Prince revels in road test

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K-State coach Ron Prince said last year’s most meaningful win wasn’t the upset of then-No. 4 Texas, but the victory against Colorado, a team that finished second to last in the Big 12 North.

The reason, he said, was because it served as the Wildcats’ lone road victory in 2006.

With two of K-State’s first four games this year set to be played on the road – at Auburn on Saturday and at Texas on Sept. 29 – Prince said he hopes his team can find ways to compete away from home.

“You have to do that if you’re going to contend for a championship and play for anything significant,” Prince said. “I hope we learned something from that.”

Prince said his team spent time in the offseason studying how successful road teams in college football and other sports have approached the game, adding that some venues enjoy bigger advantages than others.

Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, which opened in 1939, seemed to be one of those stadiums that qualified in Prince’s mind.

“The home-field advantage, although none of the fans can actually come out and tackle anybody, they can have an impact on the game,” Prince said. “That’s one of the things that excited me about playing this opponent – having a chance to go on the road and take some of the things that we’ve been trying to teach and things that we’re studying and put them into place.”

Rossman named team’s starting kicker The last time Prince spoke publicly about his team’s kicking situation at an open practice on Aug. 18, he didn’t exactly offer glowing remarks about the way the competition was going.

However, after naming junior Brooks Rossman the starter, Prince said he feels more at ease.

“I’ve been real impressed with how he’s approached things recently,” Prince said. “He’ll be both our kickoff person and also the guy that kicks the points.”

Junior Jared Parker, who seemingly has the stronger leg of the two, was believed to be the front-runner for kickoff duties. But Prince made it clear his emphasis will be on kickoff placement rather than distance, now that kickoffs will be five yards behind last year’s spot beginning this season.

“We think mechanically (Rossman) has got the right kind of stuff,” Prince said.

Scheduling Auburn part of Prince’s plan Perhaps no coach in college football loves having an extra game on the schedule more than Prince.

“This 12th game really has impacted college football,” Prince said.

Gone are the days when teams would play only 11-game seasons. And now, with the opportunity to schedule up to 12 opponents, Prince said he hopes to make the most of it.

With ESPN cameras rolling, K-State will have a chance to do more than accomplish its on-field goals on Saturday. As Prince pointed out, the national television appearance will provide K-State with a chance to get its name out and market its product.

“We get the chance to go and have the Powercat and our branding opportunity national, and be able to tell the story about Kansas State,” Prince said. “We’re very excited about the people at ESPN and how excited they were to put this game together.” Defensive star catches Prince’s eye Quentin Groves, Auburn’s standout defensive end, must have made quite an impression on Prince.

How else can you explain Prince’s willingness to compare the senior to a trio of players in the NFL in the same sentence? “I’ve had a chance to coach against a lot of really good players – Shawne Merriman, Julius Peppers, Mario Williams – and this guy is their equal,” Prince said.

Groves, who totaled 37 tackles and had 9.5 sacks last year, was named to the 2006 Coaches All-SEC First Team and has been named to preseason watchlists for three different defensive trophies.

His ability to play multiple spots along the defensive line might cause some match-up problems for K-State, which enters the season with plenty of question marks along the offensive front.

“He can wreck the game by himself, just by virtue of his own talent,” Prince said. “He has a lot of versatility – he can line up in a lot of different places.”

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