Quotes from 2005 Football Media Day

Aug. 11, 2005

Head Coach Mark Mangino
Opening Statement
“Good afternoon. Welcome to media day here at KU. I’m extremely pleased with the progress of our team. We are really poising ourselves to have a good football season. First of all, we have had an extremely good offseason. This summer, our strength staff did a tremendous job of preparing our kids physically for the upcoming season. We are in better physical shape than we have ever been. We are stronger than we’ve ever been. We are faster than we’ve ever been. We have a team that is maturing and really understands what we are asking of them and the kind of commitment it takes to be a successful football team. I haven’t been this excited entering a season before. We are going to be a good football team, no question about it. A lot of people have asked me about the Big 12 North. I think everyone is getting better in the North, but why shouldn’t we throw our hat in the ring and try and compete? I think there’s no reason why we can’t make a run at it, but that’s easy to say. We have to go out and earn our way. The way we’ll do that is just keep improving. Our 2003 team was a better team than our 2002 team. 2004 was a better team than 2003. The football club this year will continue that. There’s no question in my mind that we’ll be a better football team this year than we were last year. We have some playmakers. A great bunch of kids, a hard-nosed bunch; very well disciplined kids. I’m very encouraged. I can’t wait to see the product we put on the field come September 3rd.”

On the competition for starting quarterback
“Adam Barmann has picked up some ground coming out of the summer program. He’s probably the most prepared of our veteran quarterbacks. He still has to continue to improve to win the job. Brian Luke has made some really good strides the past couple of days. Brian just has to be consistent. The young guy, Kerry Meier, each and every day he learns more and more about our offense. You can see he’s an awfully talented guy. In my mind that job is still open. We haven’t resolved anything just yet. Adam is having a good training camp. He’s put in a lot of work in the offseason. It’s really important to him. Swanson’s been slowed down. He doesn’t take many repetitions and has lost a lot of ground consequently. He’s got a long way to go to get himself back in the race. Kerry’s making strides every day. It’s not a cinch that he’ll redshirt. It could happen but it’s not a cinch.”

On Charles Gordon
“He’s looked unbelievable. He’s been on defense most of camp. Yesterday and today were days for him to work on offense. There’s no question he’s our best corner. He’s probably one of our most polished receivers along with Mark Simmons. He put on a clinic yesterday running pass routes. When he’s running pass routes, our quarterbacks look better. He is just a phenomenal athlete. I think we have a dilemma, a good dilemma. We have some corners that are really developing and getting better. Are we going to use Charles a little more on offense, maybe a little more than we wanted to? We feel like we have two very reliable and excellent punt returners outside of Charles with Mark Simmons and Brian Murph. Where do we reduce reps and where to we add reps to help our team? That’s the question the staff and I are trying to answer. He is just such a talented guy. He did not sit in an offensive position meeting during training camp yet. He got in the huddle, heard the route, ran it perfectly and got open. He knew the adjustments to make against the coverage. That’s a pretty special guy. I read an essay once by Bobby Bowden. He says some guys have `It’ and some guys don’t have `It’. He’s got `It.’ He will return punts but somewhere along the line we’ve got to get him off the field to get him some rest. He will return punts, but maybe not every punt. He’ll play defense, he’ll play offense. He’s valuable to both sides. But as good an athlete and great player he is, and a good person he is, 60 minute men are not en vogue.

“The number one thing about him is that he’s a good person. He’s painfully shy. We’ve had members of the media say that they’d like to have more access to him. I had planned on bringing him with me on Big 12 media days in Houston, but he said that he had a class that if he missed it would be like missing a week. I talked to our football academic advisor that works with him and she said it was a lot of work to be missed. Most guys would have gone to Big 12 media day and then struggled to get that classroom work done. He wants to do everything the right way. He’s not very comfortable being on center stage. KU fans want to know Charles Gordon, they really do. He’s a great kid. We’re lucky. Every once in a while you run into one of these gems. You recruit a gem that you knew had talent but you weren’t sure how talented he really would be. He loves to play football. In practice, he helps you on one side and kills you on the other side every day. He’s sure tough on opponents. He’s a special young man.”

On new guys that have stood out
“We mentioned Kerry (Meier). Russell Brorsen from Stillwater, Okla. has done an outstanding job at the tight end position. He is trying to lock up that number two spot and even compete for the number one spot with Derek Fine who incidentally is having a big training camp. There are a number of kids to mention, and I don’t want to overlook anybody. This is by far the most talented group of kids we’ve brought in since I’ve been here. There’s no question about that. Wayne Wilder and Rodney Allen are going to have an impact. We’re still not certain about some guys who we might redshirt, depending on where they are on the depth chart. Brandon Duncan is an outstanding player. We have to make a decision about him. There are several other kids as well. We’re very pleased with the level of talent that we’ve brought in.”

On Wayne Wilder
“We expect Wayne to help us at defensive tackle. He’s a big, strong guy. He’s quick and can jump the ball. Our defensive line is going to be pretty good. I don’t like to make predictions because when you do that you always end up with egg on your face, but I think our defensive line will be among the best in the Big 12 Conference.”

On Josh Bell
“Josh Bell is in there competing for the tight end position. Russell (Brorsen) is just ahead of him because he has been able to pick up the offense very quickly. He’s a very intelligent guy and our offense is very difficult for the average freshman to pick up quickly, but he has been able to do it. But Josh Bell is going to be very good for us as well.”

On the Amadi brothers
“I’m going to brag on a couple guys that have sometimes been a target of criticism, even by us as coaches occasionally. I’m really impressed with Ronnie and Donnie Amadi. When I got here four years ago, they would have had a rough time covering me. Those kids are what you call program kids. They never give up. They work hard. They’re first in line when they’re out running, first to the weight room. They have a tremendous work ethic. With the help of our coaching staff and our strength staff, they have made themselves good football players. I’m not afraid to put either one of those guys on the football field at any time.”

On how much Charles Gordon will play
“We need to feel like we have front line and depth guys on the corner positions. If we don’t have some of the young kids ready to play at the receiver position, it’s hard to ignore Charles as a playmaker on offense.

“You know my philosophy, you build a foundation and you win first with defense. But our defense could be doing a great job and giving us three-and-outs constantly, but the offense has to get the ball rolling. I think we’ll be able to do that, but with our defense and a large stride, I think we can be the kind of team that can be talked about throwing our hat in the ring for the North crown. We can’t have our defense be getting three-and-outs and not have our offense capitalize on them. We had 27 takeaways last year, but our offense didn’t capitalize on that enough. I think this year we will. It could be without Charles, but if we need Charles on offense to get that spark, we’ll do that. We’ll just count his reps and be careful with him. As I’ve said over and over, we won’t wear him out and won’t put him in harm’s way. We’ll just have to pick and choose our battles.”

On development of the wide receivers
“It’s coming along very well. I’m very pleased. That group is very disciplined and running better routes. They’re blocking better. You know I’ve been preaching that if you want to have a good running game, your receivers have to block too, not just lineman. Those kids under Tim Beck are understanding the total player concept at wide receiver. I’m pleased with their progress. We have some playmakers. We have some young kids. We’re going to go through some growing pains. They might drop a couple of balls here and there or miss a block but when it’s all said and done I think that’s going to be a really good group for us.”

On Marcus Herford
“Marcus is doing well. He’s a young man that’s very powerful. He’s a good blocker on the perimeter. He’s starting to learn the little nuances that are important to running pass routes and getting leverage on defenders. He’s working on his ball skills every day. He’s a good, hardworking young man. We’re hoping that he’ll be ready to make a major contribution. He’s certainly on that path.”

On Marcus Henry
“Marcus Henry is doing well. He was one of the top performers in the summer program in terms of putting the numbers up in the weight room, improving his speed, and improving his agility. He’s still a little young and every once in a while he’ll go out and maybe have a bust on something. When you talk to him about it though, he listens and really cares about it. I think as he matures, he’s going to have a heck of a career here and have a big factor in our offense this season.”

On Brandon Duncan
“Linebacking right now is a strong suit for us. We’re feeling pretty good about a couple of the backups we have as well. What we have to gauge is if he can get in there on gameday, be a contributor, and have an impact. One of the things we talked about last year for our football team was trying to add depth. We want to give kids a little break here and there so that in the fourth quarter we can have fresh legs. He could be a factor in helping us have those fresh legs. If he can and he’s ready to do it, we’ll play him.

“Any time we recruit a man later than the signing date, we look for red flags. We did extensive research on his background. I talked to the high school principal. Dave Doeren talked to everyone, probably even the custodian. We had conversations with coaching staff members at Texas. I had a conversation with Mack Brown. Our administration made contact with Texas’ administration and we looked very carefully. We brought him in and met with him and had him talk with a variety of people here and at the end of the day, he was a young man that didn’t have a spot at Texas, but everyone was very positive about him and we feel good about giving him an opportunity here.”

On Nick Reid
“He’s Mr. Reliable. You can count on Nick Reid. He’s going to show up and go to work just like the sun is going to show up every day. He’s a young man that loves KU and loves playing football here. He’s a leader on the team. Everybody likes him, but don’t fool with him because he’s a tough customer. He is committed to winning. We have a team of guys that want to win, and he’s the leader of those guys. He’s just a tenacious competitor and will do anything to help this team win. He’s played with injuries. He played a couple games with a screw sticking out of his foot. He is a tough customer and a guy you love to coach.”

On Kevin Kane
“Kevin got his 40 time down this year. It’s under five-flat now. There is something to be said for intellectuals playing football. You can’t fool Kevin Kane. He plays downhill. He understands reads in the backfield. He is an intelligent, hardnosed football player and gives you 100 percent every snap. I don’t remember once ever having to say anything to Kevin about hustling, finishing a play, going to the whistle. He does it all the time. We have a lot of good, hardworking young kids and I feel privileged to coach these kids.”

On changes on the offensive line
“With (Todd) Haselhorst, he told us he felt more comfortable playing guard. With (David) Ochoa, who is a heady, blue collar type player as well and the development of Ryan Cantrell who is really having a good training camp, we think that it was a good move. We still have Cesar (Rodriguez) at left and Matt Thompson at right, and we don’t have any thoughts about moving them. We’re going to have some rotation at guard which will be helpful.”

On the defensive backfield leaders
“That’s Charles Gordon’s world. He’s quiet, but it’s efficient. He’s not quiet on the field though. He’s a corner, but he’ll tell a safety where to line up. He’ll make the adjustments. Charles is the leader back there. Rodney Fowler is coming on, and he’s a very intelligent player. He’s a guy that we’re expecting to have a big season.

“Jerome (Kemp) has been working hard at that strong safety position. This is the most focused that he has been in our program. He really looks sharp. I’ve been very pleased with his progress.”

On the pressure of the season
“The only pressure that I suffer is self-induced. I’m confident in our team, our assistant coaches, and myself. I want to win and so do our players.”

On the running game
“On the first day of practice it was a concern. The running game is one of the areas that is probably improving the fastest on offense. Clark Green has looked pretty good. He’s a good solid player, a work horse. I’m really fired up about Jon Cornish. Jon is finally catching on here and maturing. He’s a great kid. We had a talk after spring ball. I wasn’t sure how focused he had been. He realized that it was time for him to make a contribution. He told me, `You guys take American football pretty seriously.’ I was glad he caught on. He looks quicker, more explosive. He has good vision. He is one of the best conditioned guys we have. He is having a big camp to date. He could be a factor for us. Gary Green is doing a good job. He put on some weight and increased his foot speed. He’s going to have an impact too.”

On the kicking game
“The good thing about Scott Webb is that he’s so much stronger than he was a year ago. He did a great job in the weight room. He is definitely the number one guy kicking field goals and PAT’s. Kyle Tucker has a live leg. He’s booming the ball punting it. When he gets a little more control he’ll be a factor. We’re feeling pretty good. We’re pretty pleased with the kickers and punters right now.”

On how he addresses the season
“It’s hard for me to sit in front of my football team and say that a certain game is a `must win game.’ If we lose, then what happens? Do we drink grape kool-aid? You can’t do that. Where we are with our program, every game is important. We don’t take anyone for granted. We beat Kansas State and Missouri last year. We were fortunate to defeat our arch-rivals. We’re back here today, getting started again. That’s how it works. You can’t really say that something will make you or break you. If you get into that you’re setting your program up for failure.”

On the program’s progress
“This is a long answer. I would say that number one, we have a lot of guys on our staff that have been here since day one. They have really pulled together and made an investment in this program and believed in what we’re trying to do. They’ve worked hard at recruiting, worked hard as coaches, and I think that’s a big part of it. Nobody ever wrote a book to tell you how to be a head coach. We’ve also learned some valuable lessons. It is better to look for outstanding athletes that are also good people. It is better to go out and recruit kids that are good kids as well as good players because they make for better team chemistry. When you don’t have a lot of egos and don’t have a lot of people that have their own thoughts about doing things and they don’t respect the hard work of their teammates, that creates a problem. When you recruit kids that have an appreciation for what the guy next to him does and how hard he works, he becomes invested. The reason we’ve been able to make progress every year is because of team chemistry. They’re good kids that the coaches and myself like being around and they like being around us. We’ll have the best leadership that we’ve had since I’ve been here. It’s very strong. Guys like Banks Floodman, he wants to win. Senior leadership is a key and another reason why we make progress.”

Senior Wide Receiver Mark Simmons
On the offense

“All four quarterbacks have done great with their workouts this summer. The offense is moving the ball against our defense, which is one of the top defenses in the Big 12, so if we are doing great against them we will be fine.”

On being a leader
“I am the only senior at wide receiver. Most of our players don’t have a lot of experience on the field so I show them how it is done and how to do things like find the hole in a zone defense. “

On junior wide receiver Brian Murph
“He’s alot faster than I first thought. He has good speed and pretty good hands.”

On junior defensive back/wide receiver Charles Gordon
“Charles and I came in together and he is a pretty good receiver. I love going against him in practice because it is a good challenge.”

Senior Wide Receiver Greg Heaggans
On preparing for the upcoming season

“I am going to fight for every thing that I can get. It is my last year here and I want to go out with a bang. We have a lot of talented guys out there and I just want to compete with all of them. I want to help the team out any way that I can.”

On playing on special teams
“Special teams is a big part of our arsenal. Coach (Mark) Mangino makes special teams as important as offense or defense. We practice everyday just like the offense and defense.”

Freshman Tight End Russell Brorsen
On converting from defensive end to tight end

“I was recruited as a defensive end. After I got up here for two-a-days they switched me. The position is new to me. I played a little tight end in high school but I played mostly on defense. I really don’t know what to expect but the guys on the offense are helping me a lot.”

Junior Offensive Lineman Travis Dambach
On the upcoming season

“Our motto this year is `Hustle, Finish, Win.’ That is what we want to do every game. Last year there were some games where we hustled and played as hard as we could but in the end the victory got away from us. This year we are going to focus on things game-by-game and if we do what we’re supposed to do, we will win.”

On the offensive line
“This year more than ever we have concentrated on protecting the quarterback. We have a lot of guys at the quarterback position that can really play well. We are going to do everything we can to make sure nothing happens to any of them. I think we have a lot of quarterbacks that can get the job done.”

Junior Quarterback Adam Barmann
On his preparation for the season

“I didn’t do anything differently than everybody else. I think that the strength staff did a great job of getting us ready for the season. We worked on a lot of specific things. I just try to get better each day. I think that I had the most production mentally in the film room.”

On the competition at quarterback
“Brian Luke is a very good player who has a great command of the offense. Kerry Meier is a really athletic kid. He is just going to get better and better as he learns more. We have a lot of very good players at the quarterback position and it will make all of us better.”

On the defense
“I’m probably biased but I think that we have the best defense in the Big 12, especially in the North. Those guys fly around and they have playmakers. To go against them everyday is a tremendous help to our offense.”

Senior Quarterback Brian Luke
On junior defensive back/wide receiver Charles Gordon

“Charles is a great player. When he is on the field, you know he is going to work hard for you. I think that everyone we have is going to work hard but Charles is the guy that you can count on. He is a reliable player and it is exciting to have him on our side.”

On his mindset for the year
“I am as confident as I have ever been. I know the offense better than I ever have before. I am definitely looking forward to this season.”

Junior Wide Receiver Brian Murph
On the upcoming season

“I think our team is coming together every day. If we do what the coaches are telling us we will have a pretty good season.”

On what he brings to the offense
“I have been working on my route running and my blocking. I can go get the ball. I can make plays and turn a short gain into a long one.”

Junior linebacker Eric Washington
On the talent at the linebacker position
“We are pretty stacked at linebacker. We have a lot of great leaders like Kevin Kane and Nick Reid. A lot of the young guys are growing up fast because our leaders are so good.”

On the upcoming season
“We are looking forward to the season. We have a great bunch on defense. I just can’t wait to get out there. The Big 12 North is wide open every year and we are looking forward to competing for it (Big 12 Championship).”

On junior defensive back Charles Gordon
“He is in on a lot of plays in practice. It is fun to watch him make great catches and plays because he is so small but also very strong.”

Senior Running Back Clark Green
On the running game

“The running game looks pretty good. We have a couple of backs that can step in at any time. Our offensive line is learning the system and they study the playbooks everyday.”

On the upcoming season
“It is our turn to step up. We have to come together as an offense, defense, and special teams to show people how good we are.”

On the quarterbacks
“All of them look pretty good. Kerry Meier looks pretty good. We will go with whoever gets the starting job but I am comfortable with all of them.”

Sophomore Running Back Brandon McAnderson
On playing fullback

“It was a hard adjustment at first but it was also a challenge. It is fulfilling to know that when there is a good run you laid the block that sprung the run.”