Kansas Football Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 10, 2006

Head Coach Mark Mangino
Opening statement

“Before we get started, I would like to announce the players of the game from the Texas A&M 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 cornerback Aqib Talib. The special teams player of the game was junior kicker Scott Webb. Our scout team offensive player of the week was Zach Ross, and our defensive scout team player of the week was Jason Thompson.”

“Looking back on the Texas A&M game, it was another tough, hard fought game. I felt like we played well in some areas and in other areas we need to do some work. Our defensive unit played a decent game, but we gave up a drive at the end that we would’ve preferred we hadn’t. When you consider that A&M came into the game with a highly-respected running game, I thought we did a pretty good job against it.”

“On offense, I felt like we never got into a rhythm. I really never felt comfortable. I feel a lot different after Sunday’s workout and believe we’ll be fine on offense.”

“Special teams were a big factor in the game. Scott Webb kicked three field goals. We were able to pressure a punt which resulted in a bad snap by A&M and got us two points. We also executed a fake punt very well that set up our first score of the game. Kyle Tucker had a couple of very nice sky kicks that pinned them down in their own territory, so that was very positive as well.”

“Looking ahead to Saturday, I think Oklahoma State is a much improved team from last year. Their offense is starting to get into sync and their quarterback looks more comfortable and poised in the pocket and in running the offense. They have three different running backs that have been very effective for them. They have a couple of talented receivers. Their defensive line has good size and athleticism, led by Victor DeGrate. He is one of the top-notch defensive ends in the conference. They have speed at linebacker, especially Chris Collins, who runs around making plays and is only a freshman. Oklahoma State is a good football team and a game that we’ll need to be sharp for on Saturday.”

On the performance of the pass rush during the Texas A&M game and throughout the season:
“Well, Texas A&M protected well. We were not getting the rush we needed with four men. Also, we cannot afford to allow A&M’s quarterback to sit back in the pocket and have any length of time to throw because of the speed of their receivers. We had to bring five and six-man pressures to make the quarterback throw quicker. If we didn’t bring pressure, they would have scored more points. We discussed the fact that we would be more susceptible to draws and screen plays in that situation, but I don’t think we had a choice. We needed to make the quarterback make quick decisions.

A&M was a very good pass protecting team. I felt like we didn’t get off the blocks quick enough and that has to do some with A&M and some with us not getting it done. Paul Como had some good pressures, but we can’t rely on just one guy. We need good pressure from the inside as well as the outside to squeeze the pocket.”

On whether the close losses have affected the team’s confidence and mindset:
“Our kids have an understanding that we only get 12 designated games to play all year and that they are all important. We tell them that they can’t get too high after the victories or too low after the defeats. I think our kids have an understanding that the next game is the most important game. They display that attitude on the practice field. Our kids, and they’ve proven this, do a good job of bouncing back. As the saying goes, you don’t want to have an opponent beat you twice. We’re always disappointed by losing because we have so much invested. But the way we view football, and the way we view life as a team and coaching staff, is what is done is done. The point is that our program’s focus is to take care of the task at hand. We have had tough times in the past and our kids have always competed. Just last year we had a tough four-game stretch and many left our program for dead. We don’t give in and our players see that. The most important thing to understand is that they have only 12 games and the kids know they are precious. They understand the preparation involved for every opponent.”

On James Holt’s return performance from a preseason injury:
“I think there were some lingering effects, but he is close to getting over the hump. I think considering the circumstance, being put in as a starter not long after the injury and not having practiced for an extended period of time, I thought he did a commendable job.”

On the matchup of Oklahoma State’s running game vs. the Jayhawk’s rush defense:
“Our philosophy on defense is to stop the run. If you can’t stop the run, or at least slow it down, you’re in trouble. If a team can run the ball consistently at you, they can eat up the clock, get first downs and control the time of possession, thus keeping your offense off the field. It is part of our overall philosophy to play the run game very well.”

On fourth quarter play:
“Fatigue is not a factor. Our team is well conditioned. We just haven’t made some plays at the end. Looking at the games we lost, we scored in the fourth quarter and moved the ball, save for this last week. One particular game does not evoke in me any panic about that. “

On the threat of Oklahoma State’s wide receiver Adarius Bowman:
“He’s a good football player. He’s very active and runs well. He is smart guy who seems to know what he is doing and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. “

On the Cowboys’ return game:
“They have some guys that can return the ball. They do a good job with their schemes. They have the speed to break big plays. Our special teams must to be up to snuff and that will be something we’ll work on very diligently this week.”

On the offense’s play against A&M:
“I was pleased with our running game and offensive line. I think we only had one missed assignment on the offensive line the entire game. We still need a little more work finishing our blocks. The offensive line did a good job in the run game.”

On senior linebacker Marcus Herford’s status:
“I think he’ll be back. He practiced Sunday with only minimal problems. Our anticipation is that he’ll be back.”

On Jake Sharp’s playing time and whether it will expand:
“Jake is playing well and learning. I think the issue we deal with is that it is hard to take Jon Cornish out of the game the way he is playing. Now, we’re starting to game-plan and things are becoming more sophisticated and he’s still learning. There is a lot more to playing running back than carrying the ball. He will be appearing more on special teams now.”

On Jon Cornish’s performance this season:
“We never take for granted that he’ll run for 100 yards each week, though that is our expectation. He is becoming more of a complete player. I really appreciate the way he handled Saturday. On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, I was convinced he couldn’t participate. Yet he was out there and you could see he wasn’t 100 percent during certain cuts and movements. I think he put forth a really courageous performance and that’s another thing he brings to the team. He has a competitive edge and toughness to him.”

Kansas player Quotes

Russell Brorsen, Sophomore, Defensive End
On still having a lot to play for:

“We’ve only lost three games and we still have six more, so there is still a lot to play for. It hurts to lose those games, but our confidence is still high.”

On playing Oklahoma State:
“It’s a big game for both teams. They are looking for a win and we are looking for our first Big 12 win too. It’s exciting to play them. I’ve seen a few games over the years. I wasn’t a die hard fan, but growing up there (Stillwater), you are going to follow them.”

Brandon McAnderson, Junior, Running Back
On losing close games:
“We need to focus on doing the little things right because they become so magnified during a one touchdown game with a few minutes left.”

On the injuries affecting the team:
“I hope everybody is back and ready to rumble, because we are going to need to practice well to play well. I don’t think that should be a problem at all. I think we will be ready to go this week.”

On the play of Jon Cornish:
“He’s been really really good. When we were on scout team together my freshman year, I saw that he was going to be a great player. He’s doing the best he can and really playing well. I’m excited for him and glad that he his doing so well.”

On not having beaten Oklahoma State since 1995:
“It should be a spark. You try to find anything you can coming into conference play. We need a win and we need to win the next game. It’s going to be important for us to come out and be prepared well and execute.”

On the team dealing with close losses:
“I wouldn’t say they wear us out at all because we have learned that each week is different. You take the week for what it is. We lost some close games, but that won’t take any effect on how we play the next week. Mentally, you have to prepare like that never happened.”

Senior Defensive End Paul Como
On the amount of blitzing against Texas A&M:

“We blitzed quite a bit in the second half. I think for the most part we got good pressure on them, especially in the second half when we were blitzing. It just backfired on us at the end of the game. They ran that little screen pass and it hit us for a lot of yardage. Anytime there is something good going, there is a bad end of it too. The bad end of blitzing is that they can throw a screen pas, which is what they did.”

On applying more pressure on opposing team’s quarterbacks:
“We need to start recognizing the pass before the play through our pre-snap reads. It would help us get into a pass rush stance, and give us more of a pass rush mentality.”

On the close losses:
“It is frustrating. You never want to lose, especially in close game, but hopefully it will give us more of an edge going into this week. Hopefully, it will get us ready to play and give us a good week of practice for Oklahoma State. We just can not let up. I do not think we are letting up, but when it gets to the fourth quarter, we have to play that much harder to try and put the game away.”

On the team’s mentality:
“We practice all year long just to play 12 games in the fall. It is a lot of work just to play those games, so it shows how important every game is. It makes you want to come out and give everything you have, because you know that there is not that many to play.”

Senior Guard Travis Dambach
On Oklahoma State:

“It is still kind of early, but we will do a lot of the scouting report today. We hit on them a little bit on Sunday, but we will work more on them later in the week. There are a lot of teams throughout the Big 12 just like us (both Kansas and Oklahoma State) that are trying to turn that corner and get to back-to-back winning seasons. I think it will be a good matchup and I’m sure that they have a lot of great athletes.”

On the team’s confidence after the losses:
“It is discouraging about the three losses, but we are an eyelash away from being 6-0 or 5-1. We know how close we are and we just have to get it done. We just have to finish right.”