Kansas Football Press Conference (10-7)

Oct. 7, 2008

Kansas Football Press Conference

Oct. 7, 2008

Head Coach Mark Mangino

Opening remarks:

“This week we play Colorado, which is a very fine football team. Their losses have come against some very talented teams. They beat a good West Virginia team. It will be a great challenge for us. They have some good players on offense and on defense. They have Cody Hawkins at quarterback and he can make plays. He is a tough kid who takes a lot of hits. In the Texas game last week he took some vicious hits and got right back up. When you have that kind of leadership at the quarterback position you have an opportunity to be successful. They are running the ball well. They have two freshman running backs who are very talented. For freshmen they are pretty good football players. On defense they are fast and they run to the ball well. Their defensive line is led by George Hypolite, who has been there awhile now. He is an excellent player. Their linebackers are very active, with Smart and Jones, they are very good players. Their corners are quick; they run to the ball and cover well. This game is a good challenge for us and we will have a good week here and we will be ready for that challenge.”

On the play of junior running back Jake Sharp:

“Jake is a very competitive guy. He didn’t like the way things were going in the run game and he wanted to do something about it. He is a persistent guy and he works hard to study tape, prepare himself and meet with coaches. We just felt that if we got him some creases then he could do some things. He not only got it done in the running game, but also in the passing game. He comes to play and he takes great pride in his performance.”

On what they can take away from the Iowa State game:

“There are lessons to be learned. Sometimes when you win by two or three touchdowns you feel like you are flawless, and you are not. You are never going to have a game where everyone plays perfect. There are a lot of lessons to draw from this last game: doing things the right way, being assignment sound, doing a better job of taking care of the football. A lot of those things were corrected in the second half. You have to learn that you can’t spot teams 20 points. You are playing a conference game on the road against a team that is a feisty football team. That is the number one lesson: you have to come out of the blocks stronger, faster, and ready to go.”

On being down 20-0 at halftime against Iowa State:

“First of all, we played down on our end of the field the whole first quarter. We couldn’t get the ball moving on offense for whatever reason. That puts a lot of stress on the defense as well as the offense. I think that had a negative effect on us. Then when you make some mistakes – the punt, a penalty, and a fumble – those start stacking up against you and you are fighting a field position battle the whole first half. One of the things that was a point of emphasis at halftime was how we could get a good, quick score on the board. Our coaches did a good job of understanding that they weren’t covering the back out of a certain set. We put that play on the field almost immediately and that is when Jake Sharp scored the touchdown. Then our kids felt like they were back in the game and that we could take the lead and maybe win the game.”

On his halftime speech at Iowa State:

“I rarely get mad at halftime. There is a time and place to get mad and halftime is not that time. You have a short period of time and you have to make any adjustments that need to be made. When we went into the locker room I told the coaches to go make the adjustments that need to be made. I pulled the team together and told them that we couldn’t have played any worse if we tried. The first half was behind us and we couldn’t change history. The only thing we could control was the second half and how we reacted and how we played. If everybody stayed calm, kept their poise, and did what they did on the field that we did in practice all week, then they we could pull this thing out. I told them that we could only do it if they believed in themselves and stayed calm.”

Junior Quarterback Todd Reesing

On lessons learned from the Iowa State game:

“On the positive side, we were able to fight back from a 20-point deficit and that shows a lot about our team and the makeup we have. Any time you can fight back on the road and overcome something like that in one half is pretty unbelievable. So we have to look at the fact that we know we can do that, we can fight back where we are never out of a game. On the other side, we can’t start games like that. Especially on the road, you can’t come out and play that bad for a half and still expect to be able to win. We are fortunate that we fought our way back and won against a good team on the road, but the teams we play the rest of the year we can’t spot them points like that. We can’t come out and basically be non-existent on offense for an entire half. So there are a lot of things we can learn from game and we have to build off those, take what we can, and move ahead.”

On if it was difficult to stay positive at halftime against Iowa State:

“I don’t know if it is difficult to stay positive, because you don’t really have a choice but to stay positive. When you play a half when nothing goes your way and you don’t really make any plays at all on offense or defense the only place to go is up from there. It couldn’t have gotten much worse so there is no point in being negative, all we had to do was come out and make one or two plays and we are already going in the right direction. We have been in those situations before; we have been down, but we know how to fight back and that’s what we did.”

On the improvement of the running game:

“We made a lot of improvements this past week, we had over 100 yards, Jake Sharp was close to 100 yards by himself. We would have had a few more if I hadn’t given up a couple sacks, so I think improvements are being made.”

On Colorado’s defense:

“Last year they held us to our lowest point total of the season, that is enough said right there, so obviously they did something last year that gave us a lot of problems. I would assume they would want to take a similar approach, because we struggled moving the ball at times and our passing game was rather ineffective last year. It’s going to be a week where we are going to have to study hard and prepare, because they are one of the few teams that shut us down last year. It is going to be a challenge to get ready for, but I’m looking forward to it.”

Junior Running Back Jake Sharp

On his performance last week:

“I really think it was an opportune situation. I was able to get out there and get in a rhythm. I was actually able to get tired, which allows things to slow down for me. I was able to read the blocks that linemen were making and coach (Ed) Warriner made some good calls. That is what really mad the difference for us in the second half.”

On the difference in last week’s game:

“I have always been a pretty determined guy. It definitely wasn’t only me. This was a big picture type of thing. Our linemen and our running back corps worked very hard in the last two weeks and I think we took a step in the right direction last week.”

On coach Mangino’s halftime speech at Iowa State:

“There wasn’t a whole lot of anger. He wasn’t throwing water coolers or anything like that. He came in and told us that we couldn’t play any worse than we did in the first half. We all knew that we needed to make a change quick. We came out and got in a rhythm and just did what we do best. We showed that we can score a lot of points quickly and it worked out for us.”

Senior Defensive Lineman John Larson

On Colorado:

“I haven’t watched too much of them so far this year, but last year they did give us a little bit of a headache. We will be looking to make the corrections from our mistakes against them last year this week.”

On Cody Hawkins:

“There are a lot of great names at the quarterback position this year in the Big 12 and I am sure that he will get there. He is a very poised quarterback. He is still developing, but he will make his reads and get the ball to his receivers. He sits back in the pocket with some good presence and he can get them going if he needs too.”

On what a win over Colorado would mean:

“We have yet to play a complete game this season and I think that this week that is our goal. We dodged a bullet last week and you really have to be careful about spotting people 20 points in conference play and hope to have a winning record. We are going to come out this week very well prepared and ready to go for four quarters of good football.”

On Coach Mangino’s halftime speech at Iowa State::

“Honestly, he told us to keep our poise and stay focused and that we would get this corrected. He told us if we just stuck together then we were going to walk back into this locker room with a 4-1 record. It was a good presence from the coaching staff that sure there are things that need to be corrected, but we were going to find a way to get that done.”

Senior Linebacker Mike Rivera

On his feelings about the Iowa State game:

“I actually felt healthy this game and felt a lot better than I did the previous week. I felt like I could run around a little bit more and I wanted to bring something to the table since I have been sitting out a while. I wanted to make sure I set the tone on the defense and play with a little passion, because I think that’s what we needed. I think it trickled down and next thing you know guys were making plays, so I thought it was really positive.”

On the defense in the second half:

“I think the biggest thing is that we were all on the same page. I think we made some mistakes still, but we were getting after it, playing together and playing hard. When we made a big play we were celebrating and having some fun so I think that was the biggest difference. It’s something we need to do as a defense we have to run around, make big plays and when we do, we need to celebrate with each other and show our energy.”

On building on the come from behind win:

“It was amazing coming from behind. Down 20 points, we thought we had our backs against the wall, but we just kept fighting and kept working. Next thing you know we were up 21-20, so we just wanted to finish the game strong and it was a fight to the finish. It was an exciting game. We don’t want to do it like that every week, but it was a great thing for our team to build on.”

Junior Safety Darrell Stuckey

On how the team can use what they learned from the win over Iowa State:

“It was amazing how we came together, believed in one another, and just kept pushing and kept pulling. We knew there were a lot of things we did wrong in the first half and we knew there were a lot of things we could do better in the second half. We knew we weren’t out of it. We just knew we needed to do the things that needed to be done. In the second half that was kind of our benchmark of where we need to be and where we need to start from now on. We know we are capable of doing it, so why not do it all the time.”

On what coming from behind means to the team:

“It just shows that we really have faith in each other and that we don’t give up. Regardless of what the circumstances are, we are going to play to the best of our ability and try to come back.”

On the upcoming game against Colorado:

“They are a pretty good team; they have a lot of great athletes offensively at least. Their quarterback is a pretty smart guy and he distributes the ball very well by making good decisions. Collectively as a team they play very hard and very well.”