Quarterbacks, Tight Ends in the Spotlight Thursday, KU Football Holds Second Two-A-Day Practice

Aug. 9, 2012

080912aac_582_6414974.jpegLAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus and tight ends coach Jeff Blaskoalong with selected tight ends and quarterbacks met with the media Thursday afternoon. The media session followed KU’s first practice of the day and ninth of fall camp, while the team will work out again Thursday evening.

Below is a transcript of selected questions of both the coaches and student-athletes:

Quarterbacks Coach Ron Powlus
On the backup quarterback situation:
“Dayne (Crist) has been a great leader for our position and he’s done a great job. The guys behind him, who are working for that No. 2 role, have been working hard. We need to be as consistent as we can be in that No. 2 spot. Those guys have been working hard; they have great leadership in front of them in Dayne and Jake (Heaps) leading the way, but as Turner (Baty) and Michael (Cummings) battle to fill in that role. They’re both working hard at it.”

On the most difficult thing to pick up in Charlie Weis’ offense:
“There’s a lot of communication that has to go on from the head coach, who is the offensive coordinator, to the quarterback and then on to the rest of the team. A lot of things get identified at the line of scrimmage for them to deal with. There are a lot of nuances that they have to see and make decisions and make decisions quickly to put us in the best situation to have a successful play. They’re not in a situation where they just call a play, walk up and run it. There is a lot of thinking that has to has to go on every second.”

On when you know that a quarterback understands the offense:
“You can see it click, because what you see is guys start to move around faster and you see them start to play faster. Their voice gets a little louder, their throws are a little stronger and their movements are a little cleaner. They aren’t getting bogged down with thinking so much; it’s freeing up their body to go play football the way they should.”

On his impressions of Dayne Crist so far in camp:
“Dayne had a great offseason here and a great summer. Physically, he’s in great shape. He’s moving around well. I believe that he has improved physically from the time he got here until now. Mentally, he continues to grow and improve. He’s the kind of guy that he can help himself solve problems at the line of scrimmage. When you can do that, it’s a tremendous benefit to the team. We’ve seen him grow and improve since he’s been here and we’ll continue to work hard every day.”

Redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Cummings
On his mindset in camp:
“I’ve gone into this camp competing for the backup spot just like I’d be competing for the starting spot. I’ve got to prepare mentally and take the reps as they come.”

On the toughest part of the offense to master:
“I’d say the difference is that we have to make the MIKE IDs (middle linebacker identification) at the line of scrimmage, which we didn’t have to do last year. That changes with the packages and the personnel that we have in the game, so it’s always different. It changes with the front that the defense is playing and the number of linebackers they have in the game. I’d say that’s the most difficult part to pick up.”

On what it’s like to work under Coach Weis and Coach Powlus:
“It’s been good. They have a lot of experience at different levels. A lot of times you have to sit back and take in the knowledge that they give you and process it the best you can and show it on the field.”

Sophomore quarterback Turner Baty
On the most difficult part of picking up the offense:
“I’d say just the verbiage. A lot of the schemes are similar to what we ran at City College of San Francisco, but just the verbiage is different. We would have one word (at his previous school) and we would all know what to do. Here, it really takes into account what everybody needs to do on every play, so there are a lot of long play calls; a lot of tag words. That’s probably been the most difficult thing for me, but I’m working on it and getting better at it every day, so I’ll be good.”

On how he has gotten along with the other quarterbacks:
“Everyone has been so great to me since I’ve gotten here, especially coming in late and not being able to be here for spring, which I was bummed out about. It’s tough, because you’re playing catch up. But everyone has done a great job of helping me. Mike (Cummings) is awesome; Jake (Heaps) is awesome; Dayne (Crist) has been doing a great job – he’s my roommate in camp. We all have a common goal, because we all want to win. Whatever we can do to help the team win, that’s what we’re going to do. Everyone is getting better; everyone is pushing each other. Once I start to get a little better and a little more confident in my knowledge of the offense, I think it’ll be a lot easier.”

On how much better he is now compared to his first day:
“A lot. On my first day, I couldn’t make a MIKE ID (middle linebacker identification) to save my life. Now I feel a lot more comfortable with it.”

Kansas Tight Ends Coach Jeff Blasko
On adding players via transfer:
“It has been a huge upgrade. Trent (Smiley) and Jimmay (Mundine) have done a great job in terms of improving from spring on to fall camp, but obviously when we have more depth we have more experience with the addition of Mike Ragone and Charles Brooks. Charles Brooksis essentially a basketball player playing the tight end position. He is not comfortable playing from the three-point stance, that is something that we are working on right now. Getting in that three point stance, coming off the football, putting his face on people (are things he’s been working on). In the passing game he has a pretty impressive skill set. He catches the ball extremely well, knows how to use his body, he is good at the top of the routes. He just has a knack for getting open. He has done a nice job in that area, but in terms of three-point stance coming off the football, we have to continue to work that, but we are making progress every day.”

On senior tight end Mike Ragone:
“Obviously early on, we had to shake some of the rust off of him, but since then he has done a great job at the point of attack. His run fundamentals are good; you can tell he’s played a lot of football. In the pass game, he has done a great job of route running and pass catching. He brings an incredible amount of leadership to the table, because of all the experience that he has and he knows the offensive system. It has been a great fit for our offense up to this point. He is hungry, he is ready to go and he has made progress from practice to practice each day.”

On Mike Ragone being rusty early on:
“That was early on. He hadn’t played since September, so early on we had to break some rust off in terms of getting him refreshed up on the offensive system, but progress has been made from practice to practice. Same with Charles (Brooks). Charles has made significant improvements from practice to practice.”

On two-deep at tight end:
“When Coach (Weis) is making that comment he is referring more to the defensive side of the ball. Because of all the personnel groupings and the way we formation things (on offense) he wants to get as many people ready on the offensive side of the football so he can use his personnel groups to move guys around and put them in position to do what they do best. That is what sets Coach Weis apart from other coordinators in college football and in the National Football League. We are trying to find as many guys as we possibly can to be able to play as many different roles as they possibly can.”

Junior tight end Charles Brooks
On being at Kansas:
“Being at Kansas has been pretty good. It is going good on the field. We are all working together and competing, just trying to turn this thing around.”

On camp so far:
“Two-a-days are going good right now. We are going into our second two-a-day this afternoon, but the first one wasn’t too bad. I think we are just going to move forward with our second practice and get out there and do what we have to do to get better.”

On switching offenses:
“My strength is running. I played in a spread offense, so switching to this pro-style offense is going to be a challenge, but I think I can get it done.”

Sophomore tight end Jimmay Mundine
On diversity within the position:
“When we watch film, you see a guy do something you like and you simply try to incorporate it into your game. If he sees something he likes then he can put it in his. Everybody is just trying to get better. We are all in this together so at the end of the day, we want whoever is best for what is going on for that play to be in the game.”

On how much blocking is emphasized:
“Blocking is a big part for the tight end, because we are next to the offensive lineman. We are in the trenches all the time as well. Route running is something I have been able to do since I started playing tight end; it is second nature to me. Blocking is something that I have had to spend some time on outside of practice with my coaches by myself to get better at.”

On completion at the position:
“It is definitely making everybody better. Everybody is on their toes trying to get every little thing right. Even coming up a yard short on your route is unacceptable now, because you want to be perfect on everything. It definitely makes you work on the little things more.”

Senior tight end Mike Ragone
On why he wanted to come to Kansas to play for Coach Weis:
“Coach Weis recruited me out of high school. He is Coach Weis, I love him and he will give me the best chance to win. I just want to play for him, he is a great guy. I had a great time at Notre Dame with him, he is just Coach Weis, he has never changed and I want to be a part of something special here at KU and I want to win some football games.”

On his injury history:
“It goes back, but that is a part of football. Injuries are injuries. I have had some bad luck with that, but I am moving forward and I am here playing football. I just want to be a part of something special and win a lot of football games here.”

On if he is still the same guy after all the injuries:
“I am still Mike Ragone, baby. It has actually changed me for the better, it has matured me. When I was younger I used to think that I was superman, I had never been hurt before. Then I tore my ACL for the first time in high school and my whole mindset changed. It just made me stronger as a human being and I am actually kind of thankful that it happened.”

On his role in the passing game:
“I want the ball in my hands, I am selfish. If I don’t get the ball in my hands and we win every game, then I am happy. I just want to win, that is it.”