Weekly Press Conference Quotes

Oct. 26, 2010

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Player Interviews: Wilson | Laptad | Matthews | Young

Kansas Football

Weekly Press Conference

Oct. 26, 2010

Head Coach Turner Gill

Opening Statement:

“I want to start off by speaking to our fans. I want our fans to know that we’re going through some ups and downs in our football program here and part of that is the transition with a new staff, and our players are getting to know us in a better way. I can tell you one thing, our staff is doing a pretty good job of getting our guys to know our system. You have to teach them our offensive system and our defensive system the way we want it to be done. Through that transition phase, it takes time for our guys to understand how we need to do it and why we need to do it the way we want it to be done.”

“As we continue to build this football program, our fans are going to see speed, they’re going to see athleticism, they’re also going to see people playing with a great passion as we continue to build the program. We are very, very confident that we will come through here and have a winning program on a consistent basis and that’s why we chose to come here.”

“Going on to the last game (against Texas A&M). I saw a great effort by our players. I saw great energy by our players. We did have some better execution, but as we all know we have to do a better job of taking care of the football.”

“Iowa State (is) coming off a great win against Texas. I know their coach, Paul Rhodes, is a person that I’ve known in the past. He was at Pittsburgh when I was at Buffalo, he was at Iowa State when I was at Nebraska, so I know he’s a well-respected guy in our profession.”

“Of their players, quarterback Austin Arnaud is a very, very good football player. He has three years of experience. That’s one of the biggest things he’s got going for him – he’s played quite a bit of football. He can throw and he can run. Their running back, Alexander Robinson, is a guy who has really come on strong. He’s one of the better guys in our conference.”

“The keys to the game are, what we’ve said pretty much all year, we have to secure the football. We have to force turnovers on defense and we have to create field position. We have to make sure we have more opportunities field position-wise. We haven’t done a very good job of turning the field position in our favor. We must have success early.”

On how ready he thinks quarterback Quinn Mecham is to start a game on the road:

“He’s got a smile on his face and he’s ready to go. He told me ‘Coach, I’m ready. I’m ready for this opportunity’ the other day. It’s kind of exciting as we had a little light practice on Sunday to see our team encouraging him and things of that nature. It’s an opportunity for him, and you always want that opportunity to go out and see what you can do.”

On Quinn Mecham’s strengths:

“I like the way he gets the ball out. I think he can get the ball out fairly quickly, and make quick decisions.”

On who will fill the role of D.J. Beshears and Deshaun Sands:

“We have (Angus) Quigley and we have (James) Sims. We have two running backs who can handle the ball. Those guys (Beshears and Sands) were primarily running backs, so we feel good about where we’re at from that standpoint. (Quigley and Sims) have played quite a bit already, so it just means that they’re going to get more touches.”

On if Toben Opurum’s move to defensive end was permanent or temporary:

“He’s a defensive end. I can say definitely for the rest of the season.”

On if he’s had to change the way he coaches this season:

“You always have to adjust. I can’t say there has been a really big adjustment to who I am or how I’ve gone about doing my business, but again as you continue to know your players – what makes them go, what makes them tick, what motivates them – you do make a few adjustments, but as far as the overall concept and the basis of what we’re trying to get done, that doesn’t change.”

On the differences between his first year at KU versus his first year at Buffalo:

“There are some similarities, because of a new staff coming in. You make that adjustment on both sides. The biggest thing is our players adjusting to how we do things, terminology, a few little things of technique of how we teach it. (The veteran players) have been in a system for three years or two years or one year, and you have to try to change the brain wave of how we want to do things. And then you always want to be consistent week after week. That’s what we’re striving to do, and that’s what we will get done. We all came here to build a winning program year after year.”

On the difference between his system and the old system:

“I think from an offensive standpoint there are some similarities, but terminology is different. And then there’s some differences in what each coach wants them to do. When you get used to doing things a certain way, you don’t change overnight. But like I said, there is progress being made, but unfortunately it hasn’t been fast enough from a scoreboard standpoint that we all would like it to. Our guys are in tune and are truly engaged in what we’re trying to do.”

Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long

On which quarterback will back up Quinn Mecham:

“We’re going to work Christian (Matthews) in some in practice this week. We think by the end of the week Jordan (Webb) might be available. But we’re going to work Christian in a little bit today and tomorrow, and we’re going to work Quinn (Mecham) in and get a lot of reps with Quinn. We’ll just see how the week goes; it’s a day-to-day thing right now.”

On Quinn Mecham’s junior college experience:

“Quinn has had some college football experience. He threw for almost 3,000 yards last year at Snow (Junior College). He’s a young man that you can put on the sideline in a practice situation and he’ll watch other guys. He stepped in Sunday and really played well in our Sunday practice. He did a nice job of handling everything. He’s one of those studious, very smart guys who knows the game, he understands it, he’s studied it and he stepped right in and really had a nice practice. He’s had a couple years of starting at Snow and that really helps. Regardless of level, at least he’s been behind the center and a starting quarterback at a higher level. “

On Quinn Mecham’s attitude and work ethic:

“Like any quarterback who steps in, he wants to nail down the job. But as I said from the very beginning, this is something that is still being worked out and obviously, with injuries it becomes that way. He has a great opportunity before him and he played like it on Sunday.

“He’s had a lot of different passing schemes, but just going by Sunday’s practice he felt very comfortable out there. He brought a little juice to practice, to be quite honest. He does have a quick mind and a fast release. He gets the ball out pretty fast and his mind is very sharp. I always tell guys, you’ve got to get to know Quinn because he’s going to be a millionaire someday.”

“The young man is always doing extra work. He’s always doing the extra thing. He’s in here extra, he’s in the weight room extra — he does those things. He has a lot of maturity about him and that’s what you like at that position. He’s always smiling. He’s a great young man. He comes from a big family so he probably had to use that smile a lot. But we’re really pleased with what he has done, being very consistent and his maturity level is what you want, especially when you’re in a backup role. And now he’s in the forefront — now he’s the starting quarterback.”

On the challenges of taking over a new program:

“The challenges this year are really very consistent with my first year with (Iowa head coach) Kirk Ferentz. They’re very similar. I was in Kirk Ferentz’s first year at Iowa when we went 1-10. We set a school record for the most losses in school history, I believe. But under Kirk’s direction, much like Turner right now, our staff has stayed steady, and consistent and never wavered from our philosophy.”

“I think where the staff gets in trouble is where they go, ‘Oh, we’ve got to try something else,’ and it just goes off on all these tangents. But I learned as much from that year as I ever did from a national championship season in terms of setting a foundation, setting a mission and staying with it. You look at the continuity that Iowa has had as a staff, he’s got guys that have been there 11 or 12 years.”

“And trust me, it was a volatile deal. You can imagine the talk, you can imagine the fans; wives didn’t even go to games with their kids. He followed a legend in Hayden Fry, a 20-year hall of fame head coach. Here comes Kirk, and we’re going 1-10 in a tough year. But he never, ever lost his cool. He never wavered, he stayed with it. We knew as a staff underneath him that there’s going to be some good things coming out of this deal.”

Junior defensive tackle Richard Johnson

On facing Iowa State’s Austen Arnaud this weekend:

“He’s a guy that has a lot of experience. He’s started the last three years, so we’re pretty used to him. We just have to put some pressure on him and make him nervous quick. We’ve watched a little bit of film of him so far and he’s a good athlete. We’ve just got to get after him.”

On Iowa State’s upset win over Texas:

“I was shocked, but that just proves that in college football everything can happen. I didn’t really get a chance to watch that game, but it seemed like (Iowa State) just executed better than Texas did. It shows that the Big 12 is good. Everybody is competitive right now, so everybody is coming into every game prepared to win.”

On the scoring disparity of recent games:

“We don’t feel like we’re that far behind. Those teams, they just executed their game plans better than us. We feel like there were three of four plays throughout the course of the game that we beat ourselves. But we’ve got confidence in ourselves, so we’re ready to get some wins.”

Senior linebacker Olatian Oguntodu

On his transition to linebacker:

“It’s going okay. You’ve just got to learn the position. I played it a little bit my sophomore year here. You just learn your keys, know your holes and play football. I wouldn’t say I was disappointed (in the transition); you just think that you want to contribute to the team. Obviously, there’s something that we’re doing that’s not working. Sometimes change is good. I just adjust to the change and move forward.”

On Iowa State’s offense:

“They’re a bunch of resilient bucks, that’s for sure. They’ve been beat down in some games this year and they’ve had some close games. I believe the game with K-State was very close. They’re a very well-put together team — a team that traveled down to Texas last weekend and put it to them. I believe that they look very well on tape and we have to come with our A-game when we come to their house.”

On player position changes:

“I can’t speak from other guys’ mindsets, but I believe the team (attitude) is that we’re going to do what’s best for us to be successful. My mindset is to come out and give my teammates the best that I can at the new position that I play. As far as anything else, you just have to be able to make changes when things are not going right. And you have to be ready to accept those changes and be ready to go forward full-speed.”

Senior wide receiver Johnathan Wilson

On if he has seen Quinn Mecham’s stats from his Junior College career:

“I haven’t seen them, but I heard about them a lot when he first came here – he can definitely throw the ball. On Sunday, he was throwing the ball very well, he’s a good passer. I’m looking forward to seeing how that works out for us.”

On Iowa State as a team:

“Iowa State is always good for at least one surprise per year, last year they beat Nebraska, and this year they beat Texas. They’re always good for at least one upset win a year, and they almost beat us last year, too. They are a good, hard-nosed team, and they play hard throughout the game.”

On what he remembers about the game against Iowa State last year:

“I just remembered they wouldn’t go away – we scored and that put us up by two touchdowns, and then they would come right back and score, they never gave up. I also watched them in the Insight Bowl last year, and they looked really good.”

On if this is the toughest stretch of games in his football career:

“It is definitely the toughest stretch of football I’ve ever played, and the worst position I’ve ever been in. It’s tough, but these situations happen in college football, teams rebuild, and that is what we’re going through right now.”

Freshman wide receiver Christian Matthews

On the most polished receiver that he tries to learn from is:

“Johnathan Wilson – just because he is a senior and he has the most say out of anybody on the team, and he runs the best routes. He has crisp cuts and he uses his hands very well. He has never said anything wrong to me, so he’s a very good person.”

On the biggest challenge for a quarterback taking over an offense mid-season:

“I wouldn’t say it’s a challenge, we don’t have anything to lose – we’ve lost three games in a row. I would just go out there and do what coach tells me to do.”

On if it bothers him to play against a team who is coming off a big win like Iowa State is:

“I wouldn’t even look at that, but if there was a clear answer, I would say it is a challenge, and I have never backed down from a challenge – and I don’t think this team will back down from a challenge.”

On if he has confidence that the team has the talent to turn the season around:

“We have five more games left, and you can’t give up, we have to believe – that is our mission statement. If you don’t believe, you shouldn’t be on the team. I think we can win these next five games, I’d be a coward if I didn’t believe that.”