Snyder weighs in on tough test Saturday

Oct 21, 2017; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; K-State students hold up the family flag during a game at Bill Snyder Family Stadium ©Kelly Ross KWCH12

MANHATTAN, Kan. (K-State Sports) K-STATE FOOTBALL WEEKLY PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES:

BILL SNYDER, K-STATE HEAD COACH

On his message to the team early in the week...
"I really didn’t have a message for them. I have one, but I didn’t present it for some circumstances that took place. At some point in time today I certainly will. The message is pretty simple: We were not a well-disciplined football team during the course of the game, as evidence by 13 penalties. I can’t remember a time that we’ve done that – the turnovers, dropped passes, inability to score once we had the ball down on the appropriate end of the field. In the first half, not being a good third down team, inability to put points on the board for three quarters. Just a variety of different things. We were not a very good first-down team, had a substantial number of minimal yardage gains or zero gains on first down.

“Those would be half of the messages, the other half would be, ‘Hey we won.’ What if’s don’t mean anything and I believe they don’t mean anything if you don’t do something about it. What could have been a bright spot is the fact that if we would’ve taken advantages of the opportunities that we had – if we don’t drop passes, that’s 14 points on the board. If we score as we’re hopefully capable of when we get the ball down close to the goal line that’s probably another 16 points on the board. If we don’t turn the ball over, there’s another 10 points off the board on the other side. So, all of that adds up to a lot of points, so it could have been a totally different outcome to the ballgame. That doesn’t mean anything, that doesn’t make us better, that just means we have the capability, but we didn’t put the capabilities on the field. That comes down to discipline and focus and a variety of different things that we get in to.

“I messaged our players and talked about how we could take the things that are listed in our 16 Wildcat Goals for Success and how they apply so diligently during the course of that ballgame. The other part of it was, what direction do we go? Do we go in and say, ‘We’re not a very good football team,’ or do we realize what we’re capable of and understanding what you have to do to achieve what you’re capable of? You have to make it happen, and we didn’t do that.”

On playing a ranked opponent...

“I can’t tell you one way or the other. I can’t answer your question in regards to how our players react to where someone is ranked. They know I don’t put emphasis on where someone is ranked. It’s the second ballgame of the season. Those rankings change dramatically, and none of them will end up being accurate at the end of the season. It’s immaterial. We view tape diligently of every team we play. You don’t have to tell me Mississippi State is ranked to tell me they’re a good football team. I watch the tape and see it over and over and over, as do all of our coaches and all of our players. We know what lies ahead of us.”

On letting the quarterback decision play out...

“In all fairness to the two youngsters, and in all fairness to our football team, yes. Both of them did some decent things and both of them struggled and made mistakes. Both of them are going to make a significant difference in the outcome of our football season. It is still one game at a time, and we have to improve things. They’re like everybody else, and we need to repair issues that we have. They’re correctable mistakes, and that’s easy to say.”

On watching the Mississippi State game film knowing the quarterback will change…

“Had the previous staff been in place the previous year, we could have gone off the 13 games from last season. But we still can to a certain degree, but not in the structure of the offense that is in place now. That can create some issues and uncertainty.”

On what stood out on Mississippi State’s film...

“They’re a team that plays extremely hard, they’re a tough physical football team, they’re a very sizable football team. We’re looking at 330 (pounds) across the line on offense with an average of 6-4.5, 6-5, and you look at the defense up front, the same thing – all 300 pounders, all of them extremely physical and tough-nosed guys and the depth that they have. They’re three deep on their defensive line. They can shuffle guys in and out. There’s not a great deal of drop off between their ones, twos and threes. They have a pretty comfortable level with that. When you think about that leading up to a first ball game during that period of time like any other teams including ourselves, you have your plan against your best, your ones are going against your twos. When you have an extremely physical and tough defensive line and an extremely physical and tough offensive line, they make each other better.”

On Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald’s ability...

“He does pose a threat, obviously. He’s a dual-purpose guy. Here’s a guy with a career of over 2,500 yards rushing. He had real close to 1,000 last year rushing, about a 54 percent passer, or he was last year and obviously with the experience, he’ll be improved over that. He can do a lot of different things. His leadership – from what I see and what I hear – he has a quality leadership capacity, the players step in and follow him and he’s an active leader. He seems to be a pretty bright young guy. You see from the film last year and he’s going into a new offense, didn’t have spring practice behind him, but I think he’s bright and should be able to pick those things up very well. Who does he remind me of? I don’t know, just off the top of my head maybe a Collin Klein, a guy that pretty much had the same numbers, maybe not quite as prolific, but nevertheless, they had similar numbers.”

On matching up with Mississippi State’s defensive line...

“I worry about everybody. As far as our offensive line against them, it depends on what kind of work we put in and how we line up and play. We’re capable, but that’s not worth anything. What amounts to a significant approach is if we really get into it, understand the physicality of the ballgame, two young guys that you mentioned already have three and a half tackles and a sack in the ballgame. If you look, they had 17 tackles for losses in the game last week. I read somewhere that it was the largest number of tackles for losses they have had since I was born. Obviously, it is a concern.”

On the performance of his new coordinators during week one…

“Of course I feel good about it. The first ballgame you have to go through and identify from an organizational standpoint whether it is time at the hotel, time in meeting, pregame and all that goes along with it. You have to assess everything – stuff that is very positive and we can build on and things that are not which we have to get rid of or alter. We have been able to do that, and it is an ongoing thing. You are not going to get everything solved in one week. It was a first-time experience for all of them, so it is just growing pains.”

On the secondary’s coverage abilities against South Dakota...

“It was mixed. We did some things very well. I thought we made some good plays on some balls and broke up potential completions. There were other times we gave up some positions on throws the way that we had to in order to prevent big plays, which was a concern.”

On Kevion McGee’s performance against South Dakota...

“I thought he played reasonably well. He didn’t make a lot of mental mistakes, from a mental capacity, assignment correct, he graded out high. As far as execution of some things, he did well. He fit into the category I was talking about we did not leverage throws as well as we should have.”

On the defensive line’s pass rush ability after one week...

“It’s got to be better, but I wasn’t disappointed with it. We got some push inside. Then again, we are going to line up across a line that averages 330 pounds.”

On shuffling players in and out defensively during a series...

“There is some movement to give some guys – particularly guys up front – some rest. Then if we have a mistake or two over the course of a drive, then we have to get it corrected. If we just leave them on the field, they make the same mistakes over the course of the drive until you get them to the side line. So, it is better to get them to the sideline now and let the guy going onto the field know what needs to be corrected. Those are the reasons why we put them on for those two reasons.”

On Sam Sizelove’s contributions at linebacker…

“The thing Sam has going for him is tenure in the program, having a pretty good understanding, can make adjustments rather quickly. This was a team that we were concerned about the tempo, how fast their offense went. Having the experience to get the calls in, get calls made, get adjustments made, get lined up, being able to process information and being ready when they snap the ball, Sam is pretty experienced with that and does a pretty good job. Even with that, at the outset of the ballgame, we had some difficulty getting lined up early, and they were getting some snaps off in which we were not ready to defend as well as we could. I thought as the game progressed, we adjusted pretty well.”

On the offensive line improving late in the game and going forward...

“Anything was better than the first two quarters, for sure. Some of the things that were problems for us, for the most part, really took us out – penalties for instance – stopped significant drives. We are talking about third-down penalties that take away the opportunity to get a first down. The mistakes that we made were critical. Everything happened at a bad time, and all of it had a dramatic impact. Consequently, when you are not doing those things, you are moving the ball a little better.”

On Josh Rivas’ debut on the offensive line...

“He’s better than you might normally say, but he still made the freshman mistakes. No excuses, first time out there and et cetera, he has to get enough confidence in his game to have to capacity to be less tentative and more physical and aggressive.”

On cleaning up the penalties in a week...

“I don’t clean it up, they do. Either you define what self-discipline really means and adhere to it, or you’re going to continue to cost us until we make a firm decision and say you can’t play anymore until you get this fixed. It’s like anything else in life. There are certain rules in life and if you follow them, it’s probably in your best interest. If you don’t, sooner or later there’s going to be some consequences you don’t like. Nobody liked that, whether they did it or not. Put yourself in the same position – you line up on the field and there’s a whole bunch of people yelling and screaming and you feel like everyone’s eye is on you and you know what you’re supposed to do, but the guy over in front of you is saying you’re not going to whip me and consequently it becomes a battle. Sometimes you just tend to lose that focus, sometimes somebody does something that you didn’t anticipate they were going to do. A guy’s getting away from you and you reach out and grab him and it’s kind of second nature. I’m not making excuses for it, but that’s where you’ve got to define that thing for yourself, during self-assessment, the capacity for self-discipline. Again, put yourself in that position and when something happens that we don’t anticipate or expect, we react to it in the wrong way. You and I, when something happens, we have a chance to step back and process the information to try to make the right decision. You’re on the football field, you don’t have that opportunity, you have to react right now. We’ve got to be able to get our coaches to put them into those kind of positions on a regular basis so they learn how to respond to them. Once they’ve experienced it and done it and you repetition it that way, then they have a better chance to react appropriately.”

ALEX DELTON, JUNIOR QUARTERBACK

On his excitement about playing a top-15 team…

“Yeah, it gives us that extra motivation. Anytime we can, you know hopefully we were ranked, but the fact that we’re unranked and we’re playing a ranked opponent that just gives us extra motivation to show the nation and the conference what we’re really capable of doing. We’re going to into this week with a chip on our shoulder. It’s going to be a great week for us. I believe in Coach Coleman’s plan for us. I think we have a good plan, and I’m excited to get after it.”

On playing against Mississippi State’s defensive line…

“They’re talented a group, no doubt, but I think that our guys are a talented group of guys. So, it will be some good-on-good competition. They have some guys that they say are first-round potential, so obviously we are going to have to be on our A game and we are going to have to play well to beat these guys. There defensive line is very big, and they are talented, so our offensive line has their work cut out for them, but I trust that they will get the job done.”

On playing against an SEC opponent…

“They are talented, they are super talented, but I have been around, it’s my redshirt junior year, so I have seen a Texas A&M team with Myles Garrett and I have seen a lot of good teams. So until we play, it’s not even about that really. It’s just how we execute. As you’ve seen last week, we didn’t beat ourselves, but we put ourselves in a position where we could have been ourselves. So, it’s about us getting better. Obviously, Mississippi State is a great team and they are going to bring their game, but our focus right now is to get better.”

On the vibe among the quarterbacks…

“I don’t think that we have played up to our capabilities. As an offensive unit, we weren’t as crisp as I would like, so right now, when we watch film or do anything, we know we have to be better than last week. We have to be sharper, we have to pay more attention to detail, and that’s what we are taking in this week. We know what Mississippi State can do defensively, so we know we have to be sharp and we have to execute.”

On watching film from last week...

“I felt like, anytime you play that poorly you aren’t going to feel good about anything. You know, just mistakes that we made. It’s just part of the game. You learn to love and hate it, it happens every week. I don’t think that I played to my fullest capabilities, obviously. I am going to do everything in my power to do better this week for us.”

On the opportunity of playing a ranked team…

“That’s a huge opportunity for us. Every week is an opportunity, and we knew even this summer that this game would be a huge opportunity for us. These guys have a lot of hype going into this year, and rightfully so, they sound like a good team, but it just gives us a good opportunity, that’s all that it is. It gives us an opportunity to showcase what we can do as a team, as a Big 12 team versus a good SEC team. I’m confident in us. I am confident in our abilities, and I am sure they’re confident to, so I am just ready to get after it. After practice and meetings today, I know that we have a good game plan.”

ALEX BARNES, JUNIOR RUNNING BACK

On the slow start against South Dakota…

“A lot of us were pressing and trying to do a little too much and not focusing on securing the ball or catching the ball and stuff like that. Everyone just has to do their job and stay within what they are asked on each and every play.”

On watching film against South Dakota...

“It wasn’t much fun for any of us. We can’t play like that the rest of the season and expect to win any games, so realistically, we are glad that it happened when it did, and we are glad that we were able to pull a victory out of it, but it is something that we cannot do going forward. So, we are going to try and correct that.”

On fumbles...

“It was more of a personal issue. I was getting lax on ball security and probably trying to do a little too much, maybe there wasn’t necessarily anything there at the time. It’s just focus things for me and being conscious of that at all times.”

On his motivation for Mississippi State…

“It’s huge to take care of the little things and all the details that go into playing running back. That’s something that I have to do a better job at.”

On the Mississippi State defensive front…

“They’re big, strong, athletic guys, probably the most athletic that we will see all season, so it’s going to be a huge test for us and its really good to see where we are going moving forward.”

On how big a game against Mississippi State is…

“Definitely one of our biggest games. You know, a top-20 team, probably top-15 now, very athletic, SEC defense, hard-hitters, they’ve got it all. So, we are really going to have to pride ourselves this week in our preparation and take care of everything.”

JORDAN MITTIE, JUNIOR DEFENSIVE TACKLE

On the message after the South Dakota game...

“It was definitely a lot about our preparation. Last week, I don’t think we were taking them lightly, but I don’t think we necessarily prepared the way we needed to and the way we are going to this week.”

On the defensive line rotation…

“I think last week against South Dakota we had a pretty good rotation and I think it worked out pretty well. We stayed pretty fresh and I don’t think anyone was too tired out there. It worked out pretty well.”

On playing a top-15 team...

“It’s definitely exciting. It’s another challenge for us against a SEC offensive line that is going to be a lot different. We are going to have to work hard this week, and we know we have our work cut out for us.”

On the nerves going into Mississippi State game…

“I don’t tend to get too nervous. At my last school, at Texas State the past two years, I took a ton of snaps against quality teams. We played at Arkansas, at Houston a couple of years back when I think they were No. 6, and we played Colorado last year. So, I’ve played some good teams and am used to getting reps the last couple of years, so I think I will be ready.”

DALTON RISNER, SENIOR OFFENSIVE LINEMAN

On this week’s preparations for a ranked foe...

“We’re already game planning for Mississippi State, obviously, which we did in camp already as well, but I’m not worried about the number behind Mississippi State – whether they’re ranked or not, or how good of a defensive line they have. It’s not about what Mississippi State does this weekend, it’s about what we do. I think that might be one of the issues from the offensive line and offensive standpoint from last week – we might’ve been too worried about what South Dakota was doing and we needed to be a little bit more worried about what we do as Kansas State football.”

On Mississippi State’s defensive front...

“They fly around, and they’re big and athletic, which in the SEC you’re going to get big and athletic guys, you know that’s a given, but they fly around to the ball. Their defensive coordinator loves to bring pressure. Fifty, sixty percent of their plays that they ran last Saturday, they brought pressure in some way. They’re going to bring guys – they’re not going to run a base defense – they’re going to bring guys at times and stress our offensive line, and that’s something that we’re going to have to prepare for.”

On reversing the team’s recent history against top-25 opponents at home...

“If anyone was here for that Auburn game, that game was ours for the taking. We had a dropped pass in the end zone that they ended up getting an interception off of. I think we kicked like four field goals that game and didn’t finish our drives. I think we also missed a clutch field goal that game as well – a lot of mistakes. It’s like I talked about for last week, we were probably a little too focused on what Auburn does and not focused on what we do as K-State football. That’s not a coaches’ issue, the coaches preach that every single week. As players, that’s one of the hardest things in football – to realize that it’s not about what your opponent does, it’s about what you do. You can’t say that for all teams, but I feel like for our team and this weekend, going against a ranked opponent, an SEC opponent, you talked about not ever being able to beat a ranked opponent at home, our job is to worry about what we do and if we worry about what we do as Kansas State football and execute, have that discipline and that focus, we’re going to be in a good spot toward the end of the fourth quarter.”

On penalties and Coach Snyder’s reaction…

“He hammers it. Disappointed, right? It’s one of those things where you know you hear the saying, ‘I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed,’ well he’s mad and he’s disappointed. That doesn’t just come from an offensive standpoint, it comes from special teams and defense. We had a ton of penalties. We had two holdings on the offense line and offsides. I think we had a block in the back, I think we had a delay of game as well, just issues you can’t have. I know it’s the first game and there’s so many excuses in the world, but if there’s a coach that doesn’t care about the excuses, it’s Coach Snyder. As an offense and as a team, we have to take pride in that and it’s embarrassing. That’s not something that anyone has to tell us. We realize that penalties were an embarrassing part of last Saturday and we have a lot more that we have to get better than just the penalties.”

On MSU defensive line stars Jeffery Simmons and Montez Sweat...

“They’re just athletic players. They’re athletic and they’re big players. They work hard, extremely hard out there on the field, but they’re bigger than most of the guys that they play, and they’re faster and more athletic than most of the guys they play. That probably goes for everyone they play this season. Both are touted for the NFL, first round, second round picks, but when you watch film on them, they’re guys that fly around to the ball, they finish plays and they use their hands and their feet really good. Sometimes you play guys that are good, but they forget to use their hands or move their feet. These guys do both. At the same time, I’m so excited for that opportunity to go against them. They’re great football players, and I’m excited to get the opportunity to play great NFL prospect players like that.”

On being hungry for this week’s game...

“Very hungry. I’m excited to get the offense rolling. We didn’t prove anything last week. If anything, we proved to you guys that we weren’t ready, we had a lack of focus and a lack of discipline. I’m ready to redeem ourselves on offense and to redeem ourselves as a team and be able to have an opportunity to make our fans proud, make the community proud and make our coaches proud. I feel like we let down a lot of people, that includes our coaches, that includes ourselves. We worked way too hard to put a game like that on tape. We worked too hard for that. I’m excited to see my quarterbacks go out there and play well, see my running backs play well, my offensive line play well. It’s an imperfect game, I realize there’s going to be mistakes on Saturday, but if we can clean up the big mistakes – the turnovers, the penalties, the mental mistakes – we’ll be alright.”

ANDREW HICKS, REDSHIRT FRESHMAN PUNTER

On how it feels to earn a spot on the field....

“It’s been a dream of mine ever since I was little to compete at this type of level and to compete on this stage. I just went out there and did what I could do.”

On first-game jitters…

“Preparing for this last year, there’s a movie that I watched where the pitcher says, ‘Clear the Mechanism.’ For the Love of the Game, that’s the name of the movie. Last year when I first got here, when I was redshirting, that’s what I did, tried to get my mind right and just clear the mechanism. That’s what I did out there.”

On pressure from replacing Nick Walsh…

“He’s got big shoes that I’m trying to fill. I was really appreciative of spending a year here with him and really just sitting back watching him do his thing and learning and trying to repeat what he’s been doing.”

On biggest thing he picked up from Nick Walsh…

“Pretty much just his calm, cool, and collectedness. He was very comfortable with what he could do and that just really set with me. That’s what I’m trying to really do.”

On sense of pride of special teams at K-State vs elsewhere…

“I feel like our special teams is, like everything on the team, offense, defense and special teams, makes the whole team. But yeah, I feel like we put a huge emphasis on specials teams and that’s what I loved about this program when I was getting recruited. We actually focused on special teams here unlike other programs. So, I really appreciate that here. We work hard and just get our job done.”