Kansas Football Press Conference Quotes (9-2-08)

Sept. 2, 2008

Kansas Head Coach Mark Mangino

Opening remarks:

“We have studied the tape of our last game very carefully. For the most part we liked what we saw. Obviously the first game there are going to be some areas that need to be shored up. We will take care of that. We are now looking forward to preparing for Louisiana Tech. As you know, they beat a good Mississippi State team and they did it by playing good hard-nose, fundamental football. On defense they were able to secure five turnovers. Their defense is very speedy and athletic. Their corners are very good, their safeties are very good, their linebackers are active and they have a very good defensive line. On the offensive side they have Taylor Bennett, a quarterback transfer from Georgia Tech. He can make throws and can do a lot of things. They have another player, wide receiver Phillip Livas, who is a very speedy guy. He returns kicks for them and is a big playmaker. This is a very good Louisiana Tech team. They are progressing very well and it is going to be a game where we have to be very sharp, and we will be.”

On the team’s running game:

“Last week, that team (FIU) didn’t want us to run the football. When you take chances at trying to stop the run game there is a possibility that you will give up yardage in the other areas. Their philosophy was to come in and stop the run and force us to throw the ball, which is probably something that you shouldn’t do with us. We will throw the ball effectively under pressure and against zone coverages. That is the approach that they took so we aren’t going to beat our heads against the wall.”

On wide receiver Kerry Meier:

“If we knew that he would have nine receptions per game we will take it right now. End of story. There will be days when he is open and people are doing some things in their coverages that allow us to get him open. There will be other nights when teams will try and jump all over him, but we have a host of other receivers that can catch the football. He is a good compliment to have out there with the rest of their guys.”

On the Louisiana Tech defense:

“I think they are pretty sound fundamentally and assignment-wise. Their kids get where they need to be. Rarely on tape could you see them have an alignment bust on defense. They have corners that are good players that allow them to do things with their safeties and linebackers. They just play good fundamental football; the kind of football that coaches like to see.”

Senior offensive lineman Ryan Cantrell

His thoughts on last week’s game:

“It was good to get back out there and get things going. As a lot of people saw, getting the first win under your belt isn’t as easy as a lot of people think it is. There are a lot of things that we still need to work on, which we started to work on at practice on Sunday and will continue to work on the rest of this week.”

On the play of the offensive line last week:

“I think we answered a few questions, but not as many as we would have liked. I know for starters that I definitely didn’t play up to my standards and there are a couple of guys who feel the same way. We are going to do everything we can this week to make ourselves better so we can play up to our standards, which are very high.”

On the team’s running game:

“Every team is going to try and key in on our run game. If you look at the stats from last year, you will see that the team went as our running game went. We have to run the ball, and I think that will be a major emphasis this week as we go and get prepared.”

Senior linebacker Joe Mortensen

His thoughts on last week’s game:

“We got some of the rust off. It was good to hit people other than our teammates and I think we did a good job. We got some of the rust off on offense and defense. We got a good win and we are looking forward to playing Louisiana Tech.”

On the play of the defense last week:

“I think we played well. We gave up some pass plays, but we shut down the run. We didn’t want to give up that field goal. We wanted to blame their punt return on the offense but we have a couple of defensive guys on the punt team. But overall I thought we did well.”

On his role as a team captain:

“I think that we just have always be out in front and be vocal. We have to lead by example, on the field and off the field. As far as conditioning, we have to be out there in front and be the vocal leaders. There are a lot of expectations and it means a lot to be voted as a captain.”

On what the defense needs to improve upon:
“We want go get more turnovers. We are trying to lead the nation in turnovers. We got three last week, so four or five would be nice this week. We also want to get some big hits.”

Sophomore Defensive End Jake Laptad

On the speed of the game:

“It’s still fast, but I think it has slowed down a little bit. Just being bigger and stronger has helped out a lot, being faster off the ball.”

On the play of the defensive ends:

“We have a lot of guys that can play at defensive end and we can always get a fresh guy in there with good speed all the time. We have a lot of depth at that position.”

On his thoughts on the opening game:

“We were satisfied with the win because college wins are hard to come by, as Coach Mangino says, but also we knew that we could have played better and we know there is room for improvement. We need to get better every week and everyday.”

On the focus of the defense:

“I think we are more concerned with what we are doing to start off. We have to get all our mental mistakes and assignment mistakes fixed and then we can work on what they are doing and what defenses we need to run against them.”

On the possibility of looking ahead to South Florida:

“I think it is pretty easy to stay concentrated, Coach Mangino keeps us level so we don’t get a big head. So I think we are always really concentrated for the next game and the next game is always the most important game, as he always says, so we just try to focus on that. The next game.”

Junior Defensive Tackle Caleb Blakesley

On the defense:

“We have a pretty good group this year. I think we are a lot deeper than years past. We have some new guys that are stepping in and performing really well. We have some guys that have been here a couple of years that are really stepping up and filling roles. I felt that I needed to step up this year and fill the void that was left by James (McClinton). Those are some pretty big shoes to fill. I think as a group we are really working together and pushing each other. We are helping coach and push each other through practices and competition. I think it is making us all better as a whole.”

On being more of a leader this year:

“It is weird to know that I am the oldest defensive tackle on the team now. It is a different situation for me. James was always the kind of guy that was a vocal leader and I have never been a guy that talked a whole lot. Hopefully my actions and just playing can speak louder than words.”

On Louisiana Tech:

“I think Louisiana Tech is going to provide some challenges overall. So far what we have seen on them they look like a pretty good team. They beat Mississippi State. They started the season out strong. They come in with a lot of confidence and some momentum. They have some real good skilled guys. They look good as a team, but it is going to be the same as every other game. We prepare and get ready for them like everyone else.”