Kansas Big 12 Media Day Quotes

July 22, 2008

July 22, 2008

An Interview With:


Mark Mangino

PETER IRWIN: We’re now joined by Kansas, Coach Mangino. Coach, welcome and identify your players, please.

COACH MANGINO: Thank you, Peter. Today, three players made the trip with me from Lawrence. We have senior linebacker Mike Rivera. Mike is a Kansas product. Darrell Stuckey, who is a safety for us. Darrell is a Kansas City, Kansas, product. And quarterback Todd Reesing from Lake Travis, Texas. So all three of them made the long trip here today from Lawrence with me.

I’d like to open up by saying I appreciate the opportunity to be here today to address you. You know, coming off a pretty good season last year, expectations are very high for our program in Lawrence, in the state of Kansas, and around the country. And we’re extremely excited about that. We embrace those expectations, because there was a time when I first arrived here that there were no expectations for Kansas’s football program, and the fact now that people are taking a look at our program and seeing that we’re competitive and we’re able to compete at a high level here in a great conference like the Big 12.

We think we’re going to have a pretty good football team again. We have a lot of work to do, though. We’re not really as good as we need to be today. I’d like to think by the end of August we’ll be pretty good football team. But we are looking forward to the season with the same great expectations that our fans have.

PETER IRWIN: Questions.

Q. I hope you saved some snappy adjectives to talk about Todd. Could you just recap the remarkable season he had last year and what kind of expectations you have for him this coming season?

COACH MANGINO: Well, he certainly had a big 2007. And we would anticipate that he will compete and perform at the same high level. For Todd, the challenge is, is that to be able to manage all this attention that he’s received. And I think he’s doing a good job of that.

Everybody in Lawrence, Kansas, wants to say that they know him and that they pal around with him and he’s their buddy. And he’s been invited to just about everywhere. I think if he continues to do a good job of managing going from being a player that was not well known, who was competing for a position last year at this time, to being somebody that’s highly respected as a player in our league, that’s the key.

And he will. He’s a smart young guy. He understands. He understands relationships with people, and he’s smart enough to realize that a lot of people give you more credit than you deserve. And as I told him, you can receive that kind of criticism, too. You can get more criticism than you deserve if you don’t maintain that balance in your life.

And he’s doing a really good job of doing that.

Q. Mark, obviously you guys had great success last year. But your schedule switching, you play Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Texas this year. The tougher schedule coming along, do you think your program might be a little bit better prepared for it after the success you guys had last season?

COACH MANGINO: Well, we’ve always said that we want our program to be able to compete with the best teams in the league. And the fact that we are picking up Oklahoma, Texas and Texas Tech is something that we look forward to. We want to be able to play against all the best teams in our league. And be able to beat them.

That’s the test for our program. We will never truly get over the hump, in my eyes — I don’t know how anybody else sees it — but in my eyes until we’re able to defeat those teams as well.

We talk about the schedule. Yes, it is tougher. But let’s back up a minute here and think everybody talked about last year’s schedule. And just stop and think for a minute that Kansas’s football coach has been asked about his 2000 schedule not being tough in a year where they defeated Nebraska, Texas A&M, Colorado and Virginia Tech. All that tells me is that we’re making progress, if you’re asking me those questions.

Q. Bill Young has moved on, did a great job for you as defensive coordinator. You obviously had people in the following, you’ve made a transition from within. Talk about will there be any differences in philosophy or anything like that on that side of the football.

COACH MANGINO: There will not be major differences. But one of the things we’ve been able to do as a program is to evolve every year on offense, defense and in the special teams area. Yeah, we’re at the same basic principles. But we’ll always evolve. You always have to try to stay one step ahead of the offense, so to speak, and your offense stay one step ahead of the defense.

Bill did a tremendous job for us. But the transition was pretty simple. Clint Bowen behind the scenes had been a key player in the success of our defense. Clint was back there coaching the secondary people and connecting it with the linebackers, putting blitzes together, coverages.

So Clint’s a guy that it’s not just like we’re grabbing at somebody. He is well prepared for this challenge and he’ll do a great, great job.

Q. As a coaching staff, what do you do to get your guys prepared for the kind of expectations you’ve been talking about and the kind of celebrity that is around KU football that hasn’t been there for a long time?

COACH MANGINO: Well, I think it’s the approach we take every day with our players. From the first day we arrive in Lawrence to now. We’re pretty practical thinkers, and we keep it pretty simple. And how we deal with our players is we keep the same routine. We do the same things every day, whether things are going great, whether things are not going so well. Because we believe as players and coaches in what we’re doing.

And we keep things even. You know, pretty simple. I know you get tired of clichés, and I would, too, if I were you. But it’s true. We take each day one at a time. We focus on the task at hand and we keep zeroed in on what we’re trying to accomplish. And all the things around the program, outside the program, certainly it’s going to have some effect on everybody. We’re human. But we’re not going to let that affect the way we prepare, the way we work, our mind-set. We’re not going to let those kinds of things affect us.

As I say all the time around our program, and it’s been used a lot, but I mean it sincerely, we just stay at it. Keep after it and keep sawing wood. Just keep going.

Q. How big a concern is it, or is it a concern, the situation of the offensive tackle, obviously losing some great players there and for us that may not know much about the players that you have come up behind them?

COACH MANGINO: Our situation today as I sit here is no different than it was a year ago. Last year we had two returning tackles and no returning centers or guards that had played significantly.

This year, it’s just reversed. We have veteran guards in the center, but two unknowns, so to speak, at tackle. I’m not overly concerned about it. I think it’s the approach we take with these players that’s more important than their actual ability or experience.

We’re going to do things with our offense that gives those kids a chance to be successful just like we did a year ago when we had all the young inside players. Let’s be smart. Let’s do things that play to their strengths, and we’ll be fine.

So we’re not in an unusual position. We were in this spot a year ago.

Q. Mark, obviously you’ve got to find a replacement for Brandon McAnderson. Looks like Jake and Jocques would be likely candidates for it. But can you talk about the battle to fill in for your top rushing threat?

COACH MANGINO: Well, once again, it’s sort of just like the offensive line position. A year ago at this time we didn’t know what we were going to have at running back. We had a 1400-yard rusher graduate the program. And we really hadn’t had anybody to jump up front and center to take that position. And Brandon McAnderson became comfortable and really did a great, great job for us.

Well, we have a few candidates for the position. We’ve got Jake Sharp who played well for us last year. We’re hoping we can get some work out of Angus quickly. Angus is a guy who has been injured most of his career here and last year when he was healthy, his transition into being a full-time player was maybe a little bit slower than we had anticipated. It took him a while to knock the rust off, so to speak.

We have other guys in the program that are talented. Of course, Jocques Crawford we’ll find out when he steps on the field August 1st what he’ll be able to do. We have high expectations for him. Like any other player that comes from junior high or high school, he has to prove that he can play at this level every down. I think he will, but we’ll wait and see.

PETER IRWIN: Thank you, Coach.

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