Kansas Football Weekly Press Conference Quotes

Sept. 5, 2006

Head Coach Mark Mangino
Opening statement
“Before we get started, I would like to announce the players of the game from the Northwestern State game. The defensive player of the game was senior linebacker Eric Washington. The offensive players of the game were redshirt freshman quarterback Kerry Meier and senior running back Jon Cornish, who were co-winners. The special teams player of the game was sophomore wide receiver Marcus Herford. Our scout team defensive player of the week was freshman linebacker Ian Handshy, and our offensive scout team player of the week was freshman fullback Sam Archer. Looking back at the Northwestern State game, we saw a lot of positive things — a lot of nice things to build upon. We’ll take the win. We started off with a few minor mistakes, but we’ll get over that. The thing I liked about the start of the game was that when we did have some adversity, we responded well. We had a situation where our defense was put on the field twice with their backs to the endzone and we only surrendered two field goals. Offensively, I thought we were opportunistic and ran the ball well. When we had to throw the ball, we threw it well. We didn’t always connect, but the ability to move the ball is there. I was pleased with the special teams unit, especially how they responded. Special teams are important in our program. We spend a lot of time on them because we feel that we need to win the field position game, and in tight games, special teams can make the difference. This week, we host Louisiana Monroe, which I believe is a pretty good football team. They have a quarterback, Kinsmon Lancaster, who is very athletic and can throw the ball well. He can run well and can hurt you on big plays if you don’t contain him. They also have some nice receivers that can catch the ball and run. They have good overall speed on the entire team. On defense, they are physical up front and like to play physical football. This will be a much more physical game than last week. I also really like their secondary. They have some really talented guys at the cornerback position with good speed and good change of direction. I also like their play at the safety position and their overall secondary is pretty decent. This will be a good challenge for us in week two.”

On why the progress made between weeks one and two is so great:
“I think it is because in week one, you don’t know what you have out on the field. You are playing a strange team that you don’t play very often or know much about, so there are a lot of question marks and unknown areas. After you get that first game in, your kids know where they need to improve. We have a long way to go in all three phases of the game. We need a lot of work.”

On the youth of the defense and how the early possessions helped their confidence:
“It was not the ideal situation to put your defense in the first game of the year. We can’t help but like the way they responded. They went out there committed to stopping them with a little bounce in their step. They have the attitude that they can do it and it was very encouraging to see.”

On the play of cornerback Raymond Brown:
“He graded out pretty decent. We like what Raymond did his first night out at corner. No one tries harder than Raymond. He is a guy that works at it because it is very important to him. He listens to his coach very carefully, trying to learn every nuance about the position. We are pleased with Raymond and he will be a factor for us this season. He has all the characteristics of a cornerback — good change of direction, quick feet, runs well for a big corner, plays the ball well at its highest point. He is a hard-working guy who is very focused and takes everything very seriously. “

On the play of Sadiq Muhammad:
“Sadiq played well. He is a smart guy who gets himself into position to make plays. He is a very intelligent young man and is a steady hand back in our secondary. He knows what he is doing and plays calm and cool. Although he doesn’t possess the greatest speed, he is one of the most improved guys in terms of speed development. He worked hard in the offseason and has really improved his speed during the last two years. You can count on him.”

On the play of Blake Bueltel:
“For his first game, Blake did some real nice things. He has some things to work on. He had the opportunity to bat some balls down but just did not get in the right position. One time, he was in position to swat the ball near our bench, around the 30-yard line, and he just missed it. Blake is progressing and he knows the areas of the game he has to work on. He is a guy that is coming along. He has committed himself to the weight room and has put on about 18 lbs. through dedication and hard work. He wants to get better and we feel like he is a guy we’re going to need for the long run.”

On the role nutritionist Randy Bird plays in the program:
“He helps us tremendously. For years here, we had a problem cutting body weight. We couldn’t do anything about it. Randy Bird worked with the people at the Burge and now I think our kids are eating healthier. He goes through education with those guys who have trouble losing weight during the season and in the spring. We are not getting that weight drop we had experienced with some of our skill players in the past. “

On the issue of cramping:
“I think we cramp less because we condition quite a bit. We try to take care of our kids and constantly talk about hydration. After practice, every night, I talk about it and during training camp, next to 7 a.m. wake up, it says `hydrate.’ We constantly talk about it and condition our kids pretty well. “

On the offense’s play:
“For what we asked the offense to do, we got what we expected. We tried to do things our kids do best and things we worked a lot in training camp. We want to do things that Kerry Meier was most comfortable with. We are pleased, but we have a lot of work to do and a lot of building to continue to do. “

On the play calling for Kerry Meier:
“We’re not going to run a vanilla offense because of Kerry. Everything we have in our offense is something Kerry is capable of doing. We just select for each game plan what fits best. We will not be conservative with him. We don’t need to be because he can make plays.”

On the balance in the play calling:
“If you have the run game going and you can move the ball, then you run and mix it up. If it is a night where you are throwing the ball really well, you’ll pass a little more. Ideally, I’d like to have pure balance, but we’ll go with what is working well.”

On Kerry Meier’s confidence:
“Kerry is confident all the time. That is part of his personality and makeup. He did the things we asked him to do. He made some mistakes, and it wasn’t flawless, but his mistakes were at a minimum. He learned from his mistakes and sometimes he came off the field and told us before we could tell him.”

On the crowd’s influence during the game:
“I was on the bus coming to the stadium from the football complex and the atmosphere was amazing. One of the assistant coaches joked that our first couple of years here, people would be walking down the street and wonder if something was going on in the stadium. Today, people are everywhere, tailgating, having fun, playing football. That is a 180-degree turn from our first couple of seasons. Things have changed. The student section was packed and it seems like it is getting bigger. I have said all along that part of the college experience for students is football games on Saturday afternoons on campus. I think our student section was unbelievable. When the kids make plays, the crowd gets into it. Good crowds keep going after bad plays and our fans are doing that now. They realize that when things aren’t going right, they have to jump in and be a factor. The crowd recognizes when it’s time to cheer and support.”

On whether the program is rebuilding:
“I am reluctant to use the term rebuilding. We have kids who have been in our programs for a few years who are being asked to play. When I first got here, my first year, none of them played. We started from the ground up. We had to develop attitudes, work ethic and build confidence. We don’t have to do that now. Our kids have a great attitude, work ethic and are confident.”

On Louisiana Monroe:
“They are improved from last year. They are going to be ready to go because this is a big game for them. Coach Charlie Weatherbie is coming home, so I’m sure it has extra meaning to him. We can’t worry so much about them, because we need to get better. We need to learn from our mistakes last week, correct them and get better. We expect to be much better this week. I think Monroe has plenty of skill players available and will be physical at the line of scrimmage.”

Marcus Herford, Sophomore, Wide Receiver
On the special teams’ success:

“To see those guys blocking hard out there really excited me about the return. If those guys keep blocking like that, then anything could happen. We practice hours and hours on special teams and it really did pay off. We saw how evident it was this week, and it really helped seal the victory.”

On the pre-game atmosphere:
“Everyone was just waiting to see what the atmosphere was going to be. Everybody was pumped and excited for the first game, but focused and ready to play when we got out there. It was great to see all the fans out there and the kids running around. We love seeing that.”

On the victory:
“We looked at it as a stepping stone because we knew we had to come out and make a statement off of last year’s bowl game. Fans were waiting to see how we would respond after that game and with a young quarterback, who did great. I think we responded well.”

Jeff Foster, Junior, Wide Receiver
On earning a scholarship:

“It’s really a dream come true to earn a scholarship. It took years of hard work, but it has really paid off. I’m glad it worked out this way. I got to earn my spot and prove that I was worth it. I did not expect it to work out as well as it has, but last year I got on the field a little earlier than I expected and it worked out in my favor. I’m pretty happy with it.”

On the wide receivers:
“As a group, we are trying to work on our consistency and being reliable out on the field. No drops. No blown assignments. I think I can contribute in that aspect in being a consistent receiver.”

Caleb Blakesley, Freshman, Defensive Line
On the victory:

“We saw a lot of stuff this first week. Guys played really well. Guys played hard and that is the main thing that came out of it the first week. We flew around and played really hard. That is one thing you cannot teach, you can fix other mistakes but you can not fix playing hard. I think we played very hard and it showed on the field. I think everything went very well.”

On seeing the field for the first time as a Jayhawk:
“I was excited. It was the first game I have ever played in. It was really exciting for me. It has been a long time since I have seen the field. I was really nervous. There were feelings there that had not been there in a long time and I was happy to have them back. It has been two years since I had really seen the game field. I was really excited, but once the game got going I settled down. After that first play everything calmed down and went smooth from there. Once you get on the field, you just play. Once you get those nerves out of the way the first time, you can really start studying your opponents and play hard every time you go out there.”

Jake Sharp, Freshman, Running Back
On his first collegiate game:

“It was incredible. It was all I hoped for. I was really excited to go out there and have a chance to play. It was really a privilege to go out there and help the team. I think I made the most of it. I have a lot of improvement in my game, but it was really fun to go out there with my team and contribute.”

On the difference between week one and week two:
“Your first time is always a doozey, you don’t know what to expect. I was really prepared and our team was really prepared. We just went out there and did what we were trained to do and did a really good job of it. “

On his role on offense:
“My role could change whenever they feel the need to switch up the pace or maybe throw the defense off with a different running back. I think I’m going to get a chance to get some carries in different situations and scenarios. Maybe they think that I’m going to run a certain play. We’ll just have to see how that goes.”

On the negatives from Saturday’s game:
“We had some special team breakdowns, but those things are fixable and they are going to be fixed. So we are not worried about them.”

Olaitan Oguntodu, Freshman, Safety
On playing on the special teams:

“We had a big kickoff return, a blocked punt and a punt return. The energy of just being out there on special teams with the crowd, it was almost overwhelming.”

On playing defense and special teams more:
“For me, right now my role is to be prepared when going to the game for the strong safety position, but at the same time to be able to participate and know my assignment for the special teams position. Special teams was a big momentum shifter for us on Saturday night. I believe that it is my role and whatever I can do to help my team I am going to do.”

On the defense:
“I feel that on defense we are young, but we understand the importance of flying around the ball. We have leadership in our defense. Eric Washington is a leader on defense and somebody that you can go to. I think we really gel together very well because we understand each other, we understand the fact that we’re young, but we don’t use that as an excuse, we use that as motivation to get to the ball faster and create turnovers.”