and having a good season and doing well. Statistically, this match-up is a dead heat. I think you could look across the board and see the comparison, whether it’s the runners or passers we might be a little higher in one thing and they might be a little higher in some things but they have some personnel issues. They have some guys defensively who are really terrific. They have just experienced their first road win under the coach at Colorado down there at Baylor last weekend to improve to 2-0 in conference play. They’re playing with a lot of confidence, so we need to demonstrate that we can and will play well again. That’s what my focus has been since we got up Sunday morning. “

On K-State’s running game...
“One of the things that we need to be able to do on an ongoing basis is be able to run to win. That comes in a lot of different forms. The number of times you run and pass during the course of the game is one thing, but there comes a time where you need to be able to run to get the tough yards, to be able to score and do some of those other things. That’s something that we have obviously addressed and looked at. We’ve got good runners. We need to be able to get the ball in their hands. We’re doing that in a variety of ways right now, not just running, but we do have to improve in that area. I’ll continue to say that a running game is a quarterback’s best friend. If you don’t have a running game, then it obviously limits the effectiveness of play-action passes. That takes quite a bit of your passing game away from you.”

On Colorado’s running game...
“I think if you look at what their mentality was in the second half of the Oklahoma contest, they obviously have a lot of confidence in that. They were able to continue to run it and run it even though, early on, perhaps they had two yards per carry in the first half. Maybe it was 15 to 20 attempts that netted them 30 to 40 yards. But in the second half, they kept running it and racked up some pretty big yards and some impressive runs and were able to take control of the game and perhaps cause Oklahoma to press a little bit. So I think this runner is a significant runner. I thought that a year ago. I thought he was really talented and a dynamic player. He can go all the way. When you have that, I think you have the elements there, and they have something similar to us they don’t have as much depth up front as they would like. But they have a lot of good players, talented players, and they are very well coached.

On the margin of error in winning and losing...
“We were pretty aware of what our situation was going to be coming into this year and how we were going to have to construct games, in a general sense, to win. But then each game itself presents some unique challenges. Sometimes the margin of error is very small. Things that occur in the game may make the game appear that you had it much more in control. Even though, in a very tight contest, the kicking game points and defensive scores can kind of break the game open. We lean heavily on those things. That’s a part of the formula that we need to use right now while we’re still developing in some areas and in some players. It’s time for us to play some good defense that’s the bottom line. That’s what we said we’ve tried to do here. I was committed we could have gone for it on fourth-and-one at midfield but I was committed to telling the defense in the fourth quarter that it was their game. We were going to punt the ball down with good field position and let our defense make the stop and win it for us. They responded by getting a turnover. On offense, we went and capitalized on those points. But those are things that can make a game swing easily. And then we came back a few plays later and didn’t perform on either side down the stretch. Our margin for error is smaller in general because we want to play great defense it’s time. The only way you can do that is to put your team in a position to do that. I think whether it’s Southern Cal or anybody who has got their own formula on how to do it whether it’s outscoring the team and personnel their team that way or really try to play good defense and stop them Virginia Tech is playing with a true freshman quarterback, and they scored quite a few points the other day because they generated quite a few points on defense and the kicking game. That’s the kind of team we want to start to show that we can be. I think we have good offensive players. I think we just need consistency.

On developing chemistry on defense...
“I think our effort and attention to detail has been very good. I think the contributions of a player like Chris Carney would validate that. I think it’s just the nature of where our team is right now. I don’t mean this in any negative way at all, but we’re not a team of stars. We’ve got to play as a team. So that chemistry and standard of play has to go, and anybody that represents us has to play that way. We’ve got some guys that are really doing a terrific job with that and holding the line and holding that standard. We just have to continue to make those things. And if you look starting in the first quarter of games, we’ve done very well. We just have to make sure we can validate that with some of the things we are doing in the kicking game and on offense to validate that defensive effort. There were times that we showed we could be a pretty good defense, and we just didn’t make the stop that counted. In the two games when we haven’t been able to make that stop, we haven’t won.”

On if Marcus Watts was 100 percent...
“I think that from my standpoint, he was available, so we played him as the coaches needed him and wanted him. He’s such a big special teams contributor that we wanted to make sure that that was a factor. So he’ll be available again this week.”

On Chris Carney’s nose for the ball...
“I think to be a safety, you have to have some of that intangible. I think you have to have more than just This is my assignment’ and be sequential. You have to understand where your players are on the field, the windows that you know it’s possible the quarterback can throw it to, assess the flight of the arc of the ball, and understand what your movement and rotation might cause the quarterback to see and react. Coach (Greg) Burns has done a good job of coaching those guys, and they’re responding. When you’re back there, it’s one of those deals where the ball is in the air, and if you make the play on it, great. If you don’t, then it goes the other way. So we’ve experienced both of those things. So I’ve been pleased with Chris. He’s been willing to tackle and to be on the kicking game, doing some of those other things, and we need that.”

On Jordan Bedore’s status...
“He’s out for the game. I don’t want to use the term indefinitely, but this is going to be at least more than one game. He’s not going to be playing this week, and probably it will be some time. I don’t want to use indefinitely as in next season, but we’ll let the medical people decide what what’s going on with that. But he’s definitely out for this game.”

On if Trevor Viers’ weight is a concern...
“I don’t think so. He’s got good movement. He’s a very athletic player, a lot like Jordan (Bedore). He was a defensive player. He has a sense of it. He has real good mobility. We can all imagine he was pretty excited to be in there during the game, and things weren’t perfect. But I thought he handled himself and settled down pretty well, and we’ll go on. It’s what every kid is waiting for. It’s what every kid is preparing for this opportunity. So here it is, and we’ll keep going.”

On what the center is asked to do...
“I think our center has a lot of responsibility to identify on what’s happening with the front and coverage and then make sure that all the combinations are correct. But also, the guards and other people along the line have an opportunity to help him with that. We had a saying at Virginia that the smartest man makes the calls. So whoever that is in that situation, hopefully he’ll be able to lean on some of those veteran players and they’ll help him out with that.”

On Alesana Alesana’s personal foul call...
“I wasn’t pleased. I thought that that penalty, along with the one that started the game, was very disruptive to our momentum and the things we were trying to do. I try not to focus on the officiating and that kind of thing, but the explanation I was given was because he had a closed fist. He had his hand closed, and that’s what made it a foul. That’s what the official told me on the sideline, so we relayed that information to our players. But I thought that was a critical moment in the game that that occurred, along with the first play when we got another penalty for hands to the face. I thought that was another critical penalty.”