KU Football Press Conference Quotes, 11-24

Nov. 24, 2009

Video: Mangino | Meier | Thorson | Harris | Stuckey | Thornton

Players of the Texas Game

Offense: Dezmon Briscoe

Defense: Justin Thornton

Special Teams: Dezmon Briscoe

Scout Team Offensive Player of the Week: Reece Petty

Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week: Shane Smith

Head Coach Mark Mangino:

Recap of last week’s game vs. Texas:

“We played a really talented Texas team. I really liked Colt McCoy. I think he is really a talented player who has a lot of ways to beat you. Texas is a really fine team top to bottom. They do not exhibit many weaknesses. Our kids played hard. We did all we could to compete with them, but they were just the better team.”

On this week’s Border Showdown vs. Missouri:

“We have our border rival. It is an exciting week here because our players really get excited about this and our fan base really gets excited about this game. It generates a lot of interest in the region. In the last few years, it has also gained some national attention, which is good for both universities and good for the rivalry. We are looking forward to it.”

On scouting Missouri:

“Missouri is a fine team. They also have a very fine quarterback in Blaine Gabbert. They have some talented receivers. I know that [Jared] Perry is injured so he will not participate, but Alexander is outstanding. Denario Alexander is an outstanding player who leads that group. Derrick Washington, their running back, is very good. They are aggressive on defense. It will be a good match-up for us. We are looking forward to it; certainly I think it will be a great game. I can tell you our players are excited.”

On his relationship with Athletics Director Lew Perkins:

“I stated already what my relationship is with Lew. It is a good working relationship. That is my point of view and perhaps you should pose that question to him. I think it would be fair. I have a good working relationship with him, and that is my perception of it.”

On his desire to keep the job as KU’s head football coach:

“Hey I am coaching. I believe in my players and I believe in this program. We have a lot of hard work invested here. We have players who have made great investments into this program. We have assistant coaches and support staff people who have made this the single focus of their lives for several years, and me personally. As I have said before, I have put every waking moment of my life, since I got hired here, into this football program. To be honest with you, when I am not a work, I am still at work. This job, for me, has been something I have put my heart and soul into making better and to make this football program something our fans and alumni and supporters can be proud of. So, I’m coaching and I’m going full-speed ahead.”

On whether his work is appreciated:

“Well, I don’t know, but let me put it to you like this: I have had overwhelming support from former players, fans, people that I have coached with and coached against, as well as strangers. There have been so many emails and phone calls and text messages in the last week to me, my family, my staff and my support staff. Even many parents have contacted the office. My only regret is right now, I am focused on Missouri and I cannot return all those messages. But I will eventually and a lot of them are related to this university in one way or another. I don’t even know where to begin to tell you how many kids have contacted the office. Marcus Henry, Brandon McAnderson, Nick Reid, Brandon Watson, Charles Gordon. I could stand up here and rattle names off for an hour. Parents have also expressed support. So, I think I am appreciated by a lot of people. I really do believe that, I just do not know who everybody is who appreciates my work and the work of my coaching staff.”

On this week’s game vs. Missouri possibly being his last at Kansas:

“No, I am coaching and I am focused on coaching. I am still standing and I am going to keep going because I believe in what we are doing. What I believe and what I think is probably not as important as what others are believing and thinking who are involved in this situation. I can tell you that I am going strong and I am really focused on Missouri. The players are as well. We want to get bowl eligible. Believe me, the focus of the team and coaching staff has not waivered. We are still working as many hours as we always did and we are doing all the same things we do for preparation, as are the players. I am moving forward. Full-speed ahead.”

On the impact of this week’s game vs. Missouri on Mark Mangino’s career:

“We want to win the game, but if my tenure here is to be based on one game, then I think that would be a sad affair for all of us. I hate to think that just one game would determine the future of us after eight years, our body of work over eight years.”

On the team’s focus through all the coaching distractions:

“It is business as usual. Our kids are intelligent kids. They can read and they hear things. I think they believe in what we are doing here. They want to win this game. It is important to them not just because it is our border rival, but it is an opportunity to go to a bowl game three years in a row. We are talking about a program that has never gone to bowl games in back-to-back years. We are now talking about the possibility of going three consecutive years. That is important to the kids. They have a chance to leave a legacy here, and they want to do that, especially to the senior group. They want to win the game. They get a big kick of going over and playing at Arrowhead; they get pumped up for that. This is a big week. They are not distracted and they won’t be. They understand that all that hard work that started in the weight room in the wintertime and spring football and summer training camps can still pay off by winning on Saturday.”

On impact of current attention being more on Mangino than on the team itself:

“Let me tell you where I have some sorrow. Last week, our quarterback, who is one of the most prolific players in the history of the program and has done so many great things for our program and who is a scholar and outstanding citizen, was going back to his hometown to play, and nobody wanted to write about that. Very few people did. I think when that happens; you are disappointed for the player. This is the Border War game this week and I think the media here is going to be writing about the game predominately because it is a big game. It is big for KU. It is big for Missouri. It is Kansas City. It is big for the state of Kansas and big for the state of Missouri. I think there should be more focus on that. I think we missed an opportunity to celebrate a great player going home last week, and that is a disappointment.”

On the likelihood of going to a bowl game if KU beats Missouri this weekend:

“Well, first of all, we are going to go into the Missouri game very confident. We know we are playing a good team and we are not going to take Missouri for granted. We are not fools. We have lost some games, but we are not fools. We know they are a formidable team, but we are going in confident to play them. From everything I am hearing from my sources, who I think are pretty credible, they tell me that 6-6 for us in the Big 12 would qualify us for a bowl.”

On feelings about this game determining bowl eligibility:

“Every season we have gone into here we have high expectations. There are just some things beyond our control. All I have ever asked our kids to do is work hard. We as coaches work hard. We do everything we possibly can to give our kids an edge to win within the rules, but it is what it is. You have to admit, our players never give up and never quit fighting. As a coach, that is all I can ask for.”

On Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert’s improvement over the season:

“He looks to be more comfortable with the offense as a whole. He seems to be seeing things a lot better. He has always had the physical abilities, so I think his comfort zone has improved since the middle of the season.”

On his relationship with Todd Reesing over the years:

“We have had a good time together here. We have had great successes. We have faced adversity together. He is just a lot of fun to be around. I have enjoyed his enthusiasm, his wit and his company. There are many players, not just Todd, who are like that. But Todd is a bubbly guy, who has made things fun even when times are tough. He is comical and has some levity to him. He is a wonderful kid. As I said, he is not only a great player, but he is highly intelligent. He does a tremendous job in the classroom. If you are talking about economics and finance, he is right on top of it. He will tell me about the dollar deflating and the market going up and I say ‘well I don’t care what is deflating, I just want the market to go up’. He is a smart guy and he has been a lot of fun. We have all good memories here and I don’t think anything is going to distract from all the good times we have all had together with Todd. I would love to see him go out in style here this Saturday.”

On the impact of Kerry Meier:
“Kerry Meier is just a phenomenal player and person. I have said this a million times. Maybe you get tired of me saying it, but you shouldn’t because it is positive and you should never get tired of positives in our lives. Kerry Meier is a very unique individual. He possesses some traits that are very difficult to see in just the average college student, and I mean that sincerely. He, first of all, understands the value of hard work. His philosophy in life is to give more than to receive. He wants to be helpful, he doesn’t want to be helped, and what I mean by that is he is not needy. But he is always giving to others. He is unselfish. He was one of the top-rated quarterbacks in the country coming out of high school and he made a shift to receiver without even a whimper or a word. When we asked him, he said ‘If you think it will help the team, I will do it’. He probably could have went and played quarterback somewhere and had a tremendous career. He could have thrown up his hands and said, ‘I’m transferring. You recruited me as a quarterback and I am leaving’. Instead, he said, ‘What can I do to help the team’. And he is one of the most prolific receivers who has ever played here. That is saying something about his character. I tell our players all the time, and I mean this. In 30 years of coaching, a lot of players have come and gone. I can’t remember everybody’s stats. What I remember about them is their character. And he [Meier] will be remembered for a long time. Let me give you an example. Josh Heupel, one of my former players. I don’t remember how many touchdown passes he threw or how many yards he passed for, but when he calls or when I see him, I think of who he is and his character. Kerry Meier is the same type of guy. I wont remember how many balls Kerry Meier caught here. Ten years from now, I won’t have a clue, but I will remember his character. And that carries you a long way in life, more so than any stats. Trust me when I tell you.”

On the impact of Darrell Stuckey throughout his career:

“Darrell Stuckey has made the most of his ability. Darrell did not have another Division I offer, except us. We just loved the kid. He came in here and worked in the program and worked in the program and worked in the program and just got better and better and better every year. He is another guy who is out doing community service work and reaching out to others. He gives more than he takes. So, who knows what the final record of the team will be, but I know the kids who play on it and their character. I don’t know what that means to all of you, but it means a lot to me. It does.”

Kerry Meier Senior Wide Receiver

On beating Missouri:

“It would definitely be huge. What I have done here and the time I have here has been great and I am definitely not done yet. We are aiming right now for a bowl and we are anxious to go out and play our best ballgame of the year. I think if we do that we will find ourselves in postseason play. I am not ready to be done here at KU. I am going to do whatever needs to be done to try and get a victory Saturday. It is definitely going to be a tough challenge, but they are beatable. If we come out and execute and do a lot of good things all four quarters we will put ourselves in good position to win.”

On the investigation:

“I really don’t understand why there is an investigation. I have only been to one football program and I think the way they run the program here is probably similar to how they run things at numerous facilities and programs throughout the country. College football is a tough game and everything that comes with it is tough as well. If you are going to try and get something done a lot of times you are going to have to raise your voice and say some things to get people moving. Some of that stuff has to be said. For them to do a whole investigation, I was kind of caught off guard.”

On Kale Pick:
“Then you talk about Kale Pick with his athletic abilities, his feet and his capability to make plays when the pocket breaks down it is definitely something that is intriguing to the coach. His abilities to run, as well as throw the ball, are is in the best interest of the coach. He has done a great job of binding with the offense and learning the offense to the best of his abilities, so when Todd hands the reigns over to Pick he will be ready.”

Darrell Stuckey Senior Safety

On Missouri wide receiver Danario Alexander:

“His production is obviously very effective and he goes out there and works very hard. They find a way to give him the ball. He is very athletic and he is a big threat across the middle and vertically.”

On defensive strategies:

“You have to find the most productive player and after you find the most productive player you have to find the secondary. You have to realize that you can be surprised by the effectiveness of another player because if you go to shut down one player the quarterback is going to go somewhere else with ball, and you have to be willing and prepared to adapt through the game.”

On the importance of the win against Missouri:

“Anytime you go through so much adversity in a season it is always important to end it with a victory. What better way to resolve the whole season then to end with a victory over your rival, to go out as a senior and wanting to do as best as you can to keep the team going and moving in the right direction”

On Head Coach Mark Mangino:

“He has been a great coach and a great person to show you exactly what you need to do in your life as a man. Everything in life you cannot prepare for, but it is not about what you do when things are going well. It is what you do when you are facing adversity that matters.”

Junior Cornerback Chris Harris

On the importance of this game:

“As Coach Mangino said, this is one of the biggest weeks of the year. What it comes down to this year is we could end the year with a win and become bowl eligible. Plus it’s a rivalry game, so there are a lot of things riding on this game.”

On if this season is disappointing:

“I’ve been trying to stay positive and encouraging towards my teammates. We can still finish this season on a strong note and be eligible to go to a bowl game.”

How do you slow down Missouri’s Michael Egnew?

“We have to keep an eye on him. We need to focus on where he is on the field and all his packages and try to slow him down.”

Is Missouri the toughest team you’ve seen when it comes to running the ball after a catch?

“Yes, that’s just Missouri football. They are all about running screens and figuring out how to get their playmakers the ball. They are kind of like Texas Tech. They do a lot of similar plays. If we can stop yards after a catch, that will help us a lot.”

Junior offensive lineman Brad Thorson

On the team’s focus during the week leading up to the Border Showdown:

“I don’t think you’re going to find a team more focused this week. Our goal is clear. We have got to beat Mizzou. Every year, everything is on the line and this year is no different.”

On having additional time to prepare for Saturday’s game:

“We’re going to go in there and we have extra time without class to try to get some extra film watched, personal onuses if you will, to come in and spend extra time and be as prepared as we can for Saturday.”

On the pressure of getting a win and becoming bowl eligible:

“There is no way around it, but it wouldn’t change the focus if we were 11-0 going into this game. We’re still looking for a win. It’s Mizzou and I think people understand that.”

Senior safety Justin Thornton

On finishing the season with a win:

“We’re working hard. We’re really focused and putting everything we have into this last week and picking up this win.”

On the Missouri game being the biggest game on the schedule each year:

“This is our Super Bowl right now. This is for all of the marbles and everything is on the line for us. I think you’ll see a good game and we’re going to put everything out on the line and play with everything we have.”

On how a win against Missouri effects the outlook on the season:

“This game holds a little bit more power than every other game on our schedule, even though we’re 5-6 right now. We pick up this win, beat Missouri and go 6-6, everybody is disappointed with the season that we had, but at least we beat Missouri.”