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K-State Coordinators Meet with Media Prior to Sunflower Showdown

KSAL StaffNovember 4, 2021

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kansas State offensive coordinator Courtney Messingham and defensive coordinator Joe Klanderman met with members of the media on Thursday at the Vanier Family Football Complex, as the Wildcats prepare to face Kansas in the 119th Sunflower Showdown this Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence. Links to video of both press conferences are above, and a complete transcript is below.

COURTNEY MESSINGHAM, OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

On scheming long plays to tight end Daniel Imatorbhebhe…

“A little bit of that one was more just trying to set up the same kind of fly sweep action. Then we had a little counter with it with the tailback going the opposite way of the sweep. The one safety, you can see him then try to fix it. He lost his eyes, and Daniel obviously came wide open. Schematically, you hope that’s going to happen, but part of is from staying with the ability to try to run the football helps us on that.”

On if they try to get Daniel Imatorbhebhe the ball more or keep him on a pitch count…

“Not so much keeping fresh just making sure that it fits in the scheme that we got. I think he’s done a really good job of, in space, using his long fluidness. You watched him on the first third-down conversion we had. He got jammed just a little bit, came off it, created space for himself, and Skylar (Thompson) was able to find him and get us a first down. The long touchdown run, obviously, when he stiff armed the guy off, most of the guys we have would not be able to keep that guy away from him the way that he’s able to because of his length.”

On the status of wide receivers Phillip Brooks and Malik Knowles…

“Both of them have practiced more and more as the week has gone along. I would say Mindy (Hoffman) would say both of them will be kind of see when Saturday gets here. But, I feel good with how they’ve progressed this week. I wouldn’t say that if today was the day we had to decide that it would be very easy to decide, but hopefully another day and a half will allow them to be in a better position.”

On the blocking scheme on the fourth-down conversion that went for a touchdown…

“Obviously, we blocked it well up front. Those types of fourth down play – and I said it right when it happened – everybody’s up there trying to make a stop, and it’s everybody crunched into there. I’m obviously old, but I can remember a Super Bowl where John Riggins hits one and pops it and goes and runs for a touchdown for a long-gain touchdown. It’s the same thing. Everybody’s up there, there’s no second and third level to the defense. The offensive line did a great job getting a crease, and then Deuce (Vaughn), as everybody knows, in the backside you can’t find him. He’s shooting out the front side, and the backside linebackers have no idea really where he’s at. Now, obviously, it was blocked really well up front, and then he took it the rest of the way.”

On the play of Jacardia Wright against TCU…

“I thought he did a really nice job. I thought that he made sure that he was taking care of the football. I’m not sure that two hands ever got off the ball when he was carrying it, which was fine for me. He needed to get some touches. He needed to get live action. He needed to get hit while carrying the ball, and I thought he did a nice job with it.”

On his quick-change turnover philosophy…

“A little bit of it depends on where it’s at on the field. Obviously, if you’re in the red zone or if you’re in the inside the plus 50, a lot of times you’re trying to find, ‘Okay, where’s that one scheme that we feel like you can get a shot play?’ Defenses, though, have so much now harped on when there’s a quick change expect ‘gimmick,’ expect to reverse or a reverse pass, those types of things. So, I feel like it’s got to be in the right part of the field to try to go get a big play right away.”

On penalties and turnovers…

“We talked about it on Monday when we had our unit meeting with our offense. Pre-snap things where we jump offsides, pre-snap where we have to use a timeout, those are things that we keep harping on that we have to fix. Turning the football over because you don’t carry it the right way, we have to fix it. Being aggressive trying to make a play, we basically talked about – I believe and I could be wrong – but Brett Farve probably holds the record for interceptions but also holds, probably, the record for most dynamic big-time plays that he’s made. I don’t want Skylar (Thompson) to ever be afraid to go try to make a big play. We got to be smart. You can’t just throw it to throw it. You can’t just go throw into triple coverage, but as a quarterback, you got to be ready to go rip it and play fast. So, we talk more about playing fast and making good decisions. We’ll live with the result as long as we’re doing that.”

On the long pass to Phillip Brooks right before halftime…

“That was 100% that we had have not run a lot of come back and go or stop and go. We felt like it was a great time of the game to do it. One, if it doesn’t work, we’re going to stop the clock as it was getting later in the half. If it does work, we got a chance for a big play. Obviously, it was. After we got it down to the one, now it was a little bit the other way. How do we make sure we run as much clock as we can to not give their offense the ball back with much time left on the clock?”

On the challenges of playing against the Kansas defense…

“Oh definitely. All you have to do is turn the tape on and look at their weak side defensive end, No. 15 (Kyron Johnson). He can really, really run, creates havoc. He’s very similar to our defense ends from the standpoint of off the edge, he’s got a lot of quick twitch and can get home on any pass rush. Keeping him blocked in the run game is tough because he’s athletic and will spin and get off blocks. When you look at their linebackers – same as almost every single team – they’ve played a lot of football. So, the game’s not going to be too big for him. It’s the Sunflower Showdown, they’ll be ready to play. I’ve coached enough different rivalry games to know that throw the numbers out when it comes to the game. You got to be ready to play, and I think our guys will be ready to play.”

On blocking against Felix Anudike-Uzomah in practice…

“With our defense the last three years, obviously with Wyatt (Hubert) before, obviously Khalid (Duke) is crazy athletic, and now the way Felix is really come on, our tackles have had a handful of since the day we got here. So, it’s helps us get ready for Saturday’s. I’m proud of Felix and love the way he keeps working. He’s continued to improve. He started out, I thought, very, very well, but he’s continued to improve.”

On the consecutive timeouts used in the first half against TCU…

“That’s the example that we talked about on Monday. That two times in a row, things that we just didn’t operate well as an 11 guys out there on the field. Both of them were timeouts that, obviously, needed to get called when we were basically at the line of scrimmage. So, we’ve got to do a better job as a group taking care of those mistakes.”

 

JOE KLANDERMAN, DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR

On what is most concerning about KU’s offense…

“T​​hey have a lot of creativity in what they do. They run the quarterback a lot of different ways. He’s very active in the pass game as well as a scrambler and as a moving pocket guy. A lot of boots and sprint outs and those kinds of things. Got a lot of athleticism on the perimeter. They have a very good foundation of what they do, and they do it well. They’ve got playmakers, too, at the tailback spot, the receiver spot. It’s another game and we’re going to have to execute and play well.”

On the ability of Kansas quarterback Jason Bean as a runner…

“I think so, because it seems that he has tremendous speed. He does keep his eyes down the field as he scrambles, and that’s always a concern of somebody, coming out of coverage or somebody busting his zone. It’s something that we’ve worked on a lot the last few weeks, is trying to get better in the scramble situations. We’ve got to do a better job with our rush lanes too, even compared to last week where there were times where our rush lanes opened up against a really good scrambling guy. We’ve got to get that fixed.”

On being more creative with Felix Anudike-Uzomah…

“He’s just getting a lot more confident. He’s always had the ability to do what he’s done and what he did last week. I just feel like now he’s kind of expecting it more. I don’t know if it does anything for us. We feel more comfortable. We felt comfortable rushing three since week one. We’ve done that a number of times. We’ve done some more things where we are bringing four to try and get him some more one-on-ones, and that’s paid off the last couple of weeks.”

On keeping Felix Anudike-Uzomah fresh…

“I don’t think he’s as effective when he is playing all of the time. I get what you’re saying, and I think we have to keep him fresh because if he gets 40 excellent snaps, that’s better than 55 blasé snaps. I think we learned that lesson throughout the year and as we get healthier and healthier with Bronson Massie coming back and more guys – Tyrone Taleni, Cartez Crook-Jones – getting in the rotation. I think that allows us to do that maybe more than we could have done a month ago.”

On what the secondary did best in coverage against TCU…

“I was happy with how we competed in man technique last week. I was happy with the depth that we were getting in some of our zone drops. I think, again, as we just get more and more comfortable in the things that we do, you know, it’s an experience thing. It’s a repetition thing. Nobody understands it on paper anymore. People need to do it. They need to see it. They need to learn it for themselves, tangible learning, and that’s where we’re getting more and more bank reps, and we’re getting better and better each week.”

On defensive back Reggie Stubblefield…

“He’s been outstanding. He’s been kind of an unsung guy because he gives us a dynamic playmaker on one half of the field. If you look back even at what we were at North Dakota State in those years, we had players in those positions that could really flash. Even when TCU put him into the box a lot formationally, he was still able to flash. I think how hard he plays makes him go. He has a great understanding. He’s a really smart football player. He’s physical. He’s been fantastic. Even though he might not be all over the stat sheet, the things that he’s doing for us when we need him to do it has helped us be much better.”

On defensive back Russ Yeast…

“Same kind of thing. When you put Russ Yeast together with Jahron McPherson, Reggie Stubblefield, Ross Elder has been another quiet, steady-Eddy kind of a guy, those guys are feeding well off of each other right now. When we limit our mistakes, we limit explosive plays. Even when you go back to Texas Tech, the explosive plays we had wasn’t because Texas Tech was better than us. It was because we made mistakes. When we can limit those mistakes – because we have those mature guys back there – we’re going to have success.”

On what most impressed him about Felix Anudike-Uzomah against TCU…

“What most impressed me about Felix is some of those sacks weren’t – some of them were, some of were not him just flat whipping a guy – some of them were high-effort, high-intensity sacks. Coming off an edge, getting to the level of the quarterback, countering, running into a tailback, staying alive, and then making a play. That’s outstanding. We preach effort, effort, effort, and it’s great to see a guy get rewarded for those kinds of effort plays.”

On Jaylen Pickle playing more defensive end…

“That’s a necessary thing, probably, because of our depth at nose. When you have a guy like Eli Huggins, who’s playing at a high level, you have a guy like Tim (Timmy) Horne, you have a guy like Dee (Robert) Hentz II, Jaylen Pickle becomes kind of a fourth guy in there. He’s the one out of the four that has the athleticism to do that on the outside. We’ve used all those guys at some point in time on the outside, but he’s been more natural out there. For a big guy, tremendously athletic and long, we can do different things with him in terms of moving him inside if we need to, to a three technique. I think the transition has been really well. He spends most of his reps out there in practice and throughout the course, even going back to the spring, he repped out there quite a bit. So, he’s been smooth, seamless out there.”

On red zone defense…

“One of our points of emphasis is the red-zone touchdown percentage. That’s something that we talk about every Friday, we talk about it every Monday, and it hasn’t been great. Our mindset always in the red zone is field goals won’t beat you. You can give up a play and give up a drive if you can get them stopped in the red zone and hold them to field goals. They could have nine great drives and score 27 points, which isn’t an awful day, even though it would be an awful day. The mindset of those guys is we’ve got to get this turned around. We’ve given up far too many touchdowns down there. We got them to fourth down, and they decided to go. We just executed the next call.”

Copyright © Meridian Media, 2021. All Rights Reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced without Meridian Media’s express consent.

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