Kansas Football Press Conference Quotes

Nov. 21, 2006

Head Coach Mark Mangino
Opening statement

“Good afternoon. I would like to announce the players of the game from this past week. On defense, Russell Brorsen and James McClinton shared the honor. On offense, Jon Cornish, who was also named the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week, was recognized. We did not select a special teams player of the week. Our offensive scout team player of the week was Matt Matte and our defensive scout team player of the week was Phillip Strozier.”

“Looking back quickly on this past game, there were a lot of positive things. On the offensive side of the ball, we ran the ball well and Jon Cornish continues to perform at a high level. He has a great supporting cast around him blocking, including the offensive line, the tight ends, the wide receivers and Brandon McAnderson, who is a key guy in two-back sets. Howeve, we had some drives that were stalled by turnovers in the red zone which we must eliminate.”

On defense, we’ve continued to play better each week. We defended both the run and the pass well. We had some four-man pressures and the defensive line continues to get better as well.”

Moving on to this week’s game, against our border rival Missouri–they are a very good football team. Chase Daniels is a very accurate passer, puts the ball right where it should be and is very sturdy and a real competitor. He has good receivers to work with, including their tight end Chase Coffman, who makes some outstanding plays for them. On defense, they have some linebackers, Marcus Bacon and Dedrick Harrington, who are solid, veteran players. David Overstreet makes a lot of plays for them from his safety position, both in run support and pass coverage. We are going to be playing a very good football team and our focus is going over to Columbia and playing well.”

On how the team’s ability to make plays has evolved throughout the season:
“As a football coach, you always want to see your team get better and play its best football at the end of the season. I think with our kids, because of their work ethic and their eagerness, we’re seeing those results.”

On the evolution of the defense:
“I think there is improvement in all 11 guys across the board, but various areas of the game still need to improve. I think everyone involved with the defense keeps getting better and better. I think it is a technical improvement. It is hard work by our players during meetings and in practice. It is more a credit to the technical aspect than anything emotional.”

On Anthony Webb’s play and role:
“At first, he was really raw. Our plan with him was to use him as a guy who could spell our corners, play a major role on special teams and grow each week. We never thought of him as a full-time starter, and to some degree he was not prepared to do that, but he was the best available guy at the time. He has good mental toughness and he had some rough days. But he never gotten down, never complained, never made excuses and continued to work hard and learn from his mistakes. His teammates did a good job of surrounding him and encouraging him as well, and that is something that should not be discounted. They knew he could do it, and we as coaches did too, and it only took a matter of time. He’s not a finished product, but he is getting better and better. The turnovers he’s caused have boosted his confidence and helped him. He likes the idea that he is in a position to help make plays and help his ballclub.”

On playing emotional games back-to-back:
“I just tell our players that they need to remain even-keeled and let the emotions develop when they step out onto the field and start making plays. Right now, we’re focused on the technical aspects of the game.”

On his reaction to the student body rushing the field:
“I love our student body, so I will be reserved in criticizing their actions following the game. I wrote a letter at the beginning of the season to the student newspaper asking them not to do that and I still do not want them to do that. I don’t like it for two reasons: one, there is a safety reason and number two, we need to have the same expectations that our players have. But our student body has been great and what happened is not necessarily an indictment against our whole student body.”

On the controversy surrounding the Missouri-Iowa State game:
“I looked at the play and I concur with our Big 12 Head of Officials, Walt Anderson, and Missouri, that the right guard did not appear to be holding on the play.”

On the maturation of Jon Cornish:
“Jon is a success story. He is a young man that was not heavily recruited. He came down here to a different culture with a much more intense environment surrounding football. He didn’t just come from British Columbia to a Division III or NAIA school, but rather a Big 12 school. There were a lot of things he didn’t understand at first. His first couple of years he was feeling his way through it. By his third year, we got him on as many special teams units as we could and he really excelled. We needed help at running back and we hoped he would step up for us at that position. The more playing time and repetitions he received, he began to gain confidence. Later, the other aspects of playing running back began to show. He started to take pride in his pass blocking, his receiving and good play-action fakes. He has really developed into an outstanding player. He is very goal-oriented and a self starter. He is also a very intellectual guy. He is a person who has been a rock for us for the past year and a half. We always knew Jon had the ability. To me, he is still one of the top special teams players in the league, but we can’t afford to use him there. I think Jon is a guy we always knew had the ability and once he understood the level of competition, he would be good. He wanted to be successful because he is such a goal-oriented guy. ”

On whether he forecasts Cornish as an NFL-caliber prospect:
“I am always reluctant to project our players at the next level. That is a slippery slope for me. Do I think he possesses qualities that are needed for professional football? Yes, I do. Are there areas he must continue to improve in? Yes, there are. He has a lot ability and I would not sell him short in anything he would try in life. Whatever he does in life, he’ll be successful.”

On initially lining Cornish up on defense:
“We just wanted to give him some perspective. We wanted him to understand what people on the other side of the ball are doing and their approach. We just felt like we couldn’t waste any more of his or our time and it was just a brief experiment.”

On the energy surrounding the Border Showdown Rivalry:
“This is a great rivalry. There are a lot of people around here who are passionate about this game. Honestly, when I first arrived here as coach, I knew that a rivalry existed, but I did not understand the passion and the intensity of it until they set me straight. This is the second-longest running rivalry in college football, trailing only Minnesota-Wisconsin, and I do know that it is the most balanced in wins and losses of any rivalry. And if you don’t think it’s a rivalry, the two schools can’t even agree on the series record. Not long after I was hired, I was watching a basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse and an elderly man tapped me on the shoulder and introduced himself. He said `coach, there is only one game I want you to win for sure, Missouri.’ I started laughing, but he didn’t find it funny. It is a great rivalry and that is what college football is all about.”

On the differences in Missouri’s offense with having Chase Daniel at quarterback as opposed to Brad Smith:
“There are some differences. I think they are more inclined to throw it from the pocket. They are getting some good play at running back from Tony Temple. Daniel is a tough guy. I have seen him get hit hard and he bounced right back up, clapped his hands and got the huddle together.”

Kansas player Quotes

Senior offensive lineman David Ochoa
On Jon Cornish approaching 1,500 yards:

“Jon is one of those calculating people. He says things straight from the heart, but I know other things he says is straight from his mind. If he didn’t think he was going to get 1,500 yards, he would never have said it. That’s the kind of person he is. The expectations he sets for himself are very high.”

On the offensive line:
“We’ve had our ups and downs, but we are nowhere near where we need to be. Every time you look at film, you look at bad things and not the things you did right. I think any offensive lineman should be that way. None of us are 100 percent right now. I think we are the most cohesive unit in terms of communication and knowing where each other is at on the field. It’s one of the most fun lines I’ve played on.”

On taking pride in Cornish’s accomplishments:
“I think we take more pride in the team’s success. Anytime you can run the football, it lets you control the game.”

On Missouri:
“None of us are even thinking about last week. We have a bigger game in front of us in terms what we expect for our team. This is a big game. It’s at their place and they (Missouri) are going to be ready to go, so we have to make sure we are too.

Sophomore defensive end Russell Brorsen
On the team improvement:

“It feels like we’ve been doing the same things we’ve been doing. It’s just that during the game, things are coming together better for us. I think that we kept at it, and now it’s paying off.”

On stopping Missouri:
“We are going to have to apply pressure because they like throw the ball a lot. They have a spread offense and to stop it we have to apply pressure. We would like to force turnovers and we are going to try to do so.”

Senior running back Jon Cornish
On closing in on the Kansas rushing record:

“Unfortunately, everybody is talking about the yardage. At this point in time the only thing that really matters is the win. Let’s say I get 15 carries in each of these next two games, bowl game included, the record will be there. So I’m not really worried about that.”

On Tony Sands (Kansas’ single-season rushing record):
“I had never heard of him. Gale Sayers and John Riggins were the only ones that I had heard of. Kansas has had a few good running backs in the past. These two latest guys, Tony Sands and June Henley, were both great running backs in their own right and I am going to feel very privileged to join their ranks.”

On adjusting to NCAA football:
“I wanted to compete with these guys. I wanted to not be considered a Canadian, I wanted to be considered just another athlete, perhaps even a great athlete. That was my drive to change the way I focus on football.”

On motivation for Missouri:
“It’s our rivalry, that’s all I really need. We’ve had a lot of great games against Missouri in the past few years and hopefully we continue that.”

On the Missouri rivalry:
“Don Fambrough really does get more excited for this game than any other game of the season. Just seeing his excitement, it’s motivates all of us because we don’t want to disappoint him and we don’t want to disappoint our own coach. When I first got here I knew very little about the rivalry. Now anyone can see that it is one of the best rivalries in the nation. Nobody wants to lose this game.”

On attempting to beat rivals in back-to-back weeks:
“It’d be great. Missouri is fielding a great team this year. They’ve had a few setbacks this season, but I’m looking forward to having a really fun game against them. They are going to be coming up and playing their all because it is their last game also.”