Weekly Football Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 4, 2005

Head Coach Mark Mangino
Opening statement:
“Good afternoon. I would like to start by naming our players of the week (vs. Texas Tech) as picked by our coaching staff. We had co-defensive players of the week — Charlton Keith and Jerome Kemp. On offense, Jon Cornish. On special teams, Kyle Tucker. Our offensive scout team player of the week was Jason Swanson and our defensive scout team player of the week was Jake Schermer.”

“Looking back on the game, after reviewing the tape, we feel like we did a lot of good things. Not enough to win the game, however. On the defensive side of the ball, with the exception of the first drive and a couple of big pass plays, our defense played very well. It was a good effort. Offensively, we were inconsistent in the first half. We put some things together in the second half but it was too late. We waited much too long to get things rolling on offense. Offensively, I think we just have to be consistent. We have proven we can make plays. We just have to do it on a more consistent basis.”

“We are certainly looking forward to the game coming up on Saturday against Kansas State. It should be a lot of fun. Our players have been extremely focused on the practice field and in meetings. It’s a game where both teams are in similar situations. We’re looking forward to getting over there and playing Saturday morning.”

On the effect of last year’s game on Saturday’s game:
“I don’t think that it does much. Our kids realize that up until last year, K-State had won this game 11 years in a row. It doesn’t sit well with our players. I don’t think they’re worrying too much about last year’s game anymore. They’re more focused on this game now.”

“I’m sure that people are realizing that we’re improving here. The perception when I got here was that the football program just existed. Now people know that we’re here competing and playing hard every week. Last year’s game versus Kansas State showed we are making progress here.”

On how the perception of the program has changed:
“The program was in such disarray when we first got here that we couldn’t even think about pointing out a game as a must-win game. We weren’t in a position to do that. At that time, we were just trying to win non-conference games and play hard in the conference season. That’s all changed now. We feel like every time we line up we have a chance to win, no matter who we’re playing.”

On what he learned from Kansas State head football coach Bill Snyder:
“(I learned to) Just keep at it and keep working. No matter what the situation is, just keep at it. He taught me not to let anyone distract you or take you off course with what you think is best for your program. Early on, that’s really tough. When you take a program that’s been down, no one really believes in it.”

On how KU football is perceived:
“To answer that question, I’ll have to go back and tell you from the viewpoint of someone who had competed against KU in the conference. I often wondered why KU — located in a fine community, with a beautiful campus, and possessing resources — wasn’t competing well in the Big 12 Conference. There is a place here for winning football. Some apathy was one of the challenges. Many universities wish they had just one great sport on their campus. Most do not. We have a great basketball tradition here. For a lot of people, that was good enough. What I did, was go out and seek the people on the campus and in the community that didn’t agree with that philosophy. That’s been a process, but we are well on our way. I’m very pleased with the support that football is getting now. We have developed a very loyal fan base. We have a lot of people that talk about football and are excited about the game that perhaps wouldn’t have a few years ago. We have administrative support. Lew Perkins is working very hard to try to bring this football facility to life. The student body here has really picked up with its support. They are extremely enthusiastic about the game now. Apathy is fading. People are rolling up their sleeves and joining in. We’re getting people excited about football. We just need to keep going hard and win games.”

On the quarterback situation:
“We need to be consistent in all areas that make up the characteristics you want in a good quarterback. We have made good reads and checks at the line of scrimmage at times, and at other times we’ve absolutely missed it completely. We have made good reads in throwing the ball, and at other times we have thrown duds. We have managed the ball very well at times and at other times we have turned it over. All the characteristics that make for a quality quarterback to run our offense have been there and then disappeared off and on. It goes back to us being consistent. I think every quarterback in our program is capable. What we’re trying to do is to get them to do only what their ability level allows them to do and nothing extra. We have a good supporting cast on our offense. At times, you can’t just blame the quarterbacks. We’ve had some route problems on occasion. Our receivers have dropped some balls. I would say that during practice time, our receivers catch more balls during the course of practice than any other team in the conference with perhaps the exception of Texas Tech.”

On the status of quarterback Jason Swanson:
“Jason is feeling a lot better. He’s limited in some ways and that’s why he’s down on the scout team right now. At this point in time, I find it highly unlikely that he will play in this particular game.”

On if freshman quarterback Kerry Meier will redshirt:
“I don’t feel pressed to make that decision. I’m not trying to be evasive, but every day we’re on the field he gets a little bit better. He has a good feel for things that are going on. He feels more and more comfortable. He had a bump in the road that set him back a couple of weeks so he is playing a little catch-up right now, but he is really coming along. I’m pleased with what he’s doing. I don’t feel like today that I’m pressed to make an absolute decision about whether or not I’m going to redshirt him. We’re just going to keep going day -to-day and if we feel good about Kerry playing then we’ll insert him in the game.”

On which quarterback will start on Saturday:
“We’re still working on it. I have a positive outlook. I feel good about our quarterbacks. I’d like to get a couple of days of practice in and see who’s the sharpest, and then we’ll go with him.”

On senior quarterback Brian Luke:
“I think that Brian is a very capable player. I think he has gotten to the point where he over-analyzes situations at times. He looks so hard to see things and sometimes they don’t really exist. He made a couple of great checks in the game. He followed protocol, made the right checks, got us in the right play and was great. Three plays later they gave us a very basic look that he had seen 60 or 70 times on the practice field and didn’t recognize it. When he came off the field he had realized he had made a mistake. He is a smart guy and wants to analyze everything. Unfortunately, there’s a play-clock running and we do have to get the snap off sooner or later.”

On the ability of Coach Snyder to build the program at K-State:
“It’s getting harder and harder to do that. He built something through tireless work there. K-State football is currently his creation. The guys that have stayed around to do that are a rare breed — guys like Bobby Bowden and Joe Paterno. Coaches these days are more apt to take on a new challenge. This is a business, and salaries are high. In some cases, coaches have only a small window to earn what they can. There’s no tenure in college football.”

On his reaction to Saturday’s K-State game where they once lined up with no punter in the backfield:
“To be honest, when I first saw it, I chuckled. That quickly ended though when I realized that that could very well happen to us at any point during the season. I took no joy in seeing that happen to them. We’re not in any position to gloat. You can bet that we’re going to make sure our special teams are on call this week. As a coach, it’s just another thing you have to worry about.”

On the similarities between the two schools at this point in the season:
“Well, both teams have a conference loss and both teams are facing high expectations. Those are the two main things at this point.”

On junior running back Jon Cornish:
“Each year Jon has been able to improve on special teams. He has been a real force for us out there on special teams. He has begun to really help us in the running game as well. He hasn’t exceeded my expectations yet, but he’s certainly a talented young man.”

Selected Player Quotes
Junior running back Jon Cornish
On last year’s game:

“All I remember from last year’s game is that there was a lot of energy from both teams and our fans. There was a lot of anticipation for that game and there is a lot of anticipation for this year’s game. Last year’s win was moderately significant because we realized that we can beat them.”

On the rivalry:
“I’ve been here since 2002, so I was here for the 64-0 game. Since then, we have had a little bit of a rivalry with them. We are looking at this as just another game.”

On Kerry Meier:
“Kerry Meier has been getting a lot of reps since the very beginning. He’s just as prepared of a quarterback as we have. I am not prepared to say that he will go in or not, but he will be ready either way.”

Senior running back Cullen Homolka
On winning last year’s game:

“It made going home last year a lot easier. I’m basically from Wildcat country out in western Kansas. The summer before last year, everyone was really talking smack to me but, after last year no one really said anything to me other than they were really impressed with us. I’m looking forward to that again.”

On the rivalry:
“I remember back when they were both ranked highly and KU had like 12 sacks. That one really sticks out in my mind. Since I’m a KU fan, the games that we win are the ones that stand out in my mind.”

On the postgame celebration of last year’s game:
“The postgame victory was the most emotional one of the season for us. It was huge. The energy you felt after the game, especially after seeing Coach Mangino take the Governor’s Cup from the Governor, gave us so much confidence for the rest of the season.”

On the game:
“I think we have much more confidence this year. I think that’s only going to help us going into this weekend. Previously, people thought we would just go in there and get stomped, but this year we are going to go in there and show that we can still play. We are still a rising program and we are going to prove it.”

Senior linebacker Nick Reid
On winning last year’s game:

“It was a huge confidence boost to snap that losing streak of 11 straight years. To finally snap that streak was huge.”

On defense against Texas Tech:
“We definitely showed a little bit of what we are capable of doing. Tech was the No. 1 offense in the country and we held them to 23 points offensively. It was a big achievement for us, but it wasn’t enough to win the game. It was definitely our best performance this year.”

On the game this week:
“We’d like to go out and set the tone at the beginning of the game. Teams have driven right down the field three out of the four games against us this year. We can’t allow that to happen. We have to adjust and settle down. We just have to buckle down and play better.”