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K-State Coordinators Speak with Media Before Hosting West Virginia

K-State Athletics ReleaseNovember 11, 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 host West Virginia this Saturday inside Bill Snyder Family Stadium. Links to video of both press conferences are above, and a complete transcript is below.

COURTNEY MESSINGHAM, OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

On his concerns going up against the West Virginia defense…

“Their front seven. Their d-line all have the ability to make impact plays. It doesn’t matter if it’s (number) 55 (Dante Stills), 10 (Jared Bartlett), 8 (VanDarius Cowan), 90 (Akheem Mesidor). You go right through their d-line and they all have building make impact plays. Then, their linebackers are very physical. That’s the style of football they want to play is hard-nosed, physical football.”

On if the Bandit position is unique…

“Well, the biggest thing they do different than a lot of people is that they will take kind of that that stand-up d-end that’s normally the fourth rusher, and instead of rushing from the outside, all of a sudden he’s playing in the linebacker position. You anticipate he’s probably the extra guy to rush, but then all of a sudden, they’ll rush outside linebacker off the edge. It only has to happen one or two times and a big impact play can happen, obviously, in the wrong side of it for us.”

On trying to scheme ways to get Deuce Vaughn the ball when defenses are keying in on him…

“We’ve said this from the very start – the best part about Deuce is he really understands the offense, not just from a running back standpoint, but from a receiver standpoint and schematically. So, our ability to slide him out and played put him in some of the no back or empty-set stuff and him to feel comfortable running routes has been great for us. So, it helps us. He’s good at running the fly-sweep stuff as well, so we can put him out there and hand it to him, but then also use him as a decoy and give the ability to get somebody else open off play action.”

On Skylar Thompson’s effectiveness on third downs…

“Not just on third down, but in general, since he’s been back, he’s been extremely accurate. Not just on finding the tailback and getting it dumped off, but, with the exception of two or three balls, for the most part, it doesn’t matter if he’s throwing to the tight end on a corner route or if he’s throwing to a wide receiver on an in-braking route like the throw to Kade (Warner), he’s been very accurate with the football. For anybody to be successful, you have to have success on third downs, and he’s done a really nice job distributing the ball and being accurate with it.”

On using different offensive line groupings against Kansas…

“Well, we’re going to keep trying to get where we can play seven o-linemen, eight o-linemen. Logan Long has continued to get better. Hadley (Panzer) has continued to play more and more, even though he’s young as a freshman. KT (Leveston) got a little bit of playing time. I expect him, hopefully, to get a little bit more. The more we can play, the better it makes a (Josh) Rivas, a (Cooper) Beebe, the better it makes (Christian) Duffie when the fourth quarter comes, rather than them having to play the entire game.”

On the improvement on the offensive line since week one…

“Knock on wood because this team really can rush the passer, but if you look at us from week one through week four from a protection standpoint, through the last four or five weeks, I think they’ve really started to do a good job communicating, passing things, off being on the same page. Part of that comes from getting more and more reps and having, for the most part, the same group of guys play allows them to continue to play more as a true unit.”

On passing more this season to help on the recruiting trail…

“I think every opportunity you have to show that you’ll use the skill sets of the guys that you have allows you to recruit better. We’ve got now the opportunity to be able to say, ‘Hey, we’ll throw the ball down the field to you.’ ‘Well, I’m a tight end.’ ‘Yeah, we’ll throw the ball down the field, too.’ ‘Well, I’m a wide receiver.’ Some of them get completed, some of them don’t. You got tape now of a Keenan Garber having a big play early in the season, an opportunity this past week that, unfortunately, we didn’t hit on where he’s rolling down the field on a post. Then you see some guys getting screens thrown to them and then going to get 11, 12, 14 yards. When you can put some of that stuff on tape so that when you are recruiting those young men, you can say, ‘No, you fit this skill set.’ That’s what we’re really trying to do.”

On using the pitch play out of the I-formation against Kansas…

“We’ve had it. It just goes back to the same thing – when is it the right fit? We’ve been practicing that since fall camp, but this week we felt like it fit what they did and felt comfortable getting called.”

On what has made West Virginia a tough matchup for K-State…

“When you go back and watch last year’s tape, you feel like we had some missed opportunities that didn’t allow us to keep moving the chains. The thing that they’ve done a really good job, I feel like, is they’ve been very, very good in the red zone. When we get an opportunity to get driving down there to the 30-, 35-yard line driving down, we need to keep on making plays. You’re not going to do it all the time, but you need to push the ball into the end zone for touchdowns and not kick field goals.”

On the status of wide receiver Phillip Brooks…

“He should be good to go. We limited him, obviously, a little bit last week. Still, he made a couple big plays, I felt like, on the punt-return stuff. So, he showed he could run. I feel like he’s a guy now that I shouldn’t need to worry a lot about when it comes to where he’s at health wise.”

On what he thinks the next step is for Deuce Vaughn…

“Just continue with the mindset of I can improve every single day. That’s kind of the mindset he goes about practice with. I would love to say that he’s going to do this more, do that more, but right now we try to use him as much as we can without wearing him out. So, it’s hard to have an exact, ‘what’s the next thing for him?’”

On if Skylar Thompson’s knowledge of the offense or how defenses will play against him has expanded more…

“I would say the latter. He is really, really locked in right now to how people are trying to defend us as an offense and understanding, schematically, what defenses are trying to do. Part of that is the time that he spends with Coach (Collin) Klein, but the second part is he’s going to try every week to get with Coach Klieman from a defensive mindset of what are people doing to us. I believe that’s probably helping the most as far as really understanding defensive football.”

On how important it was to get Will Howard in the game at Kansas…

“I was obviously very, very thankful that he had an opportunity to get in there and still throw the football around a little bit. We were going to throw the ball. We were not going to say, ‘Hey, get in here Will and run the clock out,’ because he’s played enough football that that’s not doing him any good. He needed to get in and try to throw the ball around a little bit. I felt like he did a good job. I wish he would have had a full quarter to get a few more opportunities. Obviously, unfortunately, we had two penalties in that series that took away a little bit from our ability to say, ‘Okay, good, now it’s first and 10 again. Let’s throw some quick game, or let’s throw some play action.’ I thought he did a nice job running the football as well. The one scramble that got called back for a hold, to me, he was now into a quarterback mode where it was go get the number of yards you can get and then be smart. That’s really what we want our quarterbacks to be in that setting is, yeah, go get a big first down, get as many yards as you can and get down. If we’re in the red zone or it’s third down, now you got to get hit, but I loved what he did.”

JOE KLANDERMAN, DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR

On the importance of slowing down West Virginia running back Leddie Brown…

“Yeah, that’s the deal. That’s the ticket. When we looked at that earlier, if you take the Long Island game out where I’m not sure how many carries he had in that game, I believe in the three wins he’s got over 100 yard and then the five losses, he’s under 100. So, that’s the key for them. I think they want to play a physical brand of football. I think they’re throwing it a little bit more than maybe they’d want to right now. If they get him going, they generally have success, and that’s going to be the key is stopping him early.”

On getting teams to third and long…

“Early in the year we really struggled to do that. We were getting a third down, but it was third and two, third and one, third and three. I think they’re probably preaching the same thing, ‘We’ve got to get ourselves in third manageable.’ It just opens up so many options, so many different coverage things that you can do, so many different pressures that you can bring, let alone cutting Felix (Anudike-Uzomah) and Nate (Matlack) and those guys loose. So, that’s been something we’ve been having some success with the last couple of weeks.”

On Oklahoma State’s success rushing the passer against West Virginia…

“Just relentlessness. It wasn’t anything fancy. I thought there were some things, I think maybe three or four of them they just brought three guys. I think they did some good things coverage wise that made him hold the ball. I think there were a couple, I know there was one that was a screen pass that they defended really well and he had to eat it. I mean, there were some things like that. It wasn’t just terrible offensive line play. I think there were some things that were circumstantial as well.”

On Daniel Green making plays on the perimeter…

“I think the design of the defenses is to get the ball going to the perimeter, and he does such a good job of feeling his way through things inside out. Then, he’s not afraid to hit it when he sees an opening. Just the fact that he’s playing fast is why he’s making so many splash plays.”

On recruiting to the new defensive scheme…

“That’s a great question, and we’ve been talking a lot about that lately. Early in the year that was a topic of discussion because we weren’t sure where we were going to go and what we were going to be. I think the more that we are into this, I think it does become much more clear with where we want to go and the types of bodies, probably more so than anything, that we want to recruit. I can’t say that we’re there right now with our current roster exactly where we want to be from every position, but we’re working on it.”

On Reggie Stubblefield playing a lot of different positions…

“Reggie is just one of our best 11, and he’s a good playmaker. I don’t know that he necessarily fits the prototype of a good example of what we want at that position, but he does give us some versatility to do some different things with him that we couldn’t do with Khalid Duke or Ryan Henington or Wayne Jones. We can stick him out there and play some man coverage with him. We can stick him out there and he’s an effective blitzer. He can do a bunch of different zone drops. We can put him in the half field if we want to. We’re going to have to have some guys like that, also, tough to find.”

On Ekow Boye-Doe’s performance…

“Steady-Eddy. That’s exactly what he’s been. He’s been on top of things. He’s been good on his technique. He’s been sound. Sometimes it’s a good thing when you don’t hear a corner’s name all that often. He’s tremendously fast, and so he’s able to stay on top of routes. So, there’s been some times when people have wanted to take shots on him. It just hadn’t been there, and it was good to see him play the ball like he did on Saturday. It was especially sweet for him because he’s a Lawrence kid, and I think that always is a little special when he’s playing against KU.”

On what makes West Virginia a difficult matchup…

“They’re a tough, physical team. They are well coached. They are methodical in what they do. They believe in what they do, and they just do it really well. Probably one of the more physical o-lines. I think that was our takeaway from a year ago that they were able to get that tremendous running back going behind a powerful offensive line. When you rank the lines in the league, to me, they’re in the top couple for sure. On top of that, they’ve got good playmakers on the perimeter, really good receiving corps. They utilize them well with their play-action game and their drop-back game for that matter. They get those guys to the ball on screen plays and stuff, and they can make things happen after the catch. So, I think it’s a combination of just personnel and the attitude, mentality, of what they’re doing as a program.”

On slowing down the quick-passing scheme that was effective last season…

“I think some of it was just missed tackles that turned into explosive things, not that we were in awful positions on some of those. I know there was one on a third down, it really kind of changed the game. It was the middle of the second quarter or 10 minutes left in the second quarter and it was 3-3. The ball got out of his hands quickly, we brought a little pressure, and I think two guys ran by it and two guys ran into each other. We missed the tackle with a guy in the middle of field and went for 60 (yards). A couple of plays later they scored and it kind of snowballed from there. I think we just have to take better angles. I think we’re better at that as a program right now, and we’ve just got to finish plays.”

On Jarrett Doege’s interceptions…

“Sure, I think sometimes under duress is a thing. Again, I think they’re talented up front. I don’t know if that’s the issue. I don’t think anybody’s completely baffled him with what they’ve done defensively. I think sometimes he just is trying to make plays and things happen.”

On how far Jarrett Doege has come since his first start two years ago in Manhattan…

“We knew his name back then, and I think that was kind of his coming-out party. He came in and we had another disastrous scramble that ended up costing us that game. But it’s night and day. At the time he was just a transfer from Bowling Green that was a depth guy. Now he’s turned into one of the better quarterbacks in the league. His confidence has grown. I think somebody told me that he’s thrown in his career something – you guys know better than me – 1,500 passes or something like that. Sounds like an insane number. There aren’t too many people in the country that have had that many attempts. So, there’s not much he hasn’t seen.”

On preparing for a two-quarterback system…

“Texas Tech did a little bit of that a few weeks ago with a couple of quarterbacks they had. The difference is (Garrett) Greene will throw the ball. With Texas Tech, we had the feeling that that wasn’t going to happen. They were bringing the guy into run him. Certainly, they want to do that with Greene also, but he will drop back and throw it, too. So, it’s going to make our plan a little bit more open.”

On how much more confidence the defense is playing with…

“That’s a great question. I think you’d have to assume that they’re playing with a lot more confidence. It’s not things we typically talk about, but you can just see it in the way they prepare. I think the big emphasis – and Coach Klieman was the spearhead of this is – we went through those three weeks, and then after that, our preparation has been so much better in terms of the amount of film study that guys are doing on their own, in terms of these guys getting together on their own, in terms of our practice habits. There’s a lot of things that we changed that we just had to reevaluate after that time if we wanted to get ourselves out of that funk. That’s improved each week. So, if that’s a function of confidence, then it’s drastically improved.”

On Felix Anudike-Uzomah having past experience with a three-down lineman defense…

“No. I don’t know. If he’s a five technique, he’s a five technique. I think part of the reason he’s having success is because he’s a dang good player.”

On what challenges Leddie Brown presents the three-front defense…

“At the end of the day, you’re going to hit your fits. Every defense has got run fits and gaps and design or wherever you’re going end up funneling the ball to. We’ve just got to be sound in our technique and execute things.”

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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