Kansas Football Press Conference Quotes (Sept. 22)

Sept. 22, 2009

Video: Mangino | Reesing | Meier | Patterson | Thornton | Harris | Opurum | McDougald | Pick

Players of the Game

Offensive: Todd Reesing

Defensive: Jake Laptad

Special Teams: Alonso Rojas

Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week: Duane Zlatnik

Scout Team Offensive Player of the Week: Christian Matthews

Head Coach Mark Mangino

Recap of last week’s game vs. Duke:

“After reviewing the tape, we feel like we had a good performance against Duke. We know there are areas we need to work on, but the key thing is we are better every week, which is what is most important for us.”

On KU’s offense vs. Duke:

“We had some young guys pressed into duty like Toben Opurum, who performed well and did a really good job. We think he is a guy who keeps getting better as we go along. He is a true freshman, so everyday is a learning experience for him. I like the way Todd Reesing played again. Todd threw the ball very well. He made good decisions; he ran the ball well and managed the game extremely well. So, he continues to play at a high level for us. Kerry Meier also did well on offense. Dezmon [Briscoe] also made some good plays, even though he dropped a few passes we would like to have back; he continues to play well.”

On KU’s defense vs. Duke:

“I like the way we are progressing. I think we are learning a little bit about ourselves each and every week. I really like the way we are playing up front. I think we can still be better fundamentally up front, but I like the kind of work we are getting out of people like Jake Laptad, Max Onyegbule and Jeff Wheeler, who’s come on strong. All our linebackers continue to get better and our secondary is playing with great confidence and getting better as we go along. We certainly have some work to do in a few areas on defense, but we are getting better.”

On this week’s game vs. Southern Miss:

“Southern Miss is a good football team, who, as you know, is 3-0. They beat Virginia last week. On offense they give you a lot of looks. They are a wide-open offense. They have a lot of formations and a lot of different looks. They run the ball very well, in fact Damion Fletcher has averaged 115 yards a game. He is a very quick guy with good lateral movement and good explosion. Their quarterback manages the game very well. They have a couple of big receivers. One of them, by the name of DeAndre Brown, is young man who got hurt last year in the bowl game and has come back and played very well.

On the defensive side of the ball they play very well. Their defensive line is very active. They have some key guys on their front that jump the ball and make a lot of plays. They have a returning free safety who I think is a really good player. He was a Conference USA second-team player last year. This is really good team, who will come in here ready to go and we plan to have a good week here and be ready ourselves.”

On this week’s game vs. Southern Miss as a good test before Big 12 play:

“Certainly they are a good football team at 3-0. They beat a good ACC team or what we think is a good ACC team. There are quicker than what we have seen and have more skill than what we have seen. So, you bet they are a good challenge for us.”

On facing a wide receiver with size like DeAndre Brown:

“You cannot change your structure for one guy; you just have to play well. You have to play good, sound fundamentals, understand what he is trying to do, and what his strengths are and how to play against those strengths. But he is a talented guy and really big guy at 6-5, 6-6, so he’s not your average size receiver so to speak.”

On progresson of Daymond Patterson from wide receiver to cornerback:

“He has had to work at it and it has really taken some time, but I think the key with him right now is he has really developed some confidence. He is playing the ball in the air pretty well. He plays bigger than his size, which I think is always very important. He does a good job of taking his feet with him. He doesn’t leave his feet to play the ball very often and he doesn’t reach for the ball. He understands what his responsibilities are in various zone-to-man coverages and he has adapted well. Those are all key components, but number one; he is playing with a lot of confidence.”

On KU’s efforts to stop the run game:

“I think it speaks for itself. I think we have played the run very well in the first three games when you look at statistically, but also when you look at it from a fundamental aspect. Based on the schemes we are running, I think we are doing a good job. I think we can be better. I think there is room for improvement in that area, like playing our fits a little better in the run game. I think we have to do a good job of pursuing and not overrunning the ball, which we have improved on, but we still have work to do in that area. However, in terms of progress, I am pleased.”

On play and progression of Hulden Tharp:

“He is a true freshman and we wanted to ease him into the situation just so he could develop some confidence. We wanted to put him in situations where we thought he could succeed. We threw him in there because we needed his help and he is athletic, tough, smart and he knows how to play the game. He makes a lot of freshman mistakes, but as time goes on he is playing more and more and we think he is going to end up being a key guy for us out there. I can’t say that when we recruited him we intended to put him on the field right away, but we thought he could play as a true freshman. We knew that our linebacking situation was going to need some immediate help. But we did not feel like we needed to throw him out there and we have been able to take him just about the way we would like; maybe a little bit ahead of schedule, but he has responded very well. As the competition gets better, he seems to improve. As the tempo of the games pick up, he improves as well and has a good grasp on that tempo.”

Senior Wide Receiver Kerry Meier

On Southern Miss:

“Just taking a quick look at them yesterday, they’ve got some players. The past three teams have had some players too. But overall, the amount of players that they have on defense and the team speed and the coaching, it’s going to be a great challenge to see where we’re at. Southern Miss will come in ready to go and try and knock us off.”

On the sluggish start versus Duke:

“I don’t know what the reason was. I think we had a solid week of practice and we felt confident going into the game, but we found ourselves not as sharp as we’d like to be. We played decent, but we’re excited to be 3-0 and we’re as excited to move on.”

On the satisfaction with the offense and being 3-0:

“We’re satisfied with 3-0, but as far as the rest of the stuff that’s out there, the stuff we haven’t gone after and gotten, we’re not satisfied. I don’t think we’ll be satisfied this whole season. I think at the end of the season if we’re undefeated, that’s when we’ll be satisfied, but until that happens, we’re going to keep working and keep pushing until we get to where we want to go.”

Freshman Running Back Toben Opurum

On how he has performed on a personal level:

“It’s funny, we will get a lot of praise from people outside the program, but I think it’s easy to see when we come in here and watch film that I’ve got a lot of areas that I need to improve on. I feel like I can only get better from here though.”

On the opportunity to play early:

“I saw the opportunity to play early, it was there. I felt like when the opportunity came, I’d be ready for it.”

On the performance of the offense so far this season:

“I definitely like it. I’m impressed with what we’ve done and what the coaches have prepared us to do. But once again, we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

On Southern Miss:

“It will definitely be a test to see where we really are. I think Southern Miss is an underrated team, I think they’re one of the better teams in the country and we will definitely have our hands full with them.”

Sophomore Cornerback Daymond Patterson

On how the defense has handled the run thus far the season:

“I think we’ve handled the run pretty well. We can always do better. But so far, all the linebackers have been playing pretty well playing downhill. We are going into this week really working on techniques and filling gaps to make sure we are ready for this game.”

On taking steps as a defense each week:

“I think we have taken steps each week. The first week, we had an OK game but we felt like we weren’t running to the ball fast enough. The next game, we came out and felt like we moved to the ball really well. We got some turnovers and made some big plays. Last week, we made some more big plays and some more turnovers.”

Kansas senior quarterback Todd Reesing

On running back Toben Opurum being pressed into duty:

“Toben Opurum did a great job. He was asked to play a lot more snaps than he probably thought he was going to. He did a good job and made some big plays for us. He is a young guy. He is going to continue to learn and get better. We expect him to progress fast and make plays like that.”

On the challenges of playing Southern Miss.

“They are the best team we will play so far. That’s that challenge within itself. They have talented, athletic guys. They want to come in here and pull off the upset to make a statement for their season. There are a lot of things we have got to be ready for. They are going to bring their A game and we have to do the same.”