Kansas Football Runs Through Last Practice Before Insight Bowl

Dec. 29, 2008

TEMPE, Ariz. – Kansas football held its final practice on Monday in preparation for the Insight Bowl, which will take place on Wednesday, Dec. 31 at 5 p.m. Central time. The game will be televised on the NFL Network, as well as WDAF (Fox 4) in Kansas City.

The Jayhawks held a one-hour workout in the morning. The team will visit Sun Devil Stadium on Tuesday to take a look at the field where the Insight Bowl will be played the following day.

After practice it was announced that cornerback Justin Thornton will not participate in the bowl game due to disciplinary reasons. Defensive end John Larson will also not play due to illness.

Running back Jake Sharp did not participate in Monday’s workout, as he is recovering from the flu. He will be available for the game on Wednesday.

Kansas will be looking to improve the Big 12 Conference’s Insight Bowl record to 8-3 all-time. Last year Oklahoma State defeated Indiana 49-33 while in 2006 Texas Tech defeated Minnesota 44-41 in overtime.

The Jayhawks are 16-25 all-time against members of the Big 10 Conference with the last meeting coming against Northwestern in 2004. The Jayhawks fell in that game 20-17. KU is 2-3 vs. Illinois, 1-1 vs. Indiana, 7-3 vs. Iowa, 0-3 vs. Michigan, 1-5 vs. Michigan State, 3-3 vs. Minnesota, 0-2 vs. Northwestern, 0-1 vs. Penn State and 2-4 vs. Wisconsin.

Kansas Practice Quotes

Kansas Head Coach Mark Mangino

About today’s practice.

We’ve had a good week here. First of all, the Insight Bowl committee has just been outstanding. They’ve treated us extremely well. The hospitality has been outstanding. And I want to thank them for that. They’ve done a good job of making our players and coaches and their families very comfortable. Our players have done a good job here being able to separate work time from leisure. We spend most of the morning in meetings and practicing, watching tape and doing those sorts of things. Late in the afternoon and evening is their time. And they’ve done a good job of being focused when it’s time to work and having fun when it’s time for leisure. I’m pleased with our preparation to this point.

About Kansas playing in consecutive bowl games.

Everything at Kansas has come in steps. And this is another step for our program. We certainly would like to finish our season here on a high note and get our eighth win of the year. I think it would be 20 wins in two seasons. That’s what we aspire to do here, to make this program respectable and compete on a national level.

About bowl games becoming customary at Kansas.

There are guys that have played on three bowl teams here. I think they understand what the expectations are. They know that when you go to a bowl game you have to stay focused on the task at hand. You can’t get carried away having a good time and forget why you are here. That’s when you get into trouble. I think our players realize you can have fun and still get your work done and be ready to go for the bowl.

About the weather in the Phoenix area.

We like Lawrence a lot. We don’t have anything negative to say about Lawrence. We’re proud of our hometown but this is a different atmosphere, no question about it. We don’t have a whole lot of mountains in Kansas. It’s a beautiful environment. They had a lot of rain here right before we got here and the good folks at this high school here, Desert Mountain, worked their tail off to get this field in good shape. The locker rooms have been great. It was chilly the first couple of days but it wasn’t really cold out here. But now the sun is out and it’s a great environment.

About how much Kansas has improved since their last game.

I think we will find that out Wednesday on how much we have improved since our last game. Hopefully we have improved significantly but I guess we will just have to wait and see. The extra work was good for us. It’s like having an extra spring football. We’ve taken advantage of it the best we could. We wanted to be smart about players and their health. A lot of young players have developed during these last couple of weeks. You just have to be smart about getting young kids some work but then getting into your preparation and training well for the game. I think we have done that.

About Minnesota’s football team.

(Eric) Decker, the receiver, is an outstanding player. He just makes play after play. Great athleticism. Great ball skills. Great route runner. I think I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago that the quarterback reminds me of the kid from South Florida. First thing when you see him on tape is that he is really a big kid. I didn’t realize that until we started studying tape. He has good size so he can run the ball very effectively. He is like having a big tailback. On defense they have some outstanding players. They run to the ball very well. They look like they are a team that plays very hard. We have great respect for them.

About comparing Minnesota with other teams Kansas has played this season.

Every game is different. I’m not going to go by what we did all year. We have to do it again. We have to play well on offense. We have to play good, sound defensive football well and great special teams. Everybody gets all of this time to prepare for bowl games and anything can happen. You just have to be disciplined in your preparation and stay with the things that have been good for you all year.

About Kansas RB Jake Sharp.

Jake (Sharp) has the flu. He is actually getting better. There is no way you are going to keep him out of Sun Devil Stadium on Wednesday. That is not going to happen. We probably could have had him out here today. Our medical staff felt another days rest for him plus quarantine him so he doesn’t spread the flu around the team. We’re keeping him in his room and we have people tending to him. We’re just trying to keep it from spreading to the rest of the team because the flu bug he has is very contagious.