Beaty previews home opener against Rhode Island

September 3, 2016

Location Lawrence, Kan.
Venue Memorial Stadium
Time 6 p.m.
TV Jayhawk Television Network
Listen Jayhawk Radio Network
Tickets Tickets
Video Weekly Presser
Notes Game Notes


Tickets Ohio (Sept. 10)
Tickets TCU (Oct. 8)

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’ upcoming home opener against Rhode Island.

Appreciate everybody coming. We are obviously very excited because we are heading into a game week, so we got a lot of excited youngsters around here right now, for a lot of different reasons.

We had a really productive camp, very physical, very demanding. We were fortunate to come out in pretty good shape as we left camp. We have two young men that are not going to be able to play really at all the rest of the year because of season-ending injuries that occurred, one of them, Ryan Schadler out of Hesston, Kansas.

Ryan did not actually get injured, but we discovered some complications he had internally and thankfully, we found some doctors that could get that addressed and he’s on the mend. So he’ll be back for us and ready to go next year, amazing guy. I went and saw him the other day and he is still jacked up after going through a major surgery, which I don’t know how he’s done that.

But he is a put-together dude. For him to put the numbers together he did in the off-season for the type of surgery he had, is amazing. That guy is obviously very gifted. But he’s on the mend. Great kid, too.

The other one we had last week, late last week, we just got confirmation of it that Shola Ayinde, he’s a freshman, came to us from Houston, Texas, he tore his ACL, I guess it was about a week ago. So unfortunately we lost him, he’s going to get surgery this week. He’ll be sidelined for the remainder of the year.

Other than that, we’ve come out in pretty good shape, and I was pleased with our fall camp, so that was good, heading into this game. We opened our locker room, as a lot of you know, this last Sunday and that was a really, really cool time for our players, our coaches and our entire program.

Thanks to the generosity of several wonderful Jayhawks that continue to give of their resources and commit to this program. So for our guys to be able to enjoy that is something that I know they really, really are proud of and excited for that happening. We are going to have that open for you guys next week. We want to get it finished, that’s the thing.

It’s not completely finished. We wanted to get in there now so we didn’t have distractions next week in the middle of the season. We wanted to go ahead and let those guys get in there and we had enough of it done so we could get in there for the players and not be distracted for the season. We wanted to get it finish so when you go in there you get a real look at it, and that way you don’t have to come back. You can go in there once and get a good feel what it looks like.

Not trying to keep it from you, I promise you. We want you to be able to see it. It’s a great tool and it’s something that we are really proud of. Like I said, there’s a few key people out there and they know who they are that really, really helped us and I can’t thank you enough.

Just a couple other notes before we start taking questions. This week, our players have asked to create a special dedication for this game. We have a member of our staff here, Shanda Hayden, who has a son, Cole Hayden and Cole — Shanda leads our academic counselors here, and she’s been doing that for a number of years. And her son has come down with a very rare disease that’s called undifferentiated sarcoma, and it’s a form of cancer. It’s been a very long summer for her and her family, and our guys are very close to Shanda, as well as our staff. They went up and saw and spent some time with him this summer which is very cool.

He’s going through a very difficult time. Hopefully we get some good news soon where maybe he’s going to get to go home for a little while, which would be good. But it’s been a very difficult road for them. He’s undergone chemo. He’s undergoing chemo right now. September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, so it kind of helps us kind of really push to move towards that cause anyway, but specifically towards Cole.

Our team is going to wear #TeamCole gold wristbands on their wrists as we move around throughout the day. Not sure if Cole is going to be able to make it for the game, but we are working on that right now. And Shanda, I think she’s going to be available later this week if you wanted to talk to her, but make sure you go through Katy for that. It will be a good story. Man, what a great family and what great Jayhawks they are and our kids are proud of that.

It’s going to be great weather this weekend and I just want our Jayhawks to know that they are the magic and we need you out there. It going to be a great Saturday. Man, load up those kids and let’s get to the hill and have fun. We need you there. We need you there. We’re playing a really good football team coached by a really good football coach, Coach Fleming.

This is going to be a challenge for us, I said it a long time ago, any team in the country winning any college football game is very, very difficult. Both of our teams are in very similar situations. We are both working our rear ends off to get a win, and we want to all start our seasons off with a positive note and they are just like us. They have got a number of guys returning.

Some guys that stick out to me, I think their running back is very talented. He’s also very talented in the return game and he will be a challenge to contain. I think they have some really good players on their defensive line, they have a defensive back in particular that I think is a talented guy.

They have a quarterback that played a little bit last year that could do a lot of things with his arm, but he can really do it with his feet. We’ve got to do a good job managing that guy, as well. A lot of newcomers on this team, 28 I believe of an 84-man roster, which is quite a bit. You’re over 30 percent there of newcomers.

So there’s a lot about this team that we don’t know. I know they are doing some different things than they were doing last year. Like a lot of teams, going into this game not knowing everything that you need to know.

So the team that adjusts better is the team think that I has the advantage in the game for sure. Like I said, they have got some really good players, but for us, we put our focus on us and us handling our business and if we do that, we feel like we give ourselves the best chance to win. We’re excited to put it on the field against somebody else. With that being said, let’s take some questions.

Q. How long has it been a three-man race (at quarterback)?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, Katy made me put a depth chart out. It’s one of those deals, our guys know where they are at. They know where they are at. And that depth chart is going to be fluid through the entire season. You would like for it to get stabilized, but they know where they are at and they are only as good as their next.

You’ll get to talk to some of our players later today and I think if you ask them, they are going to echo the fact that you have got to earn it every day and you’re only as good as your next and they know that.

From a quarterback standpoint, it’s been pretty clear for a couple weeks that those three guys would be the guys that would kind of step to the forefront. But the good news is, I mean, you know, we got several guys in that room, and I think every one of them are going to be talented player here. It was a great, great race this year, for sure.

Q. Successful teams with strong leadership at the quarterback position —
COACH BEATY: I believe that every time wants their quarterback to be one of their biggest leaders, if not the guy. So the thing about that, though, is you don’t just point the finger at a guy and go, you’re the leader. You have to earn that, and you do that through your play you do that through your production, you do that through your daily life, you do that through everything that you do.

The good news for us is Montell (Cozart) has been here for a long time and he just got voted team captain again. For that guy to be voted and looked at that highly, that tells you what his teammates think of him. That’s a good deal for us. He’s one of those guys that does everything you ask him to do and more. He’s a gym rat and he really works hard at the game. I’m very glad he’s here, I’ll tell you that. Very talented guy.

Ryan (Willis) is another guy that has played a lot of football already, which is good. We could not give him that until this last year, so he’s already got that under his belt. I think he’s becoming a better leader as we move along. Another guy that is a hard worker, doesn’t ever miss anything. His example was really good for the team. And you know, as he grows and plays a little bit more ball, he’s got a chance to be a terrific leader for us, no doubt.

Q. What qualities does (Carter) Stanley possess?
COACH BEATY: I tell you what, Stanley is a dangerous guy with that ball in his hands and he’s out on that perimeter. His dual threat ability might be the strongest of all three of them, and I don’t know that I’m telling you anything that you don’t know here, but that guy can do some things with his feet that the other ones can’t do.

And the other thing I love about Stanley is, I’d love to see him in a game, because there’s just something about him, and he’s got a little moxy to him that’s a little bit different. And he’s a guy that doesn’t say a whole lot right now, but in the game, he is a guy, that I think he’s going to have an opportunity when he does get into a football game to really show who he really is.

Sometimes it’s hard to show that until you get into a game. We really didn’t know what we had with Johnny (Manziel) until he got into the game. Some of those guys, you don’t know what you’ve got in Todd Reesing until he gets into the game.

Q. Has Ryan made strides in his game?
COACH BEATY: Oh, yeah, he’s a baby. He played a few games last year. He got knocked around a little bit. He is by no means a finished product, at all. If he was, he would be named the starting quarterback and he’s not. We don’t have a starter yet. We didn’t have that separation. However, what we did have is guys that can do it, and they are all pretty talented. They all have done it at a high level already.

So the good news is, there is not a hair’s separation from them statistically in fall camp. I mean, that’s what makes it extremely difficult is their production was very, very similar, and, you know, hey, both those guys, they know that it’s going to come down to this week to see who goes in first, and then they may not be in there long and the other guy comes in there. We’ll see.

Q. First game, most important in the program — how hard is it to avoid the big picture and think about the excitement and optimism and hopes for this year and getting it all behind you — is it hard to focus in on just that one game with all that other stuff floating around?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, I think it is. I think the hardest thing and we’ve put a lot of work into it, as a staff, is these guys have worked extremely hard. Probably one of the toughest, most rigorous and productive off seasons that I’ve ever been a part of in my career.

I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of one like this. And they have worked so hard. They have poured so much into it and they have all stayed together; that we can’t be caught thinking that just that’s going to get you a win, and that’s going to get you winning. Because all that does is help you pay the price of admission to the ballgame and have a chance to win it because you’re putting yourself in position.

Hey, listen, everybody’s working hard. Everybody’s doing what we’re doing. Now it’s going to be who is the smartest football team, who can execute accurately in all three phases, and for us, we’re guarding against that. We’re guarding against the fact that you think you worked hard, so you just deserve to win. You know, everybody’s working hard.

And the bad thing for our guys and throughout the country as a coach, I think one of the things is, you don’t get to go see other places, so you don’t know what they are doing. So you just assume that you are the only ones that are doing it that hard and that long. So the truth is, everybody is doing it. It’s a toughness race in college football and everybody is working as hard as they can to try to get a win. That’s why it’s so difficult to try to win a Division I football game, it’s very difficult.

Q. What position groups have you been most impressed with in their growth from last season to now?
COACH BEATY: Absolutely. Quarterback, not even — not even close. Night and day. Those guys have done a phenomenal job. Their growth has been encouraging, very encouraging. I like what I see there. All three of those guys — and even Keaton Perry’s name isn’t listed on that name, because they wouldn’t let me list 15 guys on there or I would have to be honest with you. They all have done a nice job.

Those guys stick out to me. I like what our secondary has done. I like how they have developed. I think Coach Bowen and Coach Perry have done a really, really nice job, particularly with our corners. We had a lot better corner play than we had last year. I think they have done a nice job. I’m interested to see how they are going to react this week, and as we go through the season. I love what Coach Bradford has done with our special teams — excuse me, with our linebackers and then Coach DeForest with our special teams. Those guys all stand out to me.

Up front, we have ten guys right now that could go in the game which is great. Which is why it’s so hard to create a depth chart. We have got real competition and you know, it’s one of those deals, you look at a depth chart and perception is that, hey, why do we have this guy back in here.

Listen, here’s the deal. If there’s a guy that won the job over another guy, it’s because he’s better than him. That’s why. And you hope to out-recruit guys that you have that makes your program better. That that’s what we feel like we’re going to try to do each year, is go try and recruit better what we have, and then try to develop what we have to make that competition even better. So I really like those guys.

And then the last group that really, really has stuck out to me is the running backs. Those guys have been ultra-productive to this point and they are fighting to get on the field. We have got a bunch of them and I think they are talented.

Q. How many offensive linemen did you say you feel good about?
COACH BEATY: Ten guys. No, we had twenty guys in camp, which is about 12 more than we had last year, to be able to go through camp, which makes a big difference. So that’s been good.

Q. How about for you, year one, week one, first practice, can you just compare the emotions and being prepared and that kind thing today, as compared to a year ago?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, you know, it’s very similar other than I just feel a lot more — a lot more at ease because so many of the little untied-up ends are kind of handled. You kind of see those coming and they are handled already. Then you have got a great staff. Katy has done a great job for us of making sure that all this piece is handled and that we’re communicating well and working with all of our coaches and then all of our coaches and all of our support staff, they done a really, really good job.

That makes me a lot more at ease, and it has to be, because with me being obviously ultra-involved in what we are doing has allowed me to do that. I’ll be honest with you, I’m excited. I can’t wait to get to practice every day because it’s a lot of fun to get out there with those guys and be involved in them.

Q. How important is it to get a win in the first game of the season?
COACH BEATY: You know, winning cures a lot now. It cures a lot. And I think getting off to a fast start here would be a big, big deal for us. If I didn’t talk about it or say that, then I would be remiss. I mean, we need to get off on a good start here. We’ve got a good opponent coming in here. It’s not — you know, we look at each other’s records and it’s one of those deals where you can get caught real easy thinking that, hey, this is going to be something that it’s not.

Both these teams are going to be ultra-prepared. Both of them want to win and for us we need to get off to a good start and for them we need to get off to a good start. We say that all the time to our kids: A great start make for a great finish and it’s hard to finish good when you don’t start well.

So we need to get off to a good start this year. And that’s obviously been a goal of ours, and to be able to get a win in this first game would be something that would I think help us in a lot of ways moving forward.

Q. Do you think the way the first game ended last season set the tone for the year?
COACH BEATY: No, I didn’t. Not at all. The way that our guys prepared week-in and week-out, I thought that that first game, we learned a lot from it. There’s a lot that you learn from every game. That one sticks out to you because of what happened on the final play of the offensive play there. But we learned a lot from it.

But the residual was not much. That was not what — I mean, we started off really well against Memphis next week who beat a really good Ole Miss team and went to a nice Bowl and had their quarterback drafted high in the draft. I mean, they were a good football team. But our guys started off well. We just weren’t able to hold up there towards the remainder of that game.

Our guys, like I said before, I thought our guys last year did a tremendous job and that leadership of those seniors was really key, really key. I think it’s going to be very similar for us this year as we take steps forward to be able to handle adversity. There’s one thing that every team in America is going to face and that’s going to be adversity and how are we going to handle it when we face it.

Q. Yesterday you talked about, it sounded like you knew who was going to be the starting quarterback, but you wanted to keep the advantage. Can you talk about the competition going into the week? Do you know who your starter is?
COACH BEATY: I do not. They are still competing. I’ll know a lot more after today and I’ll know a heck of a lot after tomorrow. Yesterday told us a lot. Today will tell us even more. And then after that, Wednesday will tell us more.

So we’re getting close. We’ve got good choices, y’all. They are both talented guys. Carter is a talented guy. Carter is not getting as many reps as those other guys right now. But if he performs better in the reps he’s that using, then we’ll use him.

But right now, it’s one of those deals where you can’t give reps to everybody and be able to expect that guy to be efficient in the game. So we’ve had to narrow it. The two guys that are getting the most reps are Montell and Ryan. Both those guys are getting the most reps. We play rock, paper, scissors each day to sigh who goes first. We literally play rock, paper, scissors to see who goes first.

Q. How important is it for recruiting to have your new locker room and lounge?
COACH BEATY: It is so ultra-important, and I think a lot of our fans do understand that. I think they understand it because a lot of them are very educated in form. They do a lot of surfing of the net, and they look at a lot of these facilities and they know really what they are up against when it comes to our places recruiting against other places.

Our fans seeing what just happened and what we just unveiled down there, I think if I was a fan, what I would say is: Hey, listen, that now gives us a shot. If we can get those top players here, it gives us a shot not to be ruled out. Because at the end of the day, everybody is created — it’s a facility war. Everybody has good things. Everybody has nice things. I think as much it is them choosing, I think it’s them ruling people out.

You know, we had a very unique situation here last year where we had one of the top players in the state that was right down the street from us, and I’m not sure that wasn’t maybe one of the major deciding factors. And you know what, hey, that is what it is.

But now, that won’t be a problem moving forward. It will now come down to our talent as a staff in recruiting and if we can get to that point, we won’t be ruled out there anymore, because we just went from the bottom of power five to the top of power five when it comes to what our locker room looks like. It went from the bottom of power five, which, hey, listen, the place was nice. It was clean. It’s nine years old and they say you need to throw $1 million a year into recruiting to keep up with recruiting. Well, we were $9 million behind, and the only way you get started is to get started. That’s how you close that gap.

It’s not just on the field we’ve got to close the gap. We have to close the gap everywhere. How much different does this room look like than it did from last year when you walked into it? Just that makes a huge difference with us being able to keep the best talent in this state, and throughout the country right here at KU, and we are already doing some good things in recruiting. I think these tools just help us stay in the game and give us a chance to get to signing day.

Q. What are the players feeling right now? Are they excited for game day or just excited to be finally hitting someone else?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, that’s a great description. They are ready to put it on the field against somebody else. As coaches, obviously we’re not unlike anybody else in the country. We want to make sure that we curb that enthusiasm just a little bit because man, you can lose up.

We have heart monitors on our guys and we went back and looked at the data from pregame last year in the first game, and the heart rates, it was phenomenal the difference. Even in our highest-rated heart monitor and practice, it was not even remotely close to what pregame looked like, and those heart monitors tell us a lot.

So we as coaches are trying to go to school on that information and manage our guys in pregame and manage their anxiety and make sure that we manage those things so they can play better when they get to the game.

Q. What is the biggest difference in yourself from last year at this time?
COACH BEATY: Well, I think the first thing is being willing to innovate, because if you don’t innovate, you’re going to evaporate. I think the biggest thing for me is education is a limitless product, and I am definitely humble enough to learn from each and every day and from every human around that I can learn something from. I’ll steal it from anybody. If I think it’s good, we’re going to steal it.

The challenge for us is that we can’t do everything. So we have to make sure that we stand for something, so we don’t have us going in a lot of different directions.

I think one of the things I learned last year is how to manage our team a little bit better going into this first game and making sure that we understand that it is an extremely important game for us in the history of our program, but making our kids understand the only reason it’s that way is because it’s the next one.

And then the next week, we’ll have the exact same stake placed on it and we’ve been talking about that from day one. The most important day is the next one and the most important game is the next one. We’re trying to keep that in perspective as we move forward.

This one game, win, lose or draw is not going to make a difference how the season goes. We want to get off to a fast start but it is just one game. We need to make sure we’re working to get better. We need to try to get a little bit better this week to make sure we go in next week prepared as a better football team.

Q. On special teams, punter Kyle Thompson — what are you seeing? Every year you have a couple guys that don’t start, but come big in coverage units like (Colin) Spencer. Who are those guys this year?
COACH BEATY: Good question. The thing that I’m most impressed with Coach DeForest is his work with specialists has been — it’s by far the best I’ve ever been around, and his eye for specialists. I watched Thompson hit a punt yesterday and it looked like a good golfer who could really drive it. It just looks different when it comes off the club head. That thing, when it drops, it hangs up there. It’s like God’s got a string on it and it hangs up there, and that’s what you want. That’s what you’re facing in the Big 12. Those punters are good and that thing hangs up there so the coverage can get there.

Kyle can kick it. Cole Moos, that guy is a grizzled veteran. He holds for us. He does a lot of different things and man, he is very, very accurate with his punts which allows you to directionally punt and that’s not a secret to anybody in this world. You want to directionally punt and cut that field down but you have to cover.

Those guys are talented guys, and that is all due to Joe DeForest and what he’s done with those guys and who he’s brought in. I think (John) Wirtel has had a really great camp. That guy is a very, very talented deep snapper.

Wyman has really, really benefitted Coach DeForest being here. I think if you talk to Matt Wyman, he’ll tell you how much of a difference it’s been having him here, and I think most of those guys would echo that sentiment.

You talked about some guys we think will stand out for us: A kid named Bryce Torneden is right down the street here from Free State High School. That kid has been very impressive as a freshman. He’s a little bit beyond his years in maturity right now. You’d like to see that stay the course as you go through the season. He’s going to hit some natural walls like most freshmen, but I’m hoping he can really help us on special teams because he can run and he’s got a little savvy to him and he’s tough. We really like Bryce a lot.

I think a kid named Denzel Feaster is going to wind up being a really big asset for us on special teams. Maciah Long, that’s a big ‘ole body running down the field with a lot of speed for a dude that big. He’s a guy that we really need to get some production from.

Spencer and Tyler Patrick have been really, really big parts of our coverage game and I think those guys see that as a valuable role and hopefully they can continue the production that they have had, as well. There’s a number of different guys that stand out to me.

I think Keith Loneker Jr., is going to be a guy that we really need to see help us on those units. He’s another one that’s kind of playing a lot of roles.

And finally a guy named Denzell Evans that transferred to us from Arkansas, that guy is just a journeyman, what a great kid, just a selfless hard and just busts his rear end. He’s a hard working dude. He’s on anything and everything we have out there and you can just count on him. Those are guys I’m looking forward to see doing some things.

Q. How much of fall camp did Schadler go through before his surgery?
COACH BEATY: He wasn’t able to go through any. We located it and found — we have a great, great sports medicine department here that handles all of our injuries, Murphy Grant and Murphy is on top of that stuff and we knew something wasn’t right. He just wasn’t feeling great. The kid bench pressed 225 25 times, and he still wasn’t feeling good. He ran low 4-4 and high 4-3. I can’t imagine, because I mean, he had some serious issues going on internally. And for him to be able to do that, goodness gracious, he must be a super human. It’s going to be good to see him a healthy Schadler, because he’s kind of been feeling that way for a long time.

Q. Something you’re most looking forward to see in the first game?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, I think the biggest thing for me is seeing how we appreciate playing clean football; and do we understand that the three ways we’re going to get better faster is by being the smartest team in the country; and not going backwards and not giving your opponent anything; winning the turnover battle and turnover margin; and then truly dominating in all the phases of special teams.

If we do that, I think everything else will fall into place and take care of itself. If you look at games all over the country in this first week, I really believe it’s going to come down to just a few things. Teams that take care of the ball, first and foremost, the turnover margin is going to be critical. You look at last week’s game, Cal and Hawaii, Cal turned it over zero times and Hawaii turned it over five. That’s a big deal now. Makes a big difference.

Also keeping just a nice, simple game plan. Don’t over game-plan for that first game. That’s going to be something that we all have to hone in so those guys can play fast.

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