Kansas Spring Football Press Conference Quotes

March 11, 2008

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March 11, 2008

Head Coach Mark Mangino:

On his team’s offense:

“We feel like we’ve got a lot of work to do in a lot of areas. There is no part of our team that doesn’t need attention. On the offensive side of the ball, we will have a competition for the tackle positions. It is very encouraging. We are very excited. It is just like the situation we had a year ago when we had competitions for the insides of the offensive line. We have quality candidates again in this situation. At tight end we are working with Bradley Dedeaux and Nick Plato, who is a high school player who has come in for the spring and will have an opportunity to get repetitions there. The running back position should be really positive for us with Jake (Sharp) coming back. We are anxious to see what Angus Quigley will do running the ball and blocking as well. We also have some young kids like Carmon Boyd-Anderson that we are anxious to see. The only starting receiver we lost was Marcus Henry. We have a lot of good, young receivers. You’ll see a lot of new faces on the field, not only in the spring, but also in the fall.”

On his team’s defense:

“We need to solidify the defensive tackle positions. We’ll have competitions for those jobs and we’ll see who comes out on top. We have four or five guys who have the potential, but we’re waiting to see how they produce. At the linebacker positions we have some veteran guys. We need to develop a solid two-deep and that is something we are looking forward to this spring, to see how that all plays out. The secondary has a lot of the same guys back, but we still need to add a lot of depth and get some repetitions for the younger kids. We feel pretty good about that area, but we feel we can get better in both pass defense and tackling.”

On his team’s special teams:

“We are going to have a new punter. The leading candidate is not here until the fall. Right now we are going to work with Kerry Meier. Kerry will hold those responsibilities. Placekicker Stephen Hoge is out front for that (position), but we’ll see. There are some guys in the program that are pretty talented, Jacob Branstetter and a few other guys that we are going to take a look at to so that we have competition.”

On any players possibly changing positions:

“We did a lot of that (during Orange Bowl practice). We moved a lot of guys around – some for a day, some for a week. At this point in time, I don’t think there is anybody of significance that will be on the field in the fall that we’ve made a permanent position change with.”

On the offensive line competition:

“We’re patient. These first two practices are shorts and helmets so we’re not going to get all bent out of shape that we need a depth chart to start the first couple days. But you’ve got a guy like Matt Darton who played against IowaState, played the whole game and did a serviceable job. He’s been in the program a long time, he’s bigger and stronger and he’s stuck with it. (Jeff) Spikes is a guy with a lot of talent. He is young, but at the end of the day he may be one of the most talented offensive lineman we’ve had here. Nate D’Cunha does everything the right way. He is strong, pays attention to everything, is a great kid and seems very focused. He’s coming over here from Australia and he knew exactly what he wanted. He came to junior college here because he wanted to play football and he seems to be extremely focused on that. It obviously is something that is very important to him considering the measures that he took to get here. Then we have Ian Wolfe. Ian has gotten a lot bigger and stronger in our weight room this winter and we are anxious see what Ian will do now that he is heavier and thicker here in the spring.”

On linebacker Joe Mortensen:

“Joe (Mortensen) will not practice in the spring. He’ll be ready in the fall, but he is not going to practice this spring.”

On recruiting junior college players:

“It just depends on the kids you get. You can get high school or junior college kids if they’ll work hard, believe in team principles and all those things. You get positive results from both and you get negative results from both. I don’t know if it really matters where the kids come from. The only problems I see are that you have to get the right ones because sometimes you have players that don’t have a sense of ownership in the program. They are just passing through. Whereas we have high school kids that have been here four or five years and they really have a sense of ownership.”

Sophomore Receiver Dezmon Briscoe

On his personal growth this offseason:

“From the results of my offseason I feel like I’ve gotten stronger and faster. I think my hamstrings have gotten a lot stronger. I feel like I prepared for spring this year.”

On how he can improve as a player:

“Last year as a receiving corp we left a lot of balls on the field. This year I plan on bringing a lot of those balls in and keeping them off the ground. I think that’s where my weakness was last year.”

On how quickly he was ready to begin playing again:

“As soon as we got back after our winter break, I was ready to get back after it. I was ready to get stronger because I told myself I would get stronger and make myself better for the team next year.”

On the level of expectations after his freshman season:

“The expectations are a lot higher. I was expecting to play, but not as much as I did. It was a blessing that I played as much as I did. I enjoyed my freshman year. Not too many freshmen got to play as much as I did.”

Junior Tackle Nathan D’Cunha

On the comparison of American football to Australian football:

“They are totally different sports. For rugby and Australian rules football you have to be more conditioned. You have to be ready to run 40 minutes in a row. I think American football is more of a violent sport. I think they are really different and hard to compare.”

On Australian football:

“Australian football is a lot of running. They have a really big field and they are just kicking the ball all over and running. In Australian rules you can kick it and pass. The ball is probably about the same size as a football, but it’s a bit softer so you can kick it better.”

Senior Wide Receiver Dexton Fields

On improving the offense:

“I think it will be better. We have some schemes and some stuff that didn’t work last year that we tried to do a lot. It kind of took away from our offense. I think we can be better and we probably will be better.”

On being quarterback Todd Ressing’s favorite receiver:

“I led the team in receiving the last two years. Early on in the season I wasn’t getting the ball, but I’ve been the favorite receiver.”

Junior Wide Receiver Rod Harris, Jr.

On transferring to Kansas:

“I was ready to get out (of junior college). I talked with Coach (John) Reagan the summer before and at that point in time things were not right for me to leave. Then, I became eligible with my grades and I had a solid year. Kansas was looking for a receiver and I guess I fit the profile. The Orange Bowl win was also exciting and it happened around the same time I was beginning to look. I liked what I saw when I came up here to visit and Darrell Stuckey was my host, which was great. It was more of a family environment and that is what I wanted to be around.”

“I didn’t go on another visit because in junior college we play at the same time as every other team, so I had to wait until the second semester to take other visits. Although I didn’t get the chance to visit any other schools I was looking at UVA, San Diego State, Texas A&M and a few others, but Kansas is where I finally wound up. It was pretty much an automatic decision.”

“In the past, Kansas wasn’t really a school that I paid attention to because I grew up watching the bigger schools in the Big 12, like Texas A&M, Texas and Texas Tech. But watching how Kansas improved over this short time span is amazing and to be a part of a growing program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. A chance like that doesn’t come around too often. I get to be a part of the new facilities and everything else that is changing. It is a great atmosphere and a great environment to be coming to and I am glad to be here.”

On fitting into Kansas’ spread offense:

“I am one of those guys who can go across the middle and I can catch some of those traffic balls. I think I can run up to the catch and I can be a distraction to the secondary while helping the other receivers get open. I just need to play my part and fill my role – whatever my role may be – week in and week out. In the spread offense you have receivers that won’t get the ball one week as much as other receivers. You just have to be unselfish and play your role. I’m surrounded by great receivers and sometimes you have to be unselfish, and I think I can be unselfish in those times.”

Sophomore Running Back Jake Sharp

On the team this year after success at the Orange Bowl versus previous years:

“We worked harder this off-season, definitely, than the past off-seasons that I’ve been here. Everybody is buying into what we’re doing here. There’s no, `why are we doing this?’ We’re doing this because we’re the Orange Bowl champs. Everybody is really coming together and united for the cause.”

On the actual difference between this year and years past:

“In past workouts and past off-seasons, there may have been an element of doubt like, `why are we doing this, we were 6-6′, but really, you can’t doubt anything we’re doing now. It’s obviously working. It’s just the fact that everybody’s buying into it. When you get guys to buy into it, you can only go up and get better each year.”

On what it will take to get better after already being in a BCS Championship game:

“In the game of college football, any given day anything can happen, anybody can beat anybody. Last year was evidence of that. We have to keep working as hard, if not harder, than we did last year. We need to go out every game and lay it on the line and hopefully we can come out on top. There are a lot of goals we haven’t achieved yet. Big 12 North champs, Big 12 champs, and national champs. There’s a lot of room for improvement, so we’re excited to get them in next season.”

On changes in the offense this coming season:

“Well, we have a lot of the same guys coming back, so we’ll have to talk to coach (Ed) Warinner about it. He’s the magician on that. We’ve got a lot of great guys, Kerry (Meier), Todd (Reesing). I think it’s going to be a high-flying offense that’s fun to watch.”