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K-State Holds Pre-Bowl Press Conference


Dec. 17, 2013

K-State Athletics

Head Coach Bill Snyder
On Texas head coach Mack Brown resigning...
"Well it was a sad day for me - a sad day leading up to that for me. Mixed emotions for a variety of different reasons. Mack (Brown) is a tremendous person. He is a genuine person, and he truly cares about young people. He has had as much success as anybody in college football. On one side of the coin, you are saddened that he stepped down, but on the other side of the coin I am tremendously happy for him, his wife, Sally, the family and his grandchildren. He enjoyed coaching football - a very competitive fellow - he enjoyed the game a great deal. He enjoyed working with and helping young people. He is immensely loyal to everyone in the program and to the University of Texas."

On the strengths of Michigan and the difficulties preparing for the Wolverines...
"We don't have enough time to address that without being somewhat general. No. 1, it is just Michigan. I know there is talk about trying to get back to the `old Michigan,' and it is evident. You can see it on tape. I was at Iowa for 10 years and when Bo Schembechler was at Michigan, we played them every single year and I know what that is like. They are a very physical football team. They are a team that will beat you with fundamentals and execution and toughness. They are moving in the direction that they are wanting to move in, and I think that is very, very positive. From an offensive standpoint, there are some people that will tell you that they have the best offensive line in the Big Ten Conference. If you look at the quarterback, which I think it is interesting that he wears No. 98 on the back of his jersey which probably stands for how many touchdowns he scores. Anyways, he is very athletic young guy and you see that he is a 6-foot-4 quarterback that can run around. He has great athletic ability. Plus, he completes about 60-percent of his passes, so he is a threat to you in all ways.

"The running back is as good as you see anywhere. He can run with the football. He can run aggressively. He's got speed, he's got the ability to move and make you miss. I think he can do all of it. The wide receiver - No. 21 - he is everything that they indicate that he is. He runs, he catches it, he's got 80-some catches, and he is not just a speed guy - he is a speed guy that has finesse and movement about him. The other wide receiver/tight end is, according to a ranking company, is ranked the 17th best underclassmen player in the country, and that is not hard to see. He is a 6-foot-4 guy and they can put him out wide and lay the ball up to him. He matches up pretty good with most of the defensive backs that he has faced.

"Their special teams, they got a kickoff guy that can keep you from returning the ball. They run well on both of their coverage units. That's why you see that people are limited in the number of returns that they get. I think that their punter has the ability to go out there about 45-50 yards and really get it up in the air, and, in combination with their coverage team, it makes it difficult to get returns on them.

"Defensively, I think that you see a team like Michigan teams of old - very physical up front. Tough guys that can run, a lot of movement up front, a lot of slants, a lot of blitzes and stunts, but they are engrossed in being fundamentally sound as well. They play hard and they play physical up front. They run well. The back end is basically the same thing - fundamentally sound. They don't try to do more than what their guys are capable of, and they fit in and understand the system very, very well. Their defense forces turnovers. I think they have 17 or 18 interceptions on the year, and that is a good number."

On what the practice schedule has been like...
"This is finals week, and we had graduation last week. We practiced on Saturday without our seniors. We were off Sunday and Monday. We will practice this afternoon squeezed in between final exams. We will be off again on Wednesday and then we will practice again Thursday, Friday and Saturday. There are some workouts that we could have gone early morning or late at night during the course of the week, but you have to understand that our players have to have time to prepare for finals. If you are just going from weight lifting to practice to finals and do it over again, you run the chance of your players not being well prepared for their final exams as they could. There is a balance that you have to maintain."

On how the team has progressed in practices since the end of the regular season...
"I always want more. We have had some good days, and we have had some not so good days. We have had some days that were good for a portion of the practice, but maybe with not so much enthusiasm as in other parts of the practice. So it has been a mixed bag for the most part. It would be a passing grade, but not the grade I am looking for."

On the importance of delivering a bowl win...
"I don't recall going into a ballgame, or bowl game for that matter, that we didn't desperately want to win. I want to win, they want to win, everyone wants to win, and everybody works hard to do so. That is just what you do, and we are not different than any other team in the country."

Junior Wide Receiver Curry Sexton
On the preparation for the bowl game...
"With bowl prep, you have to be more urgent because you do not have a month to prepare - you have two and a half to three weeks from the time we found out who we were going to play. First, we were trying to get the young guys involved, get some of them some reps. That was nice to give them a chance to make some plays. Once we found out that we were playing Michigan, it was kind of `go time.' Despite the scheduling conflicts with finals and everything else, we have managed to have some pretty good practices. Within the next couple of days when finals start to wrap up, we are going to be able to jump into it a little bit more, then head off to Phoenix."

On his reaction when he heard K-State was facing Michigan...
"I was excited. As a kid growing up, Michigan is one of those poster programs that you see all over TV, you watch them growing up. You kind of almost idolize them - one of those programs that every kid in the country likes to watch play. The helmets is one of the things that stands out in your mind. A lot of guys on the team were pulling for Nebraska just because of the rivalry, but you could not go wrong with either of those two teams. I am really excited for Michigan and what they bring to the table. I think it should be a really good match up."

On what effect it would have if K-State was to win the bowl game this year...
"It would be huge for so many different reasons. Obviously, it has been 11 years since we have won a bowl game. Just to be able to end the season on a good note, to be able to send the seniors off with a win, head into the off season with a win instead of heading into the off season with a sour taste in your mouth. Every season has its own successes and failures, but any time you end with a loss, it puts everything that went well in a negative light. The one thing that you are going to remember is how the season ended up."

Senior Linebacker Blake Slaughter
On his thoughts about Michigan...
"You can tell that they are committed to the run game. They definitely want to establish the run and let (Devin) Gardner work off of that. They do a good job about what they do. I see one thing they do a lot that they are really good at it working the screen game. We are just going to have to prepare for it all and get ready as time gets closer."

On if there were any teams on the schedule that is similar to Michigan...
"As I was watching these guys - I started watching right after the KU game - I was thinking the same thoughts. I wanted to find a team that I could compare them to. There is really not a team in our conference that you can compare them to. They run a little bit of different stuff. You can see a little bit of Oklahoma in there, you can see a little bit of West Virginia type. They do a little bit of everything. It is hard to compare them to any team in our conference."

On what things defense has to do against an offense that can run the ball well and throw the ball well...
"Since we have so much time in between our last game and our bowl game, it is going to come down to who can carry over the fundamentals, tackle well and do stuff like that. I think with a team like that, or any team, you want to take away one thing - take away the run, making them throw the ball. I think that is with any contest, you want to take away their run."

Senior Linebacker Tre Walker
On going through practice and finals...
"It has been very tough. As a graduating senior, there are a lot of things that you have to get done - a lot of tests, a lot of work, but Coach Snyder has done a great job of letting us take that time that we need to get our finals studied for and to get our practice in as well."

On looking at what Michigan has done as a program over time...
"Michigan is a great, outstanding football team. I believe they have the most college football wins in the FBS. You do not do that by not working hard and not playing hard. We are just excited for the opportunity. We know that they are going to come out ready to hit us in the mouth and it is going to be a great game."

On Ty Zimmerman rejoining the defense for the bowl game...
"It is going to give us a great lift. Dylan (Schellenberg) did a great job filling in the spot when Ty was gone, but whether or not Ty comes back, it is going to give us a great lift either way. Ty is a great defensive captain on our team and great leader, very smart. He is going to take care of what he needs to take care of. I remember last year, the same type of deal happened and he fought back. I have seen him in action. I think he is going to do great for us. If he goes back out there, we are going to do just fine."

Junior Defensive End Ryan Mueller
On facing Michigan tackle Taylor Lewan...
"I have seen him on tape and I have heard all of the awards that he has won. It is obviously going to be a tremendous challenge for me going against arguably one of the best tackles in the country, but I am confident in my ability. I am confident in what I have been taught the last four years that I can handle anything that comes my way, and I am looking forward to the challenge."

On what he has seen of Michigan's offense and if it has been similar to any opponent over the last few years...
"Talented quarterback, talented offensive line. Football is football. They are tough, we are tough. It is going to be a good dog fight. As far as comparing them to any team, I cannot really pinpoint an exact team, but I know that they are a tough football team. They played Ohio State really close and obviously that showed the character of their team."

On playing a team with the looks and attire like Michigan's...
"I just look forward to playing the game. I try not to pay attention to logos and helmets. I just try to be better than the man across from me because I know that behind all of that stuff, it does not really mean anything - it's what's inside that makes a player good. Obviously, Taylor Lewan has gotten a lot of attention for being a good football player and I am looking forward to the opportunity to go in against somebody who is considered great."

Junior Quarterback Jake Waters
On playing Michigan and its defense...
"Michigan has a great defense. They do a bunch of stuff to screw with the quarterback, trying to mess them up. They disguise it, and on top of that, they have great players and great athletes, so that just makes it even harder. We have to use this bowl time we have been to study every little thing, find any tip that we can to help us and our coaches do a great job."

On what Michigan does to disrupt the quarterback...
"I cannot really say in detail, but just things like showing one look and then by the time that I get the ball it is a completely different look that you are not expecting. So that can mess up a read or a pass play, or if the runs good in this coverage or a pass and they change it when I get the ball, it is kind of a dead play. They do a lot of that stuff so you have to be on your toes trying to pick up any tip that you can."

On being too amped up going out on the field the night of the game...
"You just have to take it as a regular game. It is kind of cliché, but if you go out trying to win the game on the first play or with one throw or something, that is only going to hurt the team. You just have to go out and play your game, let the game come to you a little bit, do not try to force anything. It's still a long game and one mistake at the beginning of the game could hurt the team, but one play might not win it. So you have to just take it like any other game and just be smart with it."