Quotes from Kansas Football Weekly Press Conference

Aug. 30, 2005

Head Coach Mark Mangino

Opening statement:
“Good afternoon and welcome to our first weekly press conference of the season. We’re excited about our first game. Our players are tired of hitting each other and knocking the snot out of each other on the practice field. They’re ready to play an opponent. I’m very pleased with the progress that we’ve had since the time they reported on August 3. For the most part we’ve practiced well. We are a much better football team today than we were at the end of spring. We’re a smarter football team. I’m very pleased with the progress we’ve made in every area. We’re better in all three aspects of the game.”

“We’re playing Florida Atlantic which I believe is a very talented football team. They were 9-3 a year ago and beat some good football teams. They are going to have some quality athletes on the field and a lot of speed. On the offensive side of the ball, they have a tight end that is a big guy, runs well, catches well, and blocks well. He’s a big threat for them. It looks like they’re going to go with the Embick kid at quarterback. He’s a very talented young man. He’s a threat from anywhere on the field and anytime he has the ball in his hands. Defensively, there is a middle linebacker that jumps out at you. He’s a very talented young man and makes a lot of plays for them. Additionally, they have two very good corners that I’m very impressed with. They’re very good cover guys. This is a good football team, but we’re more focused on what we’re going to do and how we’ll improve. If we take care of our business and do the things that we should, we’ll be fine. We will be physically and mentally prepared for the opening game. It’s important for us to get off on the right foot.”

On how this team compares to the previous three:
“I think that because it’s the fourth year we have been here, things run a little smoother. The players know what the expectations are. How we deal with our off-season programs and the kind of commitment we’ve had in that area all leads to us being a better team than we were a year ago.”

On starting quarterback Adam Barmann:
“His performance on the practice field has been very good. He’s a better football player today than he was last season. He’s healthy, throwing the ball very well, and has a much better command of the offense. He’s earned the position. Naming him the starter was based on his performance. He has certainly worked hard to get ready for this season.”

On the possibility of playing other quarterbacks:
“There are some factors that are beyond my control that play into that. We’ll just have to play it by ear. It’s possible that you could see at least one additional quarterback get some playing time. At this point in time, I don’t know who that would be. We’re still tinkering with the situation. We still need a little more time before we make that final decision.”

On the offensive balance:
“We strive to be a balanced football team. I think good balance in our system is the key to success.”

On the running back situation:
“Clark Green is running number one. Jon Cornish and Gary Green are running neck and neck behind him. They both have an important role in the offense. Cornish has looked really sharp. He needs to get everything down pat. Clark has been Clark. He shows up and gets after it every day.”
“Cornish will play a prominent role on special teams and Gary has responsibilities with special teams as well. As we get further into the season, Gary’s repetitions on special teams will increase.”

“I don’t see our running back situation as a committee, but we would like to be able to rest Clark and get some valuable playing time out of Cornish and Gary Green. If somebody gets a hot hand then we’ll stay with him.”

On true freshmen that might see playing time:
“Russell Brorsen will definitely see the field. You will see James Holt as well. He’s come in here and proven just how quick and tough of an athlete he is. It’s hard to ignore his ability on special teams. There are two or three other guys that are on the bubble.”

On Charles Gordon:
“My stance on how much and where he will play hasn’t changed much since media day. Charles plays an important role on defense. He contributes more than perhaps the untrained eye can see. He is intelligent and a field general. We also have some other kids coming on. Ronnie Amadi has put his heart and soul into this season. We really like him. Theo Baines is getting healthy as well. Charles will get work on offense. We will pick and choose his battles. I probably feel a bit more comfortable pulling him over to offense this year than I did last year, but we have to stop people first. We have capable people on offense and Charles will just come in and complement that group.”

On the offensive line:
“It’s starting to shape up. We feel like we will be quicker and more athletic than we have been in the last few years. We’re working Matt Thompson at right tackle and Cesar Rodriguez at left, but they can switch if we need them to. The next tackle in the rotation will be Anthony Collins. David Ochoa is doing a very good job. He’s a very smart, hard-nosed player. At guard, Jake Cox is doing a very good job for us. We’ll be able to rotate some guys in at guard which will be a big help. I think we have a little bit of depth. It isn’t as much as we would like to have, but maybe a little more depth than a year ago.”

On the defense:
“You can always improve. Our defense played very solid last year but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t use improvement. We want to improve our tackling. We need to be a better tackling team and take people down on first hits. We need to get everybody’s hats on the ball carrier or receiver. We feel like we can do a better job of squeezing zones when we’re in zone defense in the secondary. I think we have made great strides in both of those areas. If you’re not trying improve yourself, you’ll go backwards. The defensive unit needs to continue to get takeaways. We got 27 takeaways last year, but we need to build on that. If you’re getting takeaways and your offense takes care of the ball, you have a chance of being a pretty good football team.”

On the schedule:
“It’s just the way we want it. We want to have a chance to play teams that, if we play smart and hard football, we’ll have an opportunity to play and do well. We’re not in a position here where we need to bring in three BCS teams and play them. A few years down the road we will. We’ll play at least one. We won’t sit in this position forever. For our program to keep getting better and better, there are steps that need to be taken. When we get to a point where we feel comfortable to take that next step, we will and we’ll play another BCS team. Right now I think our program is going at the pace where it needs to be.”

On the importance of the opening game:
“You want to get off to a good start on your first game especially when you’re playing at home. We want to get off to a great start. We want to win and we especially want to win at home. We’re going to have to earn it though. This Florida Atlantic team will come in here ready to play, but we will too.”

Selected Player Quotes

Senior safety Jerome Kemp
On starting:
“It’s wonderful to get the opportunity to start. I’m very excited to start in the first game.”

On the defense:
“We have Rodney Fowler at safety and he is a great player. He is very fundamentally sound. At the corner position we have four guys that can play well, which is good because Charles (Gordon) can take a break. We have a lot of depth.”

Senior wide receiver Mark Simmons
On the season opener:
“If we do well this Saturday, it will set the tone for the season and we can build off of it. We have a more experienced quarterback and a more experienced offense compared to last year.”

On the talent at the wide receiver position:
“Brian Murph has great speed and great hands. He is very good at running his routes. Marcus Herford and Marcus Henry have good size and good speed as well. I’m excited for the receivers this year, but also in the future.”

Senior quarterback Brian Luke
On Adam Barmann being named starting quarterback:
“I’m not discouraged by it at all. It is not going to affect the way that I work or approach each game because I realize that my opportunity may come two plays into the season or two weeks into the season. Whenever my opportunity comes, I will be ready for it. It doesn’t matter if I’m the starter or not because I am going to support him (Adam Barmann) either way.”

On the competition during practice:
“I’ve been getting plenty of looks. Adam and I are out there helping each other. There is no grudge between us. We’re trying to make each other better and that’s the important thing. We are trying to make this team better.”

Senior defensive end Charlton Keith
On the rivalry:
“The freshmen don’t really know the tradition that we have. Coming from another school, I know how big it is for the team and the program when a rival comes up.”

On his progression since coming to KU:
“Working with the strength coaches, they have helped me to get a lot stronger. I have gained a lot of weight since I arrived here. Coach has been patient with me, teaching me different techniques and a lot of other things. The upperclassmen have really helped me out and they have turned it over to me. I feel like I am right at home.”

On the goals for the season:
“The coaches set goals for us last year but coming into this year, the defense as a whole came together and has set goals in addition to the coaches’ goals that we feel like we should meet.”

On the defensive changes for this season:
“We have to be more sound in what we do, know what to do, and do it well. Like coach says, we have to limit our mistakes and just go out there and do the best that we can.”