Things haven’t changed— we’re still underdogs. Three big games left. One of our goals was to get bowl eligible; for us we got to six, not the way everybody would have liked us to, including myself. We have three really big ballgames coming down, #2 K-State, Texas, and Oklahoma. We knew what this would be like before we started the season; I’m glad we got to six before we started this three.
As a K-State alum, you love seeing a team like K-State have a chance to play for the national championship; but for us, and recruiting, as our kids work their tails off, but like I said in the conference call, it’s a dilemma. If I win, I’ll be the one person who can’t cross the state line into Kansas. I used to say that when I crossed into Kansas, I knew there is always somebody within 30 minutes to help me.
My time as a player was a lot on scout teams, a little bit on special teams; probably I was known more for my guitar than my playing experience. As a grad assistant, Mo Lattimore (one of the coaches) his mom got sick, and I ended up coaching the outside linebackers. We went to K-State’s first bowl game in history, against Wisconsin. It was the coldest days; I had some friends there from Pittsburgh, we were talking about how cold it was Friday night. We had baggies over your feet, over your socks; it was sleeting sideways; by some point in time, I don’t think anyone cared who won. It was cold.
One thing I learned from Bill Snyder is I always speak to my team before halftime; because they spread out once they get in the locker room. He works hard; he says "my time with the team is Wednesday nights at 10:30 PM." Not A.M. It’s a tribute to how hard he works, how much they work to do things.
They named the stadium and a highway for him; I’d say that sums it up. We have highways here— Amon Carter. There it’s Bill Snyder.
Hopefully to some extent we have already made that kind of impact here; hopefully we’ll leave this place better than it was. He’s 73; I’m not sure I’ll be coaching at 73. It’s his passion. He’s been very good at it, and it really says a lot about his energy about how he does things. Truly it’s an amazing story.
I was a part of some of their struggling years. When we went to the Independence Bowl, it was the first bowl in their history, and I think we were the only Division 1 team never to go bowling. Coach Dickey was our coach then, then Coach Parrish, that’s when coach Snyder came in. He’s set some models, how you play non-conference games to build confidence. You watch how he meticulously goes about coaching a ball game, recruiting— a lot of us study how he’s done it. And how he treats people— his whole thing is I work 24 hours a day and I don’t give anything away that would hurt my team’s chance of winning. There’s a lot to be learned from him. I think Collin Klein was playing tight end when he came to K-State. They turned him back into a quarterback. Now they’re back to graduating guys; there’s a great attention to detail with what he does.
This part of our season is our "Custer Section." Going over the hill. I felt the same way in 2001. We were 4-5, had an off week. We had Louisville, which was 9-1 or 10-1, and then Southern Miss. We beat Louisville, and then beat USM, and then the Houston Bowl. The odds of winning then were not much better or worse than these three ball games. Our kids like it— they don’t know any different. We didn’t play well on offense coming off the Texas Tech game, then fought back last week to find a way to win in overtime— it’s just part of the deal.
[Has the team grown up?] They did it against Iowa State, too, and Texas Tech. It’s just the margin of error— Oklahoma State against K-State: five turnovers to zero. We had to cause some good luck of our own— they mishandled a snap on a punt, we picked it up and ran it in. When Trevone threw the interception at the endzone, instead of just run it, kick it, it’s a tie game. It was a big swing of momentum. You gotta give then and my staff a lot of credit for taking our energy with us. We flew in late, didn’t go to the stadium. Maybe we didn’t know any better— when we woke up, we won it in overtime.
[One of your better coaching jobs?] I dunno; we’re still getting up at 6, going to bed a 1. It’s tougher finding answers; David Johnson it probably out for the season, lots of injuries this year— add one more. Stansly Maponga came back, made a big difference. Matthew Tucker is back a few carries, but he’ll be more full speed. Blaize Foltz will be a little bit healthier; now it’s about survival. We try to get to Saturday, then we get a couple days more for rest for the Thanksgiving game, then a couple extra days getting ready for an Oklahoma team.
For me, that play is like whether you go on fourth down, or kick an onside kick; it’s a feel. In the third quarter we were kinda of trading punts, then all of a sudden they run a punt back for a touchdown. You gotta change how the line’s going. For that play, it was take off the headset, it’s all or nothing. They get in the same way— we try to catch them off guard. In the locker room you can see— we’re here to win, not here to play well. Hopefully that’s the last game we put ourselves in the situation to win tight ball games. If you’re gonna win championships, you gotta win games like that. Coach Sharp said something during pre-game— the longer you play hard, the better chance you have of creating your own luck.
For three Saturdays, you have to be the best team for that day. That’s all you have to be. There’re a lot of intangibles going in to all three of those ballgames. How do you do that, get ready for it? Itt’s what makes it fun. I’m still sitting here with 3 different personnel groups, trying to figure out how we line up against them. It’s hard to make K-State play left-handed. You play this card, they’re playing another card. It’s hard to get them to do that. We got ‘till Friday to figure out if we need a new deck. It makes it a lot of fun. I’ve never been in a ball game— two overtime games now— wehre we held a team, ended up giving 56 points, but going into the 4th quarter they had less than 200 yards. Last week, they ran 90 plays, 22 third down chances, and only 22 points. You gotta give a lot of credit to the kids, working their tails off. Even against Oklahoma state, they were throwing their bodies around. You gotta battle; the pass rushers at West Virginia were fresh, had two weeks. We gotta battle ‘em. Trevone’s got to beat them with his arm and with his feet. It’s a proven fact, if you don’t win the turnover battle against Kansas State, that’s how you get beat. Pretty soon you look up, "Hey, we didn’t play badly," and all of a sudden you’re down 40.
I haven’t really had time to evaluate him against anybody welse. I just always tell Trevone, "When you throw down the middle, make sure." Like all young QBs, he throws the outside routs really well. He had a couple, he had Josh, rolled a three, had four verticals going on. He learned from some over-throws down the middle to Aundre Dean. In a year’s time, that’s a play he’ll make. One of those for Josh Boyce he would have overthrown had he rifled it the same way. When you start scrambling, you gotta have peace. You can’t be out of control while you’re scrambling. He got a first down with his legs; right now it’s a new week every week with him.
Both Collin Klein and the freshmen run real well. They run the same plays. They have the best offensive line in the Big 12, they’re good a running the football. Their wide receivers are good. People always say they overachieve— not this Kansas State team. This team has a lot of seniors, their wideouts can run, they catch well; really good tight end; runningback— he’s faster and stronger than last year. Defensively, 12 or 14 or seniors out of the top 22, they play like that. As a whole football team comes at you. We’ve had teams like that at TCU. We have to match that. Our advantage is it’s a 6 o’clock, will be a great crowd. You gotta get ready to play.
Any time we’ve been like that— 2008, some people said that was the best defensive team we’ve had. Some say it was the best defensive team they’ve ever played against.
I’m not about freshmen talking (to the press). Let’s let him pass his final exams first. Maybe for the bowl game.
[More creative play calling required?] No; in the defense, with Derrick Kindred, we knew he’d be good, he just needs to keep growing up. It makes us more athletic; When he and Sam Carter are on the field, they didn’t score a touchdown except in overtime. We played faster, tackled better. Offensively, I didn’t even know we were doing that. I was just as surprised as you— a "Reverse— no, not— pitch it back! Whoa! Touchdown! Great play." Everybody gives the head coach a lot of credit, yeah, I did a lot for that. Coach Anderson, Coach Burns— the whole staff. Look what they went through— they started the season with three tailbacks, now they have to make it work with freshmen and Aundre Dean. If we give up, say we just don’t have any bullets, then that’s what the players do. But we don’t. We have ten starters returning on defense next year, but the competition with the younger guys will make us better. Especially a corner, where we have guys who are red shirting. And we gotta bring in more linebackers.
[Key for K-State?] Don’t turn the ball over. They go about their business, running the option— if something’s scary out they, they don’t pitch it. They’ve got a great formula— play great defense, run the clock, score; he throws the ball better than a year ago. Defensively they’re off the chart.
[Telling the press about teams; do you emulate Snyder?] I’ve got a job to do. Some part of it is letting the guys speak when they get older. Players like Trevone and Andy, like it or not they are the face of the program. My choice is when they finally get a chance to represent us, they do it in a good manner. I don’t tell them what to say other than they have to use respect, don’t talk about yourself, respect your opponents. Coach Snyder’s way has worked; it’s easy to critique. It’s probably a little easier in Kansas where there’s not a pro market.
It’s going to be a discussion even in the Big 12, to characterize your injuries— probable, questionable, etc. The ACC does it the best. Dana said something about, "They don’t know who we’re playing, and we don’t know who they’re playing." No, I told you as soon as I knew that Trevone was playing. But we all know. Oklahoma State was saying a kid might not play, but he was tweeting, "I’m out for the season." So that worked real well.
My thing with the team is they can talk their personal life, but not about the game plan, teammates, his university, because that’s people’s livelihoods. People gotta make house payments, etc. Nowadays people can hire people who go back through facebook, everything, and see everything, and judge you. We’ve gotta teach the kids to handle it like adults. I can say we’re all mature when we get older— look at John Denton!
[What conversation with Dana Holgersen about the two-point conversion?] We walked across, and he said, "I saw it, I think it was a catch. He was good. You don’t know what to say; I’ve been on both ends of those. With Tommy [Tuberville] it was, "I hate overtimes." Everybody’s a loser in overtime— you play your tails off for four quarters, and then it’s a tie.