Kansas Football Held Media Day On Tuesday

Aug. 7, 2007


After holding its fifth practice of the season in the morning, Kansas football players and coaches met with the media as the Jayhawks held their annual media day on Tuesday afternoon. The Jayhawks will hold two practices on Wednesday and Friday, with single workouts scheduled for Thursday and Saturday.

Kansas’ afternoon practice on Monday, August 13, which begins at 4:45 p.m., will be open to the public. That workout will be held on the grass practice fields west of the baseball stadium.

Kansas fans will have an opportunity to meet the Jayhawks when the program holds Fan Appreciation Day and Kids Day after practice on Wednesday, August 22. That event, which will take place at Memorial Stadium, will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Quotes From Coach Mangino and Selected Players

Kansas Football Media Day Quotes

Aug. 7, 2007

Head Coach Mark Mangino

Opening quote:

“So far we have had five practices, all single-day practices. Tomorrow we will begin our two-a-day practices and we’re looking forward to getting a few two-a-days in. So far it’s been pretty good. We really feel good about this group of kids. They had a good winter, a great spring and an outstanding summer program. They’ve really showed up ready to go with a great deal of enthusiasm and really you can see it on the field and feel it. It’s a group of kids that can do a lot of great things. We’re excited about them. We’re very confident in them. It’s a confident group and we are in a position right now where we feel if we keep things rolling and stay at the tempo that we are right now, good things are going to happen. The kids have done a good job of picking up where we left off in the spring in terms of retention of schemes and fundamentals. The new kids are picking up pretty quickly and they’re doing a good job. This is a very, very good group of freshman kids, especially in terms of football aptitude. We really think that these kids were well-coached in high school and really have a good feel for the way things are going.”

On the new kick off rule:

“Certainly there’s going to be more opportunities to return the ball and we have to be good in that respect as a whole unit. We have put a lot of emphasis in training camp on our kick off return unit in terms of getting a hat on a hat, the importance of sustaining blocks and leverage because there will be more opportunities. We feel like we have some people that have the chance to return a ball really well. Marcus Herford is the guy that’s back there right now working with Jake Sharp, so we feel pretty good about the fact that it could be a really good unit for us. My concern, moreso, is that there’s going to be more collisions now, less balls kicked to the endzone so there’s going to be more collisions, maybe five or six a game that you really wouldn’t like to see, but that’s part of the game and we’ll live with it.”

On how the kick-off return position is determined:

“Like any other position on the field, it’s the guy that wins the job. Obviously Marcus Herford is the guy that’s been doing it and he’d do it all year long. It’s just like any other position on the field.”

On the special teams unit:

“We put our best people on our special teams. Our kick off coverage unit, for years, has been filled with starters. We’ve had Brandon McAnderson, Nick Reid… Banks Floodman did it. A lot of our best players play special teams.”

On Aqib Talib:

“Aqib has worked hard. He’s a guy that takes his work very seriously. He’s a big corner, yet he still has quick feet, he has the hips to change directions very well. He can play man coverage, he can play the zone and play the ball. He works at it. I think he’s a lot stronger than a year ago, but just as quick. His hip flex is probably better than it was because of his winter and summer workouts. He’s developed some good, strong leadership qualities that we were hoping for. He’s one of four guys that his peers selected as a captain. He’s a competitive guy. He had to grow as a person and mature as a person and he’s done that. The kids see that it’s serious business to him. He encourages guys on the team and he’s one to get after you if he thinks you’re loafing, but the kids respect him because he has displayed a great work ethic and competitiveness on the field and in the weight room.”

On comparing Talib to other athletes coach Mangino has coached:

“He’s awfully talented. I don’t want to get into comparisons with former players I’ve been associated with, but he’s a very talented young man. He can do just about anything on the field that he wants to. I think he realizes that he can play this game very well. He can be special at it and someday possibly make money doing it.”

On how the team is preparing for the Big 12:

“I think we have to play well week in and week out. You’ve got to have consistency about your play not only at home, but on the road and that’s something that we’re focused on. Just doing what we’re doing, just keep working at it. We’ve had success against some Big 12 North teams, it needs to be consistent and it needs to be success home and away and that’s the biggest thing that will keep us in the hunt of the Big 12 North.”

On Memorial Stadium and the new football complex:

“As college football evolves, there will always be something. Everybody comes up with different ideas to keep their competitive edge. Right now the most important thing for us is getting into that complex next year, it will be a great place to train our players and it will be a great recruiting tool. There will still be challenges, it is not going to be a cure-all, but it will be a help. It’s not going to bring instant championships or anything like that. We’ve got to earn those. They come through hard work. Everybody is building nice facilities here and there, but it certainly will be a boost for us, there’s no question.”

On last season’s close losses:

“There were a lot of factors. There were plays that we thought we were in a position to make and didn’t make. Times that we had physical breakdowns, there were times where we had mental breakdowns. There were times where we didn’t have the right call on the field. There were times where we flat just didn’t make plays, there were times when I should have coached better. There were times when we should have made different personnel changes in certain situations. There were a lot of reasons, but we’ve worked at them, we’ve studied hard, we’ve coached our players and we’ve taken measures to prevent them. I’ll be honest, there’s sometimes that our lack of depth and young kids weren’t able to make the same plays late in the game that they made earlier in the game. We had attrition for various reasons. We had some kids on the field that when we started last year at two-a-days, we thought they were going to be on the scout team. One of them became a starter and three of them played a significant amount of time.”

On the necessity of new facilities:

“Keeping up is a good term to use. We’re catching up and it’s a facility that is needed. The University of Kansas and the fan base want a good football program. This is a big step in creating a good football environment to develop players and to recruit players. As you know, every year somebody else will come up with a new idea, a bigger expansion. This facility is a great boost and it’s getting us in the game. Our facilities here are not awful facilities, they are just shared by all of the department. To our recruits, number one, you show it’s a structure devoted strictly to football and everything we do is under one roof. You have your weight room, your training room, your locker room, your meeting rooms, your auditoriums, you have a recruiting room that is going to look out into the stadium. What you’re saying is, `we have a facility here that’s dedicated solely to the success of our players and our program.'”

On the pressure on other corner’s with Talib’s spotlight:

“We had a pretty good corner a couple of years ago that’s playing in the NFL right now. Those teams went after him. Sometimes they go after your best player and try to put pressure on him. I think that’s what Aqib (Talib) has to deal with. They go away from him. That guy has to be ready too. There’s a lot of good players in this league and just because you’ve got some preseason hype, they don’t care. They’ll go after you. They’ll test you and try to see if you can live up to it. We see that all the time with other teams in the league. Not very often do offensive coordinators say, `We’re going to stay away from this corner all night’. You can’t do that, you’ve got to run your offense, you’ve got to do what you do best. You can’t just pick one side of the field that you’re going to attack all night. There’s ways to adjust your defense to help an off-corner. I think it will not be quite as big an issue, but we have to be prepared for it.”

On how significant the new facility will be for KU football:

“I don’t know if I can put percentages on it. It will be a huge boost. I want to be cautious to let people know that it’s not going to be the cure-all. We’re catching up a little bit. We think with a new facility coupled with the fact that we have a great education for kids, we have a great campus, we have a wonderful community, we’re close to Kansas City, we think it’s a great sell and it’s going to help recruiting tremendously, not to mention all the benefits for training and developing your players. It will help significantly coupled with all those other factors. It’s a little bit of a hassle to jump on busses and head to the stadium, but we live with it because we know we’re not going to have to do it much longer. You’d prefer that your players leave the meeting room, go put their pads and helmets on and walk out to the practice fields and get on with the days work rather than having to get on busses and bus to the stadium. We break a lot of times just after three o’clock. That’s a busy time on campus, classes are letting out. There are times when the busses have taken up to 20 minutes to get to the stadium. It’s not a major thing, but the fact that you don’t have to deal with it is good.”

On playmakers:

“I like the playmakers that we have that we know are going to make plays and they’re developing and I like some of these young kids. We have a remarkable group of young kids. An example on the offensive side- both Dezmon Briscoe and John Wilson are true freshmen. Those guys are talented young guys, tremendous football aptitude. You can tell they were really well-coached in high school. They sit in zones that we’re stressing to our veteran guys to get them to do. They can read a coverage really remarkable. We’re really amazed about some of the things they really understand about this game already coupled with their natural ability. I would say there’s a good chance both will play this year. What they face is learning, learning the system. They’ve only practiced five days, but if they can progress the way they have the first five days, they both have an opportunity to get on the field and play early.

On the team in general:

“We’ve moved some personnel around a little bit. We’ve put Joe Mortensen inside because we think that’s what he is. Last year we had him on the outside playing in space and that’s not his forte. He’s a box player. He needs to be in the box. He’ll thrive in that area. Mike Rivera’s been working at that position in terms of depth but we’ve got him out in space a little bit at the outside linebacker spot and he’s starting to feel more comfortable there. He may be more suited to be out there. The way those guys are developed, you always try to mix and match and find where they fit best and I think Mike Rivera may have found a comfort zone. We may be forced to use Rivera inside a little bit because right now we have to figure out who is going to be at number two linebacker- we still have that position open. You still have Arist Wright and Olaitan Oguntodu that are young guys. Arist played a lot last year. He’s a good football player but he’s still learning and Olaitan is still learning, but both are talented so I think that position is going to be pretty solid for us.”

On any other true freshman starting:

“We haven’t made a decision on any that will. I’ve told you about the two receivers that I think have got a great chance. Chris Harris at corner has a great chance. He’s a feisty guy, he’s a fast learner, he has all the good physical attributes that you want in a corner. He’s not a really big guy, but he plays big. I would also say Richard Johnson at defensive tackle. He’s been a pleasant surprise. He’s a very mature young man for a freshman, a pretty physical guy, jumps the ball. He may have a chance. Carmon Boyd-Anderson has some natural ability. There’s a good chance he will play. He picks up the system, he’s a pretty smart guy, very focused. This is serious business for him. He’s out focused and ready to go, so you’ll most likely see him out there playing this year. How much we’ll see as we go, but he can play.”

On the quarterback position:

“There’s no question that the quarterback position has gotten better. Those kids had a great summer, they worked hard in all areas including throwing the ball and Reesing really looks to be in tremendous shape. He’s in the best shape he’s ever been. He is throwing the ball really well. Kerry is throwing the ball well. I’ll put it like this: From spring to two-a-days, Reesing has advanced his overall play a little bit better than Meier has, but for Kerry, it’s just a matter of throwing the ball confidently. They’re both fighting it out and we like it. They both have gotten better. Reesing has made some strides. A lot of it has to do with the fact that he’s probably dropped 20 pounds and he’s gained a lot of strength and he’s zipping the ball with more spin than he ever has. When the time comes and we’re ready to make a decision, we will. It is my intent to have a number one quarterback. We’re going to approach it that way. If there’s a scenario that proves differently that will help our football team, I’m not opposed to anything that will help us win in terms of a two-quarterback system, but that’s not the way I plan to go. I think both of the quarterbacks and (Ed) Warinner and myself will know and that time has not come yet.”

Sophomore Safety Darrell Stuckey

On Tang Bacheyie:

“I think the biggest difference with Tang is that he came from the running back area. He is getting a lot better. He is getting up-field more often. He is starting to accept the concepts a lot better.”

On last season:

“It was a season based on adversity. We had a lot of injuries and a lot of changes with chemistry on our defense. Last year, a lot of our players were young. This year we have a lot more experience and we are more comfortable.”

On becoming a consistent Big 12 power:

“Right now, we are a team that others have to prepare to play. We are a very good team, but good is the enemy of great. For us to be a great team, we have to consistently go in to each game with a goal and be on the same page. We cannot afford to have the links on our team who do not want to preform to the best of their ability and have excuses. When our team comes together and gels and works hard for the person next to you and not for yourself is when we will be a great team on the field.”

Sophomore Quarterback Kerry Meier

On the team:

“It is going great so far. We have a bunch of excited guys eager to go out and show what we have done this summer and the preparation we have done so far. We are just ready to get out and get started.”

On the team’s confidence:

“One thing I have noticed is the enthusiasm of the team, just to get out and work together and try to be the best we can be. We had a bunch of guys step up in the winter in the spring, and they are great leaders right now. We need those guys to continue to lead and continue to do the things they do, and good things will come our way.”

On his relationship with Todd Reesing:

“I roomed last year with Todd and I learned a lot about him. He is one of my better buddies on the team. We have been through a lot of stuff so far, and there have been a lot of good times. It is good to have competition at quarterback. It’s about building each others’ confidence. It makes each of us have to come out and work that much harder on that day just to gain a step one way or another. We have been pushing each other hard, and in the long run, that will make the team better.”

Senior Tight End Derek Fine

On KU becoming a Big 12 power:

“I think it taken a lot of hard work to get to where we are at. If you look at the players we have now and the players the coaches have brought in with their ability and strength, it is a lot different now. Now our mind-set is that we want to get better. We want to contend for championships, and our team doesn’t settle for average. Nobody wants to settle for mediocrity on this team. The biggest thing is to establish our goals and to always work towards accomplishing those goals.”

On changes from last season:

“We are focusing on putting everything together, with a complete offense and defense that comes out with the same intensity every time and finishes all of our games strong. Sometimes we would come out strong, or sometimes we would finish strong. It is just about putting those intangibles together as an offense, defense and special teams. We have the play makers, we just need to have the mind-set to put it all together.

On the offense:

“The biggest difference about our offense is that they are changing the plays to our abilities and to the defense and making them work. Our offense is able to adapt better.”

On his role:

“I think I will run a few more routes, but that is really up to the coaches and that changes week-to-week with the schemes for each defense.”

Junior Linebacker Mike Rivera

On his position change from inside to outside linebacker:

“It has been going real well so far. Joe (Mortenson) and I have played next to each other in the past so we communicate well with each other. As long as both of us are on the field at the same time, good things are going to happen.”

On the differences between the positions:

“Playing on the outside is a little different than the middle, but many of the principles remain the same. You are still running around tackling people. It is nice to be able to just run to the ball at all times.

On the new facilities forthcoming:

“It will be pretty awesome. I will only get to taste it for a little bit in my senior season, but it is really exciting how things are changing around here at KU. It will definitely help recruiting. Kids are going to see it and see how well the program is coming along.”

On making the next step as a program:

“This camp will be very important for us because as long as we get everything down. We have the talent and skill. This could be the year where we put it all together.”

Senior Linebacker Joe Mortenson

On his position change from inside to outside linebacker:

“I am really liking it. I think we are definitely going to be a better defense this year because of the changes that we have made. Mike (Rivera) is very athletic and that enables him to play both outside and in the middle. We have a lot more experience this year and we are really looking forward to the season.”

On losing weight and getting in better shape:

“Last year I wasn’t nearly as fit as I am now. I have lost a lot of weight and as a result I have gotten a lot faster. I am going to really like playing in the inside. It should be a lot of fun. I really like how everything is right in front of you from the guards to the quarterback. Our defense is designed to box everything back to the middle linebacker, so you are always in the middle of the action.”

Sophomore Running Back Jake Sharp

On his off-season preparations:

“I have been working as hard as I possibly can and also working with the coaches to hone both my strengths and weaknesses as a player. I am trying to have some fun in the process as well because I am just living the dream.

On a possible running back by committee:

“I don’t really care if there is a running back by committee as long as we are winning. I definitely have aspirations of being the starter but I think all the running backs feel the same, that as long as who ever is on the field is being successful then we will all be successful.”

On the new facility:

“We are all real excited and it is very exciting to be here right now. It is an exciting time at KU.”

Junior Cornerback Aqib Talib

On how camp is going:

“So far we have stayed pretty healthy and as long as we continue to stay healthy things are going to go well.”

On national attention:

“Now that camp has started I have set all the national attention things on the side. It is time to grind and go to work. That stuff is for the off-season. I don’t worry about that stuff now.”

On a personal goal for the upcoming season:

“I set a lot of goals for myself. My main goal is get to double-digits in interceptions for the year. If I get close it will be a good thing. I sometimes compare myself to Deion Sanders because he is the best cornerback that I have ever seen play, but I am still a long ways away from him.”

On opponents he is looking forward to playing:

“I am not really looking forward to playing anyone specifically, but I always enjoy playing against the big names in the conference.”

Senior Defensive Lineman James McClinton

On his first impressions of this years team:

“I like the team’s confidence. We’ve got a lot of swagger. We believe that if we play team ball we can go out there and beat anybody. We have a lot of enthusiasm. We came out in practice with no pads and people were just banging and hitting each other like we were in full pads.”

On forcing more turnovers:

“Turnovers can change the game. If you are down and you get a turnover it can change the momentum of the game to your side. If we keep working on forcing turnovers in practice, then eventually we will be doing it in the game.”

On being a captain:

“I’m not just the captain but also a leader for the defensive line. I’m the only senior on the defensive line and we have a lot of young guys so I have to be the example. I also need to step up and be more vocal. In the past I have usually led by example but it seems like more people are expecting me to stand up and say something this year.”

Sophomore Quarterback Todd Reesing

On his strengths:

“I think I play an up-tempo game and I like to play with a lot of enthusiasm. Just making plays when nothing is there is a strength of mine, as is being a leader on the field. Most good quarterbacks can do most things well, but things like leadership and how you handle pressure are what separates guys.”

On the quarterback battle with Kerry Meier:

“Kerry and I have never looked at this competition more than what it is. We both go out there everyday and play as best as we can. We can’t control what the other guy does; all we can do is play to the best of our ability. We are real good friends off the field and regardless of what happens in this competition we will still be friends.”

On Aqib Talib:

“I think Aqib has the ability and talent to be one of the best cornerbacks in the nation. Playing against him every day I think he has great speed, he reads receivers routes very well and he is one of those guys you don’t want to have to throw to. It’s great to have a guy like that, not only to practice against but also to know that he is out there on Saturdays making plays for us.”

Junior Offensive Lineman Anthony Collins

On team unity:

“We’ve all been here all spring and all summer. Everyone was here in the hot sun, sweating together and bleeding together so it didn’t take very long for the team to gel.”

On the offensive line

“Anybody that coach puts next to me I feel comfortable with. Whether its Adrian Mayes or Matt Darton or anybody, I feel comfortable playing with these guys. The young guys are going to be very good. The coaching staff did a great job recruiting offensive linemen this year and they are going to be really good when their time comes.”

Senior Running Back Brandon McAnderson

On playing better in the forth quarter:

“We have learned from things that have happened in the fourth quarter. Now I feel like our team is ready to learn from those experiences and take them to the field. A lot of the guys who have experienced those close losses and bad losses will be able to play through them and redeem themselves.”

On leadership:

“I’ve always considered myself a leader, but to be nominated as a captain gives me more responsibility that I have an impact on each win or loss. That is all you can ask for as a college player, the chance to have an impact on the outcome of the game and that is the opportunity that I have this year.”