Beaty, Jayhawks Ready for No. 14/12 Oklahoma State

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Head Kansas football coach David Beaty met with the media Tuesday to talk about the team’s second conference road test at No. 14/12 Oklahoma State. The Jayhawks head to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to face the 6-0 Cowboys, Saturday, Oct. 24. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 p.m., and can be seen on Fox Sports 1.

Opening Comments:
COACH DAVID BEATY: Thanks for coming again. Listen, couple things I wanted to talk about before we get going, I know Bill (Self) and those guys are excited over there in Kansas City today. They have media day, and I know a few of you made it back over here today. So I appreciate you coming back. That’s cool. That’s a good event over there. I know they’re excited. I’ve talked about it for a couple of weeks now, Coach (Ray) Bechard and those guys (Kansas Volleyball) are continuing to do a great job over there. I think they’re 18 and 0 right now, if I’m not mistaken, and I think they’re seventh in the country, which is unbelievable. So good job he’s done over there, and then I think they’ve got a couple of big matches this week versus OU and Texas, so I want to tell them good luck this week. I know those are big matches for them. So I’m excited for them.

Just a quick injury update real quick before we get going to give you some information. Some guys that we think will be probable this week, we think they should be back with us are Damani Mosby, Brandon Stewart, and hopefully Joe Gibson will all be back with us this week, even though Joe didn’t play after he kind of tweaked that ankle in that game. Hopefully he’ll be back with us as well.

Bobby (Hartzog) and Jacky (Dezir) are still doubtful. We think they might have a shot, but we’ll see how practice goes this week with those guys. And then Montell (Cozart) and Deondre (Ford) are still out for this week. So that should pretty much handle those guys in terms of the injuries that you didn’t already know about.

Last week, just a couple of things, I thought those guys practiced really hard last week. They didn’t get the result that they wanted, we didn’t get the result that we wanted, but I think that they could see the tangible efforts of their — tangible results from that hard work in that game. I think they saw that it’s going to pay off in games, and we really need to continue to do that, and we have got to take that next step forward, in all areas, not just one area, but all of them.

I believe the positives that they saw this week are some things that keep those guys practicing hard week in and week out. And they’ve been able to see them each week, but I think there was a sense in that game that — we cut that thing to 3, and we had a real shot to go take that one, and we weren’t able to do it. Our guys were very disappointed in that. I think they’re hungry to get back on the field this week against a very good team.

Some guys that we thought played really well this week, on the defensive side, Joe Dineen, we thought he had a good showing. Fish Smithson continues to do a good job tackling for us in the secondary. I think he’s leading the Big 12 in tackles right now. A new guy that stepped in and did some things that we were happy to see. We had some depth issues at the D tackle, and D.J. Williams came in and actually had some production for us. It was good to see him get in there and earn that opportunity, and he did that. He took some reps away from some other guys, which was good.

Derrick Neal also flipped over and played some defense, and I thought he did some really nice things for a guy who didn’t get to play over there very much throughout the week. So it was good to see him over there.

Offensively, De’Andre Mann played a really good game for us, we thought. He ran the ball really hard, was 100-yard rusher, 107 yards in the game. Tre’ (Parmalee) continues to play well. It was good to have him back. Jeremiah Booker is another guy that two games back, I mean he’s really made a marked difference in our offense. It’s been good to see him out there.

Ryan Willis is another guy that’s continued to play pretty good for us. He had some key mistakes at times, but he also had some really good things that he did in the game. I think he had I want to say it was three freshman records here at KU. I think he had 330-yards-plus passing in the game, he had 35 completions, which was a record for freshman here, and I want to say it was 50 attempts, which all three of those things are things we can draw upon with him moving forward.

One of the things I was most proud of him for was he was nine for nine in that third quarter. That was a long stretch there where we needed him to be able to produce for us, and he did some good things there.

He’s still got some things that he’s got to really get cleaned up. We turned the ball over a few times the other day that we cannot do. Those are things that you can say, hey, he’s young, he’s a freshman, but hey, we coach those things, so that’s not okay. We’ve got to take care of the football, and we’ve got to do a good job of managing it while we’re in the pocket. It’s not just a him thing; it’s a protection thing, it’s a back thing. It’s a getting-open-and-getting-in-the-rough thing. So we’ve got to get all those things shored up.

Special teams wise, there was some good things the other day as well. I know it’s hard to believe that after you leave some points on the field that could have helped you tie that ballgame, but Daniel Wise got the first block for us of the season, which was great, and that was a huge momentum swing for us, I thought, in that game, and then Matthew Wyman did a really nice job coming in and punting for us. We were looking for some stability there, and he gave us that by flipping the field for us a couple times. It was good to see him do that.

We have a really, really good opponent that we’re going down to play this week. They’re ranked No. 14 and No. 12 in the polls. They’re 6 and 0 and 3 and 0 in the Big 12, and they’ve learned how to win some close games in that Big 12. They find a way to win; they’re a veteran group, and Coach (Mike) Gundy has done a great job with them.

Some of the things that stick out to me about these guys is they’re really good on defense. There’s no doubt about that. They do a good job on both sides. They’re a good third-down team on both sides of the ball. They do a nice job in turnover margin, all the things that you really hear about when it comes to key stats. They’re really good on both sides of the ball in the red zone, which makes it very difficult.

I think they’re very good on defense. That’s something that I noticed. They average almost 10 TFLs a game, 9.8 a game, which is pretty rare. We had 9 this week, and man, I don’t know if I’ve been a part of a game like that very often. There’s 9-point-something TFLs. Man, that’s a lot. Those guys create some havoc and they get in your back field.

That defensive end is really good. He leads the Big 12 in sacks. He’s one of the top guys in the country. I think he’s fifth in the country. Their defense, period, is one of the top leaders in sacks. So they create some pressure on your quarterback, which gives you some problems.

That defensive end, I think he’s got a sack in 12 of his last 14 games, which is very impressive. Coach Gundy, like I said, he’s done a great job there on all sides of the ball. He’s got a great staff, bunch of friends on that staff, too; Dan Hammerschmidt, Joe Bob Clements, Marcus Arroyo, Tim Duffie, all those guys are good buddies of mine, and they’ve done a really good job there. They’re good coaches, hard to coach against them. That Glenn Spencer guy does a great job, defensive coordinator.

Offensively, they’re also very good. They’re explosive. The quarterback makes them go, Mason Rudolph, makes good decisions. You can tell he’s a veteran guy. He’s good. Got a good arm. He knows where to go with the ball. He knows what he’s doing offensively. He manages the game well.

I think their receiver, the (David) Glidden kid, is a guy that isn’t talked about enough in our conference. That guy is very, very talented. He’s very efficient. We’ve got to know where that guy is at all times. We’ve got to know where that guy is at all times. Marcell Ateman, another big target out of Dallas, Texas, another really good player.

Really good running backs, and they’re really good up front. They’re a good football team. That’s why they’re 6 and 0 and 3 and 0. They spread the wealth. A lot of people touch it. 15-plus guys have receptions, I think. So it’s going to be a challenge; there’s no doubt about that.

But we had a fun one here last year in Lawrence. They returned a kickoff late to win that game, which tells you how important that third of the game is. We have got to win that third of the game to be in position to be able to compete for the win this week against these guys.

They’re a really good team. It’s going to be exciting to go down there and play them on their home field. So we’re looking forward to that challenge. Let’s take some questions.

Q. If Montell was able to come back this year, would you anticipate him working out of more than one position this year?
COACH DAVID BEATY: He might. We’ll see how it goes. Right now I don’t have any plans for him doing anything other than quarterback right now at this moment. But that could change moving forward. Could change moving forward.

Q. Have you had any conversations with him about that, maybe even during the summer, anything like that?
COACH DAVID BEATY: We worked him out at receiver a little bit last year in the spring. He got some reps at receiver. I think that guy could do a lot of different things for you, for sure. He can play on the defensive side. He can play on the offensive side. He’s a good athlete. I know this. He’s way too good of an athlete to be standing over there by me. So we’re going to find a way to get our best players on the field, whether he’s at quarterback, receiver, defensive back. Wherever we’ve got to do, we’re going to find a way to get those best players on the field.

Q. What is the status of Michael Cummings? Is he going to be able to get an additional year?
COACH DAVID BEATY: I don’t think so. I don’t think that he’s going to — I don’t think we’re going to be able to get that sixth year. We don’t know for sure, but it’s not looking good right now. We haven’t heard back, but it’s not looking good.

Q. Is a decision like that made based off of Ryan’s play or at least his play while Montell has been injured?
COACH DAVID BEATY: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, unfortunately, Montell was hurt. The bad part about that for him is that while he’s on the shelf, so to speak, because he’s injured, I mean the train keeps moving, and guys step up and they get their opportunities, and it’s no different at quarterback than it is at defensive end or running back and all those type of deals. It’s the old Wally Pipp deal, next guy in. And what are you going to do with that opportunity?

We talk about it all the time, what are you going to do with that opportunity when it comes and will you be ready, will you be ready.

So we’ll see. One of the things that I think Ryan’s done a nice job of is taking advantage of this opportunity. He’s made his fair share of mistakes, now. Don’t get me wrong. There’s a lot, if you watch that tape, that you can go to school on, but man, there’s a lot to be encouraged about, too. He brings some things to the table that we weren’t, quite honestly, doing before he got in there. So that was good. But also there’s some things that he’s definitely gotta get cleaned up, and he knows that. I love that about him.

Q. Is that a dual thing with Derrick Neal? Is he going to continue to play offense and defense? Or is that a permanent switch?
COACH DAVID BEATY: He could. With the injury to Brandon Stewart we needed some depth over there. He’s played defense before over there for us, and he did a couple things the other day in the game that are just natural. I mean Clint (Bowen) and I had been talking about it a little bit, and he had told me about him. I just had not seen him over there, and I really think it was until the game where I saw him make a tackle on a little hit screen out there that I was like, whoa, he’s got a little something to him out there.

So man, I have to take my hat off to him because we asked him to do it not the first part of the week. It was in the middle of Tuesday’s practice, on the way to Wednesday, and man, with very little preparation he went out there and played hard; and he actually made a difference in the ballgame, which was good. We’ll see. The good thing about him is he’s smart enough to be able to come back in there and us insert him on the offensive side if we need to do that, which we can do that. We can still do that.

Q. You mentioned that defense, and you talked a lot about our guys played their tails off and that kind of thing. What else allowed you to take that jump from the defense that was kind of struggling to holding them to 20 points less than they average?
COACH DAVID BEATY: That’s a good question. I’ll be honest with you, I sat with our leadership council yesterday, and I asked them that very question, what was different. You know, what was different. And Ben (Goodman) was kind of the one that stood up and said, he was like, you know, Coach, we just got tired of it, you know. And we’ve been talking about it for a long time now, about you’re eventually just going to get tired of it and something’s going to change.

And you know, at that point, at that moment in time I think they drew off some early confidence that they had, and you know, they believed in one another. That was another thing that they said is we believed in one another, that I could do my job, trust him to do his and trust him to do his and try to play within yourself, do your job, trust the man next to you to do your job, and that was one of the other things that I heard was, man, I trusted him to do his job.

They ran a power play — we showed it yesterday. They ran a power play on us, and we hit it perfectly and it bounced right back to us for a zero-yard gain. And when they see those things happen on tape, it starts reinforcing, hey, listen, okay, when they say to do it this way, there’s a reason and you can see it tangibly on tape.

But really, I think the biggest thing is I think they got tired of it, and I think we have to get tired of it in all areas for us to start making the improvement that we need.

Now, hey, listen, it was one performance. We’ll see what happens this week.

Q. Speaking about Michael Cummings, is he on the sidelines during games?
COACH DAVID BEATY: Yeah, he’s very actively involved. He’s at every meeting. He’s at every practice. He communicates directly with some of our players on game day. We trust him almost as if he’s a member of our coaching staff. That’s what type of a mature kid he is. Very, very smart, working on his Master’s degree right now and is still a huge part of our leadership council.

It’s almost like he’s not hurt. He’s that much a part of our team. He travels with us. He does everything with us. He’s in every quarterback meeting. It’s almost like he’s not hurt. It’s funny that you guys asked about Mike because I literally thought about him this morning. And it’s where I was sitting there looking at some of the stuff that Ryan was doing, and I was thinking, you know, what would it have been like for Mike. I just kind of felt bad for him that he didn’t get his opportunity this year. Man, it just broke my heart. But man, just watching how he’s handled himself has been really kind of inspiring, for a young man to be able to be that mature.

Q. Does Michael Cummings help Montell as far as dealing with the injury?
COACH DAVID BEATY: Well, I don’t think he’s had to just a whole lot because Mike has really just been a guy that forges forward, period. So I think — I don’t know if the word tough love is the best way to say it, but he doesn’t let him get down. I can promise you that. He doesn’t want to hear it. He’s been through it too much himself.

You know, he’s a guy that really just continues to help them continue to forge ahead. So I don’t know that Montell has really needed that, because Montell is really not a very needy kid when it comes to that. He’s never one time felt sorry for himself. He just gets in there and works and tries to get better every day.

Q. How do you feel like Michael Zunica has fit in at fullback?
COACH DAVID BEATY: Great. I tell you what, for a guy — I mean he’s a guy that’s come here as a walk-on, and our coaches grabbed him midway through fall camp because we needed a guy over there to use on some of the things that we were doing with the move package in the back field, and man, he’ll strike you. That little ole dude will put his face on you, and you know, that’s most of it. If they won’t bite you when they’re young, they ain’t gonna bite you when they’re old, and when you see him do it the first time, you know whether or not he’ll do it. And he’ll put his face on you; he’s aggressive. He understands the technique from playing it in high school, I think, which helps him a little bit. He’s the coach’s son. Kind of goes back to that a little bit for me. One of those guys that he’s kind of found a role. He’s another walk-on that has found a role, but he’s really played a pretty big role for us, not only there, but in special teams, too.

Q. Oklahoma State has been a much better passing team than running team, when you have that type of discrepancy do you try to use it to your advantage?
COACH DAVID BEATY: I think a little bit of it has to do with who you’re playing and what their offensive system is. Are they a take-what-you-give-them team or are they, listen, we’re going to run this. If you’re a run, play-action pass team, then you’re going to get people to run the ball at you; then they’re going to play-action pass you. That’s what they do. But if you’re a spread team, a multiple team like these guys are, sometimes when you get a team that will do that and check and take what you give them, you can show them what you want to and try to play into your hands.

But here’s the deal. I know that they pass the ball really, really well. I think they’re 17th in the country or something in passing yardage, but they run the ball pretty decent now. It’s not what you think on paper. I’m as worried about their running game as I am about their passing game.

They have good backs. They have capable guys, and they’re pretty dadgum good up front now. Those guys will knock you off the ball. They’ve played some good teams, now. They really have, and they’ve learned how to win some tough games, and that’s the thing I think that’s most impressive of these guys is they’ve found a way to win all three of those conference games and they easily could have went the other way, but you see the veteran in them that doesn’t allow that to happen. And they played a good Kansas State team that usually comes out on the other side of those, and for those guys to stick their heels in the ground and win that game, that was impressive to me, because the other team, Kansas State, had been the team that I always looked to for that in those close games. And they won another one the other day in overtime. They’re a team that scares you because they know how to win in every situation.

Q. You seem to have found a way to improve your punting, what can you do to solve your field goal kicking problems?
COACH DAVID BEATY: Well, you know, we started out the season 4 for 4, and it was an absolute strength of ours, in field goals. All right. And then since then I believe we’ve been — I think we’re 0 for 4. So here’s the deal about kicking. It’s one of those deals where it’s no different than playing quarterback or wide receiver. When you go back and look at the tape last week and this week, it always comes back to technique; and the great thing about that is it’s fixable, and the other great thing about that is we got kids that are committed to getting it fixed.

We also have coaches that look inside and not just, say, hey, it’s them. So we’re going to do a few different things this week to make sure that we put them in positions to be able to help them in games.

Now, we put more time in special teams, I dare say, than maybe anybody in the country. We put a lot of time into it, which I talked about last week. And we put a lot of time into that area. The thing we have to do is we have to be smarter as we look into it. What do we have to do differently in practice to give them more application for the game, in addition to helping them with their technique and looking at the flaws that cause those misses.

So we’re not going to go grow another kicker or go find one. It’s not going to happen. We’ve got the two guys here we need, and our team believes in those guys, and those guys are going to come back and be productive for us. They’ve done it before. It’s just a matter of getting focused, concentrating and utilizing your technique. We do that, we’re gonna be fine. Those guys are talented guys. I’ve said it before: Matt Wyman, I mean that dude is a — he’s got such a powerful leg that, I mean, I haven’t seen one like him in a long time. And man, he was so upset, I almost had to get him calmed down so he could get focused back on just doing his job. And man, you love that when you got a kicker like that. He ain’t scared; I know that, which is great.

Q. Has it been difficult replacing a guy like Trevor Pardula?
COACH DAVID BEATY: Yeah. They were No. 1 in the conference in punting last year, and that’s a big stat. That helps your defense out; it helps your offense out because it protects you; it flips the field. That guy was a talented guy. You make a great point. Don’t think I haven’t thought of that before either.

But you know, it’s next man up. It’s college football. It’s not the pros, man. You don’t get to resign him if you know how valuable he is. His eligibility expires and then the next man is up. And that’s to me what the great thing is about college football is it’s going to be — if you stay in it long enough, even as a walk-on, if you stay at it, chances are your opportunity is going to come, what are you going to do with it.

Q. What makes Oklahoma State so good both offensively and defensivley in the red zone? And also what has helped your defense perform well in the red zone?
COACH DAVID BEATY: Well, I mean I think just talking about what they do, first of all, their front defensively is really good. They’ll disrupt you and they’ll put you behind the chains. When you’re down there with that field condense, it gets a little bit tougher. Now, they get a little tougher in the run game and they also get a little tougher in the passing game.

I think that’s helped them. Their front is really good, and I think their secondary is long, and you know, they’ve recruited some length over there. He’s done a great job recruiting at that place; he really has, over the years. And those guys are all long, and it’s hard to get around them. It really is. It’s hard to get free releases which creates more time for those guys to get to your quarterback.

I think that’s helped them in the red zone defensively; and offensively, the quarterback knows where to go with the ball. I mean when you watch that tape, pay attention to that guy’s eyes and watch his eyes go from read to read to read and him be able to pull it right at the right time and get it to the open guy. He’s very efficient, and I think that’s been really good.

And then there is no doubt why we’ve been better defensively in the red zone. It’s because of the efforts of our staff, you know. Those guys, they work feverishly at it, and they continue to work to try to find ways to be better in that area. And from the early part of the season where we were not very good, we’ve kind of clawed our way back up into being where we need them to be productive wise.

So it should be a good matchup there. Now, offensively, we have to finish in the red zone. We finished in the red zone the other day and we don’t have to kick field goals, then we’re not talking about the situation that we talked about just a second ago with those kids.

So while it all looks like it’s a field goal thing, we didn’t have to be at that spot. We could have finished those drives and we didn’t do it. Penalties, mental mistakes, things that people talk about with young football teams that we’re not going to use as excuses, because we talk about them; we coach them. Not okay.

Q. Is there an element of that that goes into red zone, that we’re just not going to let them score, we’re going to hold them to a field goal?
COACH DAVID BEATY: I think that has a lot to do with it, and as our defense went out on the field, we kicked that first field goal the other day from 52, because I saw a different look in our eye defensively. I mean I saw some things in those guys that I had not seen in the previous weeks, which gave me some confidence that, hey, listen, we’ll kick this thing. If we don’t get it, I know we’ll stop ’em; and we stopped ’em. I think it may have led to an interception or something. I can’t remember exactly what it was. But we stopped them after that.

Defensively I think those guys having that mindset and having that success really in sudden-change situations on our side of the 50, we stopped them one time and we gave the ball up on our side of the 50 on a fumble — not a fumble, but a ball that got knocked out of Ryan’s hands. Those were huge deals. Watching those guys take the field — and we talk about it all the time: The way you take the field is going to tell me a lot about you. It’s going to tell the world a lot about you. So they way those defensive guys took the field, I felt good about the fact that they were going to get off the field.

Q. Obviously you knew you would have several options at running back, but does having Taylor Cox back make it that much better to where you can just go with the hot hand?
COACH DAVID BEATY: Right. It is — I know y’all think I’m crazy, but I’m not when it comes to this. We have an earn-it mentality, and that’s why you saw D.J. Williams play on the defensive line because of his week of practice. That’s why you saw Larry Mazyck get back into the fold. Guys, we’re not down on Larry. We don’t dislike him. He just was getting beat out in practice. And this week Larry Hughes got beat out by Larry Mazyck. He got tired of it, and he found a way to get back on the field, which is creating that competition that we need. And it’s starting to take over.

You know, I’ve had a lot of questions about Ryan, is he the absolute future. Man, I sure hope so because, man, we know that all great teams have great quarterbacks, but he knows that he’s got to earn it, and that’s day by day. And he’s still a freshman. There’s a lot of things that you go through as a freshman that kind of hinder your progress sometimes.

He’s handled a lot of it well, which is good, but you just never know what tomorrow is going to be like so he’s got to continue to earn it just like the rest of them. Running back wise, De’Andre Mann has earned the start, which is why he got it last week. And there’s some good players over there. He was a guy probably third on the chart as we started and now he’s moved his way all the way up to first, which I think that really is starting to pay dividends for us, it’s starting to help us a little bit.

Q. Is (Ke’aun) Kinner all the way healthy or where is he?
COACH DAVID BEATY: He’s probably as close as he has been, close as he has been.

Q. Is there any such thing as all the way healthy in college football?
COACH DAVID BEATY: It’s funny you say that, Tom, because I walked up to Kinner at about the middle of the second quarter, and I know Coach Mitchell does a great job with those guys, but I walked up to him, and I said, you do realize this is the Big 12, that nobody’s healthy; right? You realize that; right? Nobody’s 100. Nobody’s 100. This is the Big 12. It’s not — I mean this is big time. So are you going to sit here or are you going to get in there and you going to play. You know, and I loved his response, he goes, Coach, I know where I’m at. I’m ready. So we put him in there and he did some things for us. And he is; he was banged up. It took the toughness to get in there, but I think it’s worth what they’re paid to hear it, it’s the Big 12, man. Nobody’s healthy. It is what it is.

Q. Can you play Ben Johnson and Kent Taylor the same way at tight end or because of their skills sets are they not interchangeable?
COACH DAVID BEATY: We can, but we are — right now we’re trying to accentuate their positives more so we can utilize them, which is a piece that right now I think that’s one of the things we have to maximize offensively, particularly with a young quarterback, making sure we got the right guys in there at the right times and the right spots, because you may only have one or two chances at a play, and you want to make sure you make the most of them. So you better have the right skill set in there at the right time. Very good question, though. Hey, thanks a lot, y’all. I appreciate y’all coming. I know it’s media days for basketball, so thank you for coming back.

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