Tracking Mack: Sept. 26
Opening statement: We've had a great week of practice and that's really good because it's been hot. We thought it would cool off some. The guys have worked with a lot of enthusiasm and that just shows the respect they have for what they've seen on film of Kansas State. (Kansas State head coach) Ron Prince has the perfect background to be a great head football coach. He played on offense, he was an offensive coordinator, he coached with a guy at Virginia who really knows what he's doing, they run pro-style stuff, he's really focused on the kicking game and he'll come in here with an aggressive plan like he did last year with trick plays. They'll get after us so we'll really have to be ready to play. Colt (McCoy) has had a great week, and it's really great to see him with four touchdowns and one interception over the last two games. And if it hadn't been for Limas (Sweed) stepping out of bounds he would have had a fifth one, but Limas (Sweed) was really trying to be unselfish and help Jamaal (Charles), so that's what he told me he did that for. And John Chiles played well enough the other day (against Rice) that we'd like to get him in the game some too.
On the depth at linebacker: We’re not sure what we're going to do. We always sit down on Thursday and decide what we're going to do with our substitutions and that's really, really important and especially with this heat. (Substitutions) will be more important in the early part of the season than it will during the latter part. Jared Norton and Roddrick Muckelroy have played a lot and they've played well.
On Colt McCoy finding his rhythm: A lot of times a sophomore quarterback goes through a transition period because in their first year as a freshman, if they played, things were really simple for them and coaches were very careful. And then all of a sudden you give them the entire offense and if you're not careful, you start looking for too much and you're trying to do too much and it gets you off your rhythm some. And then it even got worse for Colt (McCoy) in the beginning of the year because we didn't have experienced offensive linemen and then some guys got hurt and we didn't have our full corps of receivers. So we feel like now the offensive line is maturing and they're playing more consistently and we've got all of our receivers back now and they're well. It really helped to have Billy (Pittman) and Jordan (Shipley) back, and we said Limas (Sweed) looked like the old Limas (Sweed) on Saturday, so we think all those things have helped Colt get back on track.
On the team's performance: Well we felt that we played much more consistently against Rice. We took good things out of the first three games but we didn't finish and that was the big word in the early games. And if you go back and see Arkansas State and Central Florida were a little better than anybody, including us, thought and we really played better against TCU than we got credit for that night. So it wasn't just the Rice game, but we are carrying a lot of momentum and confidence into this (game).
On the defensive backs: The DBs have been good. Again, like the offensive line, those guys have worked really, really hard and haven't played a lot, and so every snap that they take, they get more experience and therefore more confidant. And so in retrospect, the fact that Brandon Foster missed last week's game really helped Deon (Beasley) get a lot more experience. And most of our starters played less than 40 plays last week, so they should be really fresh for Saturday.
On the close games: Somebody asked me last week if I thought it was better to blow people out or to have close games. It's more fun to blow them out, but you probably develop more of an urgency because of all the things that went wrong in the early games, and you try to get them fixed. So for that reason, we feel like we've come a long way. This team has made a lot of progress in the last four weeks.
On keeping John Chiles abilities in perspective: Well, it's really important, because he's played about 20 plays so far this season and there will be a tremendous amount of pressure and a lot of really fast guys on defense chasing him on Saturday. Kansas State has got seven seniors, they're experienced, it is Big 12 play and the game will be on ABC so things will move a little faster on Saturday than they did last week against Rice.
On the Kansas State game last year: Well I really don't remember preparation for the game last year. We were playing to win the Big 12 South, we were playing to play Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship, and I thought we were ready to play. There was so much made out of us not being ready to play and Colt (McCoy) takes us right down the field and hits four-for-four (passes) for 51 yards and we scored on our first drive. And then we got beat by three points, part of it because of big plays and part of it because of turnovers. I think we blocked a punt and stopped a fake and they blocked a punt and returned (a punt), so kicking game was a key and it always is on the road.
On Kansas State being a Big 12 North contender: I think they're a contender in the north and our conference without any question. And probably when you have a loss early like they did on the road at Auburn, it hurts you and takes you out of the national picture short-term, but they're good enough. People will recognize them before the year is over.
On Kansas State's substitutions: Kansas State substitutes a lot, and (Ron Prince) has done a good job with his preparation there. Like I said, for a second year coach, Ron (Prince) really impresses me. I think he's done a good job and that will be important for them in this heat.
On Ryan Palmer and Brandon Foster: It was good for them today. They're excited, they're confident and it is a tremendous challenge for them to be following the guys they've followed over the last five years, and they've waited their turn. And with the slogan for this year being "Earn the Right," those two guys have really earned the right and we're really proud to see them play so well. And they'll be challenged more on Saturday than they've been challenged this year because (Kansas State QB) Josh (Freeman) is playing great and (Kansas State) will get the ball downfield. I know they've put an emphasis on throwing it deeper in their week off, and they'll come in with some trick plays to try and fool our secondary like they did last year because they've had two weeks to prepare.