Kansas Football Press Conference Quotes

Sept. 19, 2006

Head Coach Mark Mangino
Opening statement

“Before we get started, I would like to announce the players of the game from the Toledo contest as voted by our coaching staff. The offensive player of the game was junior tight end Derek Fine. The defensive player of the game was senior safety Jerome Kemp. We did not choose a special teams player of the game. Our scout team offensive player of the week was Bradley Dedeaux, and our defensive scout team player of the week was Maxwell Onyegbule.

Looking back, I liked the effort of our defense. I thought we stopped the run pretty well and played the pass pretty decent. I liked the overall performance, but there are a couple of areas we have to pay attention to. We need to get better at creating turnovers, which is something we will continue to work on and stress. With the exception of two plays, the touchdown pass at the end of the first half and the touchdown run to end the game, I think the defense played pretty well.

On the offensive side of the ball, there were some encouraging things. I thought we ran the ball pretty decent. The passing game is getting into sync. We need to do a better job of protecting the football and not committing turnovers.

Overall, I liked the effort of our kids and their enthusiasm. We hadn’t had too many penalties in our first two games. We played with great discipline, but in this game, we had some penalties that were costly in certain situations.

We are getting ready to play South Florida, which is a very good football team. I really like their offense, which is starting to come together. They are using a couple of quarterbacks and Matt Grothe has been a real sparkplug for them at the position. They have good ball distribution on offense. They have several receivers with a lot of catches. They are very aggressive and fundamentally sound on defense. They run to the ball and are sound in their run and pass defense. They have some good corners and physical safeties. They have veteran linebackers that play extremely well and although their defensive line is a bit young. it is very talented and quick. South Florida is a good football team that we’ll play on Saturday.”

On the team’s psyche following the loss to Toledo:
“Our players understand what took place in the game. They realize that we needed to play a little smarter in some situations. We have to give credit to Toledo, but we had opportunities to play the game and we have no one to blame but ourselves. We understand where the shortcomings are and I think with our kids, we need to get better and not let these things get to us. There’s not much time to sit around thinking about the last one.”

On whether a game like Toledo will help the younger players deeper into the season:
“I think it can help everybody, even the veteran guys. We have to take the positives from this experience, build on them, and take the negatives and learn not to make those mistakes again. The game was a good teaching tool, though you never like to lose. “

On whether generating more of a pass rush would help generate turnovers:
“I thought our pressure was adequate. Pressure comes in different ways. Sometimes it’s by contact or just scaring the quarterback. We took away his throwing lanes, knocked down some balls and made it difficult for him to throw the ball. We did put pressure on him and sacked him. I think the real key is that with the young kids on defense, we want them to make sure they are assignment-sound and that they can make plays. I think what we have to do is have those kids understand that getting the football is another step in the learning process for them.”

On whether the linebackers are over-pursuing, especially on the winning touchdown run:
“I don’t think it is a problem. Maybe on that particular play, but that is not indicative of how they’ve played the run all year. I think the linebackers are doing what we ask them to do. They are doing their best to do what is asked of them and I am pleased with their progress. It is the type of progress you would like from young players week to week.”

On whether there is any second-guessing after a tough loss:
“There is never any second-guessing. We sit down and discuss what the issues are, what we are executing well and what we need to execute better.”

On whether Kerry Meier is staring down receivers:
“He needs work on a lot of things, but I can’t necessarily tell you he’s locked in on the guys in every drop back. There might be times when he locks in on a target because of the coverage he is seeing. I don’t see that as any more of a problem than any quarterback we’ve dealt with.”

On South Florida’s Jim Leavitt:
“Jim has done a fantastic job there, starting that program from scratch. It is remarkable what they’ve done. The university has made a commitment to put in resources and making it a Division I program and I think they have the right guy with Jim. He has a great work ethic and has a great attention to detail. He is doing a great job. I think he’s right where he wants to be and is doing terrific.”

On K-State’s former assistant coaches who have moved on:
“We certainly enjoyed working for Coach Snyder. I think there is too much made of those people who have moved on from his staff. We were a bunch of young guys trying to win games. Kansas State was a big task that took a lot of energy and time. We were just trying to get it done. We had a bunch of good, hard working coaches. I look back on those years with fondness. No one would have known that all these guys would have become head coaches or coordinators. I have learned a lot from Coach Snyder and I think a lot of people did. The longer I am head coach, the more I see things the way he sees them. There are certain ways to do things and strive for excellence and I appreciate all the time I had with him.”

On Meier’s injury status:
“Well, if he’s injured, he doesn’t play. All the information I have to this point says it looks fine. We’ll get him out on the practice field today. We’d never play an injured guy. Talking to our doctors, they don’t think he’ll be limited. The early indications are that he’ll be fine.”

On whether he thinks Meier’s confidence was shaken after the Toledo game:
“I am not worried at all. That is not in his make-up. He is a competitive guy. We all knew that there were going to be times like this, and we’re prepared for them both mentally and emotionally. He is going full speed all the time and has a short memory.”

On the mindset coaches need to have with a young quarterback:
“We just need to let him play. We don’t put a lot of demands on him and we try to get him to do things that he’s capable of doing in steps and progressions. He’s going to make mistakes, but so do a lot juniors and seniors, even quarterbacks in the NFL. All the successful quarterbacks I’ve been around had the same characteristic — a short memory.”

KU Player Quotes

Marcus Herford, Sophomore, Wide Receiver
On freshman quarterback Kerry Meier:
“Everybody has an off game, but if you look at it, he still had a great game. He made some minor mistakes that he is going to learn from, but he has a lot of fight in him. He didn’t let any of those interceptions bring him down and he continued to fight.”

On the loss:
“Everybody hates to lose. Any real player hates it. Of course it hurts, but at the same time, we know that we have nine games left this season. We take it one game at a time and we have to look past it, learn from it and get ready for South Florida.”

John Larson, Sophomore, Defensive End
On tackling and stripping the ball:

“We practice it every day. Making the tackle first and then strip the ball. The more you practice it, the more it’s going to come naturally in the game. That is why we practice it all the time and hopefully we start getting strips in the next couple of games.”

On preparing for South Florida:
“I think if we play like we did in the second half at Toledo, we can get some more turnovers. I don’t think we ever quit out there on defense. We played every snap hard.”

On early-season games:
“Every game is different on its own. It’s not like if we lose this game it will be the end of the season, but getting a win next week will be really nice in terms of the season. Going into conference play with a 3-1 record would definitely be a confidence-boost heading to Nebraska.”

Caleb Blakesley, Freshman, Defensive Line
On creating turnovers:

“The biggest thing is gang tackle. Fumbles are the biggest thing that we can create, the picks will come. The secondary is getting better and more experienced. It’s a young group. Up front with the linebackers and defensive line, we need to be making that initial contact and then the second and third people can come in and start stripping the ball and get it on the ground. The more we get it on the ground, the better chance we have of getting some turnovers.”

On pressuring quarterbacks to create turnovers:
“I know Coach (Bill) Young puts a huge emphasis on it. The way he feels about it is that if there is a long pass, it is on the defensive line’s shoulders because we should have been pressuring the quarterback. The more pressure you put on him throughout the game, the more times you hit him and he gets more inaccurate with each hit.”

Russell Brorsen, Sophomore, Defensive End
On the team’s morale:

“The mood is pretty upbeat. We let one slip away, but you have to give credit to them (Toledo). We just have to look forward to the next game and play better. We do not have to rebuild our confidence, we just have to step back and fix the mistakes that we made. We learned a lot about ourselves.”

On the loss at Toledo:
“Obviously, turnovers have been our problem. On defense, we did not force any and on offense we gave some away and you can’t do that. We work on getting turnovers every day. We have been doing all kinds of drills.”

On South Florida:
“We just started looking at South Florida and they look really athletic. Their quarterback is fast. Their wide receivers are fast. Their offensive line is big, so we are going to have to come prepared.”

Travis Dambach, Senior, Offensive Line
On Kerry Meier:

“We had a few situations where the momentum was against us. After the interception was thrown and they scored the touchdown, everybody was on the sidelines ready to go back out and he (Meier) lead us right back down there. We knew we had to have a touchdown and a two-point conversion. He was great.”

Joe Mortensen, Sophomore, Linebacker
On the defense’s performance at Toledo:
“We played a lot better in the second half. We came together during halftime and talked about what we needed to do and made the adjustments. We still need to force some turnovers and give our offense an opportunity to score more points. We are emphasizing it (forcing turnovers) a lot during practice. We are trying to strip the ball out and put pressure on the quarterback. But it just comes down to making the right tackle, the right hit and getting to the quarterback. Some games you can play really well and not have one forced turnover and there are some games where you can play bad defense and still force a lot of turnovers.”

On the defense:
“I like where we are. There is always room for improvement, you can never be content with where you are. I think a good defense is defined by forcing three-and-out’s and getting turnovers. We need to stay off the field so our offense can score some points. We need to try and keep the score low.”