Mark Mangino's Big 12 Media Day Quotes

July 19, 2005

HOUSTON, Texas –

COACH MANGINO: “First thing that I would like to state before I introduce our players here, on behalf of all of us at the University of Kansas football program, coaches and players, we would like to send our heartfelt sympathies to the family of Aaron O’Neal, a player at the University of Missouri, and we do send our condolences to everybody at the University of Missouri, players and coaches. It’s a tragedy. It touches all of us that are involved with college football.”

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“I would like to introduce the players that I brought here today that took the flight down with us.

Right next to me here to my left is Nick Reid, linebacker, senior from Derby, Kansas, one of the top tacklers in the conference last year, has been a steady performer for us over the last three seasons. He is a heck of a football player, fine young man and you will enjoy talking with him during the day.”

“Next to him is Kevin Kane, senior linebacker, Rockhurst High School in Kansas City, another steady player for us. He and Nick have just been real anchors for our linebacking corps. Kevin is a smart player, great kid, great student, and really pleased to have him with us today.”

“Then finally we have a local favorite here, David Ochoa, who played in Pasadena, Adobe High School, here in the Houston area, and is an offensive guard for us, very intelligent, hard-working young man, a model young guy.”

“These guys do a lot of volunteer work in the community, and David is a great young guy and is going to be a real key player for us on the offensive line.”

“By the way, all three of these young men were elected captains by their peers.”

“We had planned to bring Charles Gordon with us today, but Charles has a class that he can’t miss. Missing one of these summer session classes is like missing a week, and his counselor, football academic counselor, Patsy Brandt, told me — and she is very reliable — it wouldn’t be in his best interest to make the trip today.”

“However, Mason Logan or the SID for football, he is here. Mason will give you time and a phone number where you can call him another day or next day or two. But Mason will arrange that for you.”

“I just want to quickly state that we are extremely excited about the season coming up here. We think it’s going to be the best football team that we have put on the field at Kansas. We are bigger, faster, stronger, and a much smarter football team because we have some experienced players than we have had during my tenure at Kansas.”

“I am really pleased with the way our summer program went. We look better. When I look back at 2002 when I came to Kansas and then look now, just the physical presence of our players is just so much more impressive.”

“So on the offensive side of the ball we are going to be better. We are going to be improved. I think we are going to be able to put together our most athletic offensive line we have had.”

“Our quarterback position is a competitive situation, and some of those kids are just really looking good.”

“On the defensive side of the ball we became a pretty doggone good unit last season, and I think we will be better. We will be more physical in the front 7 than we have been, and have overall speed on defense more than we have ever had. I can tell you that we are pretty excited about the upcoming season, looking forward to the challenges ahead.”

Q. Coach, how much can you build on the last few games of the last season?

COACH MANGINO: “I believe I heard it. You want to know how we are building on it?”

Q. Yes.

COACH MANGINO: “When you are able to play a highly competitive football game against a great opponent like the University of Texas, it can’t but help build your confidence level. That’s an awfully good football team.”

“For us to play them well meant a lot to our program. I think it was a step forward in our program.

Then to be able to finish the season on the road against a rival opponent and play extremely well, it really gave us a big bounce into our off-season programs, and you can just see it in the kids’ eyes. They are confident.”

“Our kids right now are very confident. They are going to play with a high level of confidence, and I believe they should because we are a much better football program. Those two games certainly helped validate with our players, they can line up and play with anybody, so we feel pretty good about it, yes.”

Q. I’m with Fox Sports. Coach, you played a lot of close games. What’s the next step in your team learning how to finish those games, like Texas and Texas Tech, games like that?

COACH MANGINO: “Dave, let me say this, what we did, the first thing we did at the end of the season, we went back as a coaching staff and analyzed those games. Then we analyzed the games, we played real well in the fourth quarter and won.”

“Here’s how we approach it: We have enough young kids in our program now that are ready to step up and play that will provide some depth for us so we can, so-called, have those fresh legs in the fourth quarter.”

“We feel like we have to put our kids in better positions, both in offense and defense, in the fourth quarter in some situations we could have done some things differently as coaches, and certainly we are always trying to get better as coaches, just like the players are, we are, too.”

“The next thing we addressed is that you have to enter the fourth quarter with an air of expectancy. You expect to win. What we did in spring ball we will do all during two days, we are going to put our — we have and will continue to put our offense and defense in very difficult positions on the field.

We will have practice scenarios where we back our offense up against our own goal line. We have done that in the spring. We will do it again in two days. We are going to put our defense with their back against the wall, sudden change for the defense out there with the other team’s red zone. We are putting pressure on our kids and on ourselves to perform better in those situations.”

“But it all boils down to one simple thing: Take all those things, put it together, we have to have the confidence and ability to know, have that expectancy that we are going to make a stop when we need to, we are going to get first downs, score touchdowns when we need to in the fourth quarter.”

Q. You talk about Charles Gordon and how you may use him on offense in addition to defense?

COACH MANGINO: “Charles, he — because he brings so much to our team at the corner position that that will — unless something changes as we proceed through the season, he will play the majority of his reps on defense.”

“However, he will play a reasonable amount of snaps. Now, what’s reasonable? That’s a pretty general term. I understand that. As we go with the flow of the game, we will have him game playing for maybe as few as 10, maybe as many as 20, 25 plays on offense, but we would rest him on defense because we don’t want to put Charles in harm’s way. We can’t have him fatigued and injured.”

“He is our punt return guy and does a fantastic job. Charles is a marvelous athlete. He is special, he really is, and we look forward to him just continuing to build on what he did last year.”

Q. If memory serves there was an interesting play in your game with Texas last year. I didn’t know if you used it as a rallying point for your team at all this year.

COACH MANGINO: “No. Last season is done. Last season is done. What we do is we go back and look at it from a — we look at all the plays that we played every game last year from a technical standpoint, how we can get better, how we can improve, how we did block better, tackle better, be in better positions to makes plays, run butter routes, all those things.”

“We are not going to get into all that stuff because it’s not important. It’s important to look at it from a technical standpoint, the whole season, and get better from that evaluation.”

Q. Is it possible that you might start the season 3-0, not having a good read on how good you guys are this year?

COACH MANGINO: “I think that’s an interesting question, but I am going to be very honest with you, we don’t take anybody lightly. Those three opponents, we are going to have to go out and earn the wins. Nobody lays down in college football. On any given day anybody can beat anyone.”

“So, basically, what you have is we have to play well and try to get ourselves in a position where we are undefeated going into conference play. We are not going to take that for granted.”

“I also feel that it’s — you know, we need to get better. We need those kinds of games to get ourselves better for the tough conference games that we play.”

Q. You have a freshman quarterback, what do you expect to do with Kerry Meier?

COACH MANGINO: “Jason, here’s how we are going to approach this thing: Adam Barmann has had a very, very good summer. Our staff is ranting and raving about him. He is probably better prepared than he has ever been for this challenge. Jason Swanson has had a decent summer, but he has hampered by a nagging injury and has kind of set him back. Brian Luke has come and told me before the summer he wants to be the starting quarterback. I said “Please show us,” and it’s there.”

“As far as Kerry Meier, we are going to treat Kerry like we would any other incoming freshman. We are not going to push him and try to force him to do things that he is not ready to do. We are just going to take him along. We will see how that plays out.”

“We are not going to force — let me put it this way: We are not going to throw Kerry Meier to the wolves. He is a talented young man. He is one of the few high school prospects that ever showed up for the summer voluntary program in great condition. I mean, that’s unusual. High school kids usually have a transition period. He showed up. Now, a lot of that has to do with older brothers that have been through all this and they said, hey, you better be ready to go, this is Division One football. We are going to take Kerry along like all the other freshman.”

Q. Would you talk about Clark Green and Gary Green, what they will bring to your running game.

COACH MANGINO: “First of all, Clark Green is what you call a steady workhorse kind of guy. He is not flashy. I have joked before that nobody is ever going to confuse him with, you know, Broadway Joe or something like that. Clark is a hard-working, dependable guy, and if you look at the all-purpose yardage for career at KU, he has a legitimate chance to probably pass up some people like Gayle Sayers, it’s just remarkable. He has done it rather quietly. We believe in Clark Green.”

“Gary is just a red shirt freshman, but Gary can do some good things. He really got a lot of reps in the spring and learned a lot of things. Gary is going to be okay. Gary is going to be a good football player for us. We have to play to his strengths, and we will.”

Q. Do you see the north team as wide open as it was last year, and does that make you want to accelerate the program?

COACH MANGINO: “We have heard a lot of times about the north being wide open, and I have taken some time to think about that.”

“If it’s wide open, it’s because I think every team in the north is getting better. That’s probably a key reason. Last year is probably not a great year for the north, but I think every team, you look across the board, they are all going to be better, including us, and we feel like, you know, we are going to get in that horse race.”

“We are going to get in it, and we feel like we have a chance to compete and play well against anybody in the league, so we want to be a part of that running. We will be.”