Beaty, Jayhawks Talk About Match-Up with South Dakota State

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – First-year head football coach David Beaty, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Clint Bowen and offensive coordinator Rob Likens met with the media Tuesday to talk about the season opener against South Dakota State, Saturday, Sept. 5, at Memorial Stadium.

Head Coach David Beaty
COACH BEATY: Thanks for coming. Exciting time for us. We’re getting started here. It’s game week. It’s been a long time coming. As coaches we’re certainly excited. I know our players are definitely ready to go out and run into somebody else. Like always 29 seems like a short period of time, but, boy, it starts grinding the last couple weeks. They’re excited to be hitting other people.

I know there’s typically a lot of teams at this time of year that release their two-deep and depth chart. We’re not going to do that. The reason we’re not going to do it honestly is because we really need our guys to still be in the mindset of trying to earn their spots. We don’t want those guys to take a lazy step from this point moving forward.

We really have not made those final decisions across the board yet. It’s really kind of a fluid deal for us in this first year. It’s going to be fluid all year long until somebody stabilizes in a position and really kind of earns it.

The good thing is a lot of you have been at practice, you’ve seen the cast of guys that are out there. You have a pretty good idea who is going to be on the field and get opportunities.

We hope to play quite a few people at certain positions, so we’ll be able to get evaluations.

We’re moving into that next phase of evaluation. It’s obviously a game week. It’s a great opportunity for us to get this thing started right, in right the direction. The big thing for us also as coaches we have to look at it realistically, we’ve seen these guys operate in a controlled environment.

We tried to make it as game-like as we can, but there’s nothing like the big field. They’re about to go out there on the big field for themselves the first time. It’s part of our evaluation. So now we are going to see who can handle it when they are out there on the field and who can make great decisions while we are there.

It’s going to be a lot of fun seeing those guys out there and put their training to test. That’s been a big emphasis for us this week.

Like I said, a lot of you have been at practice. You have a pretty good idea of who has been getting reps. Most of those guys, if not all of them, are going to see the field on Saturday. We hope we have some depth there where we can stay fresh because we hope to play with some tempo. Hopefully we see that as an advantage.

Last week I said we have a very good opponent coming in here. These guys have obviously had a lot of success in recent years. Coach Stiegelmeier has done a tremendous job with those guys. They are a very talented group. They’ve got a quarterback coming back that’s got a lot of playing experience and was very successful. If I’m not mistaken, he had a 5-2 record last year after coming in for a guy who got injured in the first game against Missouri.

He does a good job. He knows where to go with the football, he manages the game well. He can pick you apart. He’s a talented guy.

They lost a really good running back last year that I think is taking some reps in the NFL right now. He was a talented guy. But the other guys are really good, too. They have three returning linemen up front that are really good players. One of them was an all-conference honorable mention pick and he certainly deserved it. They have some guys back there that give them stability moving forward.

They have really got a very talented wide receiver. The kid’s name is Jake Wieneke. He is a tall, 6’4″ target, he’s a big dude. They get it close to him and he goes up and gets it. He runs good, but he uses his body really well. He can run all the routes. They do a good job of creating ways to get the ball to him.

They run the football really, really well. Because of that, obviously teams that do that, they do a good job of play-action passing when they can get that run game going.

He does a good job of coaching. They execute at a high level. I think they’re a sound team up front for sure.

They return a lot of guys on defense. I think they have six on offense and nine on defense coming back. They have a really strong defensive line, some big strong cats that do a good job up front of holding gaps.

Their linebacking corps is a really good group of guys. Those guys run sideline to sideline, they tackle well.

Then they have got some experienced guys on the secondary. One of their kids is a punt returner. He is a very, very talented guy, he can run. He is probably the most dynamic punt returner that I have seen at that level. He can play just about anywhere. That guy is dangerous. I don’t know that he even thinks about fair catches. He’s going to catch it and run with it. He’s got courage, a talented guy. We have a great challenge ahead of us trying to hem him in. He does a great job. He is really good.

They do a great job on special teams. He does a really good job across the board which is why they’ve been successful. They’re not strangers to this environment. Coming up and playing at this level, they started with Missouri last year. Missouri won the (SEC) East. They played them hard, really hard at Missouri. Started off the game with a long touchdown run right off the bat.

They’re used to playing in this environment. It’s not something that they’re not used to. I know they’re coming in here expecting to get after us from the word ‘go’ so we got to be ready to go.

I think they do a great job with what they do schematically both offensively and defensively. It’s a challenge for us moving forward.

Other than that I know there’s some questions. Let’s get started.

Q. With this being your first game as a head coach at this level, do you have someone assigned to helping you keep track of different things, things you might not remember that you will now be in charge of—as opposed to when you were a position coach?
COACH BEATY: You have a lot of resources available to you. Obviously there’s a lot of different things that are going on during a football game. Obviously there’s other people that are doing their jobs, playing their roles.

We’ve got guys that are assigned to help us obviously with some time management stuff from up in the box. We obviously have been preparing by the way we scrimmage, putting us in certain situations so we really not only help our guys understand it, but help me and our staff understand how we want to manage time situations.

I won’t do it alone. There will be some people up in the box that will manage it with us, help us. We have a really good staff that will help us with that, really good staff put together.

Q. If it comes down to deciding whether or not to go for it on fourth down, will you make that decision or Coach (Rob) Likens?
COACH BEATY: What I’ll do is I’ll typically let Rob know whether he has two downs or one. The term for me is simply, You have two downs. You don’t have to say anything about one. If he has two, you know he has that third down. He knows he has two downs to get it. He can gauge his play calling based on that, which that’s how our communication will go from there.

Q. Who will have a say in the decision of whether to punt or kick a field goal, etc.?
COACH BEATY: Most of that will be myself and then I’ll have a couple of guys up in the box that I’ve designated to help me with knowing exactly where the ball is because you’ve got to make those decisions fast. You want to be able to get those teams out there, particularly if you are utilizing tempo, trying to get a sky punt team in, a situational kicking team in. You have to make sure you know where the ball is so you can make some good decisions.

We will try to be efficient so we make those calls timely and go to work by getting lined up fast.

Q. Have you decided if (Nick) Bartolotta or (Matthew) Wyman will be handling the kicks or is there plan in place there?
COACH BEATY: That’s a good question. You know, Wyman is our long ball specialist guy. He can really hit it. I think he hit the other day, I know for a fact it was behind midfield. He’s got a strong, strong leg. He can hit it.

The good thing about him we’re in field goal range when we get inside that 40, for the most part, being able to reach it with him. He’s got a really strong leg.

The other kid (Bartolotta) is very accurate. So we kind of got the best of both worlds there. We’ll utilize both those guys.

Q. You don’t have a ton of experience, is that a negative thing sometimes with this team?
COACH BEATY: I wouldn’t call it a concern. It’s something we have to deal with obviously. We understand it and we know that’s not going to be a part of their thinking.

They do have guys that have played a lot of football. They’ve won a lot of football, which is good for them. For us, we don’t control that, so we control what we do and who we are. We talked about it at length.

I think the big thing for us, we have to now, whether we want to think about it this way or not, this is still an evaluation of where we’re at as we go onto the game field. We’re going to learn a lot from this game this week moving forward to the next week. Our goal is going to be to get a little bit better each week and see where that takes us.

Our goal is to go into this game, come out of it and win it, there’s no doubt about that. We also know there’s going to be a byproduct of this game that’s going to help us move forward and be a better team regardless of the outcome.

They’re a talented group coming in. They played a lot of winning football. We’re going to have to be on point in all areas of the game, but certainly they will be.

Q. In general, as head coach, has it been different for you?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, honestly it has been different because from my standpoint, I’ve hired really, really good football coaches. I want to let those guys do their job. There’s a fine line there of being able to get involved and get in there and start messing with what their mindset is. I want those guys to feel free on Saturday. I want those guys to have their minds made up in terms of what direction we’re going with the game plan.

I’ve experienced it in the past. Sometimes when you get involved in that, you disrupt the flow. Even though it may seem like it’s going along the same direction, it can disrupt the flow.

My goal has been to be able to let these men do the job they’ve been hired to do. They’re really good at what they do. Obviously you guys all know Clint Bowen, one of my best friends. I didn’t hire him because of that, I hired him because he’s a great football mind. He does an unbelievably good job defensively. I’m going to trust him to do it.

I stay out of the meeting rooms other than to sit in there and listen to where they’re going, try not to derail them from moving forward.

Same thing offensively. Coach Likens and those guys, his staff, he involves everyone in there. They’re mature men when they’re in there. Not just one single voice, it’s the whole group working together.

I try to stay out of the game planning part which is very different for me because I want to step in and say, We can attack this here, what do you think of this blitz out of this certain formation? I try to stay out of it because it may disrupt the flow. I want those guys to do their job.

Q. Have you made a decision on who the backup quarterback will be?
COACH BEATY: We’re still in the process. We’re not completely set on that. Honestly, it’s about a dead heat right now. I think those guys are all still battling this week.

Today and tomorrow, the two heavy work days, we should know a lot more today, and certainly by Wednesday we’ll certainly know.

Q. Does them being in a dead heat make it a harder decision should Montell (Cozart) go down with an injury?
COACH BEATY: No, not going to make it harder. You just make a decision and you go forward.

Q. With South Dakota State having an outstanding receiver will you have your best cornerback stay with him or will you roll your best cover guys to a guy like that or use a right side and left side and stay there?
COACH BEATY: I think you certainly got to be aware of where their best players are. It’s about matchups and being careful you’re not caught in bad matchups with guys like that. When he’s matched up with the wrong guy, he can make you look pretty bad pretty quick. Knowing where he’s at on the field I think is important.

The thing is, though, they’ve got some other good receivers, guys that caught a lot of passes. He’s not the only one that can hurt you. They’ve got guys that have played a lot of football, got a lot of playing experience.

This kid is certainly somebody that we know where he is on the field at all times, make sure we have a plan for him. We don’t want to put him in a situation where he has an advantage with the matchup.

And they’re smart. They know how to move him around and get him in the right spot. That’s going to be a challenge in itself. At the same time all of us are trained to do a job. If we do it correctly, for the most part we hope to limit the things that we can do where we put him in situations where it’s a little bit easier for him to make plays. Hopefully we can try to make it hard for him.

I think one of the big keys for us is going to be able to stop the run and try to get some pass-rush on that quarterback. If we can hurry that guy a little bit, I think that helps a bunch. We’re trying to take away some of their better players on the outside.

Q. What’s the goal of your pregame speech?
COACH BEATY: You know, I’m not a real big ‘fire and brimstone’ guy right before we go out. My approach is, Listen, we’ve prepared well and it’s time to go out there and go to work. It’s showtime. I mean, you worked your rear-end off. The big focus is having fun, trusting your brother next to you. Let is loose, man, let’s go play, have a great time.

I want us to have poise. I want them to see that poison my face when we walk out of that locker room. Troy Kema, our director of player personnel, he’ll get them going. From my standpoint, a couple of quick reminders, let’s get out to the field. That stuff is going to wear off pretty quick.

Q. What is the big picture stuff in your mind about the development of the program? You got here, after a few tough seasons, you’ve been through spring ball now, summer training, fall camp. How are the guys buying into what you’ve been trying to get them to do?
COACH BEATY: They’ve been great. If I can say there’s one thing I’ve been extremely impressed with, these guys have truly handled and responded to our program in a way if you would have told me it would have been this way from the very beginning, I would have said there’s no way. They have handled literally everything we’ve thrown at them.

I can see a look in their eye right now that I like. I like the look in their eye because they trust one another. I think that was a big deal for us, is trying to develop trust for us, then developing that trust for one another on the football field.

Understanding that, you know, one bad play doesn’t mean that the whole thing is over. You got to learn to regroup and come back and play the next play. We put a ton of focus on the most important play is the next one. We will talk a lot this week, I’ll talk a lot today about this being the most important game in our program, period, because it’s the next one. For no other reason than that: it is the next game.

It’s hard to win any Division I football game. It’s hard to do it. You have to put your entire focus on that. If you don’t, you’re going to have a hard time winning them. It’s hard to do.

This is a very important game for us because it’s the next one, notwithstanding the type of opponent we’re playing.

I’ve been really proud of those guys because they’ve accepted the challenge. I think they feel confident going in because they know what they’re supposed to do, everybody understands their roles, they understand their assignments. We got to brush it up this week and be ready to go. We have to get to the next phase of evaluating what it looks like on the field.

Q. On Saturday will you have to do anything to keep them from being too keyed up?
COACH BEATY: Absolutely. Absolutely. We went through a dry run Saturday on pregame. One of the things that we go to great lengths to make them understand is we’re not going to win it in pregame. We are going to get loose. We have to be careful not to use too much energy in pregame. It’s going to be a deal where you got to win it on the field.

As a coaching staff we have an extra job Saturday which is to try to manage that, that emotion that’s going to be wrapped up, being able to step out there just for warmups if nothing else is going to be something we’re going to have to be able to manage, particularly the number of young players that are going to be experiencing their first Division I football game.

We’ve talked about it. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on it. Understand the kickoff is when it starts for us to really unleash everything. Until that point we have to pin it up a little bit so we don’t expel too much energy before we get to the actual game part. Particularly our young guys.

Q. Just from interviewing your players, they seem like a smart bunch of guys. How are their football smarts? Were you able to move along at the pace you hoped you would?
COACH BEATY: Our team is a pretty smart team. We’re pretty fortunate there. Schematically we can do some things with this group that I’m not sure we thought we could early on. They’re a very intelligent group.

I think the thing I liked about this group more than anything, the thing that helps you become intelligent in my mind is limiting those distractions. Those distractions come in the form of off the field, academic, things that steal their focus away from the time they need to be spending on football that usually you lose that time when you start not keeping your priorities in order, where you give the proper amount of time to academics, the proper amount of time to your social life, and the proper amount of time to your football life, understanding where those three things fit in.

These guys have done a really nice job of doing what we call being a pro. You have to manage those three things. I’ve been proud of them. They’ve done a nice job of trying to become pros. That’s what we’ve been talking to them about from day one is, you know, Why are you here? What are you here for? If your decision is here to be a student-athlete, then those two things need to come first, then the social comes next.

It’s one of those deals where we have to manage that. If we don’t, we get our social life out of whack, it starts affecting football and academics because now we have to take more time for those to catch up. We have to manage those three things right. I think that’s what has helped us.

I have to take my hat off to Troy Kema. He’s done a really nice job of trying to educate them to be good at what they’re doing from the time they wake up till the time they go to bed.

Q. Do you have to do certain things this week that maybe you wouldn’t have to do in terms of preparing them for what’s coming on Saturday, something like the pregame, et cetera?
COACH BEATY: You have to do that with every team, particularly when you get to a place for the first time. It’s not different in that regard. But, yeah, there are a few extra things.

One of the big things for us, we had a freshmen academy every day at noon during camp. We would release everyone else to lunch and keep those freshmen here. All we did was talk about walls that were going to be coming up here, where they’re going to start hitting walls as young players. Because those guys are going to play.

We wanted them to understand what was coming at them. You’re going to be excited for this first game. The second game, you won’t be quite as excited and class will start. Next thing you know, you’re going to start hitting walls, academically, things like that. You don’t have to hit those walls if you know they’re coming.

We’ve tried to educate them in that regard. We hopefully put that in their ear before Saturday. We did a walk-through Saturday. That really shouldn’t be an issue. We should be ready to play.

Q. Are there a lot of unknowns when it comes to knowing what you will see from the players Saturday?
COACH BEATY: There’s a lot. For two reasons. Number one, a lot of them haven’t played a lot of ball. You have to see them a lot on tape. Number two, zero of them have played in our system. There’s one kid here that’s played in the system that I know, that’s LaQuvionte Gonzales and he’s ineligible. He can’t play this year. Really there is a lot, a lot of that.

That’s why I say this is a great opportunity for us moving forward because it’s the beginning of our team’s new beginning here. So it’s great for that. But at the same time we’re in an evaluation this weekend. It’s going to help us moving forward. We’re going to be able to get a little bit better based off the information we get from this game.

I’ll tell you, somebody’s going to come in here and line up. It just happens to be South Dakota State. We don’t control the opponent. We control what we do. Our focus has been completely and totally on us. I think as long as we continue to do that, I think we’ve got a chance to get a little bit better and be prepared to play in this game.

Q. Are you excited to see how they respond playing in their first game, for most of them their first collegiate game?
COACH BEATY: I mean, obviously we’re excited to see what they can do. Even the best laid plans sometimes go a little bit awry on the field. You have to be able to make adjustments. That’s where we as coaches have to make our hay. When things don’t go well, something we didn’t do in practice, we have to do a good job of adjusting and putting our guys in a good position to be successful.

To really answer your question, for me, I want to know what they’re going to do that they haven’t done so we know what we have to do to adjust to it. The good news, offensively and defensively we’ve seen just about everything over our careers. The answers are fairly quickly given to us. We just have to see if we can get them transferred over to the players quick.

Q. You’ve been good with sharing your thoughts about who stood out to you during camp. Any big movers during that dry run week that came out of nowhere or moved themselves up into a more prime position than you expected?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, there’s a couple of guys that stood out to me offensively. Bobby Hartzog, Jr., stood out. I thought he did a nice job of pushing once he got back healthy after being out early in camp. Darious Crawley, another guy that stood out. His work ethic, playing his rear-end off, playing as hard as he can, which we love.

Good to see Ke’aun Kinner getting primed up, getting ready to go in this game.

De’Andre Mann, excited to see him play. That kid is faster than I thought he was. I haven’t seen him play ball in a long time obviously because he hasn’t played a whole lot since he’s been here. He’s a talented guy. I’m interested to see what he does.

Ryan Schadler, the kid that transferred in. That kid can run. I’m excited to see what these guys are going to be able to do out there on the field.

Joshua Stanford, I still say that guy, I think he’s got a skill set that I’m really excited about.

Defensively I’ve really enjoyed watching Tevin Shaw. Tevin Shaw is an aggressive, hard-playing, afraid of nothing, he’s going to stick his head in a hole that big. I like him a lot.

Those D-line men, the Corey King kid, I like him a lot. We haven’t got to see a lot of him. Got here late, kid from Miami. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do out there on our field, too.

Daniel Wise. He made some moves here in the last couple weeks.

Those are all guys that kind of stick out to me. The last guy is Tyrone Miller, Jr.. I’m really excited about seeing what he can do on the field as a freshman, see if he can maintain it. We talked a lot about Steven Sims, Jr. I think he’s another one.

Q. You announced yesterday that Montell Cozart, Ben Goodman and Fish Smithson were named captains along with a fourth player who will be named each week off of the special teams. How did you determine all of that?
COACH BEATY: When we first came here, we talked a lot to our team about how we felt we could get better faster. I think you’ve heard me talk about that. When we’re in the fourth quarter, we have the opportunity to win games. One of those areas was we have to be great in the fourth quarter special teams. If we’re going to talk like that, then we have to live it.

As a staff, every meeting that we start with starts with special teams. Everything we do as a team starts with special teams. Whether it’s one unit or four, everything we do starts with special teams.

We are trying to live that mantra that we have to be number one in the conference in the four core. If we do that we’ll see ourselves be a lot better football-wise.

In order to try to create that motivation, we wanted to make sure we left a spot for that third part of the game that a lot of people don’t put a lot of emphasis on, that’s the special teams area. That’s how that came about. We really do value those guys that play in those seven or eight seconds. Those seven or eight seconds are very, very valuable to us. They can help us become better faster.

Q. Are you pleased with where you are health-wise?
COACH BEATY: Murphy (Grant), his staff have done a great job with that. We have a pretty healthy team at this point going in. Really surprised. It’s hard to get to that point this deep in fall camp.

The way that we conducted camp helped us a lot. Helped us a lot. Really a good way of doing it. I stole it from Kevin Sumlin and I don’t mind saying it. It was a really good way of doing things. We were able to stay fairly healthy. Knock on wood, we’re going to stay that way because we’re going to have to knock into each other the next few days.

The science, nutrition-based deal thing we did, combination of rest, nutrition, I think it really paid dividends for us.

Q. Your thoughts from spring football to where you are now, the difference in the roster and depth from that time.
COACH BEATY: Well, I think obviously it is a lot different. I mean, we had a lot more players out there, which is good. I think we have a lot better players even than we had, to be honest with you, which created a lot more competition, which made those guys that were here in the spring even better players, which is good.

So now we’re starting to close the gap. We’ve taken guys that we thought were going to be okay and put even better players with them to be able to bring those guys up to even a higher level. That’s what we hoped. That’s what we’ve seen happen over fall camp heading into this.

Honestly, I’m really happy with where we’ve come and where we’re at right now. But we still have a million miles to go. This first game is obviously a big-time exciting thing for everybody involved when it comes to our program. So we’re excited about putting our guys out on the field and seeing where we’re at right now.

Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Clint Bowen
On the speed of his defense…
“We are going to put some kids out there that can run and play.”
On how advanced Tyrone Miller, Jr., is…
“He is advanced. He came in here and played like a veteran guy from the first day. He is a kid that shows up and does the work every day. He has natural instincts and the game just falls in his lap.”
On the most important accomplishment to this point…
“I think getting the locker room – the players in the locker room to buy in. Get everybody on board. It always starts with the players. For those guys to believe in what we are doing and jump in and take pride in what we are doing is the biggest thing.”
On how to get players bought in…
“Of all the things that go into it – like all kids. They want discipline. They want routine. They want to know they are getting better. You show them that if you listen, follow the program and work hard, you are going to be the best player you can be. You show them that, it is easy to get them bought in.”
On his overall thoughts of the defense right now…
“We have had to work in some new guys which may have slowed down some of our installs. We will go into it with a pretty simple approach. Our big thing for this week is to continue to improve – play as hard as we can play and not give up any big plays. We want to be a smart team that plays hard and plays physical. I think we are close, but not there yet.”

Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Rob Likens
On the backup quarterback spot…
“We have a couple quarterbacks that bring different things to the table. You may bring them in for different circumstances. Maybe those circumstances never show up. You don’t really put too much into it after that.
On offensive approach for game one…
“Once the games start, you do everything. Everything that you have, every bullet in the chamber – there is no holding back.”
On how far the wide receivers have come…
“Since the spring, its almost unrecognizable. We have different faces, the guys have improved immensely. (Wide receivers) coach Klint Kubiak has done a great job. I feel sorry for the guys at times, there are so many eyes on them. Our head coach is and ex-receivers coach. I am an ex-receivers coach. Coach Kubiak – there are guys on those dudes every second of the day. We stay on them and you can see their improvement. I could tell yesterday that they were better than the day before.”
On how vital the wide receiver position is…
“We are so young. There is still a lot of improvement to go.”
On how important it is for team to be behind quarterback Montell Cozart…
“We all do our jobs better when we are confident. We know other people are confident in us. For him to know he was chosen by his peers to lead the team has to be a great feeling for him and give him a lot of confidence.”
On the lead up to game one with his stamp on the offense…
“I just want to see how good we are. You really don’t know when you go against the same guys. Every since I have been here, we have been going against coach Bowen. I can’t wait to get out there and see where we are.”  The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.