K-State football prepares for Louisiana Tech

Kansas State Wildcats head coach Bill Snyder watches from the sideline during the first half of an NCAA college football game against UTSA, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2015, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Courtesy: K-State Athletics

Head Coach Bill Snyder
On red zone field goals…
“Well it is a major concern; it was after the first game and certainly after the last game. It is very concerning and we have to do a heck of a lot better job than what we are doing right now.”

On running the ball in the red zone…
“I do not necessarily think that is the mentality. I think it is, from a coaching standpoint, trying to put the best possible schemes on the field for that particular positioning on the field. Then, being able to execute them and we probably failed at both, I would guess.”

On Justin Silmon’s performance…
“He is doing well. Like I said last week, there are things to become a complete player that he has to do, but he is doing as well, if not better, than anyone else that we have. He is making progress. He learns well. He played well. Yeah, he is doing fine.”

On if he would like to start seeing one running back take a majority of the snaps…
“I would like to see that – yes – I would like to see that, and I would like to see us be more productive in the running game. Part of that is having running backs run well and part of it is a lot of other stuff.”

On having a faster start on defense than anticipated…
“I would not say at a faster rate. I do not think that can happen, but when I say I do not think that can happen, I do not think they could move fast enough to meet my expectations. But, I am pleased with the progress that we have made and how well we are playing. I think there is still a lot out there, I would say. Also, it gets tougher, tougher and tougher now. Here is a team that has over 1,100 yards of total offense in two games, and they can throw it in. We are getting into more complex times right now. I think before we pass judgment, we want to see how we play right now. Up to this point in time, I am happy about them.”

On putting an emphasis on pass rushing this season …
“Well, it is always an emphasis for us – a very prolific emphasis for us. They (Travis Britz and Will Geary) have done a nice job inside – both of them – in a lot of different ways. You know, it is not inordinate. We truly want to enhance our pass rush, and it is not about putting more emphasis on it because we have always put a great emphasis on it; just sometimes we are successful and sometimes we are not. I was probably even more pleased with it this week. They (UTSA), schematically, get rid of the ball pretty quickly, so you do not have a great deal of opportunities to sack, so to speak. But, they disrupted some throws, got their hands up and tipped some throws and did some other things to create a little bit better pass rush. It is not always about sacks, I guess. That is an important number, but there are other elements of pass rush that can create problems for a quarterback other than just sacks.”

On the problems that Louisiana Tech presents…
“Well, there are a multitude of things. I think number one, the transfer quarterback that they have is getting ingrained in the system, and you can see him getting better and better in only two games, but you can see the improvements being made. He is comfortable in the offense, and he throws the ball well. He can get it from here to there in a heartbeat. They throw the short game, but they throw the ball vertical down the field. They have wide receivers – these are not the real big guys, but tall guys – they play like they are tall. They have good speed to them. They get up in the air and they compete for the football. In the two games that they have played, they have made some really outstanding catches – one-handed catches – just a lot of nice receptions.

“Their running back, (Kenneth) Dixon, has half a million yards or whatever it is. Obviously, he is a very, very fine player. He can make that cut and make you miss, so getting him out in space makes him a difficult guy to tackle, and he can run hard to go along with it. As we played last week, they are kind of an upperclassmen-filled team. They got a couple of freshmen that will be in starting roles, but by in large, they are a junior and senior-laden team. So, they have experience in the system.

“Defensively, I know their secondary, the returners, three of four are starters in their secondary. That group has a total 23 interceptions in their career, which is the most of all teams in the world. They have the third-highest returning interceptions – that is a heck of a statistic. It caught my eye. You can see that they play that way. They make some nice plays in the secondary and they trust those guys. They play a decent amount of man-to-man type coverage, so you have a great deal of faith in the guys that can do that. They are not afraid to do it as well. Up front, they have those guys – the defensive end, the defensive lineman, who is supposed to return this week who was out for a couple weeks – and they are very high profile players. They have excellent quickness for a big defensive line.

“You look through some of the material, I think there were 15 – do not quote me on the number – young guys in their program who had received some type of preseason recognition. Some of it was all-conference recognition, some of it was national recognition. So, they are a talented football team and it shows up statistically and in the numbers. They lost to Western Kentucky. I was impressed with Western Kentucky when I saw them. Western Kentucky is an awfully good football team, so the projection is they will win whatever side of the conference they are on and Louisiana Tech will probably win the other one. They are good teams.”

Junior Quarterback Joe Hubener
On last week’s game…
“For me, personally, I struggled with some short passes, and I think that was just me being a little nervous. I just need to settle down and throw the football. We throw those passes every day. I just have to calm down and throw it. Other than that, I thought it went really well. I thought we had some longer passes that were on target.”
On the team’s red zone offense…
“As far as red zone offense, that is definitely something that we need to improve. We are kicking way too many field goals. We are making them, and our kickers are doing a great job. What has set us back has been some penalties that have hurt us in the red zone. We get down in there and we have a penalty and that just makes it that much harder. Once you get in there, it is tight with that little field position to work with.”

On the play of Justin Silmon…
“That was awesome for Justin Silmon to step up like that. We all know what he is capable of. He is a very talented running back. There is a lot of elusiveness to him with his size. It is awesome for him to get in and score his first touchdown.”

Sophomore Linebacker Elijah Lee
On what the defense has done well so far…
“Probably stopping the run. We have held each team under 50 yards of rushing. Whenever a team cannot rush, they have to raise their arm, and we have done well putting pressure of the passer.”

On Louisiana Tech’s running game…
“I would say it is important to stop. They have a pretty good running back and their quarterback has a strong arm. If we make him throw the ball, we can create more opportunities for turnovers.”

On containing Louisiana Tech’s running back…
“It would be huge. He has all those accomplishments, and he is an experienced guy. That is one of the first things we do when we go into the practice room – we emphasize stopping the run. Once you stop the run, then you will have time to figure out what they are going to do in the passing game.”

Senior Defensive Tackle Travis Britz
On Louisiana Tech’s offense…
“They are very good. Number 28, (Kenneth) Dixon, he is one heck of a running back. We are really going to have to improve our tackling and our run defense if we are going to have a chance against him. Their offensive line is filled with a lot of big guys. They are probably the biggest offensive line that we have seen so far. So it is going to be a challenge for us, but it is a good challenge and we like challenges.”

On quarterback pressure through the first two games…
“Quarterback pressure is always a focus, but this year we have really tried to understand what each other are doing as far as a defensive line standpoint. We are trying to have more chemistry and understand what we are going to do and how we are going to rush so that we know what the other guys are going to do as well. That has been a focus point and we have been improving in that.”

On stopping the run…
“That is pretty much our whole position and what we are built for. If we are not good at stopping the run, then there is nothing we can do for our defense. That is kind of our thing, and we are the blockers so those other guys can go and make plays.”

Junior Linebacker Will Davis
On Louisiana Tech’s offense…
“They are definitely the best offense we have seen this year. They have talent all around the ball. They have a quarterback from Florida who can do special things with his arm and can run too. Their running back is a special player and he can do a lot of things. He has had a lot of touchdowns in his career and it will be tough for us.”

On personal consistency…
“It comes with a lot of repetitions. This is now my fourth season of practices, so I get in all of that practice time and learn from all of those guys before me. Learning from guys like Jonathan Truman and Blake Slaughter, which those guys were all about consistency, and they were a good example for me. I think I have hit that level where I understand how to be consistent and how to practice consistently, and that has helped me a lot.”

On proving themselves as a defense…
“We still have some young guys out there and they are trying to prove themselves everyday in the games and in practice. We are always striving to get better. We made mistakes in those games that you may not see on the scoreboard, but there are definitely things we can improve on.”

Senior Place Kicker Jack Cantele
On getting back on the field…
“There were a lot of mixed emotions. It felt good to be back out there, but under the circumstances of Matt (McCrane) on my mind, then it was not the same as completely earning the job outright.”

On his friendship with Matthew McCrane…
“Ever since Matt (McCrane) got here in the spring of 2013, we have been very close. He and I are very similar in a lot of ways, and we have naturally gotten along. We are both really competitive, but that does not mean we do not get along and do not help each other out. Part of the reason we have both grown so much as kickers is because we spend so much time kicking together and we know each other’s game. If something goes wrong, then we can analyze for each other and help each other.”

On confidence last year after the Auburn game…
“We switched snappers in the middle of the Auburn game last year, which can throw timing off. I still should have made those kicks, especially that short one because it is inexcusable. My confidence after the game was not a problem for me because I approach every kick knowing I am going to make it and that I am prepared for each kick. After the game, I had to take a step back and take a deep breath and think about what I did wrong and how to eliminate it and get it out of my mind. Something like that does not go out of your mind easily, no matter how tough or mature you are. It took a week or two to start doing well in practice again, and I had the opportunity to succeed in a few kicks late in the game. Knowing I was coming into the season as the number two guy, I prepared a lot because I have seen a lot of guys go down and get hurt. You always know you are one play away, and unfortunately it came down to that for me. Luckily I was prepared and ready. I wish Matt (McCrane) had not gotten hurt, but I am glad I could step in and help my team.”

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