Jayhawks Ready for Big 12 Home Opener with No. 3/4 Baylor

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head football coach David Beaty met with members of the media Tuesday to discuss the Jayhawks’ weekend matchup with No. 3/4 Baylor, Saturday, Oct. 10, at Memorial Stadium.

For the second-straight week and third time this season, Kansas’ (0-4, 0-1 Big 12) game will start at 11 a.m., against a Bears (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) team that averages 745.2 yards of offense per game. Fans unable to attend can catch the action on Fox Sports 1 or tune into the live radio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network.

Opening Comments:
COACH BEATY: Thanks for coming today.

Before we get started, just a couple of congratulations. Obviously, Coach Bechard. I don’t think he’s in here today, but those girls and his team are 15-0, top ten ranking. That’s exciting stuff. So happy for him. They’ve worked their tails off to get to where they are.

I know we’ve got a big night coming up for a couple of guys, Coach Self and Coach Schneider for Late Night and kicking off their season. Just a good luck to those guys as they get started.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t send out a big thank you to our Jayhawk fans out there for their loyal support and all the support that they provided our team to this point. I know how good they’re going to be with us for all of our teams as we move forward.

Just a little bit of an update. Some of you may already know about this, but one of our quarterbacks, Montell Cozart has a shoulder sprain. He’s going to be out indefinitely. That will just depend on how well he progresses over the next few days and the next few weeks. If he progresses at a good rate, then we’ll be able to determine how quickly we can get him back. He has a pretty significant shoulder sprain. We’ll see how he reacts to that. Right now he’s definitely out this week. I’m not sure when we can get him back. He’s not doing very good right now in that area.

Deondre Ford (QB), he’s having surgery today. He tore ligaments in that thumb on the one hit he suffered when we were playing Rutgers, and he’s getting that fixed this afternoon. He’ll be out for the season.

And then Damani Mosby (DE) is another guy that hyperextended his elbow in the game last week. He actually was at practice yesterday, but he hyperextended that elbow pretty good. So he’s another guy that is somewhat doubtful as we move forward right now.

Some good news, though, on the injury front. We are expecting to get Taylor Cox (RB) back this week, which is something we’re excited about, and I know he’s excited, and we’re excited for him to get him back on the field, and then Jeremiah Booker (WR) is looking like he’s progressing. He’s back on the practice field. It’s good to see him out there. We’re not totally sure whether we’re going to be ready to use him this week or not, but it’s great to see him out there on the practice field.

Obviously, with the quarterback situation being what it is, Ryan Willis, our true freshman, man, he’s excited about getting his first start. He’s basically lived up here with us, and he’s been doing that the entire time, trying to get himself ready. I can see it in his eye. He’s excited about this opportunity. I think last week just kind of gave him a taste, and I know he’s ready to move forward. With him being a freshman and him not being available to speak with you with the media, I know that makes your job less than ideal. He’s got a lot on his plate. I just appreciate your understanding.

I say myself and Rob Likens will give you a great perspective on where he’s at, how he’s preparing, what his progress looks like. We’ll make sure you get the information you need while he prepares the way he needs to prepare to get ready for his first start.

Our team is in a great place mentally and physically. We’re excited about our Big 12 opener right here at home. Our team has done a really nice job of rebounding, which is something I expected from them. Really just from the type of men that they are. There’s going to be competition at all positions this week, just like every week, and it’s going to continue like that as long as I’m here. So that will continue.

Our staff has worked diligently this week to help us improve in all areas — special teams, offensively, defensively — and they are working diligently to make sure we are getting better every day, every week, and as we move forward.

Obviously, all of our focus right now is on a very good Baylor football team that’s coming in here. It’s a great opportunity for us this week, another Big 12 opportunity. You guys know a lot about this team because they’re covered nationally right now, and they should be.

Offensively, they’re very explosive. Things that come to mind when I watch these guys is fast, fast, fast. One of the things that I don’t think is talked about enough with this team is how good they are up front. These guys have got a lot of starts under their belt. They’re a really good unit up front. Their offensive line does a really nice job. They run the ball really well. I’m amazed at how balanced they are passing and throwing, over 350 yards in each side. It’s pretty balanced at how they do that. They do a pretty good job there, a really good job.

Defensively, another area that really doesn’t get talked about enough. I think Phil Bennett does as good a job as anybody out there. He has done a nice job of accumulating players over there. They are really talented up front on that defensive line. Andrew Billings, kid right out of Waco there, is as good a defensive tackle as I’ve seen in a long time. I like watching that guy play on the tape. It’s not fun when you know you’re going to have to face him because he’s one of the best out there, but he’s a really good player.

Shawn Oakman gets a lot of press, and he’s a really good player and deserves that as well. They do a good job on the back end. They’re dynamic defensively. That’s one of the things that’s under-talked about there.

In the kicking game, they’re very productive, which means they’re a well-rounded team. A crazy little side note. There’s a punter for them, a true freshman, from the Rowlett/Garland area. His name is Drew Galitz, and I grew up with his mom and dad. I remember when Natalie was carrying with him, when she was pregnant. That tells you how old I’m getting. It’s fun to watch Drew kick. I’ve watched him kind of grow up, grew up with his mom and dad.

I do know a lot of those kids on that team, including the quarterback. All those kids in my time recruiting them were really good kids, and it’s good to see those guys having success.

I know you’ve got a lot of questions. So let’s get started from there.

Q. Two weeks ago, you said Ryan Willis was a long way from being starter. Is he ready for this?
COACH BEATY: I didn’t say he was a long ways away. He clearly was behind the other two. Clearly was behind the other two. But I also said we’re working diligently to get him caught up. That’s why we continue to work him. That’s why he continued to get snaps. That’s why he has continued to progress.

Q. Would you expect Baylor, facing an inexperienced quarterback, to really go after him? I mean, bring the house. What can you do to counteract that?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, it’s something that always is in your mind for sure. I know that that’s something that comes to my mind when I’m facing an inexperienced quarterback. So yes, and when you know that going in, you prepare for those things. You prepare for man coverage. You prepare for blitz looks. You prepare him to see all of the things that you think he’s going to see and try to limit the amount that he has to diagnose and try to help him by putting him in maybe formations that he can see a little bit better out of.

I think that’s going to be the big deal for us is keeping that menu limited to what he does well, really looking at his strengths and seeing what he does well because, when you’re a young guy, you don’t have a lot of experience. You can’t throw a lot on him and expect him to be great at all of it. We’ve got to find a few things he can really do well and let him exercise those things on the playing field out there.

Q. If he made a couple throws downfield, really accurate throws downfield that you don’t see a lot of guys make. Would that be enough to make a team already think twice about loading the box?
COACH BEATY: I think it can. It really can. The things that I really think I’ve said quite a few times from fall camp was how talented this guy is with his arm. I think that’s pretty evident. I think most of us can see that. He does have talent. He got out of a play the other day and found Kent Taylor. I’m not sure our other guys could have done that. He found a way to get that ball there. And he’s just so strong. He just flicked it out there and got it out there to Kent Taylor. That was an impressive play.

He also made a really nice throw. He dropped a dime on (Steven) Sims right down the middle of the field. That ball couldn’t have been put anywhere else. He is an accurate guy. I think the big thing is just getting him familiar with structure and understanding what he’s seeing and how to move the parts around so he’s not just looking for an open guy. He’s anticipating where the open guy is based on structure and how that moves.

Q. You said he has been here all week. What have you seen from him since he moved in as the starter?
COACH BEATY: The thing I’ve seen on him from the first time he went in the game after we put him in on the third series — we put him in on the third series for a reason, to prepare him for when that time came for him. So that actually paid dividends. He came off with a smile on his face, and he had just gotten whacked pretty good. The words that he said was it was a little bit comical. He said, ‘Coach, he just knocked the dog out of me. I’m ready to go.’ Sometimes that helps a quarterback when you get your pads set a little bit, and then you get ready to go from there.

It was a little bit humorous at the time, but it actually kind of made me feel comfortable knowing that he wasn’t going to back down from that. It kind of made him feel like he was in the game.

So we’ve seen him with a smile on his face walking around here. Man, he’s excited. I think that’s the thing that I’m most encouraged about with him. Man, he is really excited about this opportunity. He has no shortage of confidence. Man, that’s something that you can’t give them. They either have it or they don’t.

Q. Could you ever have imagined something like this going all the way back to spring, losing three quarterbacks and being here this quickly with a young guy like that? That would be hard to even believe it really happened.
COACH BEATY: I will say this. I’m a worst case scenario guy. Our coaches, man, they have to put up with so much with me. I make them train as deep as we have people because you just never know. I train for the — I prepare for the rainy day. I prepare for the worst case scenario just in case it happens. I believe that, when you get there, it’s too late. It’s too late.

We’ve been preparing these guys. A lot of you come to practice, and you’ve been at the open practices. We run two fields. We’ve done that throughout the season. I don’t know anybody that does that. I’m not saying that’s the right thing to do. I’m just saying we’ve been preparing for this day, not just for him, but T.J. Millweard and Keaton Perry, who might be in the game here at a moment’s notice.

So being able to give these guys real world application by practicing and not just doing it in fall camp, I’ve got to believe that can help us moving forward with being a little bit more prepared when that situation does arise, if it does.

Q. T.J. has taken a leadership role even though he doesn’t play a ton. Is that a comfort, even though you’re down this far on the quarterback depth chart, to have a guy like that right there behind a young kid like Ryan?
COACH BEATY: You hit it on the head. It’s funny — I say it’s funny, but it’s not. It’s good to hear you say that you can see that. T.J. is as big a leader as we’ve got on our football team, and he holds for us. Man, he knows this offense as good as anybody. From a talent perspective, he may be just a little bit below the rest of those guys, but he’s been preparing for this moment as well, and he’s going to compete.

Same thing with Keaton Perry. Keaton Perry understanding our offense as good as any guy we have, which gives him an advantage. He’s got to catch up body-wise, but if he gets in there, he understands it pretty well. He might understand it better than most. He’s just got to get the physical part to come with it.

T.J. definitely gives you some comfort because he’s got a lot of experience. He’s kind of the old man in the room.

Q. On that depth chart behind him, Carter Stanley, he’s basically redshirted for this year. Is there any scenario where he might play this year?
COACH BEATY: We’re going to try to keep that shirt on Carter. Maryland two years ago, I think they had to move a linebacker over. You just don’t know. I’ll tell you what, No. 75 they’ve got, I hope he doesn’t hit me. That guy could hurt a bunch of folks. He’s a good football player.

You just don’t know. Montell, when he got hit the other day, literally everything looked fine until you watch it on the tape, and he just got caught at an odd angle and driven into the ground. There was no doubt he was hurt once I saw the tape.

Q. Last time you were here, was the last time a quarterback made it all the way through the season? Is that just some bad luck at that position? Kind of what’s going on with all of the turnover at that position since you’ve been here?
COACH BEATY: When you’re building a program or trying to get a program back to the level that it once was at, I think you’re always searching to try to get better. You’re trying to create competition in all areas. I think some of it has to do with that. In our particular instance, it really has to do with injury, but still a little bit of that competition.

We were still making both Deondre and Montell compete. Even though Montell was sick that day, there was a lot of competition going on that week. That competition is something we’re going to continue to cultivate, and we’ve got to find the person that can direct this thing down the road for us and be the leader for us like that guy on the back of that wall over there did.

And you know what, that’s easier said than done. The teams that have that guy, they’re pretty dang good. The ones that don’t, they’re working to try to find that guy or develop that guy.

Q. Do you think that that’s kind of one area that’s been hampered, I guess, by the coaching turnover and what’s happened here over the last five, six years. Art was talking yesterday about how he’s had guys one after the next down there and said, guys want to play in this offense. Guys see what we’re doing, and they want to come do that too. They’ve had the opposite, the model of consistency, one guy after the next in different years. Is that the product of that, you think, just not being able to put in roots with a program and what you want to do?
COACH BEATY: Well, I will say this. There’s a lot of good football coaches out there, and those men that have been here before us, they were good football coaches. So they know what they’re doing too.

I think the thing that, if it does relate, it’s because the identity of what they’re doing offensively, when it doesn’t remain the same, it’s hard for guys to understand what they’re moving into.

You know, I think that’s where Art and his staff have benefited. They’ve been there for several years now, and that system has kind of created its identity, and a quarterback kind of knows what he’s getting into when he goes there.

Q. Seth (Russell) is obviously a product of that. He’s just the next guy in line for them. Do you think, when you were recruiting him, though, that you could see him become the best, even at a different place? Is that why you guys offered him? He said you were one of the first guys in all of football to get in on him in recruiting?
COACH BEATY: I could absolutely see that. I think the thing that people don’t know about Seth is that dude can run. He can run. He was a 4.5 guy in high school, and he’s a big dude. He’s a really big guy. He’s from my hometown. He’s from Garland, Texas, and his mom and dad grew up right behind Central Park in just a very modest home. I’ve been in that house. He’s a Blue collar, hard-working dude.

I’ve always seen those guys work out. Blue collar, hard-working, humble guys, they just seem to work out for the most part, and particularly at that quarterback position. He has a humility about him, and it’s not my job to talk about Seth, but if you met his mom and dad, you’d know why he is who he is. He’s a great kid, great faith foundation, and he just keeps working.

Like you said, man, Art and those guys, you’ve got to take your hat off to him. You’ve got to recognize excellence when you see it. The next guy has come up, and he has continued to produce. And most of the time it’s elevated.

Q. What is it about — I don’t want it to call it a system, but it’s a system. They have different quarterbacks and receivers, and they just keep churning these types of numbers. What is it about their offensive system that makes it so difficult, one, to stop, and, two, that they’ve been able to just keep evolving?
COACH BEATY: I think — you know, I hear people talk about systems all the time — the air raid and Art’s system and Tony Franklin’s system — the truth of the matter is every system is a system. Every quarterback is a system quarterback, to be honest with you. Some want to make it all an NFL-style system. It’s all systems. It’s all how you read and what your progressions are and how you’re trying to move pieces around.

To me, I think the biggest thing they do that’s really unique is their splits, how they spread the field. When you get the perspective from the press box, if you’re able to set up in it there and watch them from the top down, that field is spread so far that there’s major creases, and defenders are a long ways away from each other, and people are a long ways away from each other, thus creating natural space.

When you get fast players in space, that’s what we’re all trying to do. We’re all trying to get our best players in space. They’re lined up out there already. If it you miss a tackle, they’re gone. They’ve got — they’ve been able to amass the type of speed that helps them be successful. I think they’ve continued to run the same stuff. They’re cutting edge. They’ll have something new that will be something you’ll go, wow, that was pretty slick. I don’t think I would have ever thought about that.

They ran a little bubble swing when Kendall (Briles) was playing back at Houston, and then he ran the option after he caught the bubble. I’d never seen that. How do you defend that? How do you catch a bubble and then pitch off the corner? They don’t have enough guys, and they could execute that. I haven’t seen anybody run that since, and I haven’t seen them run that since. I hope they don’t start it this weekend. We’ll prepare for it. They do some good stuff.

Q. Willis committed to the previous staff. Then there’s a coaching change. He’s got to re-evaluate the new staff, and the new staff has to re-evaluate him. What did you guys do to see whether he was a guy you wanted?
COACH BEATY: The number one thing was he was already a Jayhawk, first and foremost. Then we went and evaluated him, and once you see him throw, you’re like, the dude is pretty impressive with his arm. There’s no doubt about that. You didn’t see him run and move a lot, though. In this league, being a dual threat guy sometimes helps you a bit. That was something I wasn’t quite sure on, whether he was going to be able to move around enough to extend plays.

The thing I was most impressed with him was every time I talked to him was his confidence, how he would talk about how, ‘Coach, you can go get another quarterback. That’s okay. I’m going to prove to you that I’m the guy.’ And he loves being a Jayhawk. That’s one of the other things I love about Ryan is he loves Kansas. He loves being a Jayhawk, which is what helps us right now because I think we’ve got a bunch of guys that love being at KU.

Q. How much is Taylor Cox salivating at being able to finally get on the field?
COACH BEATY: Quite a bit. He hasn’t played in a long time. Talk about feeling sorry for a guy. That guy has had a hard go at it. He’s a really highly respected kid on our team. Those guys appreciate him and his work ethic and what he’s been through. Obviously, we’re really excited for him to get back on the field.

I think he just cherishes one play at a time, to be honest with you. I was watching him yesterday work out, and we were running him down on kickoff and little bit, and he was breathing heavy. I said, man, you’re not used to this. He said, ‘no, Coach, but you can run me 50 times. I’m ready to go.’ He’s excited about doing it.

Q. What kind of impact do you expect Taylor to make?
COACH BEATY: He’ll make a little you bigger impact than what people will see on the surface because of his leadership. He’s a guy that those guys respect. That will help us a bunch in regard to that with his leadership. We’ll continue to need that as we go forward because we’ve got a lot of young guys on this team and a lot of them are playing.

Q. In these types of games, you talked a lot about not changing your identity, being who you are, and sticking with what you guys want to do. In these types of games, though, do you decide to take more chances or be more aggressive in this area or that area because it’s the No. 3 team in the country, and you just line up and play and odds are they’re going to beat you, but if not, then you can steal something here and there by taking chances a little bit more. Do you think like that or not?
COACH BEATY: The way we look at that is we are going to always look at structure and see where we have advantages. If we’ve got some advantages, we’ll definitely take advantage of those. But these guys, they line up good. There’s — they get a good pass rush on you, so sometimes it makes it difficult for you to hold that ball back there for a long time. You’ve got to be smart about how you plan for it. But it’s one of those deals that we won’t venture far from who we are identity-wise, but we will be smart as a staff and see what gives us the best chance to win the game.

Q. More of going for fourth down or fake field goal, fake punts, those types of things, the really wacky things that maybe they’re not going to be able to line up and prepare for just because they don’t see them coming?
COACH BEATY: We had a couple of things last week we wanted to use, they just never showed themselves. We are going to continue to try to have an aggressive mindset when it comes to going after people with things that can change momentum and turn momentum. And I think our team wants that. They want to see that confidence from us, and we certainly want to see them go out there and execute those things that we put a lot of time into that we think can help us steal a possession.

Q. Coach, Montell was put into that starting role real early in his career. Do you think that helps because, with Willis being in the same position, that he’s got that experience of being kind of thrown out there? Do you think that’s going to play any factor with how you helps Willis prepare for this game and taking over the offense for the time being?
COACH BEATY: I think it will. It already has. Just watching Montell talk and visit with him has been good to see. It’s something that, quite honestly, we expected. If you know Montell Cozart at all, you expect that, what a great guy. Great kid, great guy, great teammate. He’s been really good in that regard. I think this opportunity is something that I think it just — it continues to be maybe a blessing in disguise. It comes forward for us to be able to evaluate him that maybe he may not have gotten that opportunity. He may have. He may not have. But now we get to see.

As a staff, we continue to look at the bright side of situations that some people don’t look at, and I think it’s something moving forward that our team, they’re comfortable with that because they know we continue to move forward and find that positive look at all the things we see coming at us.

Q. Looking through the notes, you guys have the second most first-time players throughout the country and the second most first-time starters throughout the country. How’s that going to help? Can that help you down the road with these guys, these young guys getting that experience?
COACH BEATY: Absolutely. There’s no doubt. The thing about it is, when you have a situation that maybe we’re in right now, which is a lot of young guys getting to play — and we talked about that way back in spring ball, way back in fall camp, that there’s going to be opportunity for young guys to get on the field here.

Sometimes the progress doesn’t happen as fast with the win and loss column as you’d like it to. However, I’ve seen a lot of those situations turn pretty good in the future for those teams because you give them something which you can’t give them, which is experience. They’re gaining so much valuable experience.

Just watching Tyrone Miller play from that first game to now, I’m not saying he’s playing unbelievably, but I’ll tell you what, he’s improved so much. And a lot of it, he’s just more comfortable. Just watching the way he goes about his business and looking at his eyes on the sideline now after playing four games, I mean, he’s come a million miles. Really, I think you kind of attribute that, more than anything, to experience. He’s not the only one. There’s a lot of young guys out there playing.

You know, there’s a lot of young guys playing, and literally — I can’t remember the number, but I think we had three guys that were considered maybe returning starters coming back last year. So that means that we had a significant other amount of players that had never started and most of them had never played. We’re getting a lot of experience right now.

Q. Do you remember the first time you met Art Briles and what was it like? He was a legend, wasn’t he?
COACH BEATY: Absolutely. I think the thing that I’ll always remember about meeting him is just his humble approach. He was always a real humble, hat in his hand type of guy when he met him.

Q. Did you meet him when he was a high school coach?
COACH BEATY: Oh, yeah. Stephenville, a number of state championships. They played right before us, when I was at Garland High School and won the title in ’99 with Joe Martin, they had played right before us and won the state championship. He was phenomenal at Stephenville. Those guys had such a run there, it was ridiculous how well they did. He went over to Texas Tech and then went over to Houston, and the rest was history.

I’ve had to match up with him a lot, every place I’ve been. Good coach.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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