Kansas Football Holds Media Session


Assistant Coach Long Interview |Assistant Coach Torbush |Patterson |Opurum |Pick

Media Session

Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2010

Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill

On new occurrences for the KU football program:

“We did offer two walk-on kids scholarships, Alex Smith will be playing center and guard for us and also Reece Petty, a wide receiver for us. We thought they deserved it. We had some qualifications: they had to at least be a senior, have shown some good progress both on the field and in the classroom. Again, we have some scholarships available and that’s something that we’re going to do at the University of Kansas, to try to award some walk-on players the opportunity to earn a scholarship. So we’re happy for them. I know the players were really excited when I made that announcement to them. They were pretty excited, and I know their parents are somewhat excited from that standpoint.”

On players who have done good things recently:

“We’ve had quite a few guys that have done some good things. Tyrone Sellers has done some good things. He’s stepped up in competition with Kevin Young at the defensive end spot. Another guy, Greg Brown, has come on strong. Isiah Barfield in the secondary has done some good things. I would say also on the offensive side, Tim Biere is really playing well, has done some great things. I really say Duane Zlatnik is a definite guy that is vying for a top position on the offensive line. So we’ve got some guys that are playing well on our football team. We’re still trying to put some things together for our team both offensively and defensively and special teams. But that’s a little bit of an update from that standpoint.”

On the starting quarterback situation:

“We’re still in the evaluation period. Again, once we believe we have a person who has earned it and deserves it, we will make that announcement at the appropriate time. We’re still in evaluations, but things are going well between Kale Pick and Jordan Webb. They’re playing very, very well and there’s great competition. Either way it goes, we’re going to have two good quarterbacks on our football team. Whichever way we decide, we feel we’ll be in good shape.”

On if he’s getting excited, anxious as the start of the season grows nearer:

“It’s a good thing right now, as of last Saturday, we still had three weeks before our first game and we’re right about on time as far as what we expect. We finished our last two-a-days yesterday, so it’s great now that we’ve gotten to one-a-days and we can really focus on a lot of different things. We’ll probably go a little bit time to time now and focus more on our opponents, we may take some time out of our practice to focus on who we’re playing the first two or three ballgames and assess that situation there. So it’s good to get our evaluations on where some of our top people are at and go from there.”

On the emergence of Duane Zlatnik on the offensive line:

“He’s really improved. He’s one of the guys that’s made the most improvement from the spring time when I first saw him to today. I really like what he’s doing. Early on he was a little bit slow, but he’s picked up some great pace. My hat goes off to Coach Grimes, he’s done a really good job with the offensive line and again, we’re just putting all the pieces together and are hoping to find seven to eight guys who can play that can play pretty good football for us at the offensive line position.”

On what his ideal player is at the offensive line position:

“He (Duane Zlatnik) probably has that. I love his size. He moves really well for a big guy, he’s 300-plus pounds. We’ll do different things with the guards, sometimes pull them, sometimes move some things on the line of scrimmage. We’ve got to have guys who are strong enough to take on d (defensive) tackles who are 300-plus pounds, and he has the ability to do that.”

On how Jeremiah Hatch has looked in camp:

“Hatch, he’s doing okay. It’s great competition by our whole offensive line. Hatch is doing okay, Zlatnick’s doing well. I think another guy who has made some good progress is Riley Spencer. He’s playing at the tackle spot for us. If I had to say one or two guys that have really, from Spring until today, made good progress it would be Zlatnik, Spencer and even Alex Smith.”

On the linebacker position, taking into consideration Huldon Tharp’s injury:

“I think we’re still trying to figure out some things from that standpoint. The main three guys are (Justin) Springer, (Steven) Johnson and (Drew) Dudley. Then you get into the backup position and I think one guy that has jumped out has been a walk-on kid by the name of Steve Mestan. He’s definitely in the hunt for being one of the top five guys for us at the linebacker position.”

On if Brad Thorson is back at practice:

“Yes, he is. Yesterday was probably the first day he took reps. We are going to gradually get him going. We’re going to limit his reps because we do have some time before gametime. (We want to) make sure something doesn’t happen to slow him down as far as coming back from the injury. It’s been good results so far.”

On Lubbock Smith choosing jersey #1, wanting to be a player that other teams aim for:

“Lubbock is a steady guy, doing some good things. He’s started to play better in the last few days. We’ve seen him improve since the spring and throughout this whole preseason camp. Again, I think he’s a guy that we expect to make plays for us and be a leader. Not just necessarily be a talker, but just making plays. You can talk when the appropriate time presents itself.”

Assistant Coach Carl Torbush

On his group of players:

“We’ve got what we’ve got. I wish all of them were healthy, but they haven’t been, so we’ve had to make some adjustments to figure out what we can do and what we can’t do. We’re dependent on some depth; we don’t need to get any more injuries. Right now, if we can stay where we’re at, we’ll be okay.”

On if he’s thought about making any position changes:

“No, not very many right now. That’s one good thing about having multiple packages. If we need to go to a three-three or a four-two-five (formation), whatever we need to do to make sure we manufacture depth, to make sure we’ve got fresh people out there on the field at all times. And also, if we don’t have enough linebackers, we can play with two linebackers. If we don’t have enough defensive linemen, we play with three linemen. We’ve worked hard to do that, now we’ve got to figure out what we can do to make sure that everyone who is still here stays healthy and we get to the first game and be as fresh as we can be.”

On if all three healthy linebackers are coming along:

“Yeah, they are. I’ve been very pleased; they’re doing some good things. (Steven) Johnson and (Justin) Springer picked up where they left off in the spring and it’s been a pleasant surprise. They’ve been good leaders, good workers, a lot of fun to be around, a lot of fun to coach. Drew (Dudley) is coming back from an injury that he’s had that he’s been playing with and he’s gotten better every day. You can tell he’s a little less than comfortable, like Justin was when he started the spring. But all three of them are moving around pretty good right now. They’re good leaders, they understand the defense and are good football players. If we keep them well, right now I feel pretty good.”

Assistant Coach Chuck Long

On the status of the running back position:

“We’re just trying to work through a few things. Right now, we have a pretty good feel for what each (player) can do, so we’re trying to package that. Where do they fit in our system? What role will they play in our system? That’s what we’re working through right now. We want to give those guys the best place where they can do well. You have to make sure you mix it up enough so that your opponent doesn’t get a bead on you.”

On if there will be one feature back, or if the team will mix-and-match:

“If you don’t have the guy that’s emerging (as a clear No. 1), then you need to package them. It’s more of a committee-type deal, but that’s not set in stone yet. Coach (Reggie) Mitchell is working through that. We want to get particular guys on the field in certain ways.”

On if he thinks the running backs will figure out where they fit in:

“We want to give them time to settle into a new system. For example, Angus (Quigley) has been on defense, so he’s basically brand new at that position. We want to make sure they (the running backs) get comfortable in our system. Once they do, then they become faster. We want to give them time to do that.”

On if Angus (Quigley’s) time on defense helped him understand how other teams defend him:

“I think it might have a little bit, but like any position we want to settle him into the position so he’s used to (being a) running back again. It’s two totally different situations and positions. Not only does he have to learn plays, he needs to learn how to run with the ball all over again. Those are little things that you take for granted. He’s starting to get more in groove in our system. It’s a pretty simplistic system for a running back – it allows them to grow and to grow fast.”

Assistant Coach Darrell Wyatt

On putting smaller, faster guys in the slots (Patterson and Beshears):

“Everyone deploys either their nickel or their ‘Will’ (weakside) linebacker to be in a position to cover a slot receiver. Having guys with the skill set like Patterson and Beshears gives you an advantage in terms of their dynamic ability to make plays and forces them to get out of the box. We’ve got a good complement of guys; we’ve got taller guys, guys that can really get the deeper patterns down the field and we’ve got running back guys in the slot.”

On if he thinks he’s coaching a deep position:

“I really feel like we’ve developed some depth. We’ve got guys that are continuing to get better. We’ve built some healthy competition. We’re still battling for who is going to be on those six or seven roster spots.”

Junior cornerback Isiah Barfield

On what he has done to get noticed by the coaching staff who has stood out recently:

“I can’t say anything specific. Just being great. Basically, all the corners go out and compete every day. We all know that we’re battling for a starting spot and that you’ve got to do whatever you can to stick out amongst all the other corners.”

On if he thinks being fast is one of his best attributes:

“Yeah, I’m pretty fast. So that, and physicalness. I like hitting people. Those are probably the two things that stick out the most.”

On how the new defensive system utilizes his skills:

“We play a lot of man, a lot of coverage man, which allows the corners to be aggressive on the receivers. Receivers don’t like to have corners in their face.”

Sophomore running back Toben Opurum

On how the weather conditions affected training camp:

“I think it helped us become a stronger team. It really tests your mental toughness. If we can make it through the heat of the day, we can make it through a lot of things. It’s just one of the obstacles you have to deal with during two-a-days and training camp.”

On if he’s gotten a feel for the depth chart at his position:

“We’re all rotating with the reps. They’ve really split it up evenly until the coaches decide who will take on a bigger role. Right now, we’re pretty much just taking reps and seeing what everybody can do.”

On what he needs to do to become the No. 1 running back:

“As far as I’m concerned, I just need to build on the success I had last year. Continue doing those things that made me compete and able to play in the 2009 season. I’ve been working hard, doing what they’ve asked me to do in this offense.”

On if his receiving abilities put him ahead of his competitors to be No. 1:

“People like to compliment my hands. I can catch anything thrown my way. If Coach (Gill) wants to utilize that in the offense, it’s something I’d definitely be up for. But we’ve got talented receivers that can step up and do that.”

On how he feels not being named the No. 1 running back yet:

“It makes sense. Angus (Quigley) deserves his shot to be No. 1. He remained uninjured during times when Rell (Lewis) and I were both banged up a little bit. But he’s definitely worked hard. Right now, we’re all fighting for that featured role.”

On his physical status:

“Right now, there are no limitations on my ankle. I am doing everything I was doing last week. It’s the best my ankle has felt since Nov. 21.”

Senior defensive end Jake Laptad

On how practice has gone the last week:

“Things are starting to come around as a defense and as a team.”

On how Saturday’s scrimmage went:

“It was good. It gave us a chance to see what we needed to work on and where we need to get better. We’re getting better every day.”

On if the scrimmage had a game day atmosphere:

“We treated it as a game. We did everything we’re going to do on game day, and it had a game day-like atmosphere. It felt like we were going out there for a (regular season) game.”

Sophomore cornerback Greg Brown

On what he’s been focusing on during practice:

“Just going out there and trying to do the best that I can, and trying not to be a screw-up. I’m giving it my all, and it’s working pretty well right now.”

On playing more bump-and-run coverage this year compared to last year:

“It’s more free (this year). You can jump flat routes, because we have more respect for our safeties. (Before) we had to worry about being on top of the route, now we relax and focus on getting the turnover and making a play.”

On changing numbers in the offseason:

“I got No. 5 because that was my high school number. I couldn’t get it last year, because it was Todd Reesing’s number, but I’m trying to make a name for myself wearing that number. Maybe (when I’m done playing) they’ll retire it. The single digit number definitely brings more swagger to it.”

On how much talent is in the secondary this year:
“We have so much talent at that position. I don’t know if the last coaching staff didn’t believe that we had the right technique for their defensive schemes or not, but the schemes that we have now work really well with the type of players we have. People are moving really fast and making things happen.”