September 15, 2008

GoPowercat Q&A: Keithen Valentine

Now armed with a recently awarded scholarship, Kansas State tailback Keithen Valentine is ready to take his game to the next level. As the Mississippi Delta Community College transfer prepares for his first appearance on national television, he plans on announcing his presence to the entire country. To do so, however, he'll have to navigate his way through on of the NCAA's top run defenses. The junior talked to about the challenge ahead, the possibility of wedding bells in his not-so distant future and other topics in this week's GoPowercat Q&A.

This Wednesday will be your first nationally televised game. Does this week feel any different?
The game on FSN was big to me, but this one is on ESPN (ESPN2). Everybody is going to be watching this one. Playing on ESPN has always a dream. I feel like this one is really big.

How long have you been dreaming about playing on ESPN?
Ever since I was old enough to watch the games on there. What's special about this one is that nobody else is playing. Everyone, from the NFL to little league, will be able to watch it. It's real amazing.

Anybody in particular you have in mind? Is there somebody that you really hope is watching?
Just everybody at home. I'm glad all my family and my friends will get to see it.

Is anybody making the (11-hour) drive from your hometown to Louisville to see the game in person?
Coming off the hurricane, nobody is going to come. They're just going to watch it on TV. My family will just come to the home games.

Speaking of the hurricane, I assume everybody is your family is okay?
Everyone is OK. Gas is getting bumped up to like $5 though. Their cable was off for a while. It was real bad though. It didn't get any coverage from the national news, but it was bas. Everything is better right now though.

Coach (Ron Prince) was saying that you've really started to separate yourself from the other running backs because of your blocking abillity. Is that something you made a concentrated effort to improve?
Yeah. Blocking is what I struggled with when I was coming up here. These coaches taught me how to do it right. I'm comfortable now. Our offensive coordinator (Dave Brock said I'm a better player because I'm a smarter player. That's what I try to do, get smarter all the time. I look at film, find my mistakes and try to correct them. Our running backs coach ()Ricky Rahne) has been helping me with that a lot.

As far as this team's actual running game goes, how far away are you from where you need to be?
We can always get better, but I feel like we're better right now. We've had a lot of time to watch our mistakes. The running backs and the lineman saw what we had to correct. I think we all did a good job of that collectively. We're almost where we want to be.

When you look at Louisville on film, what jumps out at you?
It's going to be hard to move their line. They're strong. They're like No. 7 against the run. That's real impressive. We're going to respect them a lot, but I promise there's no fear in us at all.

What would constitute a successful game for you on Wednesday?
When they call my number, I need to pick up big chunks. I need to show that we can run. I need to make them aware of me. Also, I need to pick up my blocks. It's important for me to protect (Josh Freeman).

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