Well I've been waiting on this one since Saturday. To be honest this is one of the first times in a little while that I've been really truly curious what the big man had to say and also what the players might be thinking at this point.
Coach Mangino talks a lot about Kansas State and the things they have done very well to improve their team over the course of the season. He more than once makes mention that it is the way he wants things done here at Kansas and it's the way over the past few years things have been done.
He also talks about the progression of the defense and it's clear he's putting the onus on the offense for the struggles of late.
From a player standpoint we've got Todd, Kerry, Darrell, Lubbock Smith and Brad Thorson. Honestly some of Todd's comments concern me. He starts off talking about getting back to playing the game for the love of the game and that I like, but when he discusses his removal from last weeks game it sure seems he's a little at odds with the head man and doesn't feel he still has the confidence of his coach despite what Mangino says.
Honestly across the board I'm not sure that any of the player quotes give me an overwhelming confidence that this is a team that has turned the page and is ready to move forward. I hope I'm reading to much into things but we'll certainly find out on Saturday.
Head Coach Mark Mangino
Recap of last week's game vs. Texas Tech:
"I thought we squandered a pretty decent defensive effort, for at least three and a half quarters of the game. We probably kept our defense out there too long with three-and-outs and turnovers, which put them in a bad position with some turnovers. But, they responded pretty well. I am very pleased with the defense at this point. We continue to make good, steady progress in that area. On the offensive side, we have just not played well. We have committed turnovers, we have made mental mistakes and we have not handled things well in the trenches. We have not blocked well on the perimeter, we have dropped passes in key situations, like on third downs that could have easily given us field position and momentum. So, we have to get that all cleaned up and it is a key focus of ours, as coaches, this week."
On this week's game vs. Kansas State:
"Kansas State is a team that has shown a lot of improvement since last season. They are improving in every area of their game. They are certainly a much more sound, fundamental football team. They play good fundamentals, just like you would like to have your team play all the time. What we preach here is the same thing they preach. They are aggressive on defense and they have enough playmakers on offense to hurt you. They have one of the best, if not the best, return man in the country in Brandon Banks, who can really change the momentum of a game. It is a good challenge for us. It is a Big 12 game on the road, so it is important and we are looking forward to it."
On implications of benching Todd Reesing in last week's game vs. Texas Tech:
"I think you guys make it a big deal. It is not a big deal. When you look at the circumstances and what had taken place over a period of time, it was the appropriate thing to do."
On the importance of the K-State-Kansas game:
"I do not think you can look at the North standings. I think you have to look at yourself and how we are going to get better. We can't sit around and talk about winning the North, we have to talk about winning a game. I think that is what is really important to our team and to our players. It is an important game because it is an in-state rival. People in the state of Kansas get excited about it. It is a lot of fun. Probably in the state of Kansas, it is the biggest sporting event of the year, when it comes to Kansas people. I know you have NASCAR, but people come from out of state to see that. When it comes to Kansans, whether you're playing football or basketball, this game is one of the biggest events of the year. So everybody pays attention to it and that is why it is a big game. Yes, the standings are part of it, but you cannot worry about standings, you have to worry about winning."
On significance of replacing a quarterback, as opposed to other position players:
"In my world, we have 11 players on the field and all our asked to do certain things. It is my job to see that they are playing well and that their safety is not in jeopardy. When I go to a house to recruit, I don't tell the parents ‘well, you are the father of the quarterback, so we will treat him differently than we will the left guard or the tight end or the tailback'. No, the standards are the same for everybody. We worry about the health and welfare of our players equally as well."
On improving the offensive line:
"Hard work and fundamental play. Drill and re-drill and teach and re-teach fundamental aspects of the game; aiming points, hand placement, footwork, ability to change direction over bent knees, recognition and communication of calls, blitzes. You just go back to teaching all the little things that are important."
On scouting K-State:
"We knew they had a mature team. They had a lot of junior college players coming back. We knew they were going to have some good athletes. Watching last year's tape was not much help, because they have changed everything and we knew there was going to be changes in all phases of the game. We know they brought a lot of junior college guys in late, which we had no idea of what they looked like. We see what we anticipated they would have in some talented guys out on the field. They have done a good job of coaching the team. They coach everybody and they coach them soundly."
On the differences of K-State football with Head Coach Bill Snyder:
"They are back to playing basic, principle football. They are not real flashy. They do not take a lot of chances. Their philosophy on offense is, ‘you don't run a play unless you can block everybody'. He doesn't say ‘oh well the running back will make one guy miss'. He does not believe in that and neither do I. They do not leave anything to chance. Everything is carefully choreographed and detailed."
On the progression of KU's defense:
"I certainly think they are getting more comfortable. They younger guys are gaining experience week after week. I think some of the position changes we made have been very helpful and expediting some kids up has been helpful. I think we are playing respectably well on the defensive line. Last year, I was not pleased with the defensive line. I thought we were inconsistent. This year, there is a little more consistency to them. I think Hulden Tharp at linebacker is getting more comfortable. We are getting good minutes out of Arist Wright, Justin Springer and Drew Dudley. The safety play has been okay. Darrell Stuckey gives you a big boost. I think putting Lubbock (Smith) back there has helped because he is a tough customer. He does not back down, and sprinkling in Bradley McDougald back there doesn't hurt either. He is so athletic that he can cover a lot of ground."
On the improvement of Alonso Rojas:
"I think Alonso has really improved his game in the area of understanding how to directionally kick the ball. When he first got here, he wanted to kick with all his might, and now he has learned that you can drop it in certain spots. He has got to be one of the best punters in the nation on sky kicks; dropping the ball inside the 20, 10 and even five for that matter. He has more control over his kicks, and he really has become an important part of our special teams."
Senior Quarterback Todd Reesing
On getting the offense turned around:
"We need to relax. It is not the end of the world what has happend the last couple of weeks. We haven't performed like we would have liked to. We have extremely high expectations, but it is just a football game... We need to relax and go out there and have fun. I thought about the last few years, the times we performed best, everyone was relaxed and having fun and just playing football - the game they love. If we can get back to doing that, in addition to working hard and preparing hard, then I have all the confidence in the world that we will get this thing going like it should be."
On getting pulled out of the game at Texas Tech:
"It was a big deal to me. It is what it is. It is his (Coach Mark Mangino) decision. I am still the starting quarterback here. There is no doubt about that. The job is not up for grabs. I will move forward. I know all the guys on the team have confidence in me. I still have confidence in myself. All my friends and family still have confidence in me. Nothing has changed for me. I am going to keep on playing football and keep on having fun and practicing with the guys out here. There is still a lot of football left."
Senior Safety Darrell Stuckey
On the team's mental frame of mind:
"We are excited. We are not giving signs of destruction at all. It is a pretty excited team and we are pretty good with pressure and adversity. We have all had our individual struggles. So there is nothing right now that is going to knock us off and keep us from our goal of the Big 12 Championship."
On what it will take to get back on the right track:
"It will take us all believing. It will take us all knowing what we want to do and going in the same direction. We are all pulling for the same thing."
On whether or not things are slipping away:
"Things are not slipping away at all. As far as the damage that is already done, we have got to keep going and try and win the rest of these games and we are never going to be counted out at all."
Senior Wide Receiver Kerry Meier
On what the team needs to do to get back on the right track:
"What we've done throughout Sunday after the game and yesterday is kind of take a deeper look at what we are doing offensively. There really are not a whole lot of changes we have to do. We just have to go out and perform what we have done in the past. We just have to get back to what were doing. Confidence is a big thing right now and getting back on track and getting confident in what we are doing is what we need."
On the rivalry with KSU:
"I don't think you can put it (the rivalry) in the back seat. This is a big-time game for us. Especially playing an in-state rival. It is one of those things you might want to try to push to the side, but it seems to keep on popping up in conversations. This is a big time game for us. Coach Snyder has got K-State playing well. We have been struggling these past few weeks, but we are excited to get back on the field against K-State."
On the role his brothers played in his recruitment:
"They didn't say much. They tried to pitch the word of K-State to try and get me to go there. But they didn't try to persuade me to do anything in particular to try to get me there. They knew that it was my decision and that I'm my own man and whatever decision I made they were going to be 100 percent behind me. I'm glad about the decision I made, coming to KU. I have been happy about it."
Freshman Safety Lubbock Smith
On Kansas State's offense:
"They have a great running back. I have been impressed with how they have been running the ball. They have been able to pass and do a lot of different things. They have a very impressive offense."
On the improvement of KSU:
"I think Coach Snyder did a great job by coming in and just taking over the team. I think he is going to have them well prepared and we are going to be well prepared also."
Junior Offensive Lineman Brad Thorson
On handling losses:
"I don't think we ever forget about it. We move on. It is going to be a sore spot in our season. A lot of us it is going to bother us for awhile, but there is nothing we can about the past. We have taken as much as we can from every single loss. Obviously in losses you have a lot to improve on so it gives us more and more to work on every week. Just being ready to move on to the next opponent because a win next week is more important than a loss last week."