Beaty discusses week 1, Central Michigan at weekly presser
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas football head coach David Beaty spoke with the media on Tuesday, discussing his takeaways from his team’s week one action against Southeast Missouri State and the upcoming game against Central Michigan.
Video from the press conference can be seen on the Kansas Football Facebook page and a transcript is below.
DAVID BEATY: Just start out with a couple things that I wasn’t able to hit on the other night that I thought stood out to me as we watched the tape on that game. Defensively, some things that were really good for us that I was proud of. I think we held them to 94 yards rushing, 41 of those came on one play. So that was not a bad night trying to stop the run against a team that runs the ball pretty well.
I was concerned about eye control going into the game because of what they do offensively. I thought most of our guys handled that well. There was a few guys that didn’t handle it very well. We’ve got to get better at that for sure. But to play an opponent like that that can fool you a little bit with your eyes, I thought they did a really nice job of that.
Our defensive line, I think they played outstanding. I thought they did a really nice job of disrupting from play one. Daniel Wise stood out to me on several plays. He made as good a play as I’ve seen in a long time on that first third down, where he chases the guy down on the little swing pass screen over there, that was unbelievable effort. And then he just continued to play like that. I think they had 2.8 yards per attempt on their run, which we’ll take that. And then we allowed 3.4 yards per play, which that’s not bad. We’ll be okay with that.
We started the game with two three and outs, which allowed us to start fast, gave our offense an opportunity to get back on the field, which was good. 7 of 15 on drives that were three and outs defensively, which is not bad at all. But we only had one take-away. We almost had another one there with Derrick Neal. But I thought — defensively, I thought they strained at the ball pretty well. I think there’s a new level we can get to.
I thought they did a really nice job on first down. The way we graded, we felt like we won 65 percent of those battles, which was good. We forced 12 second and nine or longers, which is good for us. We want to be in those situations. I thought they did a nice job on third down. We won 70 percent of those. And then on fourth down, we won 75 percent of those, which was good. So defensively, some really good things.
I think we can be a lot more sound in our technique, particularly on the back end with our eyes, that was a very challenging game because of what they do, but we can definitely get better there. I think we can get off blocks a lot better than we did, particularly when we’re blitzing. I think we had some missed assignments, that we need to eliminate those things.
Same thing offensively, we’ve got to do a much better job of eliminating missed assignments. Had we done that, we’d have been in a lot better position to maybe score more points. Defensively, we had a missed assignment on the first touchdown they had down there. Had we hit it correctly, we might have had a chance to hit the quarterback before he got it away. So those missed assignments will come back to haunt you, and we’ve got to be better there for sure. So good communication is going to be key for us.
Offensively, Peyton (Bender), I thought, did a really nice job throughout the game. There were two plays — as we go back and look at the first pick that he throws, I think we were a little deep on that route, which that will affect the timing sometimes. It’s just got a chance to keep you off of being on the same page when you’re not at the right depth. So we’ve got to be better there.
There was also some balls that fell, you know, just kind of — they either went over, or they went under a receiver. At times I thought it was sailing on him, and I thought he was maybe under throwing the ball, and as we go back and look at it, it was a missed assignment. The guy just misread what was going on with the safety, and he put it right where it was supposed to be. If he’d have been there, it would have been a big play.
We’ve got some things we can learn from. We’ve got a long way to go, but there were really, really good things on both sides of the ball.
Kicking game-wise, not all bad. I left out of here upset because of the turnover on the punt return. I thought they fielded the balls really well. The turnover came on him trying to strain to get out of a tackle. We’re very clear about how we prevent that from happening, and it will be a great learning example for us because, when we don’t do what we’re told to do, then the ball comes out, and that’s exactly what happened.
But I thought they did a nice job of fielding punts against a very difficult type punt. We had not seen that on tape. They were not a roll punt team all last year, and now they’re a roll punt team. The ball almost hit the guys up front several times on the way out. That was very — a very, very unique style that they have there. But it was good for us because we’re going to see some of that this week, which will be good.
But there were some good things in the kicking game. I thought Liam did a nice job for us on kickoff. I know (Gabriel) Rui did a heck of a job for us coming in as a placekicker. We can be a lot better in the punt department than what we were. Just the placement can help us a lot in our coverage. And then our coverage has got to be a lot better. We will get that fixed. We’ve got a lot of stuff that we worked on yesterday, or Sunday, and then we’ll go back out there and today, and we’ll get some of those coverage lanes fixed up and be ready to go as we go into this week.
A lot of positives, but a lot of things that we know we can fix that I think can help us become a lot better football team. So let’s take some questions.
Q. How did the O-line grade out? And what’s the — did you see any difference as far as the effectiveness in rushing attempts versus passing attempts with them?
DAVID BEATY: I thought they played really well. As far as the grade comes out, you know, we talk about whether they played good, bad, or just kind of won a stalemate. I thought they played probably as well as we’ve had them play since we’ve been here. I thought they did a nice job in the run game. I thought they did a really good job in protection. You know, we got hit a couple times, just a guy coming off an edge and had maybe Peyton hanging onto the ball just a little bit long, but for the most part, I thought protection was outstanding. They did a really nice job.
Now, they’re a double eagle front, and they weren’t blitzing a bunch off the edge. So that helps a bit with those guys being in the B-gap. So this week versus a four-down front, you’ll see a lot more edge rushers, which will tell us where we’re at. But overall, I thought they did a really nice job up front. It was one of the reasons that Peyton was able to do what he was able to do.
Q. Seems like you’re kind of running by committee at this point. Do you envision Dom taking a more prominent role going forward or getting to that point sometime this week?
DAVID BEATY: You know, we’re going to need them all, we really are. We’re going to need them all. It’s a very violent game. On any given play, a running back could be getting hurt. I’ll say this, you need at least five. There’s years we went into it with three, and I’m holding my breath, thinking we’re going to have to move a DB over there. A lot of people have to do that. We’re pretty blessed right now, if we can keep them healthy and keep them upright, that we’ve got some really talented you guys.
I think that Dom (Williams) had some really, really good things that he did, but he’s got some things that were freshmen mistakes that kind of show up until you get in there and you really don’t know. But he did some really nice instinctual things the other night.
Deron Thompson, another one, did some really nice instinctual things that it’s good to see. We knew we had us a player there. We didn’t talk a lot about him, but we knew we had one. It was good to see him go out there on the game field and do it.
Taylor Martin, another guy that we think has got a chance to be a really good football player for us. We’re excited to get him back on the field.
So all of them — you know, Reese Randall came in there and did a nice job in that cleanup role at the very end. There was no yards to be had on the last third and three, and he got them all in himself. That was good.
We’ve got a bunch of guys back there that do a good job for us. Going into this next ball game with everybody healthy, I feel pretty good about that stable of backs.
Q. Central Michigan had six interceptions on defense. How important will it be for the O-line to provide your quarterback the necessary protection and time so that he can make the right decision?
DAVID BEATY: It’s going to be critical. It’s going to be critical. They were able to apply some pressure to them last week. Obviously, the balls, they go errant when you have people hanging all over you. I mean, it happens. So it’s going to be no different than any other week in that regard. We’re going to have to be able to keep that guy upright back there and let him go through his reads.
And then I think — they’re a very sound, solid defense, a whole lot like playing our defense, in terms of what their structure is, and they play the quadrants well. I call them quadrants. I mean, when you’re a zone team and you play the quadrants well, I mean, they just say they’re going to do it better than you. You might catch a few, but they’re going to hit you and get you down and make you snap it again.
They’ve got good enough guys up front to get pressure on you, and they’ll fold that outside backer and that strong safety in there and bring that weak safety and strong safety down in there, and they’ll seven in the box on you pretty quick even from a two high look. That’s how you get numbers in the box. The running backs are going to have to make that guy miss because we can’t block every one of them. So it’s going to come down to us handling the rest, and the backs got to handle one. If we do that, we’ll have some fun. If we don’t, we’ll be punting the ball a lot.
It’s going to be one of those deals where we’re going to have to have our players actually do the things they get paid to do, which is make plays and have everybody do their job.
Q. David, I know you said in the past the most important game is always the next one. How important is this game against Central Michigan, setting the tone for the year?
DAVID BEATY: I cannot overstate it. This is the most important game that we will ever play here in our mind, and it simply is because it’s the next one. I don’t care about the rest of the schedule right now. I care about this one. That’s it. And that’s all our kids care about. We can focus on that and only that.
It comes down to, for us, we don’t look at schedules and circle things. Just don’t do it. I mean, I know a lot of people do in terms of fans and things like that, but coaches don’t do that. I mean, we don’t. So we know right now that we have an opportunity against a really good opponent that’s coming in here that’s gone to back-to-back Bowl games, that’s coached by one of the best guys in the country in John Bonamego. They’re going to outstanding in special teams. He’s done it in the NFL. I’ve studied with him. I know how good of a football coach this guy is.
They’ve taken that program and been really good with it for a reason, because they’re good football coaches and they’ve got a bunch of good players.
Man, we’ve got enough to say grace over this week. We can’t afford to be thinking about anything other than that first stinking play, period. I mean, that’s it. And then the next play will be the most important one in our life after that.
Q. Offensively, did you like the pace that you guys played at? Do you guys have kind of a number in mind going into the game as far as how many plays you want to be able to get off?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, Meach (Doug Meacham) said it this morning. We felt like we were probably 20 plays short. We like to be somewhere in that 80-play range. Sometimes, if you score fast, it can affect that. But also when you go three and out six or seven times, which we did, that hurts that play count because, if you add another four or five plays to each one of those drives, now you’re up around your 80, 81, which is what you want.
I thought our defense was on the field way too much last week. And the good thing is, as we look at it, almost every bit of it was self-imposed. We can get better from there. It wasn’t like we were necessarily just overmatched. There wasn’t much we could do. It was pretty much all of us, right?
But I will say this. They did a heck of a job, man. I take my hat off to Coach Tuke. He did a great job. A bunch of those guys, like I said, are Kansas boys. Those guys are good football coaches, and they kept working, man. I mean, Clint said it after the game, he said, man, he kept working. He kept making me work. Every time I’d get something stopped, he’d find another place to go to. That’s a testament to them.
That was a good first game for us because that was not an easy ball club to play against by any means. It was going to be a dogfight. They made it a dogfight the entire time, and I thought it was a lot closer than even the score dictated.
So that was a great first ball game for us because we had to learn a lot of things in that game about playing all the way through four quarters because it could have easily changed there in the last quarter. There were some things that happened that could have turned that thing pretty quickly, and it was good for our team to go through that and see where we’re at and what we’ve got to do in those types of situations.
Q. You mentioned last year the game they played against Oklahoma State, maybe not the dynamics and the crazy ending, but the fact that they won the game going into Stillwater.
DAVID BEATY: I’ll tell you, Kevin, it just speaks to Coach Bonamego and his crew, man. They’ve got good players up there. They’ve got a bunch of corn-fed, big old offensive linemen now. Some big boys now up front. And they — they’re space eaters. They take up a lot of room now. They’ve got a transfer quarterback that comes in from Michigan. He was one of the top recruited guys in the country, and he’s a lefty. He can throw it.
They played the backup the other day, who’s another guy that’s a freshman that can throw it, 6’7″ kid. Number 8, the receiver, he’s a dynamic guy. Number 21, somebody that freaks me out. Number 13 freaks me out. Number 18 freaks me out. Those guys are all guys that can do it now.
And the thing that impressed me about their team the other day is that teams that win, they find a way to win. And there was some momentum shift there at the end of that game, and I thought Central Michigan did a great job of just staying the course and playing. They kept making Rhode Island snap it again. You know, there was a big mistake made in that final overtime on that first down, when Rhode Island had stopped them, they go out there, and they have a 12 men on the field penalty. That was unfortunate because they came up one yard short of the first down, and they had to kick that field goal that they missed.
But that’s a testament to Central Michigan going out there and just continuing to play. They continued to play, and good things happened. I mean, it’s a really well coached football team that they got. So we got our hands full.
Q. You say you coached or you’ve worked alongside Coach Bonamego. What makes him tick?
DAVID BEATY: I don’t know him that well. I was with Coach Banks at Texas A&M, who him and Coach DeForest are two of the best in the business, I think, in special teams. And he knows Bonamego, Jeff Banks knows him pretty well, and we’ve had him at some of the same clinics that we’ve been at, and we’ve studied together. He’s a special teams guy. They’re going to win that third now. There’s no doubt about it.
He does a great job of being the head coach, but he’s done it in the NFL at a high level, and to me, you guys know how I think. That’s the hidden third. You have to win that third to be able to win close games. He’s got an edge because he’s done it for a long, long time.
But we’ve got Joe DeForest. So I feel pretty good about that too. I know we’re going to be in great shape when it comes to that matchup. It’s going to be a fun matchup to watch, it really is, because those are two of the finest special teams minds in the country.
Q. You had a lot of guys playing for KU the first time this past weekend. What was your overall assessment of the newcomers, especially guys that played more, like Shak (Shakial Taylor) and Hasan (Defense)?
DAVID BEATY: Very pleased. I thought the focus was very good. For the young guys to go out and not be distracted — by the way, I can’t thank our fans enough. What a great environment that was the other day. We had a great day, our staff, our administration, Jen Allee, all the folks that put that together the other night was great. What a great night it was to honor that Orange Bowl team and to honor Coach Mangino and honor Aqib (Talib) and Anthony Collins. All that was awesome.
For those guys to handle all those distractions, I was pretty pleased with it. For Dom Williams, to never look into his eyes and seeing anything other than him focused was really good to see. Seeing Quan Hampton doing the same thing out there. Watching Hasan Defense, I think he can be a special player, I really do. I think he’s talented. He did not have any issues with being distracted.
Shak Taylor, just a very workman — he seems like an older guy to me than even what he is. I thought he did a nice job. But I think a lot of that comes down to leadership. Joe Dineen played his tail off the other night, 15 tackles total. And his leadership with that defense was — watching him in that huddle work was pretty cool to watch, seeing him back there doing that. I think all of that helped those young guys.
And we don’t have seven of them out there at the same time. I mean, in the last couple years, man, you don’t think about it when you’re going through it until you look back on it and just start giggling and going, oh, my gosh, there was eight freshmen looking at each other, what do we do now? How are we supposed to do this? There was nobody to turn to because they were all young.
Now we’ve got some older guys in there, and there’s maybe one or two in there with them, makes a difference. So that’s a great advantage for us now to have that.
Q. For Joe Dineen, was that about as good of a season opener as you can ask for out of him?
DAVID BEATY: You know, I think he’d probably tell you yes, but I wanted a couple of picks and a couple more fumble recoveries would have been great. But he played great. He really did. He played well. He played a ton of plays. We’ve got to do a good job of helping him a little bit because he won’t come out of the game. He wants to play on every special team and all that kind of stuff, which he’s good at all of them, but we’ve got to do a better job of picking and choosing how many of those plays he’s going to play on those things so we can keep him fresh on defense and when we need him in certain situations.
I couldn’t be happier for him. I couldn’t be happier for a guy — I mean, if you build them, you build them like Joe Dineen.
Q. How hard was it to sit and watch and kind of feel helpless in the sense that he couldn’t be on the field making plays?
DAVID BEATY: It looked like it was agony to me, just watching him, particularly for the first few weeks until he settled into a coaching role more than anything. But it hurt for him to have to go through that. It was unfortunate, but I do think that it’s something like most of us face that sometimes that adversity makes us better.
I think he appreciated every snap he had. That’s why he wouldn’t come out the other day. I’m trying to take him out on kickoff return. Coach DeForest is trying to take him out on kickoff return, kickoff cover and punt return, and he just won’t do it. He’s like, no, I’m fine. He’s like I’m fine, but he’s still going, which is something you love about him. I think he appreciates every play.
Q. Now that you’ve gone back and looked at Chase Harrell’s catch, what do you think about it?
DAVID BEATY: I mean, reminds me a lot of myself when I was playing (laughter). That was a great play, great play. You know, he’s got — he’s got some of the biggest hands a human’s ever possessed anyway. So when that ball went up, I didn’t have a great view of it, but I saw it, and I thought it was out of bounds. I didn’t think any way he had grabbed it with his hand, and that’s what happened. He had literally grabbed it. So it didn’t have a chance to shift. I thought that he pulled it down and certainly it was going to shift by the time he’d gotten out of bounds, but those big old paws that he has, that definitely paid off. That was a great catch. Really nice throw by Peyton, but really a good catch by him.
I know he wishes he had that other one back because he had a chance for a two-touchdown night.
Q. Thinking back to camp, I remember you talking about Ben Johnson, how he was one of the guys that really impressed you. Did you expect him to be, I guess, more involved in the passing game last year, and how do you think that might change this year?
DAVID BEATY: Well, we certainly did, and we certainly knew going in that there was going to be a plan to utilize him. I mean, that credit goes to Coach Meacham and Coach (Garrett) Riley and all those guys over there. They’ve done a nice job of finding a way to utilize matchups, Ben being one of them. And Ben’s a talented guy. I think he’s really a matchup problem for folks at times. So it’s good to see him emerge and play that role.
Man, if we could have hung on to that one right down that right sideline, he’d have been over 100 yards for the night, possibly another touchdown. If he’d have run the route on the first play, he might have scored another touchdown. He ran the route. He just released the wrong way. So there’s a lot of things that he can do better, and when he does, he’s going to be a real force, I think. If we can keep him healthy and he continues doing things the way he’s doing. He’s fun to have right now. I know Meach really likes having him in our offensive huddle. I know that.
Q. With Coach Meacham, we know how wired he is in practice, but that was your first game to experience with him. I guess what are your thoughts on how he is on game day and kind of what he’s able to do?
DAVID BEATY: You know, I don’t know how much more I can say. I mean, worth every penny. The guy’s really good. He’s really good. I was talking to some people this morning about that, just watching his poise on game day and how he manages. You know, he’s worth it. Clint Bowen, watching him, worth every dadgum penny. Those guys are really good at what they do, really good at what they do. They’re poised. They know how to push buttons on the sideline, and they know how to adjust.
I think the best coaches in this country are the ones that can adjust well, and they don’t keep doing the same things. Like I said, that’s what impressed me about SEMO. They made you keep working the whole game. Some of the best coaches in the country on these lower level college teams, whether it’s NAIA, Division II, Division III, Division I-AA, FCS. There’s some really good football coaches in the country. You better bring your lunch pail every week because they’ll outcoach you in a heartbeat.
Q. What can you tell us about Gabriel? What’s his story?
DAVID BEATY: Another guy that was a walk-on. Actually, Coach DeForest is the one that kind of found him, and he has literally worked his way into this. He really has. He’s worked his way into this. I’m not sure, going into fall camp, if anybody would have gave him the chance to be the starter, and all he did was keep his head down and just keep working.
He’s a guy that, you know, that whole group of the specialists kind of revolve around. He’s got the best hair of all of them. I think that might have something to do with it. But he’s an interesting, funny guy, and he keeps it light over there. But he’s also very — he’s very confident, and I mean, I think there’s something to be said for that, for a kicker that runs out there, when he’s confident in his abilities and he doesn’t get down and he’s not afraid to go out there and attack any situation.
So his story, you know, he’s a walk-on, and he’s a guy that, like I said, literally earned his way right into it. So a great example of that.
Q. You talk all the time about competition being ongoing for playing time. Is that competition maybe closer, more intense at right tackle than anywhere else on the roster? Or has Antione (Frazier) really kind of stepped up and set himself apart?
DAVID BEATY: I mean, Antione has definitely taken that spot, no doubt. Now, he’s only as good as his next, so we’ll see how today goes and how tomorrow goes, but I would say that there’s been more of a battle at right guard. There’s been more of a battle at probably left guard. Malik (Clark) is trying like crazy to get on the field over there. There’s been some real battles over there.
(Jacob) Bragg — Bragg’s not going to settle on that bench. He’s going to get in the game, and he wound up getting in the game the other night and did some really nice things. Competition at that wideout spot. I think that’s probably the most intense. I know I might not be helping your story very much, but the battle is a lot more intense probably, maybe at some other spots. I mean, it may not be the name you think that is right there lined up behind the next guy. It’s going to be the next best player we got.
So we train those guys to play every position on the offensive line. We train those receivers to play every position. So if we feel like we’re not getting the production out of somebody at a spot, it may not be the guy whose name is right below it. It may be a guy from the left side or from the right side or from the nickel going to the corner. So we’re going to put our best 11 out there that do it the right way for us all the time because we know how the song ends with the ones that don’t. I mean, the ball finds them. When they don’t do it the way you want them to do it, if they don’t fit it the correct way, the ball will find you. If you’re not going to do it the way we ask you to up front, the ball’s going to find you.
So that’s the thing that I think is helping us is that they’re all understanding that, man, you’re only as good as your next, and competition has been good everywhere.
Q. You mentioned the competition being good. How much in the previous two seasons has it maybe tapered off once the season started? And how important is it to keep it going throughout the season?
DAVID BEATY: It’s very important, I think. So many teams across the country, including us, we’re not immune to it, but they’re breaking in new starters today because somebody got hurt. I mean, hey, listen, our staff meeting this morning was not a lot of fun because I keep talking to everyone about we are going to train everybody in our program, including the trainers, to play right tackle. They are all going to be trained. We’re not going to wait until the guy gets hurt. We are going to train everyone. So you’d better train everybody on that board because we’re going to have to have them. They’re going to be used.
Because the competition, supposedly, falls off, but somebody’s going to get hurt somewhere. It’s just a rough game. And then somebody’s not going to do it the way we want them to do it. And then as a staff, you’ve got to be courageous enough to say, hey, look, you’re not doing it the way we need it done, so the production’s falling off, we’re going to give this guy a shot because we’ll be better with what everybody else thinks is less because he’s going to do it the way we ask him to do it. If we’re on the same page, we’re going to be great. If we have even one off that page and he’s doing his own thing, it will cost us.
You guys will be writing a bunch of fun articles. It will be neat for me. So we’re not going to let that happen. They’re going to be the guys that care and want to do it the right way and care about their teammate more than they care about themselves. It’s just the way it is, man. I think that’s something that’s really helped this team grow is that they know that no one is special. You are going to compete, and that next day is not given. You are going to battle, and you’ve got to do it the way we tell to you do it, not because we’re mad, but because we love you. We want to you win. And that’s what winners do.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports