Beaty talks spring football at press conference
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas football head coach David Beaty spoke with the media on Thursday to preview the upcoming spring football slate and what he has seen through the first four spring practices.
A video of the press conference can be seen on the Kansas Football Facebook Page and a transcript is below.
DAVID BEATY: Just a couple things before we get started. I wanted to wish a big-time friend of our program’s, a kid named Dakota Whitlatch, who’s been a friend of our program for a long time, wish him a little bit of a belated happy birthday. It was last week. He’s 16 years old. He’s a stud. Good friend of our team’s.
And just wanted to send out some prayers to Coach (Rob) Likens and his family. Rob lost his dad this last week, and he’s still obviously a very big part of our program, and thankful for all he did here and just — I know his dad, know his family. So prayers for you, bud.
Really, I know you guys got some questions, so let’s just get started.
Q. Is there anything different you’ve seen out of Carter (Stanley) or Peyton (Bender) this spring, like noted improvement from where they were at in the fall?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, there’s absolutely some clear differences. I think as you go through your years, you, I think, for the most part, you see improvements in certain areas, but you start seeing that maturity, that maturity of understanding that that clock is ticking, and when that clock is ticking, you start kind of getting a little bit more of a reality of the fact that there’s certain things that have to become more important to you, and understanding how to be even more of a student of the game I think is something that I’ve seen and witnessed both those guys do well.
I think really Miles Kendrick and Miles Fallin have really helped that because both those guys are just natural students of the game. They study hard, which it’s one of those deals where it’s kind of almost a peer pressure deal where you see a guy out working — if you’re a competitor, you’re not going to let that happen, and these guys are competitors, so I’ve definitely seen improvement there.
Q. And (Miles) Kendrick is obviously a couple years behind them, trying to catch up. What does he have to do to not only catch up with them but pass them and beat them out?
DAVID BEATY: Well, he’s doing the things that you would need to do to be able to do that. Now it’s a matter of whether he can produce or not. The production is what we have to see. We’ve got to be able to see the production on the field, and he’s still so new with us, I mean, we’re still only six — since I talked to you last time, we’ve had two and a half practices, something like that. We haven’t seen just a whole lot more, but you can see him really becoming familiar with it because he puts a lot of time into it.
Listen, I wouldn’t put it past any of those guys to be the guy that could take the reins, and that’s the good thing is that I think we’ve got guys that are committed to really wanting that spot, which is good, and Kendrick is certainly a guy that’s going to work for it, there’s no doubt about it.
Q. When you make that decision of who you’re going to pick, how much of a factor is which guy can command the most respect of his teammates and command that leadership role and have that support?
DAVID BEATY: That’s certainly one of the major factors, right, being able to affect your team. I think that’s one of the characteristics that a lot of people are looking for. Some of the great ones have had that, right; they’ve had that ability to command the respect of their team. A lot of it comes from commitment level, respect by people seeing them produce, and they know that they understand what they’re doing, and they know that they can help them. They know they can help them.
I say this all the time, the quarterback is a whole lot like the head coach, or a coach in that regard; players, they love coaches that can help them. If they know you can help them, you’re going to get more out of them, right. I hear about it at the pro level all the time. If they know you can help them — if they don’t think you can help them, there ain’t going to be a whole lot of respect there, right, and I think that trickles down to that quarterback position. It’s very synonymous with that. When a team knows that that guy can help them, it’s powerful. I watched it with the guy that’s on the wall back here, Todd Reesing. I mean, he commanded respect, but those guys knew he could help them.
Q. How much in a spring football setting can you tell about an edge rusher you’ve never seen in games, and given that, how is (Najee) Stevens-McKenzie, and what are your impressions of him so far?
DAVID BEATY: The first part of your question is it’s probably a little bit more challenging because you’re not going to let those guys just go and get to the quarterback the entire time, right. That’s what makes it a little bit more of a challenge. But the really special ones you can see something a little bit different. Like I watched him yesterday, he ran the hoop and he ducked around the hands of Clyde McCauley, and Clyde had a really good spring. But the way he ducked underneath those hands and how he accelerated out of it, to myself, I’m sitting there looking at that going, that’s special. That guy has got some twitch to him. There’s no doubt about it. You can see things like that. Myles Garrett, we didn’t hit the quarterback when he was there, either, but you could see it, it was pretty special, right? When Dorance (Armstrong) first got here, you could see that acceleration that he had. Isaiah Bean, he had it. Isaiah Bean had something special, and it was getting back to the quarterback. We’re going to miss him because he’s a pass rush specialist, there’s no doubt about that. But I think you can see a lot. You can’t see everything, but you can see a lot.
What you can’t see is can they finish, and that’s what you don’t know until you get to the game.
Q. How far along is Hakeem (Adeniji) with his injuries and getting back to where he needs to be?
DAVID BEATY: He is ahead of schedule. He’s had both of them done. He had an interesting Christmas break. He had to have a lot of help getting dressed and just doing daily activities, as you can imagine were fairly difficult for him. But he’s a professional. He’s a guy that conducts himself that way. If you were walking down the hall, you wouldn’t know he was hurt, which is good. He’s doing quite a bit with us in practice. We have some periods built in where the guys that are surgery guys, they’re still getting to practice, we’re just not hitting them, and that way we can get the muscle memory going. But his range of motion looks really, really good. I think he’s going to make a great recovery. Those guys did a great job repairing him.
Q. Is there a timetable for when you hope he’ll be back doing everything?
DAVID BEATY: It’s a typical labrum situation. I mean, the second one is about — it’s about a month behind the first one, but as I talked to him, he talks to me about how it doesn’t feel any different, they both feel about the same now, which is good. I think it’ll be the natural six months until he gets completely cleared. But we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. The good news is we know he’s not going through spring, so we know we’ve got to get him well as fast as we can to get him through a good off-season in the summer as much as we can get so he can be physical when we get to fall camp.
Q. Is there anything you feel better about six practices in than maybe you thought you would?
DAVID BEATY: You know, the big focus for us in the spring, as I talked to you about last week, was what do we have to do to make this team better in every situation, how do we close that margin of error so we can start producing. As we go back and look at the things that we think will help us close the gap, one of the major things, as I said last week, that comes to mind is toughness, and developing a toughness in this football team that basically includes not just the mental — the body side of it, but the mental side, as well. We look no further than Bill Self and his group over there, and what he talks about all the time, what he preaches, and the thing that I do feel good about is watching their bodies get bigger. We’ve added a ton of weight this off-season. Coach (Zac) Woodfin and his staff have done a terrific job, and then their demeanor. I’m not sure if some of that’s not just maturity because we’ve got a little bit older guys now, but their demeanor is something we’ve been looking for. But we’ve also been talking about it, preaching about it, what does it look like, and what is toughness, what is the definitions of toughness, and really being clear that it’s not just about standing up and fighting a man, it’s about the things that people don’t want to talk about, like the disciplining yourself to set in there on 4th and an inch and not jump offsides and change the complexion of a game. That’s a toughness thing, right; understanding how to do things exactly how you’re supposed to do it every time count on one another. Those things are all toughness things.
And then with that, really trying to put a lot of emphasis on the development of fundamentals. How do we get from point A to point B? There’s a lot of fun lines that you can draw on the board, but if you don’t know how to get there — if you’re not very good in the first place, you’re going to be worse. But if you’re not very good, you can make yourself a heck of a lot better, and you can make yourself a good player if you know how to get from point A to point B. That’s our job as coaches is to develop them fundamentally, so there’s been a huge emphasis on that. And then finishing really with complementary football because that’s what we’ve really struggled with. We’ve had spurts of being good on defense here. We’ve had spurts of showing some life on offense, and we’ve had spurts of showing life on the special teams, but we haven’t put it all together, and there’s no excuse for that. We have to get that fixed.
We’re not going to not talk about it. We put a lot of emphasis on making sure that everything intertwines together and that they know that we have to coexist together. It’s a team effort. We’ve got to get it done together. That’s really the thing I’m proud of is they’re starting to understand that.
Q. Do you think for the entire spring it will be obvious to you guys as coaches that
(Andru) Tovi and I think it’s (Joseph) Gilbertson are linemen learning how to be centers, or will they start to look at centers at some point?
DAVID BEATY: That’s a pretty good question. I’m not sure I thought of it that way, but the thing that — as you ask it, I started thinking, what do they look like, and Tovi looks like a center, which is good. That’s good. I mean, from a snap standpoint, his snaps have been great. I mean, that’s something that you worry about from the very beginning because even one of those can change the complexion of the game. We’ve seen that happen over our time here. It happens all the time throughout the country.
Joey is a tough son-of-a-gun now. I said it when I first got him here. Just watching him practice yesterday, he’s got a little dirty in him, which you’ve got to like about a guy that plays in the trenches. Our coaches — we talk all the time about developing an identity as a team, as a unit, but individually who are you, and to a man if you ask Joey Gilbertson, and I say this jokingly, but it’s a good — he’s a dirt bag now. He’s going to get in the dirt, and he is going to get after you. It’s going to be a fight with him.
That’s a high-praise term for us with him. We like them tough dudes. He’s a wrestler, and he gets his hands on you. It’s fun to watch.
Q. Joe (Dineen) with getting his medical redshirt in 2015, what’s the next step for him?
DAVID BEATY: I’ll tell you what, I’m very grateful. At the time it happened, I knew it would prove to be beneficial. I didn’t know how beneficial, but his leadership is — it’s unbelievable what the kid does for our team. You know, my hope for Joe is that he continues to produce at the level that he is because that guy deserves to be remembered here. His production has been really, really nice.
I know we haven’t produced as a team, but individually, he has done a really, really nice job, and he’s done it all the while being a leader and trying to make people around him better. So having him here is critical. Him and Daniel (Wise) have been huge for us, watching our quarterbacks develop, Peyton Bender, watching him develop and watching Carter develop. Miles Kendrick, who doesn’t even know these guys real well, but watching those guys develop has been something that I’ve been really proud of watching those guys develop so far. We’ll see if they can continue to do it, but Joe, he does it all the time. He’s a very valuable piece of what we’re doing, and I think it’ll be a — that guy is going to be worth some production for us this year, there’s no doubt about it.
Q. When you get to the end of all the spring practices, no stats really, no scoreboards or anything, I guess in your mind how do you decide whether it was a really production I have one or do you get to the point where you’re like, man, I wish we would have gotten a couple more things done? How do you figure that out?
DAVID BEATY: I think going into spring, you have to understand that there’s so much work that goes in to really self-scout to make sure you understand where your problems lie, right, and it’s not from a fan perspective, it’s not that easy. You have to go back and look at what has created these problems and then what is the best way to fix those things. And then how do you build on the things that you’re doing well, how do you continue to do that.
So for us, as we go into it, there’s always a focus on something, right, and I’ve talked about it since I started this spring. It’s toughness. It’s fundamental football, getting better at getting from point A to point B. I can step to you and block you, but if I don’t understand my first step, my pad level and how I strike on the rise and where my hand placement goes and my focus is not perfect, right, then I’m going to have a hard time executing because your opponent is doing that well. So we have to focus on fundamentals. And then like I said, playing complementary football.
Handling those things as we come out of spring is where we’re going to see where we’re at as we go into the summer. It’ll be a natural progression into the next phase of that, right. You always are going to put a lot of emphasis on situational football. We’re going to be in the red zone tomorrow. We were in 3rd and medium, 3rd and long emphasis yesterday, we’ll be in 3rd and short and goal line probably towards the end of this week, as well, so you’re doing coming out and going in. You’re preparing for every single situation so when they come out, it’s easy and they understand it.
But from the standpoint of what we look at, it’s what were we looking to get better at, and did we accomplish that, and did our practice schedules reflect that, and if we’re not reflecting what we say we need to get better at, then we’re just saying a bunch of stuff.
Q. What’s Kenyon Tabor’s status for the spring and who’s in the mix to contribute at tight end?
DAVID BEATY: Well, first part is Kenyon. He’s still battling a back, and that’s not something that’s new for you guys to hear, but man, you’re talking about broken heart for a guy, I mean, the guy hasn’t played a down, he hasn’t really went through practice with us. He’s gone through an excruciating back problem, right. We’re going all over the country to try to find the next person to try to help him. This guy is one of the best players I think we’ve ever recruited here, and not having him is not good. We need that guy. I mean, he’s already — I bet he’s 230 pounds right now, and he hasn’t even done anything. I mean, he’s going to be a monster, right. But we’ll see how that comes out. I mean, I’m not sure.
The back is different. It’s just different. And we haven’t seen the progress that we need to see. He was getting a little bit better, and then it went right back to where it was. But man, I love the kid. My heart is broken for him.
As far as tight end goes, going into the spring, I was concerned. It’s not that I forgot James (Sosinski) was here, but he wasn’t here, right, so signing Mavin (Saunders) I thought was a big deal for us, and Mavin, I’m seeing the light come on for that guy. You see a little bit more maturity in that guy than you see some guys that come through here, and man, he is a good-looking dude now. He’s going to get off the bus first, just so you know, and he is a great-looking dude. But understanding what we’re doing was something I was concerned about how quickly he’d pick it up, but he’s cerebral. He’s doing a nice job there.
I think Hudson Hall is another guy that people don’t know a whole lot about, but he’s another dirt bag that will hit you, and he has a role. I think he can help us. And then there’s a kid named Caperton Humphrey, who transferred here from a Division II school, and the kid is doing a really nice job for us, a really nice job for us.
I mean, Ben is going to be tough to replace because he could do so many things, but I’m very excited about James because James has some weight on him now, and James has some natural hands, and he’s big enough and strong enough to move people. To say we’re excited about him being back is an understatement because he’s been fun to watch.
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