Beaty, Jayhawks Talk West Virginia

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head football coach David Beaty met with the media Tuesday afternoon to discuss the Jayhawks upcoming game against West Virginia, as part of Salute to Service Day.

Kansas (0-10, 0-7 Big 12) defeated the Mountaineers (5-4, 2-4 Big 12) in their only trip to Lawrence since joining the Big 12 Conference, and looks for its first win of the 2015 season with an 11 a.m. kickoff.

HEAD COACH DAVID BEATY: Thanks for coming. I know it’s a little bit of a blessing-type day with all that rain out there today, so appreciate you coming. Thank you.

Couple things, just getting started, from an injury standpoint, I think you knew that Montell (Cozart) had surgery last week. He’s doing really, really well. He’s very upbeat, and I think he’s excited that that’s behind him and he’s moving forward, which is good. Ryan (Willis) is just the same as he was before. Boy, he’s a tough dude. He looks like he’s getting a little bit better, which is good, and it doesn’t matter. He’s going to play. I think he’d punch me in the mouth if I told him that going in, but he’s that type of guy.

But it’s been fun to watch him just fight through that stuff. Fish (Smithson) is doing pretty good. He’s recovering nicely. We’ll watch him and all of our guys right now. It’s college football in the Big 12, and nobody’s healthy.

So we’ll do the things we do in practice to make sure that we can get them trained up properly and make sure we get prepared for the game. But for the most part, we’re in great shape. I think our strength staff and medical staff has done a really, really good job to this point. I know there are going to be a lot of questions, so let’s start from there and get specific.

Q. When you got here and you first looked at the roster that you were inheriting, did you have an idea pretty early what you were getting into with Fish? I mean, a kid that has played every game, but didn’t have this kind of role? Did you know this was the kind of player he would become?
COACH BEATY: I don’t think I did, to be honest with you. I knew he was a guy that was going to have experience, and a guy that Clint (Bowen) talked highly about. He was a guy right away that we talked about that we could draw for some leadership experience more than anything, but as you get to know him a little bit better, you understand why. I mean, those kids just seemed to work out.

I mean, if you don’t know his story, do yourself a favor and go find it on the internet and read it. It’s a very interesting story, and, man, you can’t be happier for a guy and a family. Those guys are a true testament to, man, this is a great country because you can do and be anything you want to be if you want it bad enough. So he’s a great example of that.

Q. What is working out for him? I mean, he’s not the most physical dude, not the biggest dude, none of that. Is he just a situational guy that’s always where he needs to be?
COACH BEATY: I think the biggest thing that helps him is he’s a very smart football player. You’ll be surprised how much football intelligence will make up for a lot of things, and I’m pointing to that wall over there, because these are the components for things that we’re looking for as far as what we’re recruiting in future Jayhawks.

He’s got some football intelligence to him. I think that really slows the game down for him, and what that does is it allows you to do things that maybe even a guy that possesses a faster skillset, changing direction faster, whatever it may be. Because he is limited in some things just because of the skillset that he has. But you wouldn’t know it a whole lot. He doesn’t let himself get in the positions that can get him hurt very often.

Now it happens from time to time because he plays every snap over there. But for the most part, he’s such a smart guy. He knows what everybody’s doing up front, which is a huge advantage because now you know how the pieces are supposed to move around. You know what the picture is supposed to look like as it unfolds. You know where you’re supposed to fit. You feel like you can operate accurately there. So I think that’s really the big thing for him.

He’s got unbelievable football intelligence. He’s a really big time competitor. He’s a leader. I just like his demeanor. He’s a guy that’s overcome so much in his life with the help of his brother. I mean, just really everything that he’s overcome, I mean, there is nothing he’s not going to be able to accomplish. He’s just that type of guy.

Q. Are the numbers somewhat staggering when you look at them as far as the numbers of first-time players? You may have had to play a lot of first-year guys, but when you see the number of first-year guys that have actually played, is it still a little mind boggling?
COACH BEATY: It is, it is. You know you’re going to play a lot of first-year guys, but when you actually look at the number it’s like, wow, that’s crazy. I don’t know that I ever thought I would be a part of that at any level, whether I’m a head coach or an assistant coach. That’s a lot of new first time players.

Then I’d look back at it and come in here and there are three guys that have started a game. So there are very few guys that are back here that had any experience because we lost a lot of good football players. We lost — I want to say we had 11 guys (2014 seniors) if I’m not mistaken that were at NFL camps to start the year this year. Which it’s got to be close to a high in the Big 12 if not thee high in the Big 12 from last year.

So there were some good football players that left here. I think we had the leader in the nation in tackles last year in Ben Heeney or it was close.

So it’s great that we’re right now, Fish, I think is number one in the country in tackles. Which for that to come out of this school right now, I think that’s something that we can draw on as a source of pride. But, man, it’s the thing you can’t give them. You can’t give them experience. We’re getting to do that right now. It’s not comfortable going through it sometimes, but we never said it was going to be easy. We said it was going to be worth it, and that was it.

Q. Is there more comfort from so many guys doing it together for the first time?
COACH BEATY: Well, I think the thing that you’re comfortable with is that they’re all getting experience instead of just one or two. The hard thing is, boy, you really don’t ever want to put a bunch of them out together because they really can’t help one another. They’re still all in that phase of trying to figure out what am I supposed to do? There is that phase of what am I supposed to do, how am I supposed to do it, and how am I going to attack them? And that takes time and experience to get to that level.

Ben Goodman is at that level. But those young guys, some of them are getting to the how-to-do-it stage now. But most of them for a long time was, hey, what am I supposed to do? And that’s about as far as they get, and then they play on athletic ability for a while.

Q. From your standpoint when you bring in somebody new, somebody else new is right there with them.
COACH BEATY: I agree with you that they’re not alone. They’re not the only one. You’d like for them to be next to a guy that has some experience so he can help him out and say, hey, man, I’ve got to sit light on that hand. Know he’s fixing to pull. He can’t get the help from the guy that’s doing the same thing for the first time.

So Ben’s, I mean, I’ve listened to Ben talk to guys on the field about some of those things, which is good. But like you said, we’re getting a lot of guys a lot of experience, and you can’t buy that. You have to go earn it.

Q. You talked a lot about your team’s mindset. They’re always up, they always stay up. Don’t look at the record. Don’t worry about the scores. Was anything different Sunday or today because of that effort down in Fort Worth? Was it a little elevated or a little more juice just knowing how close you were to something special there?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, yesterday in the meeting and as we went out to practice, I think that you can see the clicks starting to happen a little bit with the whole team. I say it, and it’s almost hard to believe, but, man, those guys have gone out there every week, every single week, and they have practiced their tails off.

They’ve had great attitudes. We’ve had literally zero problems on the practice field with anyone from just having a bad day. We haven’t had hardly any of that. Kids are allowed to have a bad day every now and then. They really do what we ask them to do. They continue to believe, and I think that’s because our coaches worked really hard to show them how they’re improving and where they started and where they’re coming from. We’d all like for that process to happen a little faster than what it is, but the reality of it is it doesn’t work that way.

Q. In your expectations, you know whether you’re 0-8 or 1-10 or whatever it is, you can handle it and you know it, and you can do that. But to get a hundred kids to do that and follow that, is that better you could hope for?
COACH BEATY: Absolutely. We’re high energy guys by nature, period. But there are a couple guys that you trust in the business that you talk to. One of them is my father-in-law who is not a football coach, but he’s a businessman. He’s run businesses that have started up, and some of the things that he taught me are some of the things that we’re carrying over here. David Bailiff, another one, and Bob Stoops in pregame.

Those guys all basically reinforced the message of, listen, you’ve got to love those kids. And Bob talked about it when he first got to Oklahoma about how those kids had to realize that they had value, and that they believed in them. Bob reinforced that in pregame talks. He said, hey, look, this ain’t their fault, man. Just keep loving them boys. You’re on the right track and doing the right things.

David Bailiff said before the year started, remember when we got started at Rice? You’re going to go through something similar. Just keep loving them. Keep making them understand you believe in them and the great things will come if they just keep strong and keep working. So that’s really kind of the pattern that we follow.

Q. Along those lines after Taylor’s (Cox) touchdown as the refs were reviewing it, you’re on the sideline talking to Keyon Haughton hand on his shoulder. What is the value of in-game, heart-to-heart conversations?
COACH BEATY: For me, they’re invaluable. I learned it from Joe Martin back at Garland High School in 1998,94, ’95, just the way to take the edge off the game is in those moments. At that point we’d had a personal — not a personal foul, but a false start. They had called Keyon for moving his head, but he was calling the snap count. He just didn’t understand for the life of him why they were calling him for that.

Basically we just turned it into a light-hearted moment. Got him smiling a little bit and said at the end of the day it doesn’t matter what we think. If it’s causing them to drop the flag, we’ve got to make the adjustment. It was a way to take the edge off him right there at that point.

We’re able to do that a lot with Ryan, Ryan Willis. Because he’s a guy that enjoys the game like that. But I don’t get to do that with the linemen a whole, whole lot. But it’s funny that you caught that moment, because that was one of those moments where I was able to get him smiling after he had a false start and he felt very responsible for that drive. It was a deal where, hey, you can’t worry about that. You’ve got to move forward. We were able to use it as a light moment.

Q. We’ve seen the toughness and his arm. We’ve seen the things about Ryan that have really been there. Where has he progressed the most in your opinion from when he first made his first start to today?
COACH BEATY: I think the big thing for him is understanding structure. He’s getting better each week. Every week he gets a little bit better in understanding what they’re trying to do to him. Remember what I said, it’s no different for quarterbacks.

The first week is what are we doing? What’s he running, what’s he running, what’s he running? And I’m pretty sure he had no clue what the secondary was doing other than whether the guy was on or off of the guy, tight or loose. But as he played and progressed, he’s starting to understand what spins look like and whether they’re going to stay one high or two high, whether it’s going to be man or zone based on the feet of the corner, the feet of the nickel. All those keys are starting to slow down for him. And I think understanding structure is helping him a little bit.

With the exception of that last throw or one of those last throws right down the middle there, the kid was really accurate. He did a nice job with a guy that was kind of limited to stick it in the pocket. He couldn’t do a whole lot getting out of the pocket.

He made a heck of a run in that game that he almost got out. He almost got out and got us down there in good field position by himself. You could tell — I don’t know that he wanted to keep running that far, but he almost had to.

Q. How much was Ryan in pain at the end?
COACH BEATY: I was going to say he looked about like me. But there was one time he went down in the back of the end zone and looked at me kind of like my daughter, Alexa, does when she’s hurt. And I was like, dude, you’re okay. You’re fine. Take your time. We’ll slow down for you. He limped his way up there.

We were about to run a play that involved him dropping back again, and I vetoed it, and said, Rob, hand the ball off. Give him a second to take a breath. He’s hurt. Rob couldn’t see it, because he was up in the booth and he’s looking at structure, but we gave him a second to catch his breath. You know, you never knew he was hurt from that point forward, which was good.

Q. You mentioned after the game that it was fun. Do you actually feel that during the game when you’re grinding? Does that come across after the game?
COACH BEATY: I do. I know a lot of people don’t, but I do. I think that, man, this is a game. If you’re not having fun, I don’t know why you’re doing it, I really don’t. Because it can be very difficult, and you’ve got to enjoy it a little bit.

I think for our guys to really feel a sense that they can enjoy the game, they have to see coaches be able to enjoy it as well. That’s one of the things I talked to about Keyon. That’s how we broke us saying isn’t this fun? Look around here. That’s how you kind of take it and turn it into, man, this is really a cool deal. Look at how awesome it is that we get to be here and get to do this. How many people would trade places with us right now to get to do this?

It’s a way for us to be thankful for the opportunity. But at the same time, man, enjoy it. Make some memories. This is something that we’ve all worked so hard to be able to get to do. But if you’re not enjoying it, I just don’t know why you do it, to be honest with you, at least for us. Winning is fun, don’t get me wrong. But there are points along the way that I think you’ve got to enjoy and show your kids that it’s okay to enjoy it.

Q. You’ve been around here long enough to know what kind of attention there is in the fan base toward basketball. What are your thoughts about what the women’s volleyball has done as far as attention this fall?
COACH BEATY: I tell you this: I can’t tell you how excited I am for Ray (Bechard) and his team and what he’s done because Ray has done what we’re trying to do. So it’s really a living example for us. Being able to pick his brain has been so good, because it all relates. I don’t care if you’re coaching tiddlywinks, football or volleyball, the concepts are all the same in terms of how you build. It’s been really cool getting to visit with him and watching that plan take shape.

The thing that’s really cool to me is the Jayhawk Nation, the amount of support that you have here. You can’t get a ticket to those volleyball games right now. I mean, I can’t get one. It’s difficult to get a ticket to go to those games. Man, that is why these kids do it. I keep saying it, man, the Jayhawk Nation, that’s the magic. There are very few places in the world that are like this. There are. For us to not pause and talk about that is crazy because it’s just not like this everywhere. It really isn’t.

To see the Jayhawk Nation wrap their arms around them, it’s not surprising, but man, it’s really cool. They just continue to roll, continue to roll. Really happy for those guys. Our women’s soccer team has had a great year. Brandon Schneider and those guys have kicked off strong here. If you haven’t watched him coach, go watch him. I watched him in practice. He’s like a football coach out there coaching basketball. It’s really fun to watch him. I mean it’s like that with all our teams, but the magic is the Jayhawk Nation.

Q. You always talk about controlling what you can control. Facing West Virginia, a team that leads the conference in turnovers and interceptions as well, do you place extra emphasis on being ball secure?
COACH BEATY: I absolutely do. That’s one of my notes down here to talk about these guys. They rank first in the Big 12, and 11th in the NCAA in kickoff returns. They’ve got two great kickoff returners. They forced five turnovers against UT. And they had, I think, seven going into that game total for the season. Which tells you what type of emphasis Tony puts in.

I mean, Gibby (Tony Gibson) is really good. That defensive coordinator in there. It’s a three-three stacked defense which, if you know about those defenses, they are up field, they are disruptive, and they are normally known for causing turnovers because they’re very aggressive up field.

I think they’re, I want to say second in the Big 12 and 8th in the NCAA in turnovers gained. But as I look at that, I look at what we’ve been able to do defensively. I think we’re number one in the conference right now in red zone, but we’re second in the Big 12 in fumbles recovered and 16th nationally. Which tells me that we’re doing the things we need to do to get the ball out in games.

I think it will be a fun match-up because it’s both teams that value possession and getting the ball out. We’ve got to do a great job of managing that this week. Because we put it in jeopardy a couple times last week and we got away with it and that’s bad. You want to make sure that you don’t put them in jeopardy. We did it against Texas, and we turned the ball over a couple times. We’ve got to do a better job of keeping that ball up high and tight. We coach it way too much for it to be a problem.

So we’ve got to do a good job against these guys this week. They’re too good. You can’t give away a possession and expect to win the game against these guys.

Q. You did not select an offensive player of the week this week. What goes into selecting those guys and, if you could, why no player of the week for offense this week?
COACH BEATY: No player of the week this week. There were some good individual performances throughout the game, however one thing we look for is a consistent game, a guy that continues to play consistent throughout. A guy that stuck out to me that I thought made a couple of really good runs that we wouldn’t have scored without him making those runs on his own. He got a first down on a fourth down conversion, and he got a touchdown down by the goal line was Taylor Cox. But Taylor, yeah, as he watched the tape there were some things that he left out there that he could have done better. But he had some really good individual things that he did.

So we’re really looking for a consistent game from an individual or individuals, which is what we got defensively, which is why there were multiple guys in the kicking game and on defense.

Q. Does the coaching staff get together and say here’s who we’re going to pick or is it your pick?
COACH BEATY: No, no, we do it as a staff. We obviously have a lot of criteria that we build into that. But we had some success offensively in this game in some areas, but because of the inconsistency, that’s really why we weren’t able to close that game out and win it. We needed to go close that game out and win it.

When they’re called, they’re no different than the firemen on defense. When they get three stops in the fourth quarter and we don’t go and take it down ask score, that’s expected for us to do. Just like it’s expected for that defense to stop them regardless if they get a turnover in our red zone.

Q. Did you talk to Clyde McCauley about that last play at TCU? Did you talk to him after that?
COACH BEATY: Not particularly after that play, but after the game, yeah, I did talk to all those guys up front a little bit. We’ve got to be more firm up front. There is no doubt about that. We’ve got to do a better job of keeping the push from getting back into Ryan’s lap. That’s causing some hurried throws in those last few drives.

We’ve got young guys playing on the edge out there against guys that have played a bunch of football. They’ll get better, but we don’t have time for that right now. We’ve got to go win a football game. We’re not going to say, well, we had a couple of freshman out there so we can’t go win this game. We expect to go win it, so do your job, drop anchor, get your hands inside, play with low hands. Make sure you kickstep at the right angle, know where the slide is going.

I mean, there are a lot of different things that go into it, and we’ve got to get that done. It wasn’t just him though. That was just the last play. There were several plays previous to that where we had break downs either in route. We had some breakdowns maybe in protection with the running back. Maybe we had a quarterback that was a little bit antsy that let the ball go a little bit early which put us in that situation, but all of it works together. It’s not one guy’s fault. It was a whole unit and we’ve got to get that fixed.

Q. I was looking through the notes, and Holgorsen played at Iowa, and you played at Lindenwood close to the same time. Did you guys cross paths?
COACH BEATY: We did. We did. We actual plea played against each other. He was a heck of a player. A really, really good player for those guys. I think we may have split 1-1. I’d need to look that up to be honest with you.

But he was a really good player, and really good football coached team there. Hal Mumme, Coach (Mike) Leach was there, I think Hatcher was there, some of the guys the fathers of the “air raid” were all at that place. If you do the research back to where the air raid started, that’s kind of where it was developed. Man, they had a good football team. I think we split in the two years that I played him, but he was a really good football player.

Q. After having a really strong performance at TCU and now two home games, has the scheduled workout as favorable and maybe you could envision it again?
COACH BEATY: Well, I think it’s the Big 12. I think anybody is capable of playing great any week. That’s us included. You know what? Last week was its own game. It’s not going to be anything that’s going to help us move it forward. It’s going to be what happens when that ball gets snapped. This team won three straight and dropped four straight to four of the top teams in the Big 12, and they have done a nice job of dropping anchor and winning two straight.

They get a chance to be bowl eligible if they get this one. So there is plenty of motivation for those guys coming into this game this week. They’re a good football team, and they’re getting better. You can see them improving. This is no small task for us. It’s no different than playing any other Big 12 games.

I just want to caution folks that they are all good in this conference. At any given time any of them can take off. They’ve turned into a run, play action pass football team. They saw something against Texas because they ran right at them, and they had a lot of success doing it. They’ve got some really good players. And Dana is going to find your weakness. And you better be able to find a way to stop him, because if not, he’ll pour it down your throat the entire day.

So we’ve got to do a good job of matching wits with him, which is going to be difficult, because he’s a great football mind.

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