Kansas Football Press Conference Quotes

Sept. 12, 2006

Head Coach Mark Mangino
Opening statement

“Before we get started, I would like to announce the players of the game from the Louisiana Monroe contest as voted by our coaching staff. The offensive player of the game was senior running back Jon Cornish. The defensive player of the game was sophomore linebacker Mike Rivera. The special teams player of the game was junior punter Kyle Tucker. Our scout team offensive player of the week was John Marshall, and our defensive scout team player of the week was Chris Clawson. We’ve had spirited practices so far this week in preparation for the Toledo game.

Toledo is a good football team. They started their season 0-2, but that does not tell the story about their ball club. Offensively, they have a lot of weapons. They have an outstanding quarterback, Clint Cochran, who can throw the ball very well and is a strong kid. They have a slew of tight ends that are very good. They have several receivers who are very good players, one of which, Chris Hopkins, has had 100 yards receiving in the first two games. They have a physical offensive line, including a good tackle, Jon Greco, who is a very impressive player. On the defensive side of the ball, their leading tackler is Mike Alston, who is a veteran for them and makes a lot of plays. They have a freshman safety, Barry Church, who is very impressive and makes a lot of tackles. They have a corner that really jumps out at me, Nigel Morris, who is really good in run support and coverage.

One of the things that is important for us to do is establish a running game and compliment it with the pass. On defense, we need to continue to play the run well and squeeze our zones a little more. We need to have good communication between all 11 players on the field. We have been a very good team at getting turnovers in the past and we’ve got to get back to that. That is a point of emphasis for us. We’re looking forward to going into Toledo. It should be a good opportunity for us to play on the road. The most important thing for us to do is play sound football, learn from our past mistakes and build upon the positives of the last game. “

On what can be done to generate more turnovers:
“First of all, it’s a mindset. We have been good at it in the past. I think we’re trying to create turnovers, but I have to give Louisiana Monroe credit. They took care of the ball very well. There are all sort of drills we can do. In fact, you can play good defense and do everything well and just not produce turnovers. I think that is because people know of your defensive reputation and they work on protecting the ball more when they play you. Good defenses usually have a lot of turnovers. We have 10 more games to play and I believe it will pick up, especially based on the style of defense we play.”

On opposing crowds:
“Some of it has to do with the ability of your ball club and we have good ability now to win on the road. Good teams I have been associated with feed off the opposing crowd. In fact, when I was a part of championship-winning programs — and we have a chance to be one at KU — they got a big joy out of making the crowd quiet. It is a mindset to go into a stadium and say `We’re going to feed off this environment and then make it quiet.’ “

On the past struggles in the road:
“We have played some really close games on the road and we have really played well on the road for the most part. I think that it’s about finishing. You have to have that mental edge that you are going to finish it out. The better you get as a team, the better the chances are of winning on the road. And we’re getting better and better.”

On the environment at the Glass Bowl:
“I have never been to a game there, but I understand it is supposed to be a very neat, nostalgic-looking place. It is supposed to be a fun place to watch a game.”

On the threat Toledo poses heading into the game without a win:
“Every team is a dangerous team. All you need to do is look at a college football scoreboard on Saturday evening. That will tell you how dangerous college football really is. You have to be ready each and every week, whether you’re playing a top-25 team or a I-AA team. If you’re not ready to play, you’re going to get beat.”

On Toledo’s success passing the football:
“They do stretch the field well vertically, but they also throw a lot of underneath routes and screens. In addition, their quarterback has a very strong arm.”

On playing as the underdog:
“For us to be underdogs is nothing new. In fact, our kids like it. When we are favored, I get worried. Our kids seem to fight and scratch a lot better when people list them as underdogs. We like where we’re sitting right now.”

On how much of the 2004 Toledo-KU game film the staff watched:
“Too many things have changed to evaluate two years ago. We did take a brief look at it just to see if there were any tendencies that may show up on film. Primarily, we have just looked at the film from their two games this year and a few from last year.”

On the development of senior Paul Como:
“Number one, I think Paul Como has been a very underestimated player in our program. He is quiet and doesn’t bring a lot of attention to himself. However, he is a steady, solid player who is dependable week in and week out. Paul was a linebacker in junior college, but he was a thick kid. We thought that if we could add some lean weight to him, we could play him down and that has worked out very well. In football, no matter how much success you have with a particular unit, you must evolve. You must continue to find ways to utilize your personnel and evolve so your defense has different looks and pressures. Our defensive staff is always looking to learn and get better. It is not unusual for our defensive staff to watch NFL teams or watch other college programs that do something very well that could benefit us. Our defensive staff has done a good job of playing to the strengths of the players we have available on the field.”

KU Player Quotes

David Ochoa, Senior, Center
On past road struggles:
“I think if anyone knew the absolute answer to why we struggled on the road, we would fix it as soon as we could. There are a lot of different factors. Since we have a lot of young guys, playing on the road may be a good thing. I think they will just go out, play ball and not notice their surroundings. I feel confident that we will be better this year. It’s a point of emphasis that we need to win on the road. To be a quality Big 12 team, we need to play well on the road.”

On Kerry Meier:
“I think Kerry has done a great job. He has made some mistakes as any quarterback would, but for a young quarterback, he’s done a great job.”

On the strong finish vs. ULM:
“When we needed to, I think we finished it out strong. We had the ball with about two and a half minutes left and we got the first downs we needed to. Hopefully, we can remember that kind of feeling and not let it (ULM’s second half comeback) happen again.”

On Toledo:
“Toledo is a great team and they are an even better team at home. We are going to have to bring our `A’ game and be really focused for this game. They are physical, have some big guys up front and throw the ball well. We are definitely going to have to play our best.”

James McClinton, Junior, Defensive Tackle
On playing on the road:

“We just have to stay prepared and play our game. They are going to have the crowd on their side, but we have to create our own atmosphere. It is going to be like playing on our turf, just at a different stadium. Their stadium is cool. They have a nice streak there, but we are going to go out and play our ball.”

On the Toledo offense:
“They have a pretty good offense. They played Iowa State pretty well, to three overtimes, so we know that they can play. We can not go out there and act like we are going to blow them out. We have to go out there and be physical with them like we were with the past two opponents.”

Marcus Henry, Junior, Wide Receiver
On being a redzone target:

“During two-a-days, I concentrated on catching the ball better and I just tried to carry that over to the games. When we do one-on-one’s in practice, we work on getting great body position and Kerry (Meier) does a great job of throwing the ball up so I can go get it. Kerry knows where to throw the ball and I know how to go up and get it.”

On improving the offense:
“We just need to be more consistent with our overall play, especially on first down. We also have to work on our blocking and execution.”

Paul Como, Senior, Defensive End
On playing different positions:

“It’s been fun moving around and not playing strictly defensive end, but playing stand up linebacker as well. In junior college, I played middle linebacker so I’m very comfortable in the position. It is nice to be able to do both things. At the start of the year, Coach Mangino asked me if I could play another position and I told him that I’d be able to. Since I had experience with it in the past, I was alright with it.”

Mike Rivera, Sophomore, Linebacker
On playing on the road:

“I think it will be different because it is a whole different group of guys. We have a different mentality so I think we will be fine on the road. We are going to go in there and play our hardest.”

On Toledo playing well at home:
“We’ve looked at that a little bit, but mainly we’ve watched the film to see what they do. We need to worry about us first and not worry about anything they do, but worry about what we need to do to win this game.”

On the young guys playing on the road:
“I would tell them to play it like any other game. It’s still a 100-yard field. It’s still the same rules. We still tackle and hit people. It’s the same game, just a different place.”

On playing on Friday night:
“It’s not any different, just a different day. We have the same practice schedule, so it’s not a big deal.”

Jerome Kemp, Senior, Safety
On playing on the road:

“Any football team is going to be more comfortable playing at home. One of our main themes is that we want to be road dogs. We want to start winning on the road. Last year we won all of our home games and lost all of our away games. We want to win on the road to better our chances of going to the postseason.”

On Toledo being the toughest opponent so far:
“We try not to compare team-by-team. We take one game at a time. We know Toledo has a good passing game and a good running game, so we are going to prepare for them just like we prepared for teams in the past.”

On the underdog status:
“That never determines the game. Whoever comes out and plays their best is going to win. Being the underdog is nothing new to us.”