Kansas Spring Football Presser

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Kansas Head Football Coach Mark Mangino and selected players met with the media Friday at the Anderson Family Football Complex. The Jayhawks begin spring workouts Monday.

Several things stand out in from the press conference and certainly could warrant some discussion.

First off Tanner Hawkinson has moved to Left Tackle after starting out his career at KU as a tight end.  Tanner has moved twice now in his time at Kansas and I remember when he first came to campus there was talk of him possessing the kind of frame that could easily bulk up to a tackle type player.  He's competing at the left tackle spot for the Jayhawks as it stands now.

With that in mind a couple other moves on the offensive line worth noting include Jeremiah Hatch moving back into his more natural position at center which is a great thing.  Jeff Spikes will likely remain at the right tackle spot and Ben Leuken who saw minutes as a true freshman at right tackle could see a move to the interior.  All in all I like all the moves and think it puts us in a good position.  Look for Sal Capra, John Williams and Trevor Marrongelli to be in the mix as well on the interior.

Angus Quigley's move to linebacker will be important in the success of that unit this season.  If it sticks and he is successful we could see him petition for one more year of eligibility.

Lot's of other great stuff in here, if you like Kansas football take a minute it's a great read and some good discussion to be had.  Would love to hear others thought's.

Jump into the post for the full press conference notes and quotes...

 

Mark Mangino Spring Press Conference Quotes

Opening Statement:

"Good afternoon.  We are getting read to kick-off spring football this Monday.  We will practice on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.  We will go next week and then we will take spring break off.  Then we will come back and get back into our routine.  The spring scrimmage will be Saturday, April 11 at 2 p.m.  We're going to finish today what has been a very productive winter.   We've had good, strong intense workouts throughout the winter both in the weight room and with our speed work.  Of course our agility and conditioning has been very good.  Chris Dawson and his staff have done another outstanding job of getting the players prepared for this spring competition."

"Looking at the offensive side of the ball, we need to settle a three-deep at quarterback.  We need to see if we can relieve Kerry Meier of some of those responsibilities at quarterback. I'm not ready to do that just yet.  At running back, we need some depth there.  We need some guys to help Jake Sharp out.  I think that we have a couple guys right here in school that are doing a great job and are going to be ready to compete for the backup spots.  At receiver, I think that group just has to get better fundamentally.  They do some good things.  You have seen their talent, but we just have to improve fundamentally at the wide receiver spot and I think we will.  At tight end, we  have to develop a two-deep there as well.  We have Tim Biere who's doing a great job, but he needs some help and we're hoping that somebody will step up and be a strong number two in the tight end position." 

"As far as the offensive line, we have done some things in terms for personnell changes that we think will strengthen our offensive line.  Number one, we've taken Jeremiah Hatch and moved him to center.  We've taken Tanner Hawkinson and moved him to left tackle.  We think those moves will improve our offensive line tremendously.  Tanner Hawkinson is a very big, quick, athletic guy.  He's very talented and could play a lot of positions for us.  We think that he has a chance to develop into one of the next great left tackles here.  Obviously, he needs a lot of work because it's a foreign position to him.  I think that move helps us get better in a lot of ways."

"We also have another position change on offense.  Isiah Barfield will move to wide receiver to help us develop some quality depth there.  Isiah's got great hands.  We looked at it this way-in the fall we will have 10 corners on scholarship.  That's too many corners on scholarship.  A lot of it is because we recruited a lot of good athletes to move to other positions, and this is one of those situations.  He has speed, good hands and is a prime candidate to be a good wide receiver.  I've coached years when I only had 10 offensive linemen on scholarship, but 10 guys for only two positions needs to be fixed up a bit.  Remember, there is no strength in numbers.  It is quality, not quantity."

"On the defensive side of the ball, I think our secondary played better in the second half of the season.  We need to develop some consistency.  We need to be very good at the corner position.  Bringing Calvin Rubles in will help us, plus we like what we have right now at the corner position.  At linebacker, we've lost three guys so there will be great competition for those jobs.  Angus Quigley, who worked a considerable amount of time prior to the bowl game, will permanently be moved to linebacker.  That is his position.  I don't want to get too much into the X's and O's, but I will tell you that we are playing less and less with three linebackers on the field because of the way the offenses have evolved in the Big 12.  Close to 80 percent of the time we are playing with two linebackers and an extra safety.  What we feel like is that we are going to have a guy that is a third linebacker, but is really more of a safety-type guy that can play in space.  Last year we used a little bit of our base look with three linebackers, but that was only because we could get away with using James Holt as an edge rusher.  So, we're not overly concerned, but we do have to have people step up.  Moving on to the defensive line, I think our defensive line needs to get better in all areas, including technically, fundamentally, run techniques, pass-rush techniques and gap discipline.  We need to make some strides.  With Tom Sims here, Tom has already proven that he will make the necessary adjustments and teach the fundamentals that we would like to have in our defense that we're used to having up front.  That is pretty much the assessment of our offense and defense."

"In the kicking game, we need to work on kickoff return and kickoff coverage along with the other areas, and as always, they will need a lot of attention.  But we will have more focus on our coverage and return this spring than maybe we've had in the past."

On Tanner Hawkinson:

"He'll be fine (physically).  He's a kid that has a powerful build to him.  He's not a guy that is a bag-of-bones.  He's a really powerful guy that has good muscle mass distribution.  Cesar (Rodriguez) played at 275 (pounds) for years, and at the end of the day, he'll (Tanner) be much bigger and stronger than that.  He'll be fine to go in the fall, he'll have adequate weight."

On having one final season with Todd Reesing as the quarterback:

"It'll be a great last hurrah if we win a lot of games.  It'll be fun.  We're looking forward to it, but there's more to this football team than Todd.  We need people to step-up and build a strong supporting cast around him.  Anytime you have a veteran player at the quarterback position, it makes life easier.  The thing that we told Todd, and we're not going to have a problem with it, but you have to be careful that sometimes you get into your senior year and you get complacent.  You think you know it all and that is when you get burnt. But that is not his personality, he has worked really hard this winter.  He's very excited about spring ball and there is no indication that he suffers from complacency."

On how Reesing will handle the national spotlight:

"He can deal with that. He's an intelligent guy and he has good skills when communicating with people.  He's not a big press conference guy.  He doesn't like to sit there and be asked the same questions over and over. It is kind of like when I repeat the same things over and over to him.  He's a highly intelligent guy. He decides what he thinks is petty and what is important and he sorts that out in his own little world.  I tell him what is important though, and when I think he's not really paying attention, the position coach and I raise the decibel level of our instruction and he gets it."

On Justin Springer's health:

"He will not return until training camp.  He is rehabbing very well and a little bit ahead of schedule.  With his work ethic, there is no question that he'll be ready to go in August."

On what the coaching staff is looking for from the younger quarterbacks:

"The most basic skills needed are the management of the game, management of the huddle and management of the line of scrimmage.  We have some kids showing signs of that.  Kale Pick is really a mature young guy and he's starting to understand what it takes.  That's the first level and then you have to make plays.  We're used to a quarterback that gets the reads and finds the holes and gets the ball there.  We need our younger guys to do that as well."

On the number of snaps Kale Pick will take at quarterback in spring practice:

"As he progresses, he will get more and more.  He'll start out with the same number of reps that our number two quarterback would have.  He'll get a third of the reps that the ones get.  We like to use this time to develop the quarterback position beyond Todd and if everything goes according to the way we would like it, he will get more reps as spring progresses."

On Kerry Meier's reps at quarterback:

"We will spot use him.  We'll probably use him with twos early on just to get that second unit rolling and having some continuity. And the plan is, if we can, to ease him out of that role and have it be Kale or Jordan Webb (as the backup).  If we could have it our way, we'd like to eventually have him full-time at receiver.  But we won't do it unless we're very comfortable where we are at with the two and three spots."

On if the Meier's permanent move to wide receiver is to help his draft stock:

"Kerry would be upset if that's why he thought we did it. He's a pretty unselfish guy.  It helps our team to have him out there full-time at receiver and working all of the drill work with the receivers.  I think it will be good for our football team, but if it becomes helpful to Kerry personally then that is great, but that's not the reason."

On the likelihood that Daymond Patterson will play receiver too:

"That's up for debate, but that's not something I see happening, at least in the early part of spring or maybe not at all. We have get the secondary settled in the corner positions. When he proves that he has a good grasp on it and he's confident, then we can consider giving him some reps on offense. I don't see that happening right away."

On the guard spots:

"Well, we've got Sal Capra who played a substantial amount of time for us last year. We've got Trevor Marrongelli who's competing for a position; John Williams who had  surgery and missed all of last year and we redshirted him. He will be a big factor in there. Now that he's gotten going, he really looks good. Carl Wilson is in there competing. I think we're going to be okay. I think the biggest key, is that we solidify the tackle spots. I think Jeremiah Hatch will be fine, center is his natural position, I think the guard positions will fall into place."

On whether Tanner Hawkinson is competing for a starting spot:

"Yes."

On Ben Lueken:

"Ben Lueken right now is working at the right tackle as a backup, but Ben will be moved inside. We will experiment with Ben at the guard position. The thing we like about him is that he's tough. He'll bring some toughness to that offensive line, so he will find a spot there. He's competing for the right tackle job, if not possibly inside. He's one of our best backups. By the way, just a note, Nate D'Cunha is transferring to a small school. I don't know if we've made that public or not, I can't remember. But he wants to go where he has a chance to play right away. I agree with him. I think it will be good for him."

On which side Jeff Spikes will be on:

"Spikes will be on the right."

On who has impressed him out of the new players who came in January:

"Well, I would say that I think they all have gone through a transition period. Most of them, being high school kids, they were in shock for a month. I don't think any one jumped out, but in recent weeks, Calvin (Rubles) is really starting to get into good condition and you can see that he's moving around a lot better. I think he's starting to get a little more confident because the shock has worn off. You go straight from junior college to the winter workouts and it's a little bit different here than maybe it is at some of those junior colleges."

On what the early arrivals stand to gain:

"First of all, you get a jump on the other players coming in the fall. That means you've developed a little bit of a comfort zone. You've already developed new friends on the team, you know what's required of you, what the daily routine is here at the football complex. You know what the classroom routine is. You know who the trainer is and what his rules are. You just kind of get comfortable. Whereas the other kids come in the summer and they've got to start all over and you've got a head start on them. It has helped some of the kids both academically and in terms of football. I think it helped Todd Reesing to be here for that first spring. He learned the system and knew everything and we were able, in the middle of the season, to put him in there and he could be fairly productive, considering he was a true freshman. There are a lot of benefits. I've said this before, and I'll tell you again, I tell kids is to stay in high school and have fun. The most fun I had in high school was my last semester. My grades probably showed it, too. I played baseball and I enjoyed that. Some kids are emotionally ready for it, and if they are and they feel like they want to do it, I don't say no to them."

On the corner position:

"I'd like to tell you that we had this grand plan that we were going to get ready for all these spread offenses that we saw in the crystal ball, but the fact of the matter is that we thought that some of those kids were really athletic corners in high school. The bigger ones we could move to safety and the ones with really good ball skills could play receiver, and then the guys that have all the tools, top to bottom, would be our corners. And, we've just been a little slow because we had a setback last year at corner. We lost a great corner. We had an injury. We kind of got cautious and didn't want to move anybody. We thought, ‘Let's just hold on here and get this corner position shored up and get us through the 2008 season and then in the off season, we'll consider moving'. We are considering other moves with other players at the position, but we don't feel comfortable doing it at this point. We'd like to see them play corner for awhile."

On Chris Harris:

"Chris has played corner for us. I think he has shown that his biggest asset on the field for us is playing the nickel back. He has a good feel for it. He understands it. He really got pretty good at it as the season progressed. We'll see. That's what spring is for - to tinker around. I like to move things around and tinker and slide guys in and out of positions. That's kind of my entertainment for the spring. I see who fits best and where. I've always said that a lot of our success has been attributed to our coaching staff and my willingness to move players around. If we would have always gone with how we recruited them and kept them there, I don't think we'd be as successful as we are now. You have to be willing to do that. I think you just have to get the maximum amount out of your players."

On the adjustment for Angus Quigley switching positions to linebacker:

"We're hoping faster than running back and I think that'll be good. He has some instincts. He can play in space and that's something you like out of a linebacker with his size. Obviously, there's a lot of calls and things that he's learning, but he's an intelligent guy and he seems to be learning. What we need him to do now is be in the right spot and come up and strike you and make the plays. We're anxious to seem him do that. He showed some signs that he could. I told Angus that if he could find his niche here in this linebacker position, he's a prime candidate to get an additional hardship year because he missed two entire seasons with injuries. At the end of the year, if we wanted to, we could petition to see if we could get him another year. You can't do that until you're finished playing. That would give him two years at that position and he could really make an impact. It looks like he's put his heart and soul into it. If he has, there's a good chance that it could work out. It'll be up to him."

On whether Angus Quigley's special teams performance gave him the idea:

"No. I just felt like he's athletic. He's made some hits on special teams, and there's days that he hasn't. My feeling is that he's really athletic and that is running back technique was troublesome to me. He ran the ball very high, which left the ball exposed to tacklers. We just couldn't get him to get his pads down. He just felt more comfortable, erect because his eyes were up and he could see where he was going. He felt like he couldn't see well in a lower position. It had always been a problem for him: that the ball is getting hit by defenders' helmets and shoulder pads. He's such a big, strong, talented guy that we felt like he could help us somewhere. I think this, hopefully, will be a good fit for him. This will be an opportunity to get on the field in a consistent basis. It's more up to him than anything else."

On whether Angus Quigley will have an opportunity to contribute in the upcoming  year:

"The clock's running on him. He's not getting any younger. So he's got to get on a crash course here. You've got a lot of repetitions. He played a lot of linebacker before the bowl game. He scrimmaged it. He was in there doing it a lot. He got a little bit of a jump there. This spring, he's going to get as many reps as he can deal with. We're going to get him ready to play. If he's not ready play, if he can't do it, then he can't. We're going to give him the opportunity to do it. I think he'll help us there."

On whether they've discussed the prospects for the season for the whole:

"We discussed that at the very first team meeting we had at the beginning of the semester. Everything is in steps. All we did was focus on the winter workouts. Now we're talking about the preparation and having a good spring ball. We set goals for the spring for each position and each unit. We go a step at a time here. In the summertime, we'll focus on that and get ready for that and get ready for training camp. Then we'll start talking about the schedule and the big picture and how we want to attack it."

Player Quotes

 

Senior Quarterback Todd Reesing

 

On the upcoming year:

"We have high expectations.  We didn't accomplish everything we wanted to last year and we're going to take that disappointment along with the good things we did and build on it.  We're looking for a great spring season to jump-start the fall.  We've had one of the best off-seasons since I've been here.  We're looking for some guys to step up and fill some spots.  The main thing we've been focusing on is winning the Big 12 North.  We've fallen short the last couple of years and that's something we want to capture this year."

On the offense:

"All of our guys are coming back and we have a lot of chemistry together.  We're looking to build on our experiences and have a high-powered offensive attack to complement our running game with Jake (Sharp).  We'll need some guys to step up on the offensive line, but if everything goes according to plan, we should have a good year."

On helping encourage the offensive line:

"We have some younger guys and we are always looking for leadership on the offensive line.  Those guys play as one, and if they're not playing well, we can't play well.  We're going to have to push the young guys along and get them to mature a little bit faster than they might like to.  I have a lot of confidence in them.  They've been working hard."

On his personal expectations:

"I have really high expectations for myself for my last year.  I don't set any personal goals as far as statistics go.  Just like the rest of the team, I want to win the Big 12 North.  I want to win the Big 12 Championship.  We have two bowl wins and that's a great feeling, but we want a chance to play for a championship.  We are looking forward to the challenge."

On dealing with the spotlight this year:

"I don't know if it is going to be different from the last couple of years.  The quarterback is always in the spotlight.  Expectations come with pressure.  That's part of the position and something you have to handle.  I'm looking forward to everyone looking to me when plays need to be made.  I'm ready for it and I want to raise the bar higher than it was last year."

On the wide receiver duo of Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier:

"Kerry (Meier) and (Dezmon) Briscoe are both coming back and they both got over 90 catches and over 1000 yards last year.  I don't think there are many teams have that coming back.  I expect a lot of big things out of them.  I hope they bail me out of a lot of bad situations with some good catches.  It will be exciting to see what those guys can do."

On being a senior:

"It really hasn't set in yet.  The guys I've talked to say it doesn't set in until that last game is over with.  It's kind of hard to think that this is my last off-season.  This is the fourth spring season I've been through and it feels like I just got here yesterday.  I look forward to it.  I'm going to enjoy it and soak it all in while I'm here because I will always remember it."

 

Sophomore Center Jeremiah Hatch

 

On which position is most comfortable for him:

"Of course in the interior, on the inside. Tackle has some tough shoes to fill and it's my first year, so I think I feel better on the inside."

 

On switching positions from last year:

"I just did it because that's what the team needed at the time."

 

On the leadership role normally played by a center:

"I played my whole career at Carter (High School). I think the center needs to be the leader. I think I'm more of a different leader, though. I don't need to holler and tell people where they need to be. I just like to lead by example."

On former player Ryan Cantrell's influence on his career:

"He's a leader, one-of-a-kind.. I still call him to this day, asking for advice. I ask him how to work out or what I need to work on."

On whether he still has things to learn as a sophomore:

"I'm learning all the time. I learn from different guys. I'm still learning as a sophomore."

On how he feels about his switch from tackle to center:

"It was just whatever the team needed.. Whatever Coach told me, I would play."

On if he feels rusty after not playing center last year:

"Of course. I've never played center here. I played center in high school, so playing center here at this level is new to me. I just have to start over and learn the position."

Sophomore Wide Receiver Isiah Barfield

 

On making the transition from cornerback to receiver:

The biggest transition is just learning all the plays. I played receiver when I was in high school, so I have to learn all the route runs and things like that. It's not going to be too bad, but I still have to learn all the little things."

On why he was switched to receiver:

"There are not too many receivers this year and I think that's why I was bumped over to the offensive side of the ball. I didn't come here as a cornerback, I came here as an athlete. I never really played cornerback in high school."

On how he took the news of his switch in position:

"Coach Mangino called me into his office and was like ‘How would you like to be on the offensive side of the ball?'. I said whatever needs to be done to help the team out. I wasn't disappointed or anything like that. I looked at it as there weren't a lot of receivers and it is an opportunity for me to get playing time. I'm just ready to get to work."

On coming from a win-less high school team:

"I was very thankful (to be recruited) coming from two no-win seasons. I talked to my family and they just told me to keep my head up and if you're good enough you'll play.. If you're good enough you'll get recruited."

On what it was like to be on a winning team last season:

"It was amazing to be able to gain that winning experience again."

Left Tackle Tanner Hawkinson

On why he switched positions:

"The opportunity to play, I guess. The first impression of it was, ‘Great.' I've never played that. I played defensive end in high school that should make the transition a little easier for the offensive line. I just took some time just to think about it. It's obviously for the team."

On whether Kerry Meier's success helped him make his decision:

"Yeah, definitely. Kerry (Meier) has been a great story about him switching from quarterback to receiver and the great success he's had. So obviously, I trust the coaches and what they think because they've been in this business for awhile. I trust their opinions, so it made this decision a lot easier."

On how Coach Mangino asked him to switch positions:

"It was kind of Mangino told me their thoughts and ideas. He just said you have to be really committed to the position to play it. I said I'd like to think about it just to make sure. He said it was fine and the next week I came in and told him."

On his weight:

"Today I weighed about 266. I'd like to be about 290. When I graduated (high school) I was about 240 and by the time I got here, I was about 245."

On whether the left-tackle position is intimidating:

"It definitely is because you're the guy who has to protect the quarterback a lot of the time. It's widely known to be a tough position to play."

Assistant Coaches

Offensive Line Coach John Reagan

 

On incoming freshman Tanner Hawkinson:

"To compete in the Big 12 you've got to be strong.  I don't have any doubt that he'll be where he needs to be when the time comes for him to step on the field."

On Jeremiah Hatch moving inside:

"There was always a hope that that opportunity would present itself.  He had very good feet and he's a great leader, and we like to have guys like that inside.  He's one of my best linemen."

On the depth of the offensive line:

"We have guys competing for jobs and that is really nice.  They are competing because they have the ability to compete.  It generally makes you better.  Right now, the majority of them are just bodies.  Very few of them have actually stepped on the field and played significant time for us, but the opportunity is there."

On evaluating players and their playing time:

"You can see it in the way they move in individual work.  A lot of it happens before they even step on the field in the winter workouts.  You can look at their athletic ability and their technique regardless of their success and production.  You try and factor all of those things in with their potential and put it all together."

Offensive Coordinator Ed Warriner

 

On players competing for the running back spot:

"We will just have to wait and see.  We're going to look at everybody we have.  We still think there is a lot of potential in Jocques Crawford and Rell Lewis.  Deshaun Sands is in that mix too.  We want to find out who is the next best running back after the spring that we can rotate in there with Jake (Sharp)."

 

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