Beaty, Jayhawks ready for No. 14/15 West Virginia

Video Watch

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head football coach David Beaty met with the media inside the Anderson Family Football Complex Tuesday for his weekly press conference, this time previewing the Jayhawks’ trip to Morgantown, West Virginia on Nov. 5 for a 6 p.m., kickoff with the Mountaineers on ESPN2.

I hope everybody had a good Halloween. I think it seemed pretty good around my house for sure, which was good.

Just a couple things I want to point out before we get started. Just want to congratulate Ray Bechard and his volleyball team, who really have done a tremendous job this season again. I think they’re tied for first in the Big 12 and had a big win last week against Texas. That was really cool. So happy for him.

I know our women’s soccer team is doing really well. They finished second in the Big 12. They start their tournament this week, so good luck to those guys.

And then cross country, we’ve had some really great success here recently. I think we had our first women’s champion, which was great, and I know on the women’s side we experienced a lot of success.

Women’s basketball kicked off with a great win with Coach (Brandon) Schneider the other night, and I know our basketball team is getting started tonight. I want to wish them good luck, and I know it’s an exciting time around KU, lots of great things going on, and man, we want to be positive going on working towards getting there.

Just injury updates, Khalil (Herbert) is questionable, but he is progressing pretty nicely. Just got done talking to Coach (Murphy) Grant. We’ll see how it goes for the rest of the week, but he is progressing, and it was good to see him out there moving around.

Joe (Gibson) is progressing pretty good. He was kind of a late scratch the other day. Just kind of still trying to get over some of that stuff in his neck, so hopefully we can get him well and ready to go.

I really did think that Mesa (Ribordy) did a really job nice filling in for him at center, which is not an easy call for a guy to move over there, so he did a good job, particularly not knowing he was going to play that throughout the week. He did get reps at it, but he wasn’t sure he was going to be doing it. We thought Joe was going to be able to go, but it didn’t work out that way.

And then Joe Dineen, we’re going to go ahead and shut him down for the remainder of the year. It’s not responding like we thought it would. We don’t feel like we have enough time to get him well enough to be able to get back in there and help us, and that really hurts us because we really miss his leadership and we miss him, but the best thing for Joe right now is for us to shut him down and let it completely heal because every time we try to push it, it starts to pull again.

We’re going to be without him for the remainder of the year on the field, but he’s still going to be a big part of what we do from a leadership standpoint.

I said this after the game the other night, man, we’ve got the right guys in this program. After watching the tape, the thing I’m encouraged about is the effort through the end of that game. There was a big long run there in the second half by their running back, and man, just watching guys like Marnez (Olgetree) run back and go make sure he did not score and the effort with which he was playing, along with the rest of the guys on that defense, you see Brandon Stewart, those guys are breaking their neck getting down there to make sure that they have to snap it again, which is something that we really put a lot of premium on, and we want to point those things out when they’re happening.

Same thing on offense. Our guys are working their tails off. We’re just a little bit off execution-wise, and the good thing is we go back and look at it this week, trying to get better at just a few things that we’re not being really sufficient on or efficient on, those things are going to help us get better a lot faster, and we’re closer than we think.

We do have the right people in our program, and I love those guys, and it makes it easy to come to work every day when you’ve got guys like those guys. They are resilient, and their mind and heart is in the right place when it comes to why they do what they do, and it’s about the Jayhawk Nation. They love them and they don’t want to let them down.

There was a lot of hurt kids in that room the other night because they expected to win the game. They expected to win the game, and they knew they prepared well, and they knew that they matched up in certain areas.

Unfortunately we had a really good game plan, I thought. We just didn’t do well when it came down to our one-on-one battles, and that’s kind of where the game really kind of tipped to their favor, and it really turned out a little bit different than what we thought it would, but we can learn from that and we can go forward and we can become better.

We’re seeing flashes, our players and us. We’re seeing flashes of what it takes to win. We just need more consistency. I’ve been saying that from the very beginning. It’s about being consistent, and that’s a little bit harder than it sounds, but we’re going to continue to work towards earning it so we can be consistent longer. We’re actually more consistent than we were at this time last year, which is good, but we haven’t been consistent long enough to be able to get it done.

But in order for us to validate the progress, we’ve got to be able to win football games, and the good thing for our guys is, man, they came back resilient yesterday ready to go, excited about the challenge in front of them. We’re going to get to go on the road in another great venue in the Big 12 and be able to go compete against another great team in West Virginia. We’re looking forward to that.

West Virginia, you guys know a lot about them. There was a 71-page press guide, and there’s a reason why that is. I hope you read every single bit of it. I trust that you did. I’ll test you later. But there’s a lot of good things going on in their program right now.

Dana, you guys know what I think of him, one of the best minds out there, really does a great job. It’s interesting to watch how he has really kind of changed over the years and how he adapts to his personnel. I think he does it better than anybody in the country. He really does. He’s got some really good guys in the backfield. Their offensive line is very physical, and they’ve got some dudes out wide that might be able to compete for national championships in the sprint relay. I mean, they can run. They can really run. He knows how to get them the ball.

Their quarterback does a nice job of managing and distributing, so they’ll be a challenge on offense.

Defensively Gibby does a great job. We’re going to see a lot of the same things we saw last week in terms of what they do up front. He does a really nice job with personnel, and you know, they know what they’re doing when it comes to defending people in this conference, and you’ve got to really do a good job of picking and choosing when you’re going to go after them and make sure that you catch them in the right spots. I mean, it’s going to be a challenge, but they are a very talented team, and we knew that going in.

We actually feel like we match up pretty well in certain areas, and we’ve got to take advantage of that. We’ve got to continue to be really good up front, getting good pass rush on Skyler (Howard). I think that’s going to be critical, and then we’ve got to continue to strive towards being more consistent running the football in early downs so we can help ourselves on 3rd down, where we haven’t been very good, and there’s been a lot of time over the last two weeks, three weeks, put into figuring out where our woes are coming from on 3rd down, and they’re a lot simpler than you think. It’s just execution and making sure that the departure angles are correct, making sure the communication pre-snap is good.

We can get a lot better, we really can. We can get a lot better faster. We’ve just got to go out there today and make sure that we clean those things up so when we head into Morgantown this next week we’re ready to go. We’ll take some questions.

Q. Dineen being out, obviously it hurts for this season, but there’s kind of a positive to it, too, you get him two more years. Have you guys talked about that, and how big a positive is that part of it?
DAVID BEATY: Well, obviously the future looks a lot brighter for longer now because you do have a guy that you really feel good about, and we’re excited about having him back with us.

The other side of that is he is such a big part of what we do right now. The bad thing is we don’t have him. The good thing is, man, there’s so many young guys that are getting reps, (Keith) Loneker in there playing as much as he’s playing. You’re seeing (Denzel) Feaster get in there a little bit; when we can keep that kid healthy he’s a guy that we feel really good about. Seeing Osaze Ogbebor get in there and get some more reps.

It’s forcing you to give those guys experience, and I’m not sure that you would in another situation. But that’s just how the nature of the game goes.

We’re sad that we don’t have him, because man, he’s a good player and we really need him, but from a standpoint it is a positive looking forward to the future.

Q. Did you have a sense that you guys were going to shut him down? Did he have a sense that his year was done as he was going through the recovery?
DAVID BEATY: I don’t think so. No, no, not at all. No, Joe was working feverishly to get back. He wants to play. He cannot stand his life right now in football, and he is such a good kid, we call him the mayor, and we miss with him all the time, but man, he loves this game, and it is killing him not to get on that field.

You know, we can only travel 70, and every week it is like pulling teeth to get him to understand I can’t take you because I’ve got to have 70 players, and he wants to go so bad. Yeah, to answer that question, the answer is no. I mean, he had to come to grips with where we were when we went through the last set of tests.

Q. How big of an asset is it having (Joe) DeForest around for a week like this?
DAVID BEATY: Well, he’s an asset, period. What he’s done for us special teams wise has been really, really — it’s been game changing for us in a lot of ways. It’s helped us really improve in a lot of areas. You don’t notice it until you don’t have him. We had a couple things happen last week, and I’ve never really seen him really get upset with our guys. He’s such a level-headed guy. He was so upset, and we had just a second on the sideline where I just basically said, hey, man, we wouldn’t be where we are without you, bro, so just keep being who you are.

We settled in, and we actually played a lot better from that point. Man, he’s so valuable to what we’re doing, and this week him having familiarity with them, other than players, I mean, really, it comes down to — if you study tape well enough, you kind of have a pretty good idea unless they’re going to put something new in, and you’re not going to know that anyway. We don’t really have a lot of feedback back and forth other than just who those players are, and that’s an advantage. I think it would be, yeah.

Q. Was one of those moments after the punt return I assume?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, early in the game, and I think for all of us coaches, when we have those type things happen to us, the frustration comes in that you had that plan put in place, and it would have been stopped had we just done everything exactly like we asked to. But when you’re playing against a guy like Dede Westbrook, when you step out of a lane, that’s the difference. That’s the difference when you’re playing against a guy like that. I think from his standpoint, guys, don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t losing his mind. That’s not it. He was just — he is such a competitor, he felt so bad that it happened, and I was like, hey, come on, man, we wouldn’t be where we are without you, dog. I wanted him to get back to — as quick as we could to being as positive as he could about himself, and not that he was down on himself. I don’t want to overstate that.

I just love the fact that he takes it that personal because it matters to him. It matters to him in such a big way because he takes a lot of pride in his work.

Q. You mentioned the effort from your guys. Just from the standpoint, Oklahoma gets momentum at their place, big crowd, that sort of thing; how tough is that punt return just from that aspect when you were playing them tooth and nail at that point?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, I think if you do studies on big-time plays in a game, blocked punts and returned kicks, returned punts, those lead to wins a lot of times for teams. So it is difficult, but if you look back at it, we get the ball back, and we have to punt it to them. Our defense actually does a nice job and gets the ball back for us, and then we give it back to them, and then we get them to 3rd down and almost get them off the field with a little pick play that they ran. It was a good pick play. It was really close to not being legal, but they reviewed it, and we almost got a safety there.

Our guys kept playing. That’s the thing I really appreciate about that is they’re understanding, listen, just keep playing. Don’t let one mistake turn into two. Keep working, keep playing. Hey, man, we’re less than two minutes to go in that — I guess it was 2:20 something I saw the other day, you don’t realize this until the game is over and you get a chance to take your breath, I mean, it’s 21-3, and we’re in the game, and we’re going for it on 4th down because we’re going to be aggressive. It’s 4th and 4, we’re going to go out there and we’re going to be aggressive and we’re going to try to go get that thing in the end zone.

I said after the game, you know, I felt bad about going for it on 4th because I thought it turned into — you know what, we’re going to go after it. Fortune favors the bowl, so we’re going after it.

Q. Can you speak to Dorance? A couple months ago you weren’t sure if you even had him and now what he’s done and maybe what you thought might have happened to the season for him?
DAVID BEATY: The best way to say it is the very first practice of fall camp when I look up and watch him go down, and I saw what happened, I am — I’m losing my breath going, oh, my goodness, is this really happening, and we thought for a little while that he had torn his ACL, and he did have a slight tear in it, but he’s so strong — I mean, it speaks to the volume of work that he did in the off-season, that anybody else it would have been — I think everything might have been torn, but he is so strong. The work that he did kept him healthy or kept him from having an injury that would have put him out for the year. And he rehabbed, and man, for him to come back and do what he did, I know he was very disappointed in that first game.

I think I said that last night, I was talking to Brian Hanni and those guys at Hawk Talk, and he was so disappointed that he didn’t get production in that first game, and man, ever since then, because he’s gotten back in shape — he wasn’t in shape in that first game. We couldn’t really let him do a whole lot because he had a slight tear in that ACL.

We just encouraged him, hey, man, we’ve got to get your wind back now. Just get your wind back and continue doing what you’re doing, and the production will come for you, and it really has. It’s been really good.

He had some plays the other night that we didn’t necessarily get the sack, but boy, he did some things that you’re like, wow, I mean, this guy is really talented. He’s a good player.

Q. How do you handle that partially torn ACL? Does he just keep playing on it, or is it something in the off-season you guys addressed?
DAVID BEATY: Well, the body is miraculous. It really is. He didn’t tear it all the way through, had just some small tears on it, and hey, listen, I’m not a doctor, so don’t — I just know that he had a slight tear and that he was so strong that it really helped him in that, and I think he was a situation where we felt like it could heal itself.

I mean, I ask him every week, ‘how does your knee feel’. He’s like, ‘Coach, it feels great, I don’t feel like anything is wrong at all’, so evidently he’s well, feels good. Our doctors did a phenomenal job. Murphy Grant and his team, I’ve said it before, man, they’re stinking good. They are really good, really good.

Q. Will he have off-season surgery or anything like that?
DAVID BEATY: No, he’s well, and he’s — I know I don’t want to overstate that. He’s well. He’s not having to do anything. He doesn’t come in and do any extra treatment on that. Once he was well, he was well.

He was upset because he didn’t have — he wasn’t in great shape that first game. It was warm, and he had not — he hadn’t been doing anything for the entire camp. You’re talking about four weeks. You lose it a lot faster than you think.

Q. You talked about being better at a few things. You guys are closer than people might think on offense. What are some of those things that you can pinpoint that makes you say you’re close?
DAVID BEATY: Well, I think one of the things that we’re actually doing better, and it showed two weeks ago, didn’t show quite as much this week, and it wasn’t necessarily what you think, is we’re actually playing better up front, and that was something that we had to get done, and it takes a little time to develop those guys, but we’re playing better up front, and that — this last week for them to actually — they actually didn’t play bad.

I know rushing-wise, we didn’t create a bunch up front, but some of that hitting aiming points and making sure that your path is correct, and that can cause you some problems, and then running the ball into heavy boxes at times, and when we need to be getting the ball on the edge for screens, which helps us.

But with Mesa moving over center and him actually playing pretty good, which was good, and then seeing Larry Hughes come in and start giving us some — giving us something out of that right guard spot with him and moving over, that was good to see. I know that from this point last year to where we are now, we are light years ahead.

We said this last year: Nobody left the Big 12. They’re all back. They’re the same team that they were last year, and we are, too. We’re a little bit better, but they’re pretty good, too. From our standpoint, we’ve got to keep working to close that gap. I mean, there was hardly any guys that left the Big 12 last year, I mean, big time dudes. There was a lot of guys that maybe graduated, but there was a lot of players coming back. It was a young league.

Q. Having had a chance to look at Montell on tape, what’s your evaluation of how he did against Oklahoma, and is he still your guy against West Virginia?
DAVID BEATY: Oh, absolutely he’s our guy. Really good first quarter. I thought he really did a nice job in the first quarter. Really throughout the first half he had some nice throwaways that were shots or throwaways that are good decisions. You’re not putting the ball in jeopardy there.

You know, in the third quarter, he fought through — he got hit a couple times, which he got hit, and he was banged up a little bit, and man, he fought through it, which was something else that we were glad to see because we need our guy to be able to do that. We thought he made some really good timing throws the other night. He actually used his feet a lot more like we wanted him to, which was some things that we saw improvement on.

As the game wore on, I thought that there were some times where we had an opportunity maybe to get the ball in the hole a little bit in a different spot. The pick six just — I mean, our team knows it. That was one play that we were able to point to this year that effort wasn’t good enough by anyone. I mean, anyone. We had that guy down, and we didn’t get him down, and we’ll learn from that. We’ll learn from that one. I can guarantee you because the rest of the effort was actually pretty dadgum good across the board.

But he’s getting better. He needs work just like everybody else, but he’s getting better.

Q. Montell seemed to run the ball more, too. Was that by design, or is that more the defense dictating that?
DAVID BEATY: Some of it’s by design. I think it’s pretty clear, you guys know football, you can pretty much tell when it’s a designed run and when it’s not, but some of the better runs by quarterbacks is when coverage is good and you can find a passing lane to pull the ball down. He converted I want to say at least two, maybe three 1st downs with his legs on areas where the coverage was good and they dropped out underneath everybody, so it was a three-deep five-under coverage, and that’s what you’ve got to do, and he was able to go get the 1st, which was good, and we’ve got to get him even better. We think he’s got more in him than that, so we’re going to continue to work at that.

Q. Are you tempted at all to be open to recruiting a junior college quarterback?
DAVID BEATY: Well, our challenge scholarship wise is always going to be there, but as we go through the season, our recruiting needs are going to change, and as of right now, we’re looking at everything. Everything, including quarterback. We’ll look for anything and everything to try to make our rooms better.

You know, I talked to a buddy of mine the other day who turned a program around, and he talked a lot about how he wanted to make each room just a little bit better every year. You’ve got to make that room just a little bit better, and we went back and looked at all of our rooms and said, have we gotten better in this room than we were a year ago; are we better in this room; are we better in this room; and if we can say yes, according to the buddy of mine, he’s like, that’s exactly how we got it turned. That’s how we did it. We made each room just a little bit better every year, and finally it started kicking in.

Q. You have to concentrate on all those different rooms, but do you have to do it, too, to keep the quarterback’s head up because he’s the one everybody is looking at, everybody is focused on, everybody is going to talk to, talk about, and try to eliminate some of the pressure that goes with what’s on a quarterback to try to get things turned around?
DAVID BEATY: Absolutely. And the thing about it is even we as coaches every now and then, we forget that these are 17- to 21-year-old kids, and my guys are — they’re 17 to 20, a lot of them, so they’re young, and particularly at that position.

Man, it’s a lot of pressure on them. A lot of pressure on them. But you know what, we do a lot of training with these guys to make sure that they understand kind of what they control and what they don’t and how they manage themselves away from here and how they manage all of the expectations that come on them.

From that standpoint, is it hard, but I’ll tell you this, Montell, I mean, I could not be prouder of a kid. I don’t know if I’ve ever met a more classy, harder working, selfless, willing to listen, willing to learn, and a guy that can take anything. He can take it. He can take it, and he can literally take it in, he can use it for a positive in his life. I mean, he takes it and listens to everything that everyone ever says, and he doesn’t take it the wrong way. And that’s really — I tell him all the time, the quarterback is synonymous with being the head coach, and hey, man, there’s so many cool things that come along with that, one of which is probably not the pressure, but hey, it’s part of it, and man, would you want anybody else to have it other than you? How cool is that?

So they embrace it, and I’ve been proud of them to this point, particularly Montell. You guys have gotten to spend a lot of time with him.

Q. When you’re in a losing streak like this, do you find yourself week by week trying to come up with new ways to keep up morale or break up the monotony?
DAVID BEATY: Well, the first thing is we’ve got the right guys here. They are resilient as all get-out, which is good. You find as this culture has been developed and as this program is being developed, it is turning itself over to our older guys and our leaders to do that. They’re doing a lot of that for us. There are things that they’re bringing to us that are saying, look, Coach, we don’t have to change anything because if we just can do this, if we can just be a little bit better right here, look at how much more successful we would be, regardless of who we’re playing. It doesn’t matter if you put a Mack Truck out there, if we get to the right spot and we get there at the right time with the right urgency with the right coaching technique, then we’re going to be in good shape.

They see it. From a motivational standpoint, obviously, as coaches that’s our job is to inspire them no matter where we are, and we work really hard at doing that, but we try to inspire them in a way to build off the things that we feel like they’re doing well. They’re going to hear enough about what they don’t do well, and believe me, we’re going to show them and tell them block out the noise for them and keep our eyes focused on giving our fans and our stakeholders what they really want, which is to be happy, and we can’t do that if we let the outside forces drag us down. We can’t do that.

I don’t think people mean to do it. It’s just a passion and love that you have for your program, and we get that. I mean, I say it all the time, I’m a fan of teams, as well, and I don’t care why, I just want you to. I don’t care why. Don’t give me any excuses. I just want you to.

I get it. I understand, and hey, that’s the expectations, and from our kids’ standpoints, they get it, they compartmentalize it, and they work to get better moving forward, and as coaches we’re the ones that have to provide them with that leadership and guidance.

I know that’s a long way to answer that, but it’s the truth.

Q. Obviously the team struggles on the road predate you, but what do you attribute that to, that you guys play so much better at home, and is that something you can coach up? How do you go about trying to teach them to play better on the road?
DAVID BEATY: Well, we’ve got to play better no matter where we’re at. I don’t think the road can be the determining factor for us. We didn’t play very well in the first half against Ohio, and that was a home game, and we really felt like we matched up pretty well with that team.

From our standpoint, it’s got to be — regardless of where we play, we’ve got to be able to manage that situation and get off to a fast start. One of the greatest things for us to do when we’re trying to turn this program is we’ve got to manage that fast start. We’ve got to manage it, and sometimes the fast start means just not letting our opponents jump out on top of us when we’re playing an explosive team, and we’ve got a bunch of them lined up here that are explosive. So we’ve got to manage that early to be able to have the opportunity late, and then keep inching away at trying to put — become more explosive on our own to be able to make sure that we start putting pressure on them.

We have really focused a lot on trying to handle ourselves because our opponent is going to be what we can’t control. It’s the variable we can’t control other than what we know, but if we can control ourselves, we’re going to become a lot closer to what we want to be a lot quicker.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.