Nov. 27, 2012
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
On Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein: I'd have to say the first thing that stands out about him is his toughness. The guy is obviously a warrior. He's taken some hits that you can't believe the guy gets up. He runs the ball right at you the next play. He's an absolute warrior. When you have a tough guy like that, the whole team follows. Over the last couple years, their team has taken on his identity. That's why they've been a tough nut to crack the last couple years.
On Klein's passing ability: He has gotten to be a better passer for sure than what he was a year ago. One of the most underrated aspects of their football team is they have three outstanding wide receivers that can match up probably about anybody in this conference. They're aware. Because of his threat in the run game, that certainly pulls a lot of people across the line of scrimmage. They are explosive with what they do in the passing game.
On being careful not to only prepare for Klein: The key is eye discipline. You have to be locked in with your eyes against them. They're great at complementary offense, which means everything they do will look like something else they do. They'll have a pass off a run. But there's always a tell, something that is going to give it away. As long as you're locked in, run or pass, you should be going. You have to survive those downs when they throw it deep. They're finding a way to hammer you, hammer you, then hunt the explosive play.
On if Klein compares to any other player: Funny, this time last year we talked about Tebow. Everybody ran to their phone and started tweeting that they mentioned them in the same sentence. I think at that point he had 24 touchdowns. He's done about the same thing this year. In terms of being a tough guy, hard guy to stop red zone, goal line, from what Tim did in his college career, it compares.
On if this game is a test for the defense: It's the ultimate test. I have a lot of respect for Bill Snyder. They're going to give you as thorough of an examination of your defense as any offensive staff that you prepare against. It's a great measuring stick for our players, certainly based off of their development throughout the course of the year in terms of being able to handle the variety of every formation, every running play imaginable. They're constantly asking you different questions of your run game integrity. It's a great challenge for our guys.
On LB Tevin Jackson: Well, Tevin can make a play. That's kind of what's shown up over the last couple weeks. He's been able to make some big plays, sacks, tackles for losses. We're at a point [where] we're experiencing injuries throughout the year [and] don't have a lot of linebackers. We have to have a role for everybody. Tevin popped up in our third-down package since about mid-season. This will be a big week for him in terms of getting better down after down, being a dependable guy in terms of understanding his fit in the gap structure. We know if he's there, he has an ability to get a guy down and make a play. He's got to prove it play after play.
On the defense having the same success they had against Kansas State last season: This game is about execution. That's what it really comes down to. We executed very well that night. I guarantee you, Kansas State will look at the film and say there's things they didn't execute as well. If they would have fixed X, Y and Z, they would have played better in our game. There's facets people want to talk about. It comes down to can you execute an offense and a defense. The players see what we do versus what they do, how it can work when it's executed properly. They can see the things that we made mistakes that maybe Kansas State didn't punish us for. Kansas State went away probably said, `These three plays could have tilted it in our favor.' Our team has confidence showing we have the ability to stop them. This year's version has to go out and do it.
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin
On P Alex King being used as an emergency quarterback: We actually used him last night.We took a couple shots down the field. He dropped back seven steps, punted it, right on the money. Hit a spiral [laughter]. That remains to be seen.
On how to prepare King for this possibility: Obviously, very simple things. He's played the position before. When he got here, I did a couple things with him quarterback-wise, some simple plays if he had to go in there and get in a situation where he had to close a game out. Taught him a few run plays, the cadence. We've actually talked about this before we've been in this position. Obviously, this week it's a little bit different. He's paying more attention to what we're doing. It would be very simple. It would be something we wouldn't expect him to go out there and run the whole show or anything like that, by any means. Plans of doing other things offensively not just with him and go from there.
On if they would utilize the "wildcat" formation more if in that situation: You'd have to utilize some of those other guys back there, some formations we've been in there before, make it work. We'll have a plan for that if that does come up so we're covered and then we go from there.
On if having Case McCoy starting at QB changes the flow of the play calling: Not really. Our game plan this week, obviously knowing that Case is going to start the game, it won't change much. We'll do what we have to do based off film. Case has prepared the same David has all year long, been part of the same meetings, same game plans. That won't be any different.
Case will be out there to start the game. He'll get us going. Have full confidence in what he'll do for us as far as his preparation and his practice habits this week. He's done a great job with that. Looking forward to seeing how he does as the week goes on.
On empasizing taking care of the ball: I tell both the same thing. It always comes down to that, take care of the football. We want to be aggressive at times, we want to take shots, make throws, have opportunities for big plays. At the same time you have to understand when it's there and when it's not. That's no different for either one of them. Make sure we're making the right decisions for the right reasons. If it's not there, we're okay. We can end a drive in a punt, in a kick. As long as we're not turning the ball over, we give ourselves opportunities to stay in the game. That was the difference in this last game. You give yourself a chance, you don't turn the ball over, whether you're executing at a high level or not very well, keep the ball in our hands and play field position until we can get back into a rhythm.
On McCoy's future as a possible starter: This week, to be honest, we're just focusing on this game, what we have to do this game. There's no future beyond K State. This is what we're worried about. It's our final regular-season game. It's an important game, a big game. We have to go to their place. All of our mental energy is going to be focused on that, and rightfully so. These guys are a good football team. We have to go in there and try to do our best to try to beat them.
On which team they have faced that best compares to Kansas State: All the best teams we faced, it's hard to compare. But you look at all the top defenses in our league, you're going to see that from these guys. They were the number one team in the country. That's how we approach it. They're as good as anybody in the country now defensively, offensively. We got to go in there and play at that level as well. We have to play where we don't turn the ball over, make good decisions and play at that type of level. They're as good as anybody we faced this year, in our opinion.
On what makes Kansas State a good football team: It's everything. They're good. They're physical on defense. They're sound on defense. They're physical on offense. I've had a chance to watch their offense quite a bit this year. Their special teams are as good as any units in the country. It's a total overall, you know, `this guy is executing very well in all those phases.' That's how you become a great team. You're able to do all those things. In most games they've done that combined in all three phases.
That's the challenge. We've got to make sure that offensively, defensively, special teams we're as sound and executing at that high of a level to compete with them.
On possibly getting RB Malcolm Brown more repetitions: I hope so. Johnathan [Gary] has done well. Joe [Bergeron] has done a great job. Malcolm, getting him back in the mix. You hope you're in a position where you're running enough plays, you have opportunities to run the ball, those guys are getting chances to play. It comes down to who is running the ball the best, who has the hot hand. We want to let those guys get into a flow. It's usually about one or two guys. The third guy gets an opportunity as the other two get tired. That's just the nature of it, as long as everybody is staying healthy and doing their job.
On if Brown has had few carries because he is still returning from injury: A little bit. That's part of it. When guys get injured, other guys step up. That's what you ask them to do, what you expect them to do. Guys have done that. He's getting himself back in the mix. He has to continue to keep preparing well, practicing hard, gets his opportunities in games to make them count. We evaluate as the week goes on in practice how they look, how they're competing, operating in the offense that week. We try to make sure on Thursday we're getting the right guys in on the right plays.
On how Kansas State lost to Baylor: You look at that game because that's the one team that beat them. We know this. Baylor is explosive and can make plays offensively. They've shown that. They've always done that. In that particular game, there were some big plays made by Baylor. That was the key there. I don't think it was anything that they did defensively that you didn't see in other games. There were just some big plays made and some tough plays, too. Not just wide open, but tough plays guys turned out in Baylor's favor. I think in that game there were some turnovers as well. I think that's always going to be a key when you're playing a good football team, you have to hang on to the ball. You see what they've done, how they attacked them. Obviously, you also know their coaches will look at that as well, and they'll correct those problems if there were any schematically. Then you have to go back to your game plan and see how you can attack them with your personnel.
On separating the critique of turnovers by how they occurred: We count them all the same. But you go back and look at it, I kind of break them down by decisions, especially at the quarterback position. Was that the right throw? Was that the right angle? Was that the right decision to make?
Those are the ones that we've got to get corrected. If a ball is tipped or a ball is batted and is picked, you look at that and try to see how you could have avoided it. Those are a little bit different. As you look at them, you're like, `All right, that's one of those luck things basically.' The other ones you have to focus onto make sure, is it scheme, timing of the play call or was it execution? Really try to go back and analyze that and see how to get that corrected, don't do that again here or the ball needs to be thrown this way.
On WR Cayleb Jones: He will be ready this week. He's continued to progress. He's had opportunities, his chance to get into games. He's going to have to have his best week of practice and preparation. So really it's going to come down to how he prepares himself to go in there and take advantage of the opportunity, assuming that's what we do, that's how it goes. I think he's got the right mindset. I know he's got the ability to do it. It just comes down to how he prepares himself to go in there and play every down.
On WR Marquise Goodwin: 'Quise is different. Those guys are different players. 'Quise will do different things. They're going to be in similar roles, concepts, running the same routes. There are specific things you do differently with Marquise, speed sweeps, getting the ball in his hands run game-wise than you would with Cayleb. Cayleb is a big target. He can make plays. He's proven that in practice and games. Both of those guys bring a little bit something different to the table, which is good for us. Gives us variety. The bottom line is, either way you want to know they're fully out there prepared and know what to do and when to do it. That's the most important thing for the play call and for the quarterbacks, as well.