Kansas Football Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 24, 2006

Head Coach Mark Mangino
Opening statement

“Good afternoon. I would like to announce the players of the game from the Baylor game 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 (redshirt-freshman linebacker) Arist Wright. The special teams player of the game was (junior tight end) Derek Fine. Our scout team offensive player of the week was Tertavian Ingram, and our defensive scout team player of the week was Todd Haselhorst.”

“Looking back quickly on last week’s game, we’re taking a lot of positive things from the game. First, we can see the resiliency of our team. Each and every week, despite tough setbacks, our kids come ready to play. We played very well for three quarters of the game. I like the way we were able to get our running offense going. We certainly have another dimension to our offense when we have Kerry (Meier) and (Jon) Cornish in the game. A lot of younger kids gained valuable experience and we are able to see the progress in them. Of course, the only bad thing about the situation is that we did not win the game. We’re going to keep working and find a way.”

“Don’t let Colorado’s overall record fool you. They are a good football team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. They have a lot of talent and you can see they are progressing each and every week. They’re second in the league against the run. They have some outstanding players, like Abraham Wright, who is an excellent pass rusher. Jordon Dizon at linebacker makes a lot of plays. They also have a strong secondary. “

“On the offensive side of the ball, they have a very speedy, talented quarterback (Bernard Jackson) who is dangerous running the ball. If he can get some rhythm, he has shown that he can throw the ball. The key is to not allow him to get into that rhythm. Hugh Charles at tailback has rushed for over 500 yards and Jackson has also rushed for a lot of yards. Colorado is a talented team that is getting better each week. They pose a good challenge for us.”

On the team’s resiliency:
“The kids keep bouncing back because they have a lot invested in the program. They are a close group, a close football team. They understand how close they are to winning and that motivates them even more. Adversity can be handled in different ways. It can make you stronger and build resolve, or it can eat away at you and put doubt in your mind. Our kids take the first path. They want to win. They show up at practice with a lot of enthusiasm and want to get better.”

On how the team finishes in practice:
“I monitored that a few weeks ago to see how we were finishing up. It was pretty much the same tempo. They practice very well and last week was probably the best four-day streak of practices we strung together all season. We need to be adamant about finishing strong. Baylor deserves credit. Their receivers made some incredible plays in the fourth quarter. I think we’re making progress up front, forcing the quarterback out of the pocket which got us a few sacks.”

On Jon Cornish’s injury status:
“He’s intensely proud, and I can only go by what I’m told by our medical staff. We joke with Jon that he never gets injured. He’s very strong and durable. He got nicked up a little but fought through it. He’s a guy you can count on. His carries are not outlandish and they are adequate for our offense. When you play running back, you will get a lot of hits, but I don’t think he’s being over-used.”

On whether the players are starting to expect to lose the close games late:
“I don’t sense that at all, however at times, I see some younger guys pressing. They are trying to do too much. They are trying too hard to make plays. That could be a factor, but I don’t see it as a major factor. It is not a matter of them thinking `when am I going to screw up?’ We are improving in each area and I think we can see that.”

On the trouble the team has had in the secondary:
“I don’t think it’s just the secondary’s issues. We need to continue to put heat on the quarterback. We need to blitz well, time them well and get into the right blitzes at the right time. It wouldn’t be fair to lay all the blame at the doorstep of the secondary. It’s an 11-man effort, how we do it and how we as coaches put them in position to accomplish their tasks.”

On the rotation of the defensive line:
“We did it for a lot of reasons. We wanted to keep people fresh and we wanted to develop a nice rotation. We are getting a lot of kids work and in the long run, that should benefit us. “

On Cornish’s season thus far:
“Jon has run the ball very well. He is also benefitting from an offensive line that is producing extremely well in the run game. The tight ends are blocking well and he’s getting good help from his fullback, Brandon McAnderson. What we tell Jon is to just play that tailback position and play it hard.”

On the significance of a running back hitting 1,000 yards:
“I think it means that you’re getting first downs and keeping the defense off the field. It signifies that you are controlling the ball and keeping your defense off the field. If you can run the ball, it forces teams to play extra guys in the box, which can get the passing game going. It benefits your team in a lot of ways. “

On whether the extra bowl games help motivate teams:
“There is no doubt that it’s a motivating factor, but the most important thing for the kids is to get back on the winning track and that’s our focus right now. We want to prepare for Colorado well and as coaches, give them a chance to win.”

Kansas player Quotes

John Larson, Sophomore, Defensive End
On the mindset of the team:

“We just need to get back out there and keep practicing. We have another chance to win this weekend. Every week it’s a different team and a different chance to win. We are excited to get out there and give the home crowd something to cheer about.”

On the rest of the season:
“It really stinks to lose a lot in a row, but there is nothing we can do about it but look to next week and start to turn things around. Hopefully, we can get a stack of wins here at the end of the season and get eligible for postseason play.”

On Colorado’s record:
“The Buffaloes don’t have a great record, but like us, a team’s ability is not necessarliy defined by their record. They are definitely capable and we will game-plan them pretty well.”

On focusing on the run:
“I know Colorado runs a good option and mostly boot-legs. Teams will come out and start throwing against us to try and get us on our heels so we are not as effective stopping the run. Hopefully, everybody will work together: the linebackers will get there on the blitz, the defensive line will get there with the four man rush and the secondary will cover the receivers. That’s all you can hope for week to week.”

Marcus Herford, Sophomore, Wide Receiver
On the Baylor loss:

“Every loss is tough, but that one did hurt. We had them in the first half, but then things didn’t go the way we wanted them to in the second half.”

Derek Fine, Senior, Tight End
On the second half struggles:

“It is just a matter of us going out and playing. I wish there was something that we were able to point out and fix. I do not know what is going on, but we are trying to do everything we can to fix it. We are going to come out this week and put our best effort out there.”

On Jon Cornish nearing the 1,000 yard milestone:
“I’m out there doing a lot of blocking, and it really gives me some pride along with the offensive line. We have not had a 1,000 yard rusher in a long time and I think it says a lot about them and all the work that they put in to get a 1,000 yard rusher. It’s always nice having Jon (Cornish) back there, because Jon has a lot of heart. Everybody plays hard, but Jon has a way to find all the holes and be able to find the right spots. He uses that burst of speed to get all the yards possible.”

On the team’s injuries:
“Everybody plays with injuries, and sometimes they are worse than others. When they are too bad, you don’t play and when they aren’t too bad, you do play. Everybody plays with injuries, it’s just part of the game.”

Dexton Fields, Sophomore, Wide Receiver
On the close losses:
“We were in all of those games. We still remain positive and we still feel like we can make it to a bowl game. We want to prove those that doubted us wrong. We want to go to a bowl game, but more or less, we want to turn it around to show the doubters. We know we’ve made some mistakes and we’ve had chances to make plays. But we’re just going to try and get it together at practice and get through it.”

On the offensive struggle in the second half against Baylor:
“They were blitzing most of the game. I’m not sure if they changed defenses any, but I saw a lot of blitzes. They started playing the pass more because we opened up the playbook earlier, but I do not know if they played it that much different.”