Beaty, Jayhawks set for road test at Memphis

Senior safety Bazie Bates IV recorded a career high 11 tackles against Ohio (Sept. 10). 

at Memphis
September 17, 2016 

Location Memphis, Tenn.
Venue Liberty Bowl
Time 11 a.m.
Listen Jayhawk Radio Network
Tickets Tickets
Video Weekly Presser
Notes Game Notes


Tickets TCU (Oct. 8)
Tickets Oklahoma State (Oct. 22) 

Twitter @ku_football
Facebook /kansasfootball
Instagram @kufootball
Snapchat @ku_footballLAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas head football coach David Beaty met with the media Tuesday afternoon in Mrkonic Auditorium inside the Anderson Family Football Complex to discuss the Jayhawks’ first true road test of the season at Memphis.

Good afternoon.

I think I can answer a lot of your questions, but I’m going to read some stuff because we obviously have some things we got to get corrected and I want to be very good for you, so it’s timely for you.

Just one thing that sticks out to me on this last game was a fast start usually bodes well for a team and they did that and we didn’t.

Coach (Frank) Solich, he’s been around for 40 years. I was talking to him in pregame, he’s been around for 40 years man one of the things I knew going into his game, his teams, you could do a little bit of research, they rarely, rarely make the same mistakes twice. I said that before we played them. Talked to our team about that and they certainly did not. They did not beat themselves in that game the other day. They did a great job of limiting penalties. They started fast and we did not. They had a great first drive.

We allowed a lot of that but they did do that. They took care of the ball. They didn’t turn the football over which is something all of us hope to do. We’ve got to be able to stop the run, and they conversely did a really nice job of stopping the run obviously. We’ve got to be better on first down so we can be better on third down.

Our efficiency on third down was greatly affected by our inability to be effective on first down in the first half. If you go back and you look at the play-by-play, just look at the play-by-play of the first downs in the first half. I think we only had six of them in the first half total, and every one of them were three yards or less.

And you look into the third quarter and it’s 16, 1, 27, 22, 12, 0 and 5. So that’s more like what you want that first down to look like. And you know, in the fourth quarter it was much the same, 8 and 8 on those fourth quarter opportunities. That’s what you need first down to look like because that’s going to greatly affect third down.

Now regardless, you have to be good on the money down. You have to be good on third down. Doesn’t matter whether it’s third and long, third and short, third and medium, you have to be good there. We were 0-of-8 on those opportunities. Just got to be better. That’s a chore for all of us, not just our players.

Offensively, you know, our inability to get started compounded the effect on our defense. So our defense has to get off the field. They have to get off the field on third down. We extended a couple of drives through penalties and mistakes.

Eye control is going to be a major focus this week. And it always has been but it will be obviously a major focus this week because that first long run could have been prevented with good eye control and just disciplined play. That’s the way we’re going to sure up our run game, being more physical and really doing a great job of using our eyes and playing better with eye control. Particularly when you play a team that is a threat to be an option team. You’ve got to be disciplined. You’ve got to have great eyes in that game; we didn’t early, but we did late. We did late. That’s something I was really proud of with our team as we moved through the game.

We had some costly penalties — costly errors, excuse me, costly error that they capitalized on throughout the game. I thought our defense answered the bell a couple of times when they really needed to which was really good to see and held those guys to either field goals or a turnover at one point back in our own end zone.

Whether it was extending drives on a penalty; we had a chance to get off the field there and it was extended with the penalty. We missed a wide open Quv (LaQuvionte Gonzalez) right there on the very early part of the second quarter that could have changed the complexity of that game. I believe it would have cut us down to a two-score game at that point and we had some momentum going there. But as a result, we went to fourth down there and we didn’t get the fourth down. So we came away with nothing there. We’ve got to capitalize on those opportunities when we get them because when Quv’s open, we’ve got to hit him.

And then really, obviously the one thing that really sticks out to most people, I’ve got an 87-year-old mother and the first thing she said was, “Y’all got to hang on to that ball when they punt it to you.” Yeah, absolutely we do. We’ve got to do a better job of that and that’s not okay.

We are all working very diligently to make sure that we get that solved, including me. I’m taking over the returners and if it’s going to happen, it’s going to be my fault. That’s why I’m doing it. They played a complementary football game and we struggled to play together as a unit throughout that game, play well together as a unit. The third quarter was a pretty good exception to that. And then we turned it over again.

We had some momentum going. It would have been nice to see, had we been able to take care of that last punt, what could have happened there because we had some things going there. There were some things that we did well.

I never felt like we were out of it, and I certainly didn’t think our kids felt like they were out of it. The explosive nature of our offense, I think is the thing that our kids know and understand, so that was good to see.

We made some sound adjustments at half-time. We talked to our guys all the time about me not being very smart but our coaches are really smart and they are going to come out and give you great plans, and all you’ve got to do is go execute them. We told them exactly what we were going to do at half-time and we were able to do that, which was good to see.

Kickoff return, that was a huge deal for us. Getting a kickoff return at any point throughout the season is big, and that’s why Quv is so dangerous because he’s got a chance to take it any time that he gets it in his hands. That’s why we’ve got to do a better job of getting him prepared, and that starts with me.

Defensively, we battled. We have a fireman mentality: Wherever it is, we have to go in and put the fire out. I know Fish (Smithson) talked about that, and we call them the firemen. They got to go in, doesn’t matter what the situation is; they have got to get off the field and they have got to put the fire out, and they did a nice job for us there in that area. So there were some good things there.

I thought our team battled back. They stayed focused on the next opportunity up until that last long drive that they had. And I tip my hat to them, that’s what every good team wants to do. They want to run the clock out. They did a really nice job of running the clock out, and that’s our fault. I mean, we have got to do a better job defensively of getting off the field there. We can’t let the guys hold the ball for that long. We have to be able to get the ball back into our offense’s hands.

Defensively, we played a lot of plays. But we caused that ourselves a lot of times. And offensively, we compound the problem when we don’t string first downs together early in the game. I believe going into half-time, it was like 35 plays in the first quarter or something like that, 45 plays to like, I don’t know, 12 or 15. And that just can’t happen. It has a compounding effect when you get to the fourth quarter. So we’ve got to be better there.

Areas of focus this week: We have to start faster. That’s probably the biggest disappointment for me is we start our practices with a thing called fast start where we value — we want to see who is ready to play, so I know who to yell at at the beginning of practice. And we didn’t start fast on either side of the ball. We had a chance there on defense and we had just some poor discipline eyes and that cost us.

Stopping the run with great eye control is going to be huge for us. We gave up 271 yards rushing in the first half. Now, they didn’t have a ton in the second half, but the damage was done by the time we got there. So there was a lot to come back from.

First down efficiency on both sides of the ball is going to affect third down efficiency. We have to be better on both those downs. And then it doesn’t matter what the situation is on first down. First down simply helps third, so we have got to be better there.

Third down, we have got to be way better than 0-and-8 offensively and then we have to better than 9-of-22, because 9-of-22 in itself doesn’t look terrible, but 5-of-6 early in the game, that will kill you. You’ve got to get off the field early. 5-of-6 early, you’ve got to get off the field, and we had opportunities to do it and we’re the ones that did it.

So that’s the great thing as a staff and as a team we see is that we can make corrections that will help us moving forward greatly.

We are still in a growth part of our program, and we understand that. But a lot of these things, we already knew. That’s disappointing but we’re getting better as we move along. We’ll learn a lot from this game.

Our No. 1 focus this week is special teams is going to be — because we played pretty good on special teams. Believe it or not, in terms of grading our guys, they played with great strain and great effort. That kickoff return, there was some really good blocks thrown by those other ten guys. I thought that we played really well in most of those areas. The bad snap, and the two drops, those things are things that we’ve got to focus on.

So there’s a big focus put on possession being No. 1 and decision-making and all of the teaching, the teaching progression that goes into fielding punts, because it’s more than just putting a guy back there and just saying, go catch it. There is a lot more to it than that. We’re going to make sure that we are using our teaching progression to make sure that we get better.

And then finally, we’ve got to be a more physical and disciplined football team because that’s what happened Saturday. They came out and I think they played more physical than we did, and they played more disciplined than we did and they wanted it more. They learned a lot from their first game and we didn’t learn enough. But I think it will be good for us moving forward.

So hopefully that answers a bunch of questions for you, and then we’ll go ahead and get started on questions.

Q. You said you’ll be taking over the return game. What does that entail and in what ways are you going to coach those guys?
COACH BEATY: I’m going to take over the punt returners and the reason I’m going to do that is I’ve done it for a long, long time and I have a specific teaching progression that I want to use. I just think it’s sound and I know exactly how I want it taught and I know what I want it to look like.

So I’m going to make sure that it looks the way I want it to look and that we go through that progression, because that progression will solve a lot of stuff.

Q. Are you still confident in Gonzalez and having him back there fielding punts?
COACH BEATY: Oh, yeah. Quv is talented now. Quv, he’s a threat to take it to the house any time he touches the football. So we have to find a way to help him with those things. His mistake was very simple. He didn’t beat the ball to the spot. He took his eyes off it. That’s a cardinal sin when you’re a punt returner. You cannot take your eyes off; you have to trust your guys that are blocking. If you’re going to return it, you don’t get to look down. He did it twice. We tried to solve it on the first one and then obviously we got him some relief after that.

He’s doing a lot for us and we’ve got to make sure that we monitor, you know, his focus level because of his level of fitness. See if he’s okay to go. So there’s some things that we can do there to help him.

Q. You mentioned trust. Is it an issue of nervousness about being hit and trust —
COACH BEATY: I don’t think he’s scared of anything to be honest with you. He’s not.

I think for him, I think the thing is, he wants to make a play every time the ball is in the air and I think that’s what happened to him.

I talked earlier about not having Quv do too much, you know, and that’s where we have to be very careful about making sure that we don’t put too much on him, and really, talking to him about, hey, man, listen, you don’t have to win the game for us. All you’ve got to do is exactly what we tell you to do.

There are some really good punters in this Division I level, and the majority of the kicks are going to be fair catches. You’ve got to wait for them to make a mistake. When they make a mistake, you’ve got to capitalize on it. But when you start being selfish and you do things off-schedule, that’s where dangerous things happen. We saw it happen to our opponent last week, and it happened to us this week.

Q. What are the challenges in this week with new coaching staff? You only have one tape; what does that present?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, you would rather be on the other side in terms of knowing two games worth of what they are doing, no doubt about that. I know Mike (Norvell) really, really well, one of the finest young minds in all of college football, very sought after. I mean, he could have went a lot of different places. Really, really good football coach.

He and I both got our start with Todd Graham, both of us. We both kind of grew up in that system with him, so I know the system pretty well. So I kind of have a little bit of an idea how they approach each day, and they are going to be disciplined. They are going to be prepared and they are going to be sound.

You know, you add on top of that, his mind offensively is ridiculous. I mean, he’s a smart guy, sharp guy. So we’re going to have to definitely be ready. Our hands will be full defensively trying to defend him. You know, I know Chris Ball who is the defensive coordinator over there, he’s been in college football for a number of years, very well respected. He’s really good at what he does. Paul Randolph, he and I were coaches together at Rice over there. He’s their D-Line coach. They have got a really good staff, so it’s going to be a great challenge all the way around.

Q. In the past, you’ve talked about the benefits of ongoing competitions for jobs and having to keep earning it, but is there a risk there, too, with so many guys getting reps that no guys are getting enough reps to play a clean football game, play cleaner football?
COACH BEATY: You know, most people throughout the country are practicing two-deep to be honest with you. There’s no secret; you have to practice two-deep. Some people will go five-and-five. Some people will go six-and-four. Some people will go four-and-four, just depends on how many plays you rep them in practice.

Fair question, but I mean, really, most people are repping just close to 50 percent at most positions other than maybe quarterback.

Q. So just two at each position —
COACH BEATY: Pretty much at each position, yeah. By the time you split them up for the season, you start to get into scout team needs and you need to have enough guys down there to service your other teams.

Q. A lot of things have changed obviously at Memphis, but looking at them this year compared to last year when you got a good look, what looked similar, what has changed?
COACH BEATY: Man, athletically, they are the same guys. They got really good athletes, really good athletes.

The thing that sticks out to me a little bit more is they are fairly similar offensively, but it’s completely different. When you bring a new system in, in terms of the way the formations that line up, you’ll see a lot of some of the same stuff.

The thing that sticks out to me is just the contrast in styles between their new quarterback and obviously Paxton Lynch. Paxton, that dude was a tremendously talented guy. Their new guy is also a talented guy. He previously started (his career) at Tennessee if I’m not mistaken. Very, very talented guy. They went out and got him a good one. He can throw the football. He can throw it.

And they have got, I want to say, three returning receivers that are very talented, and they have got a bunch of new backs. But I saw two brand new freshmen playing in there but they are very dynamic. They can run. They are faster than the guys we just faced and if those guys get as much open space as these guys got, you know, a 30-yard run could turn into a 60-yard run in a heartbeat, because these guys can run.

Q. Montell (Cozart) took the majority of the snaps at quarterback last week — how do you plan on handling that position?
COACH BEATY: It will be very similar. Be very similar. Montell looked really good yesterday. He took a couple of big hits in that game. I was proud of him. He stood in there and took some hits. He got hit right in the teeth a couple of times. A couple of them were just borderline, we might have gotten calls for it, which you’d like to see.

But his passer efficiency rating is way up there. His completion percentage is way up from last year. I want to say we are 20 points better than what we were last year at that point in his passer efficiency rating, somewhere around 160, which that’s doable for what we’re doing, and we need him to continue to play better.

That third quarter is what we need to the whole team to look like. So you know, kind of a weird game that we played in the other night, but hey, it is what it is, and you’ve got to learn from it.

Q. Eight of your 11 offensive linemen listed on the depth chart are freshmen or sophomores. You also had a young line last year. Have you ever coached on a team where you’re so young at a position?
COACH BEATY: No, not on the offensive line. Normally you have three or four upperclassmen there. The good news is the future looks bright because a lot of them are playing, a lot of them are playing.

Malik Clark is the backup guard for us right now and he is showing strides every week. I’d love to see us get him in the game this week. I think he’s done some really nice things.

Antione Frazier, another very athletic guy that’s been splitting time over there at left tackle. He played in the first game. We got to get that kid on the feel more. He’s a talented guy, moves around really, really well. Came to us at about 255 pounds. He’s about 275, 280 pounds right now, which is good. Kind of Coach (Zach) Yenser’s M.O. of bringing them in tall and lean and putting weight on them. Yeah, we have got some young guys out there.

Hakeem (Adeniji), I know I talk a lot about him, but man, he’s beyond his years. I’ve been really impressed with him.

Q. You mentioned the time of possession gap that you had on Saturday. How much of that was not being able to start the run and having to pass get caught up, and in what ways will you try to kick start that?
COACH BEATY: Well, I want to be careful here, because there’s no excuse for that performance in terms of what it looked like in the first half. We can come up with a lot of what we call, reasons. But truth of the matter is we didn’t play complementary football. Offensively, defensively and special teams, you’ve got to be able to blend those together for you to be successful; you have to. They did a really nice job of it, and look what their production looked like.

Time of possession, I’ve been a part of games that get out of hand and go a little bit crazy like that at times, but maybe not to that rate. You know, I’ll tell you this: I’ve never been a part of a game where we were 0-for on third down. I’ve been one maybe a time or two, but 0-for, that was definitely disappointing, you know.

Q. Are you concerned at all about the run game production?
COACH BEATY: Well, I mean, first week we were pretty daggum good running the football. Second week, we weren’t very good.

So I’m trying to figure out who we are right now, because I know we’re a lot better than what we showed Saturday in the run game. We’re probably somewhere in the middle and we need to continue to work on improving that to be honest with you.

But I’m not going to throw, you know, throw everything away after just one game. Some of the things that — some of the things that presented itself in that game early in this first quarter in the first half changed things a little bit in terms of how you approached the game, particularly, you know, when they jump ahead and we’re having a hard time stopping them. You’d better get back in the game.

Like I said, just go back to — I keep going back to a big play in that game, them being up 22-0 and then us throwing a double move to Quv and he’s wide open and we miss him. I mean, that’s going to cut it to 22-7. And what we do, you know, momentum helps us a bunch. Helps us a bunch. That would have been a big play. Would have liked to seen what would have happened. But hey, everybody would like to see what happened. They can go back and look at it.

Q. I know you only have one game on film defensively from Memphis, but what do they look like defensively?
COACH BEATY: Still big. Still strong. Very active and attacking. That’s probably the biggest difference is they are an attacking-style defense. They are going to come after you. I mean, that’s that system, and it’s not anything new.

So they are a team that, you know, they are kind of cut out of the same mold, I would say, as maybe Arizona State back with Todd and those guys, and all those guys learned under the same system there. And they are going to come after you and there’s going to be — listen, they are going to get us a couple times. They get everybody a couple times.

But you know, you’ve got to hope that you’re going to continue to stay the course and when you come after people, there’s always risk there involved, as well. I know when they were at Arizona State last year, I think they led the nation in either TFLs or –tackles for loss or sacks.

And that was the one thing I remember being in that system, albeit on the offensive side, was, man, there is high risk, but there’s high reward when they hit you.

So they will bring folks from all over the place. They base out of a three-down front. You know, always built out of the old 3-3 stack, and they do a lot of nice things with their defense that makes it very unorthodox to play against. So they can be a problem because the picture doesn’t look clear all the time, so you’ve got to be very smart with how you prepare your team.

Q. You talk about the importance of fast starts. How do you emphasize that in practice?
COACH BEATY: You know, I learned something from Kevin Sumlin when I first started working with him. And I wasn’t sure what we were doing. But we would start practice after we were done with our first special teams period with basically ones versus ones, and it would be situational stuff, where one of my favorites is to start with second and eight and just play it.

So it’s two downs on both sides of the ball, you start with second and eight, and you either get the first or you don’t. Normally it’s one play if the offense gets a first down, or it’s two plays to see if the defense can get off the field. I love that situation. Sometimes we’ll be in third and short. Sometimes we’ll be in first and ten and play it and just see where we go from there. We’re able to get a lot of situational work there.

We don’t get a lot of snaps, but we as coaches, we say that tells us whether we are ready to go or not, because it happens really early in the practice. So that’s been a big part of what we do and we’ll continue to do that. We just, you know, the first play of the game sticks out to me, we run just a little quick hitch to Quv out there and they knock the ball down. So what? Line back up and run the next play and be effective at it. I can just kind of see some winds go out of our sails a little bit for some reason. And we got it back, but that play, I showed to our guys and said, look, hey, you know what, hey, we’re going to be able to do it on the next play. You’ve got to believe in that. And I think they saw that. I think we’ll get better as a result.

Q. When you talk about eye control, is that a reference to some of the fakes — or what are the factors in eye control?
COACH BEATY: When you’re playing teams that run the quarterback, you’re talking about teams that will run some sort of option, all right. Option football, the thing is, they are not blocking all of you, so they are going to have an extra guy, all right.

So what you’ve got to do is you have to be able to stay on your assignment. Somebody has to take the dive, somebody’s got to take the quarterback, and somebody is assigned to the pitch. And by the way, they are trying to block a few of those so they can’t do that job.

If your eyes are in the wrong spot and you don’t play your role, other people are planning on being this their spot and you get out of there and then you create a huge gap, and that’s kind of how it gets started.

On the first drive, the quarterback did a nice job. They have a nice little power play that they run and they fake the toss, and one of our guys takes the toss and he’s supposed to be on the quarterback. If he hits the quarterback, he’s got a three yard loss and if he doesn’t, he runs for 43. That’s the difference. If we do our job, we’re going to be all right. That guy goes for a three-yard loss and we get off the field. If we don’t do that, it goes 43. That’s where the discipline comes in, eye control.

Same thing in the back end. Same thing in the back end. There’s times when you’ve got a safety that’s supposed to be a big gap fitter and he’s backpedaling. You’re the big gap fitter, what are you doing? Buzz your feet. So those are the great things that we just get to go back and teach.

You might be able to get away with those once or twice in a game but they are eventually going to get you if you’re not playing with discipline: Disciplined feet, disciplined eyes, where you’re supposed to be.

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