Weekly Football Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 18, 2005

Head Coach Mark Mangino

Opening statement:
“Good afternoon. I’ll start by naming this week’s players of the week. On defense, Charles Gordon. On offense, Derek Fine. On special teams, Jon Cornish. Our scout team defensive player of the week was Chris Brant, and our scout team offensive player of the week was Raimond Pendleton.”

“I’ll go back and quickly review last week’s game. I’m very proud of the defensive effort. We were very good against the run and the pass. We gave up a late pass at the end of the game which we should not have, but the defensive effort was very good overall. We are tackling better than we ever have. We are playing very good defense. On the offensive side of the ball, it is obvious we aren’t playing very well. We are in a situation where we have to learn from the past two weeks. We have identified what we need to shore up and what we need to do. We have been working diligently on those things. Special teams was solid. Our punt return unit is performing very well, as well as our coverage units.”

“This week we face Colorado, a very good football team. I’m very impressed with them. They’re very athletic and speedy. I like their defensive front. It plays hard and attacks the football. They have very active linebackers. Their safeties run around and make a lot of plays. They really utilize their safeties, and I’m very impressed with them. On offense, they have great leadership in (quarterback) Joel Klatt. He’s a very poised quarterback. He does a lot of nice things. He’s a smart player. Their tight ends are very impressive as well. They’re big, strong guys, and they run with the ball very well. (Joe) Klopfenstein has been there a while and is a good, veteran player. They are a formidable opponent. We’re looking forward to playing well and getting a win on the road in the conference.”

On the quarterback status:
“The status of the quarterbacks has not changed. As coaches, we reserve the right to make changes, but as of right now we haven’t done that. We’re going into practice like we do every week. We haven’t changed anything at quarterback.”

On Jason Swanson:
“He’s coming along really well. He’s healthier than he has ever been and his physical condition is better than it’s ever been. He’s throwing the ball extremely well. I’m very pleased with where he is.”

On Theo Baines:
“You’ll see him on the field quite a bit (against Colorado).”

On Charles Gordon:
“We’re putting together a game plan right now. We’re considering where we need him on offense and defense. We’re asking ourselves what the best way is to get Charles on the field to help us win.”

“The thing that takes it out of Charles is punt returns. He puts his heart and soul into things, and they’ll gas you. It’s taxing to run around and try to make people miss. We would really be comfortable with him playing both ways if he wasn’t our best punt returner. We can’t take him out of there. He gives us opportunities with good field position.”

On Nick Reid:
“I know Nick is frustrated, like a lot of us are. He wants to win and he is a leader. I hope those comments motivated some people. Don’t for a moment think that he is divisive or selfish. That would be a major error to think that. He just wants to win. He wants the kids on the offensive side of the ball to play well, and I appreciate that.”

“After looking back on it, he realizes he probably shouldn’t have said it. He plays with emotion. He cares deeply about our football team and does not have an enemy on the team. Every coach likes him and respects him. He is a great person. He does a good job in the classroom and is well-respected in the community.”

On Derek Fine:
“Derek Fine has some fire in him, and that’s what I like about him. He wants to play well on every snap. If he makes a mistake, he is his own worst critic. He has a burning to desire compete and win. Because he has that, he is able to be a good blocker and a good route runner. He does everything that is asked of him. He is really coming along. I’m very pleased with the development of Derek Fine.”

On preparing for the altitude in Colorado:
“We’ve never had a real problem there. I’ve been to Colorado several times since I’ve been in the conference. It’s never been an issue with any team I have coached.”

On Brian Luke:
“We have tried to quicken his release. He has tried very hard (to speed it up). It’s his natural release. He’s been here a long time, and we’ve worked extensively. It’s quicker than what it was a couple of years ago.”

On Nick Quartaro (associate head coach and offensive coordinator):
“Nick prepares the game plan every week. I’m involved in meetings, but I can’t make it to all of them. Between series (in games), we talk a lot abour coverages and other things. I might make suggestions on what I’d like to see if the opposing defense is in a certain formation. I keep my hand in it, but I’m not the day-to-day manager of it. I’m a little more involved in it this week. I have abandoned most of my other head coaching duties this week in favor of working more with the offensive staff. Our offensive issues are obvious, and we just have to find a way to fix those things.”

On Colorado head coach Gary Barnett:
“You have to tip your cap to Gary. With all that has taken place there, he has managed to keep his focus on the football team. He has shown a lot of perseverance and strength. He has my respect.”

On changing quarterbacks during the game:
“My coaching staff and I have to do what we think gives us the best opportunity to win. I think we have been very patient with the two quarterbacks, despite what everyone says. This situation is evaluated daily. We have put a lot of time and energy into it. We have given both guys opportunities to be `the guy.’ We don’t give up on anyone. I have a lot of pride in that philosophy. We have to look and see who gives us the best chance to win. Everyone thinks we jump on quaterbacks and yank them after they make a mistake. That isn’t the case. We remove guys from games because they either made a series of mistakes or they just weren’t productive. We have to make those decision as coaches. Ultimately, the responsibility lies with me to get that productivity.”

Selected Player Quotes

Senior wide receiver Mark Simmons
On the offensive struggles:

“It really comes down to focus. We are lacking focus out there in the games right now. We have to get our focus back and become mentally strong. That’s our main problem. We can’t get rattled when things go wrong. We have to confront the adversity.”

On the offense becoming rattled:
“That might be a problem. But there are many problems we need to work on. When things snowball (against us), we have to bounce back. It seems like when things are going well, we make another mistake. We can’t allow that to happen.”

On Jason Swanson:
“He has looked good. He has a good grasp of the offense and his passes are on time and delivered accurately. He’s done well.”

On playing through an offensive slump:
“I think we’re going to be fine on offense. This is a very important game for us. It’s another road game and a Big 12 North opponent. If we can get past this one, we can come back with two straight home games.”

Sophomore tight end Derek Fine
On the offensive approach to the game:

“We approach every game with a great attitude. We try to take a winning attitude towards it (game preparation). We try to get better each week. As far as that is concerned it’s not any different, but we just have to keep trying to get better.”

On his individual performance this season:
“My season individually doesn’t mean that much to me, honestly. I go out and play as hard as I can each week to try and help us win. I do the best I can to be there for the rest of my teammates. Overall, my performance hasn’t been high enough because we’re not winning. I just want to do the best for my team.”

On offensive struggles:
“There are a number of things to improve on. If we were perfect, we’d be number one. We’re not though, and every week we have to improve on anything that we do. I can’t point out one small thing in particular to change though.”

On the quarterbacks:
“All the quarterbacks are doing fine. All of them approach the game with a confident attitude. If they approach the practice field with a confident attitude, then it should eventually carry over to the game field.”

Senior linebacker Kevin Kane
On giving the offense support:

“We’re still one team and they are going to need our help and support. We will always support them.”

On the defensive success:
“We’re a better team. We take pride in playing well. We have to keep playing week-in and week-out. The competition is only going to get better as we go on in the Big 12 season.”

On looking back at the close losses:
“You try not to look back. You can only look forward. We have five games left and we have to make the best of these games.”

On Colorado:
“They have a good offense. A lot of the offenses we have faced in the past do well in one certain area, but Colorado does well in both running and passing. They have an offense that poses a great threat to us. We just have to go out there and stop both the run and the pass.”