K-State Holds Weekly Press Conference

Head Coach Ron Prince

On the season...

“I’ve always tried to take the approach and I’ve learned it from the best people I’ve known in this business that if you want the team to move on, then the coach has to move on. That’s what we’ve done. Our coaches are on the road recruiting. We have our last two evaluation days available to us. In the fall you’re allowed six days, so we are using those two here Monday and Tuesday. As they’re out on the road evaluating for the last time, I’ve gone back through and looked at all the game tapes this year and have really had some time to reflect a little bit on the regular season.

 

“Coming into the season, we said that we really wanted to improve on the special teams aspect of our game and defense. Those were our two biggest priority needs because we felt that in the future we would really like to have a terrific special teams performance. That’s how you change games and go on the road and win. We felt like we made some strides in that area. Right now, we are at the top of the league and nation in kickoff returns. We really did a nice job with our PAT kicking, onside kicking, and defending those sorts of things. Tim Tibesar, the special teams coach, has done a terrific job this year. We had six special teams scores and blocked three punts. So, that was very positive.

 

“Defensively, we really wanted to improve our effort, particularly in turning the ball over. I think we made some strides there. We were able to get the ball turned over 26 times this year, which is 15th in the country. We made some improvements in that area. Tackles-for-loss and sacks were a big part of being disruptive, and I felt like we made some strides in that area as well. From that standpoint, I thought we did some positive things this year, and, obviously, we have some things to improve on and get better at. We developed the kind of depth, both in the kicking game and on defense, that will serve us very well in the bowl and in the future. A lot of players have gotten experience in our schemes, and now it’s just a matter of going back and refining those things.

 

“Offensively, we thought that we might have some challenges this year. I thought we might have some difficulties in certain games and against certain types of teams and the way they might match us up. I was very pleased with how Josh Freeman’s development came along. Leon Patton really did a terrific job. Having Jordy Nelson after losing him early come back and him knowing what we were doing. The loss of Jermaine Moreira was a difficult one for us. He had been so steady for us early in the year. He will go down as either the fifth or sixth all-time receptions person here in school history. I think it’s really fascinating to watch his career develop, and it’s just such a shame that he couldn’t finish it off the way he had started it. A lot of things happened. I thought the play of Greg Wafford continued to improve over the course of the year, and I was very pleased with that, as well as Mike Frieson and the help that he was able to give to us. The offensive line, in general with so many different kids working in there I thought we did make some strides, but we obviously know that we have some ways to go. I thought Jeron Mastrud’s development at tight end was very key for us. He’s developing as a blocker and he’s getting better. What I saw out of him was a legitimate target out of the passing game with his size and frame. He gives us a lot of hope for the future. Things that weren’t very positive were the number of turnovers we committed this year caused us to be even on the year. That was very difficult, obviously, in the last game. That number of turnovers makes it improbable to win. The number of penalties per game is something we’re going to have to correct. We’re used to being among the nation’s leader in having the fewest penalties.

 

“Overall, we were able to get back on the winning side of the ledger. It looks like we’re going to have a chance to play in the post-season, and I know our fans have been very responsive to me, personally, and our team about having a chance to go into the post-season. I talked with our team on Sunday at great lengths about what all that means. I had all the players that played in a bowl game stand up in the team meeting room, and there weren’t very many. All those players that are new to the program that have never played in a bowl game stood up and, as you can imagine, it was the bulk of the room. Going to a bowl game will be a new experience, not to Kansas State or the fans or the coaches, but for these players. They are very excited about that. They understand there’s a lot of time between now and when that game might occur. It’s unusual to have an open date at the end of the season, along with the conference championship game there, you have those two weeks. There’s always going to be that issue of rest versus rust.”

 

On playing in a bowl...

“To be able to compete on a national level one game at one time on national television that’s really what the post-season is all about. It makes it different than the level that I played at in (Division) I-AA football, which you have the playoffs. I really think this is a fascinating thing, and I’m very much in favor of the bowl system. It allows a lot of student athletes and the organization to have a very positive end to the season. Obviously, it’s very positive for the communities that we go into and the kind of attention that goes into those places, and it’s terrific for our fans. They get a chance to go and be with the team and have that collective mentality one more time at the end of the season. For us, it’s an obligation and opportunity to win another game. For us to have the opportunity to win an eighth game is big for us. I think this team is really focused on that. There are a lot of things that are going to happen before that finals, writing a lot of papers, finishing up with a lot of things that aren’t real attractive to write and talk about, but are really the reason why these kids are in college. We gave them a real strong plan on how we can finish up in that aspect. We also talked about taking advantage of the time and being with our families, whether they are near or far. Then, we will get our team prepared to play one game on national television. That’s really what our focus is on right now. Losing is not fun and winning is a lot better. We feel like if you look at the whole body of work, we were able to do something that put us on the winning side this year, and that’s what we’re going to focus on here for the next 30 days.”

 

On the team’s schedule in the upcoming weeks...

“The NCAA allows us to have seven coaches on the road at any one time, and that would include myself. So, it’s very difficult to put a practice together during the week if that’s when you’re going to be out and about along with the academic requirements of the young people we will basically have our practices on the weekends up until finals. So, we will practice Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, and those will be in conjunction with a lot of our recruiting weekends. A lot of recruits will come and see us in that format. That will give us a chance for the kids to take advantage of their academics during the week and work out and stay in shape. We’ll do that until we get to a point with the proximity to the game and all the academic requirements, we’ll go with a normal two weeks of game preparation. We should be somewhere in the area between 15-20 practices before the bowl.”

 

On if he will start gathering tape of who K-State might play in a bowl...

“You can gather tape and start getting a preliminary view. Once they announce who you have in the game, it’s a mad scramble. When you have recruiting going on and a lot of other things happening, you have to have your skeleton put in place with how you’re going to handle the game. Somebody has to start looking at the tape and start making decisions on it. Because you have this seven-man-on-the-road-recruiting thing, you can rotate the appropriate people off the road to get that done. Obviously, we have our graduate assistants and other people who will break down a lot of the nuts and bolts of that. It’s a good approach that lets the players do the right thing with their academic situation, and get the team prepared and also develop the middle of our roster.”

 

On Joshua Moore...

“I went to go see Josh Saturday night when we got back. He was in good spirits and was released from the hospital. He’s moving around and has been in very good spirits. As far as contact in practice right now, he would be a hold, but we don’t have to practice until Saturday. So, we’ll see what the medical people say at that time. It could be a situation where he might be a day or a week or a while, but they are optimistic that he will be able to return.”

 

On injured players playing in the bowl...

“Marcus (Watts) says he’s playing. I’ve known him well enough here recently to not bet against him. The medical people give the final word and, if and when he could start to train and get back into any kind of contact drills we won’t obviously put anybody out there until they are ready to go his conditioning will be a factor because he hasn’t participated on this kind of level in a while. We’ll ease him back into it very gradually. He claims he is playing. Yamon (Figurs) says he’s playing too. I don’t think these kids want to miss the post-season. One game, one time, on national television for them is a big deal. I wouldn’t want to miss it either. It’s going to be one of those things where there is a significant amount of time between now and the game. There is a significant amount of time between now and finals. The biggest thing is to keep the team in shape without wearing them down and keeping them interested in all the things they need to be interested in. We can get healthy. That would be a big positive for us. I’m sure there will be some players who will not return because of the amount of recovery time it takes for their medical situations. In all, it will be very positive because, how it all lines up, we’ll have a chance to get our people back.”

 

On the time off...

“I think it’s a really good balance that’s required. One of the things that I’m really concerned about for all these guys is understanding how to take this time. The sacrifices they take are tremendous. They have time to see their families right now and celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday we have so much to be thankful for. One of the things that I’ll talk to the team about today is to take the time to call the people that are most instrumental in having this opportunity, so we’ll do that. We’ll thank those people for that. To study the aspects of their own game to self scout and be self reflective will be a big aspect of this. Then, we need to get ourselves strong and fast again, and get healthy. I am as concerned on anything about the academic welfare of our kids and making sure they finish the semester strong.”

 

On what he’s looking for in recruiting...

“We just need to look for goodness of fit. We have a great institution here. This is a terrific place and a lot of kids want to come to school here. We have to just make sure that it’s the right fit. There’s a certain type of kid that does well and thrives here and that’s our type of guy, and that’s what we want to make sure our class is comprised of from top to bottom. We’re not really concerned about the ones that don’t choose to come here and go other places, just the ones that do enroll here and play on our team. We’re looking for help in all spots, so we’ll take the very best players at any spot. And we’ve been very well received. We are, in some circles, a little bit more attractive after some of these games we’ve played. I think the Texas game helped, but one of the games that got people’s attention early was the Louisville game, to be honest with you. That caught some kids’ and families’ eyes. They saw that these kids can play with just about anybody. It started from there and it’s gone forward. I think a lot of prospects out there see Josh Freeman as some guys that would be really fun to play with.”

 

Defensive Back Marcus Watts

On his playing status for the bowl game...

“Everything is on pace and I should be back for the bowl game.”

 

On the Kansas game...

“I wanted to play really bad. I was going to go up with the team, but I thought it would be too difficult for me to sit there and watch it on the sidelines. I wanted to be out there with my teammates. I ended up just staying home and watching it on TV. It was really frustrating. We beat ourselves. Kansas played well, and our defense didn’t do very well against them. It’s really hard for me to speak on behalf of our team since I wasn’t there.”

 

On handling his latest injury...

“I’ve actually taken it a lot better than I thought I would have. I learned a lot from my last injury even though I didn’t have to miss any games really. I knew I was going to come back from this injury. It wasn’t nearly as serious as the last one. It’s something that you learn how to deal with over time. This isn’t the first or second injury that I’ve ever had. I know that I’ll come back and be stronger next year.”

 

Quarterback Josh Freeman

On his bowl preference...

“I really don’t care where we go. I think the most important thing is that we’ve got another game to play and are going to have some extra practices to get better. I’m just looking forward to playing and getting another win.”

 

On his freshman campaign...

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot. I really couldn’t give you an exact measure of how much better I am now than I was in the spring. I think I’ve gotten better over the course of the season, and just want to continue to improve.”

 

On recovering from the Kansas loss...

“It was definitely a downer and not the way we wanted to finish. After Sunday’s meeting we kind of all realized that there’s nothing you can do about it now. You’ve got to move on, and it doesn’t bother me anymore. We watched tape the next day and saw the things we did wrong.”

 

Tight End Jeron Mastrud

On what he needs to do this off-season...

“I need to get faster and stronger. I’m not really happy with my speed right now. I should have scored on that first play in the KU game. Speed is a primary goal in the off-season.”

 

On playing in a bowl game his freshman year...

“It’s going to be fun. It’ll be a new experience being in a game like that and everything that comes with it. I guess you just have to go with the flow with the things that surround a game like that. We’re just ready to get back out there and get another win.”

On getting a break after 12 straight weeks of games...

“It will feel good. You’ll get to give your legs a break and get off of them. You get to take a break from contact for awhile and let your body heal up. Everyone’s a little banged up right now. But, if we had a game this week we would be ready for it. I know I’m looking forward to the down-time.”

 

Wide Receiver Yamon Figurs

On missing the game against Kansas...

“It was really tough for me to just watch the game. The doctor didn’t clear me to play, so there was really nothing I could do. I knew Wednesday that I wasn’t going to suit up. Josh (Freeman) said some stuff afterwards about missing me a little out there.”

 

On Coach Prince’s first year...

“He’s wonderful. He’s a very smart man and knows everything about football. He knows what’s going on with the defense, the offense and special teams. I think we’ll be pretty good for awhile around here.”

 

On the bowl game...

“We’re going down there to win. There’s no question that we want to win our last one. That would put us at eight wins on the season, and that’s pretty good. It would be really big for the seniors.”

 

Defensive End Ian Campbell

On being able to play in a bowl game...

“We all are going to have, maybe not a sense of satisfaction, but a good feeling if we’re able to respond after the Kansas game. I really don’t think the KU game is on our minds right now. Right now we’re just going to enjoy our few days off and go see our families those of us who can do that. Hopefully we can get healthy over the next couple of weeks, get our minds right and start practicing hard for the next one.”

 

On having a month to wait to play their next game...

“Personally, I could use a little time off. Not time away from football so much, but just some down time. Maybe get some time to heal up and get my legs under me. You get some extra time to practice and work on your technique a little more. We’ll get some good time to prepare for our opponent, whoever that is. I think it’s a good thing for our team.”