(on freshman quarterback Josh Freeman) "Having recruited Josh for a while at Virginia before we arrived (at Kansas State), I was aware of him as a sophomore and junior, his family thought it was a little too far to go. When we came to K-State, we renewed conversation, so I was very aware of how he'd been coached and what kind of kid he is and what kind of profile he had. He's a very confident young man, very smart. He's been trained very well. It was very clear to me that he had the right stuff, physically, that he had the tools. I knew that he'd been trained well. It was just a matter of putting all those circumstances together.
"To show up as a freshman and actually go out and play as a freshman is a completely different deal. Just finding the library, finding your dorm, finding classes; just the routine of being on your own for the first time, I thought he handled it marvelously. The perfect plan would not have included him being the starter. Most coaches would like to ease their rookie guy in—most people would. But it was just obvious to me after the Baylor game, or apparent to me coming into that week, that we didn't have enough players around our quarterback playing well to make that position be able to play the way we'd like it to play.
"In some ways, we just wanted to exploit his arm and the fact that he can get the ball into all areas of the field at any time to try to back the defense off of us a little bit. I knew that it would take him some time and I knew that he could run and that he could do all of those things and make good decisions, but he did a good job in his first start, Oklahoma State. And then like should happen, defensive coordinators did a good job of giving him game plans that made it a little more challenging. So he worked through that and I thought that he played well down the stretch."
(on the team's reaction to having a freshman starting at quarterback)
"They've been great. They've been great surrounding all of the things that we're trying to accomplish here, whether it's playing on special teams. We don't believe in seniority. That doesn't have any place. This is a meritocracy. The coaches are going to play the guys that give us the best chance to win, and when they're ready, I'm ready."
(on if Freeman's height is an advantage to him)
"It does allow him to do some things, but then usually tall guys have some challenges with ball handling on the center snap, footwork sometimes takes a little bit longer to perfect, all those things that come along with it. Just like a shorter quarterback, their footwork should be a little further ahead, but then you have other challenges. So yeah, there is a trade off, but the thing that is so unique about him is he has such great confidence and he's very emotionally neutral in the game. He's very much like (former Virginia QB) Matt Schaub, very much like (former NC State QB) Philip Rivers and other really good quarterbacks that I'm used to being around. He's very much like them. He's very emotionally neutral. He's very much in control and poised; he expects to be good. Beating Texas and all that kind of stuff, that's why he came here. He's not really that impressed by it; none of us are. None of us have met our expectations this year, so we'll just try and improve."
(on Freeman's ability and what he brings to a program)
"He's a franchise player. He's the kind of player that can change a team and can change the image of an organization. He has all the right stuff, all the intangibles."
(on recruiting Freeman and if he thought he could sign him)
"I did. I always think I have a chance. Sometimes I've been a little delusional, whether it's (former Maryland TE) Vernon Davis or (former USC WR) Mike Williams or (USC WR) Dwayne Jarrett. I've swung my sword at all those and didn't get them all, but we've gotten our share."
(on the Texas game)
"That's why you come coach at Kansas State and play at Kansas State, so you can play in big games like that. That's the advantage of being in the Big 12. That's why we scheduled Louisville in non-conference and that's why we'll continue to schedule those types of teams in the future, because what are you really going to accomplish at Kansas State if you can't beat Oklahoma and all the others just like them. Kansas State, when they really had it cooking, was beating USC, was beating Texas, was beating Kansas."
(on today's practice)
"I thought practice went well. One of the things that we're doing is we've been through the game plan once. We've installed everything that we need to install before we came down here. Now it's just a matter of continuing to work on our timing. You want to peak at the right time. You don't want things to get old for the kids, but you want them to be ready to play.
"That's really the challenge that we have coming down here, so we've worked them pretty good, we've kept on as much of our routine as we can, and we've tried to change things frequently throughout the year for no reason to prepare us for these things. The game times are all different. You can play at 11 o'clock in the morning, you can play at 8 o'clock at night; there's all kinds of start times, so we've tried to do some of that in preparation for these kind of moments so that if we have something that was a little unusual, we could adjust to it, and our kids have really handled that pretty well.
"It's one of those things where moving down here, practicing down here, we're used to practicing in a facility like this because we have good facilities at our place. Just being in an NFL city and an NFL venue is a little different, but we don't have class to contend with and some of those things, so I think the players are pretty focused and there's a tradeoff in everything."
(on taking the team to the Texans-Colts NFL game Sunday)
"I think they enjoyed it. I think they were checking out the sight lines and seeing what it would be like, how the noise would be like, how the footing would look and some of that kind of stuff. It's also fun for them because most of them aspire to play at that level and some of them have been watching that level on TV; some of them have never been to an NFL game before, so that was neat for them. I think it was a good experience for everybody.
"I just think doing things as a team has really been something that we've made an emphasis. This is the last time the 2006 will ever be together. The team won't be able to build on this for next year; the team has to be reborn every year, so we're really trying to value each other and enjoy spending time with each other because we'll never have this team together again."
Kansas State QB Josh Freeman
(on the adjustment to college football as an early enrollee last spring)
"It was a good experience. They welcomed me onto the team when I came in in the spring and worked out with them, and I think that helped break any walls there were between me and the guys. Coming into two-a-days, I knew everybody, I was cool with everybody, and I was able to really clear my mind because that wasn't really an issue—getting to know everybody and earning the team's respect like the guys that weren't there—so I could just clear my head and go in there and learn the offense."
(on the experience of seeing his first extended playing time against Baylor)
"The earlier games I was getting in, I never really had a chance to get my feet under me. I'd get kind of thrown into the game and it would just be an awkward situation and I wouldn't have any rhythm. And then I came into the Baylor game and I learned a valuable lesson in that game there: when you're down in a two-possession game, you don't have to get it all back in one play. You can just keep cutting away at it. We had plenty of time to come back in that game, but I made some rookie mistakes that I feel like cost us the game." (on what winning the Oklahoma State game meant to him) "I always knew I had it in me; I was just waiting for my opportunity to get on the field and I wouldn't say take over the team, but put my mark on the team and show them I can be in there and I can make plays in a game." (on what he's seen from Rutgers in film study) "They don't play like they're a number 16 team; they play like a team that has something to prove. They're every bit of a top 10 team in my opinion, a top 10 defense especially. But they play like they're fighting to get ranked or to prove something. They're not the biggest team in the world, but they play extremely hard on every play. You'll go into a game and you'll see a d-lineman every now and again take a play off, but their schemes, they rely on the d-line making penetration. Their whole scheme, whatever they're doing, their d-line is a big part of what their defense does.