Kansas State Wildcats
THE MODERATOR: Welcome to the 2017 Cactus Bowl Media Day. Coach Snyder is the fourth person in the history of college football to be inducted into the College Hall of Fame as an active coach.
COACH SNYDER: First of all, let me say thank you to the people of the Cactus Bowl and the Yellow Jackets who have really been very, very gracious to us. We’ve had a nice day up to this point in time at Gainey Ranch, a very nice facility and people who also have been gracious to us. And having spent a number of bowl events out here, it’s not the exception to the rule. A lot of great people and they pay close attention to our players and to our program. I appreciate that.
I want all of you up here, which most of you are Manhattan people, realize that you need to promote us because we don’t go to bowl games, you don’t get these vacations. I hope you understand that.
The players that we have in the room, I think, are just representative of the young guys that we have in our program. I’m very proud of them. Not only fine football players, but also as you’ve heard, pay close attention to their academic progress and getting their degrees and make their education important to them. I appreciate that a great deal. So that being said, questions.
Q. Do you feel at all like this is a chance to get some sort of revenge for the Alamo Bowl a couple of years back?
COACH SNYDER: Well, we don’t play for revenge. For us it’s the old adage of 1-0, just a day at a time, a game at a time, and what happened in the past from any ballgame that we played is not really going to have an impact on this bowl game, look at it that way.
Q. Can you talk about the last five games, winning four and the ability to accomplish that and get to this particular bowl game?
COACH SNYDER: In each of the last two years, you know, we have finished extremely well in the latter half of the season. And we put as the players will tell you, we put a great deal of emphasis on being able to finish and finishing well. And that’s finishing a play well, finishing the day well, finishing a practice well, finishing a week well, doing everything we do in finishing ball games well and certainly finishing the season well. I just need to put more emphasis on getting started.
That was the issue. So hopefully and part of the dialogue right now is that we need to be able to start this ballgame well. And obviously if we play consistently and then finish well, then we’ll have our marbles together, so to speak. But I was proud of them for being able to come back when things had not gone — we lost to, what, three of those four, whatever it was, by seven or less points. I think four or five, seven and seven, were losses in there, one of them double overtime. And you know the story. You’ve been out there.
But those were not easy to take, quite obviously. And I was proud of the young people in our program for being able to respond from that.
Cactus Bowl: Kansas State vs UCLA
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Kansas State Wildcats
Q. (Indiscernible) leading the team in tackles, All-Big 12 honors, all the academic things.
TRENT TANKING: I don’t want to sound pompous or anything, but just the fact that a lot of people were doubting whether I could play in the Big 12 Conference, play at an elite level, along with Jayd, there was a lot of question marks between me and him and I thought that we held our own.
The linebacker corps, I don’t think, there wasn’t any weakness in our defense, but a lot of people were pointing to the linebacker corps as going to be the soft spot, and I think we proved that that wasn’t the case.
Q. Did that fuel you? How would you describe —
TRENT TANKING: Oh, yeah. You’re going through the offseason, and I had a feeling that I wanted to be that guy so all the workouts, and me and Jayd attacked, and knew that it was going to be our time coming into the season. So we had to work on the foot speed and our communication skills and being able to read things fast. And I think we did a pretty well job over the 12 games.
Q. Watching the award ceremony and Blake referenced the story you were a basketball player first?
TRENT TANKING: Yeah, my dad was a basketball coach. My uncle was a basketball coach. I grew up playing basketball. That was my first love. And transferred schools and in middle school I started playing football and I guess I became kind of decent at it. So I decided to pursue it. And got a chance to play at a school I had always grown up watching. So that was really cool. So I kind of interesting how that transformed.
Q. How did your dad react to that change?
TRENT TANKING: He was a K-State football fan growing up. It wasn’t hard for him. As far as when it came to basketball he was always coaching me. When it came to football he was always, he was more supportive because he knew what I was doing and he was there every step of the way. He meant the world to me, him and my mom both. Both are my heroes.
Q. When they try to convince you to walk on, what do you remember about those conversations?
TRENT TANKING: It was an interesting process, because they were flirting with either offering me a scholarship or giving me a preferred walk-on spot. Obviously I was hoping for the scholarship opportunity to get my schooling paid for. But when that didn’t happen I had some D-II offers I was looking at.
I decided to walk on at K-State anyway and just decided I was going to prove myself and be able to get some schooling paid for, and I was fortunate after the second year to get on scholarship and get three years of my schooling paid for.
Q. To earn that, did it set you up for the success you’ve had?
TRENT TANKING: You could say that. I don’t know, I’ve always kind of taken the approach of just working hard. And anything I do I feel like I will earn. And, I don’t know, I just don’t want to sound pompous or anything, but it means a lot to me personally that just finishing and being able to accomplish what I thought I could accomplish when I came to K-State.
Q. You don’t let things slow you down, the broken hand this year. Describe the resiliency you had to have to keep going?
TRENT TANKING: When you come in and you’re here for five years you grow relationships with guys. Especially these seniors, I’ve been here with five years. I’ve had two roommates I’ve been in the same throughout the whole season or the whole career here at K-State. Just knowing those guys are still playing and I’m not going to get a chance next year to play with them or anybody else.
So if it’s nothing to prevent me, if it’s not a leg injury, I’ve just figured I better play through it. I’m not going to get this chance again.
Q. Why did you choose K-State over the D-II schools?
TRENT TANKING: I grew up being a K-State fan, and the opportunity to be a D-I athlete coming from a school in Kansas, a 4A school, not a lot of attention when it comes to D-I schools.
So, like I said, it’s kind of an opportunity to just to be able to prove to myself and to prove to everybody else that I can be an individual athlete. And hopefully I would exceed expectations and I thought I did that.
Q. What kind of impact did Coach Barta have on you?
TRENT TANKING: He was actually a huge impact. Choosing schools I would talk to him about the K-State culture, the K-State opportunity. He gave me advice talked to me about what it would be like and kind of the process that I have to go through. And so once I was comfortable enough with what he was saying, I knew I was confident in choosing K-State.
Q. Similarities between his program and here. I know it’s high school and college. Were there similarities in the way he ran —
TRENT TANKING: There’s definitely similarities he took from Coach Snyder, consistency. The practices were always the same. Just the fact of intensity level, work ethic, the weight room structure was big in his high school program starting from 7th grade up until senior in high school. There’s definitely some similarities, obviously it’s dialed back. But, yeah, there’s definitely a lot of similar things carried over.
Q. Did that help your transition?
TRENT TANKING: Yeah, I mean it’s still a shock going from high school to D-I, but it was a help just because if you’re used to working hard for six years going from seventh to 12th grade and then you transition to a little more intense program, but if you’re already used to working hard it’s not too tough to just keep on doing that.
Q. Can you talk about being here in the Cactus Bowl and taking on UCLA, what it means for you guys?
TRENT TANKING: Obviously UCLA, great team, great program. I played against them in the Alamo Bowl, that would have been three years ago. And there was a lot of emotions in that game, a lot of stuff going on, but it was a great game.
We got down early and had to climb our way back just to even have a chance. Just to get back and be able to play a competitive team like that and have a chance to be back in Arizona. It’s a gorgeous place. A lot warmer here than in Kansas right now. So it’s going to be awesome. I can’t wait to play in the Diamondback stadium and play against an awesome team.
Cactus Bowl: Kansas State vs UCLA
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Kansas State Wildcats
Q. What will be the one thing you guys will try to do in the bowl game?
DALTON SCHOEN: Win the game.
Q. Tell me a little bit about — you’re a wide receiver?
DALTON SCHOEN: Yes, sir, I’m a wide receiver.
Q. Tell me what that’s been like for you this year?
DALTON SCHOEN: It’s been great. I love playing in our offense. Get a chance, we get a chance to do a lot of things, spread the ball around and stuff like that. We have to kind of do stuff wide receivers don’t normally like to do, which is block a lot down field, stuff like that. But we know if we can block down field and create big plays in the run game it will open up our pass game even more, because that’s a big thing, we try to give our offense a lot of balance between the two.
Q. What do you think about being here in Phoenix?
DALTON SCHOEN: It’s been a great experience. Like I was saying earlier, from the moment we got off the plane being received from the representatives of the bowl and all the activities we’ve been able to do so far and all the stuff later this week, it’s been a great experience.
Q. A lot of players don’t get a chance to play for kind of an iconic coach. What’s it like playing for Coach Snyder?
DALTON SCHOEN: It’s been a dream come true just because I grew up a huge K-State fan. Both my parents came to K-State. I was born and raised wearing purple, coming to the games on Saturdays. So it’s always been a dream of mine to play here. I honestly never thought it was going to happen. I was lucky enough to get a shot. To get to come and play with Coach Snyder, someone you’ve grown up watching and dream playing for has been fantastic.
Q. What’s the toughest game for you guys this year? I cover the Pac-12. My attention to the Big 12, maybe ACC is not — what’s the most challenging?
DALTON SCHOEN: I would say the game we struggled the most or the most challenging team we faced was probably TCU. For me personally too because I thought that was the best and most well-coached defense we played all year.
Q. I’ve coached a lot of high school ball. What do you want to tell those high school players that are trying to get that scholarship? What do you have to focus on?
DALTON SCHOEN: Honestly for me, what I would tell most high school players who aspire to play at the next level is enjoy your time in high school right now. Enjoy that final senior season and worry less about the recruiting until after that season, after that’s done, because honestly the high school is going to be the time of your life.
That senior season should be something you really enjoy and don’t focus too much on the next level until that’s done. And after that the recruiting process is a tough thing to get through. In all honesty it’s a grind. You’ve got to try to promote yourself. Me, personally I didn’t have any D-I offers. Came to K-State as a walk on.
But I think that’s something that it will just take care of itself if you go out there and you produce and you just enjoy your time as a senior in high school, enjoy the seasons.
Q. What’s it mean to be in another bowl game?
DALTON SCHOEN: It’s great to continue the streak we’ve had going. Like to go out there and get the win, get another win on the season and really finish the season the way we should because we had some struggles there midseason went four and five late in the season, so to get one more it will be a nice way to win the season.
Q. What’s your offense going to bring to UCLA to cause some issues?
DALTON SCHOEN: What we aspire to do is to have good balance in the run/pass game; those really complement each other. From a receiving standpoint, we have to beat man coverage. We’re going to see a lot of man, cover one, cover zero, things like that. We have to do a good job of identifying the coverages, going out and beating that in the passing game and run the ball well, too.
Cactus Bowl: Kansas State vs UCLA
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Kansas State Wildcats
BYRON PRINGLE: …when I got in trouble when I was a teenager, I was hanging out with the wrong people. I changed that. If I wasn’t ready to make that change, I would have never went back to school. I never would have got a college degree.
Q. You seem more excited about getting the college degree than winning some football games this year. Was it that big a deal for you?
BYRON PRINGLE: That was like a milestone to me. Nobody in my family never went to college. They went to college but they never finished. Or, like, in my neighborhood, I’m probably like the first one out of my neighborhood to have a college degree. Even to step on the college campus. My friends never make it to no college.
I’m motivating them. Some of them changed, like, the lifestyle they was living, they see me back at school and having a great accomplishment I was doing, and like they changed their life. Like they went back to school and some of them started working jobs and they change their life.
I have people, like older people that I used to look up to, they’re like they say I motivate them and they stop doing what they’re doing and find them a job like. So I motivated a lot of people, younger kids now in my neighborhood, they did look up to me. When I go back home they think I’m a superstar or something.
So I try to keep them like on a positive note and it’s just like the whole vibe changed that way, when I went back to school and started achieving goals and stuff, like everybody, like even young kids, they’re not out there in the streets doing the wrong thing, they go to school. They go to the recreation center. They play sports. They use sports like they go — like they use sports like an avenue to get them to college, which as well as like we didn’t have no guidance, like nobody to tell us what to do. Like now I’m like a positive figure to my community, like where I’m from.
Q. Football-wise, seemed like the second half of the season was a lot better for you than the first half, what changed, what allowed you to play so much better?
BYRON PRINGLE: I was just lack of focus the first season. I was just trying to grab the ball and run. I was just doing too much. I was trying to get the ball and go and not watching the ball all the way in. That was just a mental thing. It wasn’t like really like no problem.
Q. What’s it like to be back in the valley, coming into the valley, playing in the Cactus Bowl, how are you feeling about all this?
BYRON PRINGLE: I’m feeling great. I’ve never been to the valley. I like the scenery. I like the cactus and stuff like that. And I like y’all don’t have no grass. I’m happy to play in the Cactus Bowl.
Q. Where are you from?
BYRON PRINGLE: I’m from Tampa, Florida.
Q. The weather is kind of the same, a little more muggy down there. Is your son going to be able to be here, see you play, or watch on TV?
BYRON PRINGLE: He’ll be able to see me play here. They will come in on Christmas Day, like evening.
Q. What’s that feeling to have your son here for the Cactus Bowl?
BYRON PRINGLE: It’s a great feeling. It’s both our first times in the valley. And I love when he is like at my games, like, supporting me. He may not remember it, like, right now, but he’ll go back and look at pictures, my dad played in that game.
Q. You guys were 3-4 going into Kansas, what was the mindset of this team. You guys had such high hopes for this season. And it went bad on you early. How did you guys regroup and get this done?
BYRON PRINGLE: We knew we had to come together and face adversity even when things get rough. But we always came together like player reps and the captains call meetings and see what’s the right thing for us to do.
And we knew we weren’t going to give up and we were going to fight through it. Everybody was going to come together as a team, as a family, and everybody going to dominate their position, not worry about other positions and focus on the things they need to do, that contribute and make the team much better.
Q. I know 7-5 wasn’t what you guys thought you would have at the start of the year, but the way it happened, the way you went 4-1 down the stretch, was there some satisfaction in that?
BYRON PRINGLE: We’re not satisfied with that. We want to be better. We want to be better than that. But we can’t live in the past. We’ve just got to focus on the future and next season, get prepared for next season.
Q. Getting Dalton back on this offense, if he’s able to play?
BYRON PRINGLE: It’s a great feeling to have Dalton back. Dalton is a special player. And he contributes a lot to our offense. And we know that like some teams underestimated his ability to make plays.
So he is like a coach on the field. He knows everything, the ins and outs. And he’s a great player, great receiver. He catches everything that you throw at him and it’s great to have him back on the field. He’s a hard worker.
Cactus Bowl: Kansas State vs UCLA
Saturday, December 23, 2017
Kansas State Wildcats
MATTHEW MCCRANE: … more effort into it like any other state does, but it’s just being from Texas and Texas pride. Texas people are very prideful and proud of their state.
Q. One of those things like in the SEC —
MATTHEW MCCRANE: Probably the same type of deal. The tradition and Brownwood, where I’m from, has seven state championships. We just got beat by — I’m trying to think where it was. There’s a couple schools now that have eight state championships — Brownwood was up there a while, small 3-A school, it’s everything it’s talked up to be. But the Friday Night Lights is what I would say. If you watch that TV show, you’re experiencing Texas high school football.
Q. So you’re out here in the Cactus Bowl. What’s the preparation like?
MATTHEW MCCRANE: As a specialist probably a little bit different than the other guys. They watch a lot of film. They put a lot of time into it. They’re down there in the hotel lobby or in the meeting rooms while the specialists are out playing golf tomorrow morning. But the facility is phenomenal. Gainey Ranch is really nice.
The place we stayed at before, (inaudible) bowl, was nice too, two years ago. But coming into this one, being a lot closer to the activities and kind of the night life, the restaurants, that’s kind of what we enjoy.
Q. Special teams this year, seems like every guy has some kind of award, is going to a shrine game. How solid has this group been collectively all year?
MATTHEW MCCRANE: Shows we put a lot of time into it. I always them the time and effort into it is what makes us successful.
Our long snapper just got announced for the East-West Shrine Game. He probably spends more time at snapping a football than I’ve ever seen. That’s why we’re so good at it. He’s consistent. I don’t think he’s had a failed snap over the five years he’s been here, or four years he’s played. And then kickoff return, punt return, we do a great job.
Q. Are you guys going to be snapping and kicking together, do you know that, at the Shrine game?
MATTHEW MCCRANE: I don’t know. I would assume we’d be on the same side. But whoever gets in will be incredibly lucky, because I’ve watched some snappers around the conference and we have the best, I’ll tell you that.
Q. Attention to detail, special teams, do you have examples of something like that that sets the tone?
MATTHEW MCCRANE: If we don’t do it right during practice, we’ve got to do it again. If our kickoff return team doesn’t take it for a touchdown, we come, back do it right the next time.
And same thing for our long snapper Drew Scott, that’s what I’m familiar with, that’s what I watch every day. Sometimes as spectators of the sport you don’t often notice the laces when he snaps the ball.
If they’re a quarter turn off, that throws off our holder. And it’s crazy to think about that Drew knows how many rotations are in the football coming backing to the holder. And Mitch Lochbihler, who holds it, he knows the exact angle it needs to be at. And I’ve just got to trust and know that the ball will be there when I kick it. So they make it easy for me.
Q. Takes the pressure off you; you don’t have to worry about stuff like that?
MATTHEW MCCRANE: For sure. If it’s a bad snap, we work on — Drew can change the ball in his hand to where he’ll snap laces back at 6:00 to get me practice.
He’s that good at what he does. So we work on that, too. We work on bad holds, bad snaps, and I try to counteract that.
Q. How does Sean set the tone (inaudible)?
MATTHEW MCCRANE: I said it earlier, I think this year he’s up for Special Teams Coordinator of the Year. Last year he got the award, or two years ago.
Now in bowl prep, he’s starting more to focus on these younger guys, which is good, because we’ve got three or four kickers that will be starting for the job next year.
Our punters are all, what, four of us specialists are on scholarship and leaving. There’s a lot of scholarships available. I’m excited for the young guys. But they put a lot of effort into it.
Q. This is the last game for you, all the special teams guys, you could have —
MATTHEW MCCRANE: It’s bittersweet, it is. I’ll miss the players and the teammates and the experiences that I’ve had with them. But there’s a lot of things I won’t miss, offseason conditioning, things like that. As a kicker it’s tough, but — coach doesn’t let up on it for sure.
MATTHEW MCCRANE: Because Manhattan is so cold; I think it was about 20 degrees, something when we left and probably colder right now than when we get back. So we’ve been kicking indoors the entire time that we’ve been in Manhattan. So I think we’re used to that.
The perception of the baseball field might be a little bit different. I think you see that in the basketball playoff games when they play in those big stadiums, the depth perception of the goal posts or the basketball hoops makes it tough. So we’ll see how we adjust to that. Makes field goals look a little bit longer than they probably are.
But I’m interested to see how the grass is. The grass at our practice facility is cut pretty short. It’s really sandy. I’m looking forward to see what the grass is on the baseball field.
Kansas State Wildcats
DUKE SHELLEY: … so just knowing that, just knowing that going into the game, you’re just expecting everything — trick plays, double passes, everything, just expecting it all because it very well can happen beings it’s the last one.
Q. (Inaudible) asked at the golf outing. You won your group. How do you rank among the best on the team or do you not to —
DUKE SHELLEY: I want to say for the team. For the team, top 10, I give you top 10. But for my group, dominate. Dominate. I play with a couple of guys that they really didn’t know what they were doing. So I was dominating. I was enjoying every bit of it. I wasn’t leaving. I wasn’t going nowhere else. So it was pretty cool.
Q. One person on the team everyone knows he’s the guy or is there kind of a couple?
DUKE SHELLEY: It’s a couple. But Mitch hits the ball very well. Mitch is somebody — AJ Parker, he’s nice. He says that dad taught him how to play when he was young, so he’s been playing for a while. AJ and Mitch was two people that stood out to me.
Q. I guess the bobcat made the trip?
DUKE SHELLEY: Mascot, definitely, we’ll have him here.
Q. Question about Trent, how big an inspiration is he to the defense? Got to K-State as a walk on —
DUKE SHELLEY: Great. Trent is the K-State way. I mean, he came in. He walked on. Not on scholarship. And trying to make the best of his opportunity and he did exactly that. I mean, we see guys like Trent on the team and we have other guys on the team in the same position that he was in years ago, and you just look at that and you compare the two and you say, well, Trent was able to do this and he walked on and now he’s on special — he started on special teams and now he’s a starting linebacker for us. And he’s making all these type of plays, up for all these awards.
And it’s just something that you see and you’re able to show those other guys that, and they see (indiscernible) form and it could very well happen for them. So they attack the situation more, with more confidence just knowing that they can be the next Trent Tanking.
So he’s definitely a role model for the team, definitely for the defense, I mean a leader for the team and defense. Great guy. As you all know a great guy. Just overall one of the best guys I’ve been around and being able to play with.
Q. Played against a lot of great quarterbacks this year. Is Josh comparable to them in specific ways?
DUKE SHELLEY: Josh Rosen is a great quarterback. He goes through his progressions and reads like no other. He’s poised, confident. The throws he makes on film is just kind of ridiculous. But definitely he’s a great quarterback. Seems like he gets everybody around him going.
So if you stop the leader on the team then I feel like we’ll be able to be in some good shape. So that’s the goal, just get him on the racks.
Q. Do you need to apply more pressure to him or is that just —
DUKE SHELLEY: I feel that comes with it. Definitely apply more pressure to him, though, making him uncomfortable, making him not in his comfort zone, show him different things and throw him off his game, try to disguise things more and hopefully make him make a mistake. So that’s the goal.
Q. What have you learned from those past three quarterbacks (indiscernible) played there — who have played here?
DUKE SHELLEY: Stay glued on your manned because he can throw it through a keyhole. Stay glued on your man, that’s definitely something that you have to have because a little bit of space can get a completion on you. You definitely have to be on your game at all times. So that’s something that stands out most.
Q. What impressed you about what Trent has been able to do?
DUKE SHELLEY: Trent’s great. Trent’s great. Man, he stepped up. Stepped up for us and all the things he’s been able to do for the team is just mind blowing, seeing where he comes from and how much work he put in is just great to see it all happen for him. Trent is definitely a leader on defense and a leader on the team. We look for him to make those plays it’s not a surprise for us at all. Trent is a great, great guy.
Q. What have you seen, what’s allowed him to go from walk-on and stand out?
DUKE SHELLEY: His work ethic. There’s been summer days when it’s hot outside. We’ve been running and everybody’s trying to give up and Trent step up. And he get everybody going and he’s yelling and getting everybody fired up, like, let’s go, we’ve got one more. He’s that kind of guy.
He just gets everybody around him, making everybody around him better and making everybody around him, he makes them push themselves. So, I mean, you see Trent doing it you gotta do it. That’s kind of the motto.
Q. As a secondary, when you enter a game do you have a number in mind in terms of yardage you want to hold teams to?
DUKE SHELLEY: Not a specific number in mind as far as specific yardage, but turnovers is something we harp on. At least two, at least two or three a game is something we try to make for a secondary unit, at least two turnovers a game.
Put offenses in position for less touches, that’s the defensive motto in general rule. In sudden change situations, get a stop. That’s our motto, that’s what we live and die by, that’s what we do.
Q. Curious, you have to go against so many teams in the past, all over the place, did you have to curb your expectations at all?
DUKE SHELLEY: Definitely. You have to have expectations. I feel like sometimes, I mean, you’re going against other great players, other great people that can definitely very well make plays. So just knowing that you can’t be like too harping on those things, because if you are, and it don’t go your way, now you are put in a bind in a situation where you’re not ready for it.
So just try to be ready for every situation and just know if things not going your way then you have to come back and try to make a play next time. That’s what we try to do.