Kansas Football Press Conference Quotes

Aug. 29, 2006

Head Coach Mark Mangino
Opening statement:

“I would like to announce that sophomore defensive end John Larson and junior wide receiver Jeff Foster have been promoted from walk-on to scholarship status. Since 2002, 14 players have gone from walk-on status to scholarship status at KU. This week, we open against Northwestern State from Louisiana — a very skilled and speedy football team. Head coach Scott Stokes has done a fine job and is in his fifth year. They have some top-notch defensive lineman on that side of the ball. Northwestern State gets Ed Queen back, who sat out last season, at defensive end and also have Tory Collins, a highly respected player who makes a lot of plays. Russ Washington, a free safety, is a speedy, quick player who runs all over the field and is a sure tackler. On offense, they will be led by their quarterback, Ricky Joe Meeks. He is a coach’s son whose father is a highly respected high school coach in East Texas. He is a smart player who makes good decisions. Derrick Doyle is a very good wide receiver with good hands and good athleticism. This is a team that is anxious to get started just like we are. We have prepared well all week and we feel great about our ball club as well. We feel good about all three phases of the game. We will be much improved on offense, with a nice mixture of some veteran players and young kids. We will be speedy and quick on defense and physical up front. We put a lot of time and effort into our special teams and all of our units are well on track. Our kids are tired of hitting each other and are looking forward to hitting somebody else. “

On the development of the wide receivers:
“We are speedier than we’ve been at the position. We have people that can stretch the field vertically and our ball skills are better than they’ve ever been. As a group, our wide receivers have a good understanding of what we are trying to do against the defenses we will be facing. We also feel really good about this group’s blocking on the perimeter, which is often overlooked, but is very important in our program. Brian Murph has had a good camp. A lot of our young kids have made great strides and have improved themselves through hard work — like Marcus Herford, Dominic Roux, Marcus Henry and Jonathan Lamb. In addition, Dexton Fields is one of the most improved players in the program. He has really come on strong.”

On the youth of the squad:
“There are a bunch of young kids — freshmen and redshirt-freshmen — on the depth chart. Jake Sharp and Olaitan Oguntodu are playing extremely well and have surpassed any expectations we had of them as true freshmen. Ian Wolfe is doing a nice job learning the system. Anthony Webb has also done a fine job. He has instincts as a cornerback that are unusual to see in a true freshman.”

On the possible starters at wide receiver:
“We have the ability to use many formations for different situations. I feel like Brian Murph, Dexton Fields and Dominic Roux have been out in front of the group. Murph is a great route runner. In the last couple of weeks, Marcus Herford has really improved. He and Roux have the ability to blow right past defenders with their tremendous speed. We will play to the strengths of our players. Also, Marcus Henry has really improved, especially when it comes to understanding pass routes. He is a big target and can go and get the ball.”

On the development of Dexton Fields:
“He has improved his route running. He is a lot more physical this year and has added lean body weight. He has also improved his speed through hard, diligent work. He has a good feel for what he sees in front of him and how to find the open area. He understands the coverages he sees and has quite a work ethic. He is a self-starter who wants to get better.”

On the threat Ricky Joe Meeks poses:
“He is mobile enough to scramble if he needs to. He is a smart player who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and he gives his team a chance to make plays. We don’t want to let him get into a rhythm.”

On the possibility of starting freshmen and redshirt-freshmen:
“The possibility exists that we will be starting a true freshman. I am not concerned, however, because the young kids that could be playing are very talented. They are eager to please and have a good work ethic. They came here because they wanted to play early. They have handled the mental challenges well. Our coaching staff deserves a lot of credit for that, especially in how they handle these young players. We expect these young guys to play at a high standard and they expect the same thing. They have a swagger about them.”

On the progression of Kerry Meier:
“He is a diligent young man who works hard every day. He’s not lacking anything, but all areas of his game will continue to improve just by the fact that he’s a redshirt-freshman. There isn’t part of his game that I believe is a detriment to our ball club.”

On Jon Cornish handling the primary ball-carrier responsibilities:
“He is interesting because he never really gets tired, which makes me think we’re not working him hard enough. But he does work hard, and I think he can carry the ball as much as we need him to. If we need him to carry it 35 times, I think he can and hold up pretty well. However, we still have not relieved him of all his special teams duties. He is one of the top special teams players in the league. He is on all four of our core units. He shows up on all the tapes and has been a real asset. “

On what would qualify as a successful debut performance for Kerry Meier:
“It would be to win the game. I haven’t given him any yardage he needs to complete. We just want him to go out there and do all the things we ask him to do. We will not ask him to do things he is not prepared to do at this time.”

James McClinton, Junior, Defensive Tackle
On the advice he would give to new players:

“Know your plays. If you do not what’s going on, then coach is not going to put you in the game. Do play scared. Just go and play your hardest. This is a different level of playing, but if you go out there and play soft you are going to get hurt.”

On the first game:
“I’m excited. During two-a-days we got tired banging on each other and constantly going against each other. It’s time to go against another opponent.”

On executing fundamentals:
“We need to fill our gaps and play fundamental football. We need to be a good pass rushing team and a good coverage team. We need to run the right plays.”

Brian Murph, Senior, Wide Receiver
On the offense:

“We are anxious to get out there and see what our offense can do. There are a lot of expectations for us this year.”

On quarterback Kerry Meier:
“He’s poised and not scared to go out there and make mistakes. He is young so he is going to make some mistakes and he knows that. He’s just a great guy and a great leader. He’s eager to go out to practice and learn more. I’m loving the way he is picking up on things.”

On returning kicks:
“It’s going real well. It’s fun and it’s something I have been wanting to do for a while. I’m glad they are giving me the opportunity to do that now.”

On the wide receivers:
“I think we have improved and come together as a unit. We all play for each other and all do a great job.”

Tang Bacheyie, Sophomore, Running Back
On the upcoming season:

“It’s a good feeling right now because of all the hard work we did during the summer conditioning and off-season workouts is about to pay off. Now, we are ready to start the season with a big bang. I can feel the excitement already. Everyone is getting excited, so we are just going to try and come out with some fire this Saturday.”

On the team’s expectations:
“We feel more confident than usual because we have a lot of good players who are ready to do a lot this year.”

On Northwestern State’s youth:
“We have a lot of young guys and guys who have never played before, too. But we are ready both physically and mentally. Their youth will be a factor at first, but then after awhile it just becomes college football.”

Dexton Fields, Sophomore, Wide Receiver
On the wide receiver competition:

“It has helped me a lot. You have to bring your “A” game every practice. You cannot take plays off because they (other wide receivers) are working hard too. It has been good though. It has probably been hard (for the coaching staff) to pick who will start, but whoever they pick will be a good decision because you cannot go wrong.”

Jon Cornish, Senior, Running Back
On the team’s confidence:

“People have been saying that we have lost a few players. We lost some great linebackers, but you will not see a great deal of fall off in talent. We are looking to win every game we play. This program has been building since Coach Mangino got here.”

On playing special teams:
“I will play all the special teams I have to. There are a lot of people that can step into my place and be fully confident in their abilities to do the same job that I do. I love running, but doing everything is great.”

On Northwestern State:
“There is a lot of speed on their defense and they have some very good players. They also have a great defensive line.”

Kerry Meier, Freshman, Quarterback
On his expectation’s for the opening plays of the game:

“I would like to start the game passing, but we have Jon Cornish back there so we are in good hands when we give the ball to him.”

On the wide receiving corps:
“I have seen a steady improvement since Day one. The group that we have right now has a whole lot of talent. I think they have improved catching the ball, knowing different coverages and just knowing the game of football. Their speed is night and day from what it was last year.”

On his style of play:
“I would have to say free will. As quarterback, you have to have that extra confidence that everything is going to go right. If you have a bad play, you have to erase it from your memory and move on to the next one.”