Gary Barnett: A quick review of the Kansas game, I felt like the second half was much better for us focus wise and attention to detail. We challenged our kids at halftime to fix the problems that we had. And they really did.
Our defense played much better in the second half.
One of the things as I walked away from the game I had to think about a little bit was that we (created) four turnovers. I didn't feel like we got four turnovers, but we did. When you can put together that many turnovers, that's always a good sign.
I thought Maurice Lucas did a nice job at coming in for a guy that hasn't played hardly at all. He's a guy that's just going to get better and better. Fortunately, we did play him a little bit at Texas and we were able to get some reps under his belt. Then he stepped in and had to play almost two-thirds of that Kansas game. It's good experience for him. He'll get better every game.
Special teams were outstanding. They really got us over the hump and created momentum in that game. It was one of those things where everything worked for us. The punt block team got hot and did a great job. Then we had the fake on the field goal and all of that contributed to the win.
Overall I was pleased with the way we played the second half. I wasn't pleased with the way we played the first half. But that's over with and done and we're ready to move on.
The way things are shaking out in the North now, it's like a playoff for us this game. We're on the road at Kansas State. Kansas State is a team that's got to win two of its next four to get in a bowl game. They're playing a young quarterback (Allan Evridge) that we don't have a lot of film on. We've got the last two games, but we don't have a lot of history with him. That's probably our biggest challenge.
They do a lot of different things with him in the game than they did with Allen Webb. It's like they're two different teams. They're throwing it all over the place. I think they threw it 50 times last week against A&M. Webb, they were running a lot of the option and he was running the ball on the quarterback keep. They've absolutely changed their personality in the middle of the season, for the most part. It's hard to get a handle on it.
Their defense, it's always a fight when you play their defense. They're improved over last year. They're stout up front, have good corners. It's the same challenge every week. It's not very complicated, we've got to find a way to move the ball.
One of the things that will happen, our team will probably be more focused than we were last week. We had a really good practice yesterday and a good meeting about the first half of the Kansas game, and our preparation for Kansas. I do think that when you talk to our players about the fact that the winner of this game has represented the North every year (after 1999), that it puts a little bit more on it for our players. They know what playing Kansas State's about. It gets passed on from year to year to year to know what to expect in a game like this, and to know how big this game usually is for both of these teams.
It's a tough place to play. You're right (in front of) the student section, which we seem to be every week. But we'll be up for it. Our guys are looking forward to the challenge. I see us having the same type of excitement and preparation as we did before Oklahoma State and Texas A&M.
Q: Is that rare for a team to change its offensive personality so much in the middle of a season?
GB: I think it is. I'm sure it's harder on the coaches than anyone else. But they have a whole slew of good receivers. And it sort of makes since to do that. And they've done it.
Q: They've had a little down turn at Kansas State the past two seasons. What do you attribute that to?
GB: I don't have a clue.
Q: Maybe being a young team?
GB: Well, they were a young team there last year if I recall. I don't have any idea. I think you go back and you look at the teams that are struggling that have been up there, it's usually a change in quarterbacks. You go from a guy like Ell Roberson who had been there as a four-year player and did so much. Then last year they were trying to replace him and they went in and out of Webb and the other guy. The same thing at Oklahoma where they were struggling with a quarterback identity, and now they've settled on Bomar. They'll get better.
But when you change quarterbacks after having a guy there for years, there seems to be some sort of transition. And I know the next question is what about next year (at CU)? I'll worry about that next year.
Q: Other than the opener you haven't had a fourth quarter that was close. Do you try to replicate those circumstances in practice?
GB: You can't. That's a good point though. I thought Miami, we were in it in the fourth quarter. It was a 16-3 game. We thought we were in it. Maybe nobody else did, but we thought we were in it. But you're right, we haven't had to go down to the wire again in the fourth quarter. It's something that, I think if you've got a lot of seniors you count on them getting you through that. But that would be a test for us.
Q: Is that a concern?
GB: If I can't control it, I'm not concerned with it. And I can't control that so I'm really not too concerned about it.
Q: You talk about every game being a playoff; is this a trap game?
GB: No. For me a trap game is last week. This one, it's Kansas State. Our guys know what Kansas State's about and they know what playing there is about.
Q: How good is their defense?
GB: Statistically, we're sixth and seventh in the conference in total defense. We're three yards apart in total offense, we're three yards apart in total defense. There's a whole number of stats where we're almost identical. The difference is if you look at the league stats, then it's different. But if you look at the overall, there are six different stats where we're right next to each other.
Q: What kind of running back is Thomas Clayton?
GB: It's hard to say because they haven't run the ball very much recently. I watched him against Marshall and he was very effective. But I think they're last in the conference in rushing (in conference games). They're averaging 49 yards a game. You really can't tell. He's a big back; he's a 220-pound back. But they haven't really gotten him loose.
Q: Is it difficult to plan for a K-State team that doesn't have a Michael Bishop or Ell Roberson-style quarterback?
GB: The big thing is they're doing so many different things right now, it's hard to get a handle on just what they're personality is because it's changed. Before, when they were using those other guys, you sort of knew what their personality was. You get into rhythms and predictability. With this guy right now it's really hard to get a handle on.
Q: How did Terry Washington do against Kansas?
GB: He did pretty well. He did a good job on special teams. He's a good tackle and he made a big breakup; blew coverage once. But overall did a pretty good job for us.
Q: What do you know about Kansas State's wide receivers?
GB: They're big kids. They all can run. Yamon Figurs had a tough day last week, and you've got to figure that's not going to happen again. Again, you go back to the advantage they have in their unpredictability. A new quarterback, different personality. You don't have charts on him. You're stuck trying to defend everything, and you can't do that. You have to narrow it down and figure out what you want to defend. Right now it's hard to figure that out.
Q: You mentioned they're two wins and you're one win away from being bowl eligible. Do players think about that right now?
GB: I don't think ours are. I was just reading their news release and they were talking about that. I haven't heard that discussion on our team yet.
Q: Is that a good sign?
GB: I think it's a real good sign. We're hell bent to get to that championship game.
Q: Is your program one that expects to get to a bowl game every year?
GB: I think every program expects to go to a bowl. When you get over a situation where you have to change the entire mentality of communities and universities, which I've experienced, and you get up to where you're among the top 50 percent of the teams in Division I, I think everybody expects to got to a bowl game.
Q: Without getting too far ahead, if you get this one, how comfortable are you in the North?
GB: That's too far ahead.
Q: How important is it to establish the run this week?
GB: We're going to be a balanced team. We put the same amount of effort in every week in both. We don't ever go out and say we're just going to run it or we're just going to throw it. We want to be balanced.
Q: Are you concerned about being balanced?
GB: Every week I'm concerned about it. Every week we try to do both. We rushed for double what (Kansas was allowing per game) last week. Now that's not enough. But it was a lot more than anybody else had done.
We probably found ourselves trying to do too many things last week.
Q: Considering what Kansas giving up and you ran for 104 yards, how did you grade what you did against them on the ground?
GB: After the game I was tainted by second and 1, third and 1, fourth and 1 and not getting it. That's how I formed my opinion of our running game on Saturday. As I go back and look at it again, what we did was take what they were giving us. They were taking away the run, but they were giving us some big throws in the passing game.
There's a point in time when it's not about principal and having to run the ball, it's about moving the ball and scoring points. And that's what we did.
Q: Who would you compare Evridge to?
GB: I think he's a lot like the quarterback at Oklahoma now, Bomar. He's the same kind of guy. He throws it and he runs pretty well. I think the kid who came in against us, Jason Swanson, is going to be a pretty good quarterback. If they can settle on one guy, that'll probably help them. That's going to be an interesting game this week, Kansas and Missouri.
Q: Can you comment on the way Joel Klatt has managed the team this fall vs. his first two years?
GB: I don't really think it's much different from the way he's managed it the first two years. But you can see his experience of going through ups and downs. He doesn't experience those like he did as a junior and sophomore. Joel's the same all the way now. A year ago when something went bad, his frustration and his competitiveness would spike him one way or the other. He doesn't have those spikes now.
Q: You've only taken seven sacks this season. Why is that?
GB: We saw a lot of pressure in camp from our own guys. So they're pretty comfortable picking that up. And I think the other thing is Joel – as a quarterback, after you've been in it a while, you realize the value of not taking a sack to your team. You don't understand it when you're a young quarterback. They think their job is to throw the ball and complete it and it's the line's job to protect them. Then as you go along, you watch and you learn how important it is not to have negative yardage plays.
So Joel is moving up and getting out of the way and he's not taking any risks back there …holding it too long. He's throwing it on time. If it's not there, it's incomplete, and everybody goes, ‘Oh, Joel can't hit the side of a barn.' But, you know what? It's not a sack and we get to do the next play. Those things, you don't realize the value of them until you've been in the game a while.
Q: How much do you text message kids in recruiting?
GB: I do a little bit, but our coaches do a lot. It's expensive for the kids. But text is absolutely a huge thing. Because that's what they do. Do you know what Facebook is? It's broken down by universities. Kids put there name and their face in what they call a Facebook. People from other colleges will look up their name and face on the computer. Then you can "poke" ‘em, you can "visit" ‘em. Kids take their cell phones into class and they'll go to the Facebook and see how many pokes they have. It's constant.
Q: At what point will the NCAA be able to regulate that?
GB: They'll never be able to.
More on recruiting rules and catching up with evolving technology
GB: They're outdated now. But you know who's making up those rules? People that don't know what Facebook is. Literally, that's what's going on. You can't ever be ahead of these kids. They learn about it, and we (coaches) know about it because we're in the mix all the time. The NCAA and the body that passes the rules has no idea what's going on out there. Just no idea. Something comes up and they react to it and make a rule, and (technology and culture is) years past it already.
Q: How did Stephone Robinson do at receiver last week?
GB: He did OK. He blocked well. He's getting better. He had a good day yesterday. One of the things I've noticed is that Stephone has made Alvin Barnett work a little harder.