KU Football Press Conference Quotes - Oct. 27

Oct. 27, 2009

Video: Mangino | Harris | Patterson | Sharp | Smith | Reesing

Players of the Oklahoma Game

Defense: Jake Laptad

Special Teams: Jacob Branstetter

Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week: Josh Richardson

Scout Team Offensive Player of the Week: Jacob Morris

Head Coach Mark Mangino

Recap of last weekend’s game vs. Oklahoma:

“We had mistakes early in the game that set us back and put us ‘behind the eight ball’ so to speak, and we just could not recover from them [mistakes]. We played decent on defense or at least much improved. We needed a couple stops in the third quarter and we did not get that, so ultimately, we were not able to overcome a good football team when spotting them 14 points early in the game.”

On this week’s game vs. Texas Tech:

“This week we travel to Lubbock to play Texas Tech. Texas Tech is 5-3 and as always, they bring a high-powered offense. They are the No. 1 passing team in the country in Division I. They throw the ball well and catch it well. They have used three different quarterbacks this year, and all three have been effective at various times. I am not sure who exactly will play this week, but I don’t believe they will change anything drastic in their system, so whoever they play at quarterback will do the same things that have been good for them for a long time. They have a lot of good receivers in Detron Lewis, Alex Tores, Tramain Swindall, along with others who can catch the ball. They have very good ball distribution. If you watch their tape and look at their statistics, they have thrown passes to a lot of people and spread it out very, very well. They run the ball well. That is something that is not thought of when you think of Texas Tech’s offense, but they do run the ball well, if you give them the opportunity. Baron Batch is just a very, very good running back. He is strong, powerful and quick, and also has a couple guys behind him who are pretty good as well. They are a team that is known to put up big numbers. They have had some ups and downs this season, but who hasn’t in the Big 12? Probably Texas is the only team that has not. We are looking forward to getting down to Lubbock. We need to get back on the winning track and we are looking forward to it.”

On Texas Tech’s defensive strategy this season:

“One of the things that Tech has done on defense, that as you coach you kind of admire, is they are not real fancy. They play some basic coverages and fronts, but they do an excellent job of teaching fundamental play. Their kids are seldom out of place. Their secondary does a good job of keeping the ball in front of them. They have always played the run relatively well. It is kind of a situation where I think they took command of the game against K-State, which probably was a major factor. Texas A&M came in with a good game plan and did run the ball well, but Tech traditionally plays the run well. They have a philosophy where they keep it pretty simple and let their kids play. They look for execution and don’t try to fool you. I think Ruffin McNeil has done a great job there with the defense. His work is often overlooked because their offense is so potent.”

On the parity in the Big 12 this season:

“Every season takes on its own character. I think the league is getting better. Some people see this parity as a sign of weakness, but I see it as a sign of strength. I think teams are improving. Good teams are still good, average teams have gotten better. There is not a team in the league that you can just show up and say ‘oh there is a pretty good chance we will win this game if we show up and just don’t screw up too badly’. It is really a dog fight every week, which I see as a strength. Some folks may not see it that way, but that is the way I see it.”

On KU’s slow starts offensively:

“We are doing everything we can to prevent it. We have studied this thing inside and out. We just have to make plays early in the game. There is no reason for making as many mistakes as we have early in the last couple ball games. One of the guys who has made some of the mistakes is one of the most reliable guys on our team, so it is hard to figure out. I have faith in him. I am not going to make any drastic changes in anything that we do. Our offense has proven in that last couple years that they can play well, they can put up numbers and win a lot of games. We have just hit a couple of rough spots is the way I see it. You have to have confidence in your players and I really do. I believe in our kids. I believe that those mistakes are correctable and we will get them corrected. But, it is nothing to panic about. They players understand and the coaches understand that we need to get it changed and just be sharper.”

On the importance of turnover margins in a game:

“I don’t know if it is the biggest stat, but I think it is important. Usually good football teams at the end of the year have a pretty good turnover margin ratio. That is not always the case. There have been some teams that have been sloppy with the ball and still had big years. But, there is usually a correlation between give-a-ways, take-a-ways and where you end up at the end of the year. You are talking about a dramatic change of field position. It [bad field position] is hard for any defense to overcome and any offense that gets a chance to get a turnover, especially down in the opponent’s end of the field, is a chance to get points on the board quickly.”

On Jacob Branstetter’s career-long kicks this season:

“I have always had confidence in him. I am not going to budge in that I think his range, when there is no wind factor, is around 48-49 yards. But, when you have a 15-mile per hour gust of wind behind you, I will give him another 10 yards, which he proved he could do that. I am not going to say that I was on the sidelines saying ‘well here is three easy points, let’s get inside’ but he is fairly accurate if he can get the help. There was stiff wind behind him. I knew that if he hit it accurately, he would have enough on it, because he does have a strong enough leg to get it up in the air and with the wind, I thought he had a chance. Did I think he would get it? I don’t know, but I figured it was worth a shot because we had nothing to lose. We had the clock run down to about two seconds, so we thought ‘hey, lets give him a shot’. And it worked out.”

On the performance of the young players on defense:

“I am really encouraged by what I see on defense. We had some young kids that we had to bring along, who were not ready at the beginning of the year. We had some upperclassmen that we were counting on to be full-time players. Now, what we are finding is that maybe a couple of those upperclassmen are maybe more effective as part-time players. It is a combination of less reps, less thinking, more playing, not putting them in tough spots and not making things too difficult for them. These young kids are really coming along. I am really pleased with what I see, but we still need our veteran guys to play. We still need to get 25-30 snaps a game out of those guys. We will be tested this week. This will be a good test for our defense on how to play the ball and how to compete one-on-one with guys. I think it will be good for them.”

“I think the young guys are really talented young guys, who are playing early in their careers, where we would have liked to bring them along a little later, but did not have that choice. There are things that they do not know, but they are really playing hard and really playing smart football. What we are asking them to do, they are able to do. I think they are hard-nosed kids. They are tackling people, they are getting them on the ground and they are playing their assignments well. It is not perfect. We have some busts out there, but that is going to happen. I mean, we have had busts with veteran players. I think what they have done is pushed the veteran guys a little bit. I think some of those guys [the veterans] have caught on that the young guys will knock them off the field if they don’t pick it up and get going. So, I think we are getting better with the veteran guys, but in some areas, they have not stepped up in the way we would have liked at this point and the young kids are ready to play. And you know my philosophy: the best players go on the field, whether you are a true freshman or a fifth-year senior.”

Senior Quarterback Todd Reesing

On Texas Tech’s defense:

“They have continually improved over the years. It’s a team that’s got a lot of talent and a lot of athleticism on the defensive side of the ball. They keep a more simple outlook, but at the same time, you never know what they’re going to do. You never know how they’re going to come out and play us. We have to get ready for it. We had some trouble against them last year, it wasn’t our best game. I’m sure they’re looking to build on that. This is a rebound game for both teams, so I think there’s going to be a lot of focus and hard work this week getting ready for Saturday.”

On feeling a sense of urgency:

“We know we need to get this thing back on the right track and we need to do it in a hurry. I think this week is very important for us to come out and try and get better and have a great week of practice and see if we can’t bounce back on Saturday. With the group of seniors that we have, we’re not going to give up. We’re going to come out and work even harder and we’re going to get this team going in the right direction.”

On forgetting about bad offensive games:

“You can’t let one game affect your mindset. This is the world of sports, you can’t go out and put up big numbers and score a lot of points every week. You have to realize that you have to bounce back from tough games. We’re still a talented football team. On offense, we still have a lot of guys who are great playmakers. We’re not going to let one bad game set us back. All the guys have all the confidence in the world. We’re not going to change that and we’re not going to lose that confidence or that swagger. We’re just going to rebound. We’re going to bounce back and go back to work.”

Senior Running Back Jake Sharp

On how to improve the run game:

“I think we just need to keep getting fundamentally better. There are things that we’re doing in practice and maybe we’re not converting it on the field as far as what our coaches want. I think it’s just as simple as having the attitude that we need to go out ready to play at the start of the game and get the offense established early. Once the running game gets established, then the passing game opens up and that gets things rolling for us.”

On feeling a sense of urgency this week:

“Every week there’s a sense of urgency. We want to win every game, there’s no question. Anytime you go on the road in the Big 12, it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be a tough venue to play at. We definitely have a strong sense of urgency to get things back on track.”

Sophomore Cornerback Daymond Patterson

On seeing improvement in the defense the last two weeks:

“I think we really have seen improvement in the defense. I think we get to the ball a lot faster. I think more people are filling their right gaps and making more plays on the ball. I think we still have a ways to go but we are going in the right direction.”

On facing Texas Tech’s offense:

“Being a defensive back, you really have to be excited to face Texas Tech’s offense because you know they are going to throw the ball so much. You know you’re not going to have to come up as much for the run. You know you’re going to get a lot of chances to get your hands on the ball and make plays out there, so it really is exciting to play them.”

On slowing Texas Tech down:

“Of course when you throw the ball like Texas Tech, you’re going to complete passes and get yards. The biggest key is to just make sure that you are assignment sound and just know what you’re seeing out there. One play, if there is a missed assignment, there could be a receiver running down the field and that’s six points. That can be prevented by just making sure you’re communicating with each other.”