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Kansas Football Notable Quotables 11.17.09


As if you really needed a reason to read these wonderful recaps, now you've got one.  Mangino talks Texas, Lew Perkins meetings and tries to stay on football.

From the player side Todd Reesing, Darrell Stuckey, Huldon Tharp, Chris Harris and Tanner Hawkinson.  Keeping it close to the vest as you can imagine, but I have a hard time believing that the full focus is truly on Texas.

Players of the Nebraska Game:

Offense: Kerry Meier

Special Teams: Alonso Rojas

Scout Team Offensive Player of the Week: Tyler Hunt

Scout Team Defensive Player of the Week: Randall Dent



Head Coach Mark Mangino

Recap of last week's game versus Nebraska:

"We made strides in a lot of areas. I was really pleased with the offensive line play. I thought the offensive line was really mature. They played against one of the best defensive lines in the conference and held up very well. They played physical football and pass protected very well. The run game was much improved, a lot of that had to do with the line. Toben (Opurum) had a good game as well. I thought our wide receivers played physical and blocked extremely well on the perimeter, which is something that we've needed. On the defensive side of the ball, I think we're coming together. We still have some issues, we need to shore up some things at the corner position and we'd certainly like to see the linebacker position continue to progress. It wasn't quite as sharp as we would have liked it for Nebraska. The defensive line continues to improve and the safety play does for the most part. We've just got to be able to stop people in the fourth quarter. That's going to be a key for us.  We've got to be able to stop people in the fourth quarter, and score more in the fourth quarter. Those are the challenges that we face."

On this week's game versus Texas:

"This week we play Texas. As you know, Texas is an outstanding team, an excellent football team. No weaknesses on the offensive side of the ball. They feature a great quarterback in Colt McCoy. Their offense is somewhat centered around him. He can beat you throwing and he can beat you with his feet. He's a very intelligent player. They have just a lot of good steady football players on offense. Their defense gives you looks, moves around, they have a really impressive defensive line, outstanding linebackers that run sideline to sideline and really an excellent secondary that plays the ball well and also tackles well. We're looking forward to it. It's a challenge to go down to Austin, but we're looking forward to going down there and playing very well."

On Lew Perkins meeting with the players:

"I don't (have any comments on it). First of all, I'm really focused on Texas and that's the direction we're going. I don't really have much to say about it other than when you lose a few games in a row, those type of things surface. Those type of issues come up. It's not uncommon. I don't take it lightly, but I'm focused on Texas and I'm very comfortable with the way we manage and run the football program here."

On whether there are any recent events of concern:

"I don't want to talk about the issues or what was said - this person said this, and is this correct and all that. I'm not going to get into that. This is not the appropriate time for that."

On whether the timing has any effect:

"Yes to some degree. This is what comes when things aren't going well. You're going to find disgruntled people. It's a fact of any organization, whether it's sports related or it's corporate - any profession you're in. Our program has been successful and has done some great things here and we're proud of it. The fact of the matter is that we've lost some games in a row here. Nobody feels worse than I do about it, and nobody is trying harder to get it straightened out. A fact of life is that these types of things are going to come up when things aren't going well and that's life. It's how it works."

On whether the investigation will distract from the upcoming game at Texas:

"No. Let me tell you why I say that - and I don't want to in any way come off as arrogant, I just try to be direct - these two football games are more important to our players and us than anything on the outside that can be said or done towards me. I'm focused on Texas and that's where all my energy is going and I'm really not going to be consumed by this. It's not my nature. I'm happy with where our program has gone. I certainly don't like the idea that we've had some losses here, but it's not because of a lack of effort on our players' part or my part or anybody's part. It's just what happened and we have to live with it and learn from it and build on it. Texas is my focus and I'm not going to be distracted from that. We put too much hard work into 12 months of the year to prepare for all these games to be distracted and not ready to give our very best. We'll be ready to give our very best in Austin."

On whether he has had any discussions with Lew Perkins pertaining to the meeting:

"Yes, I had a brief meeting with him. If you want to know what was said, I'm not disclosing it. He's disclosing information about the situation, I'm not. I'm focused on the task at hand and want to stay on track."

On the length of the meeting with Lew Perkins:

"It didn't last long. It was 10 to 15 minutes."

On why he thinks Lew Perkins chose to release a statement:

"You'd have to ask him; I don't know. We're all trying to get on a winning tract here and we're trying to get the train on the track, so I can't answer for him. That would not be appropriate for me to try and speculate why."

On whether he is concerned if he's lost the team at all:

"I haven't lost the team - not one bit. I may have lost some people around here, but it's not the players. Take it for what it's worth. You decipher and see."

On how important it is to be bowl eligible:

"It's important because the kids have worked hard. I want it for them. I want the bowl game to be for them. If you're worried about the extra practices, I'll tell you this, we didn't go to a bowl game in 2006. We stayed home. We won 12 games the next year."

On Todd Reesing getting to play in Austin, Texas:

"He's looking forward to it. This is a game that means a lot to him. He's going to be excited to play there. He's going to have a lot of family there and he'll play well. He's excited to go back home."

On if he's pleased with the senior leadership:

"I think the core. Obviously there are some seniors that don't get a lot of playing time, so it's difficult for them to lead. But the guys who play - they're leading and doing everything that they can. They've been great. They've always encouraged the other players. They've been awesome. Under the conditions, they've done great."

On Texas quarterback Colt McCoy:

"He's an impressive young man, there's no doubt about it. He's not a flashy guy. He kind of just does his work. He does what the coaches ask of him, he makes plays. He has the ability sometimes to make plays out of plays that are near collapse and he pulls it out and makes something happen. Just watching him from a distance, he appears to have outstanding leadership qualities. His teammates rally around him quite a bit. You can see that they look to him for leadership."

On what he anticipates senior day to be like in Austin:

"I'm sure it will be emotional for a team that hasn't lost a game on their home field. I'm sure it will be an exciting atmosphere for their fans and their players. It will also be exciting and a challenge for our players to be able and go into a great venue like that and compete and play well and do everything we can to get on the winning side."

On whether the team can use recent events as a motivation against Texas:

"I don't know. I never gave that a thought. I'm not really one that's ‘it's us against the world' type of thing. We'd like to have a win. I think that's the thing that's on all of our minds - what can we do to win a game. Let's do everything that's in our power as players and coaches to get a win. That's what we're looking for."

Senior quarterback Todd Reesing

On the meeting with Lew Perkins:

"He let us know that there is an investigation and that's it."

On whether or not he knows what the investigation is about:

"There's been some certain things that have been said, but I really don't want to focus on that right now. It is what it is. It's happening and it has nothing to do with playing Texas, so I don't really see the relevancy in me talking about that."

On whether or not this situation has to do with the team's performance:

"I don't think this has anything to do with the recent performance or the number of games we've won."

On trying to redirect the team:

"I told them that this was going to be something that was going to be hard to handle. As you can tell, I've been standing here five minutes and I've answered zero questions about the game against Texas this Saturday. So needless to say, it's going to be something that we're going to have to deal with. We're going to have to find a way to stay focused on this football game because as you can see, the focus is not there from things outside of our program. I told the guys to not talk about it, to not share anything that they don't need to talk about and worry about Texas and our ability to prepare and get ready for them."

On his final games at KU:

"All I want to do is spend the next 11 days that I have guaranteed as football player at the University of Kansas to be fun and to be enjoyed with the rest of my teammates and coaches. I am going to get ready and go out there and play as hard as I can."

On staying focused:

"I am focused on playing in Texas and doing whatever I can to get ready for that game. That is what I am going to tell the rest of the guys. You have to find it within yourself to stay focused with the task on hand and I think for the vast majority of guys it will be easy for them. They share the same belief I have in where we stand and what we want to do in these next two weeks."

On last week's game and how to win:

"I think we did a good job this past week of controlling the game.  We had one turnover on offense that was costly, but other than that we didn't make a whole lot of mistakes. In the fourth quarter we took the lead and had a chance to win the game later on. As long as you cut down your mistakes and don't have any huge momentum changes then you are always going to give yourself a chance to win in the fourth quarter, which we had last week. Hopefully we can take that same approach and give ourselves a chance to win."

Senior safety Darrell Stuckey

On Coach Mangino:

"He's obviously done something right. He's done a lot of things KU has never seen before. We've seen BCS games, we've seen bowl games after bowl games. As a fan or a person looking from the outside, you can't really complain too much about what he's done here."

On whether or not this situation is a product of losing:

"I feel like when it comes from the people outside looking in, you're going to try and find reasons to say that you know everything about the program, but we're a football team. There are going to be ups and downs, but we've got to keep going."

On whether or not the team is going in the same direction:

"Yes it is (going in the same direction). It's going in a positive direction. Regardless of what negatives have happened in the past regarding wins and losses, we still want to go out there and win and play every game."

Junior safety Chris Harris

On whether this team can sneak up on Texas:

"Just knowing Texas, and having a great coach like Mack Brown, I'm pretty sure they'll be ready for us. They're not going to allow anybody to sneak up on them. When we go down there, we've got to bring our A game."

On whether or not the team feels pressure:

"I don't feel any pressure. I can't speak for everybody else, but I don't feel any pressure. I'm just excited to go to Texas and play another game and finish off strong."

On playing on ABC:

"We've just got to be focused as a team and it's exciting to play back-to-back weeks on ABC. Going against Texas, playing on TV, a lot of people are going to see that so you can go out there and showcase how good you are. Winning a game on ABC in front of everybody would be amazing."

Freshman linebacker Huldon Tharp

On the team's overall improvement in the past couple of weeks:

"We're working hard in practice and we've had some of the best practices here lately, that we've had all season.  Maybe we're motivated after this losing streak. We know we have to continue to get better and nobody on our team likes to lose, so we're going to do everything that we can to change that."

On facing Texas' senior quarterback Colt McCoy:

"It is a great opportunity, especially with him being a Heisman candidate the past two years. It will definitely be a challenge, but I think it will be a good time."

On how much pressure the team is feeling:

"It is the same pressure there always is. We're out here to play football games and to win football games. We're coming against the No. 3 team in the nation, so there's a lot of pressure, but nothing is going to stop us."

On playing a night game on primetime television:

"It's a big stage. It's the biggest stage I've had an opportunity to be on as of now. It will be exciting, especially in front of that many fans and against such a high caliber team. It's a great opportunity to show what our team is made of, especially our defense.  With such a good offense, hopefully we can knock them off and ruin their title shot."

On the breakout season he has had as a freshman:

"Coming in as a true freshman, you don't really think that this kind of situation is going to open up for you. I definitely have confidence in what I can do and the coaches have helped me so much in just learning all of my assignments. That has helped quite a bit."

Redshirt freshman offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson

On team's meeting with the Athletics Director:

"We don't want to dwell on it right now. Right now, all our focus is on the game in Austin this weekend. It's going to be a big game and it could be a big game for our program as well. That's all I'm focused on and that's what majority of our players are focused on as well."

On how much pressure the team is feeling:

"Not necessarily pressure, it's just more of coming out and finishing the season with a little pride and doing it for the seniors as well. They have done some great things here for this program and just pulling together at the end of this season to pull out a couple of these wins and finish the season strong."

On facing another tough defensive line:

"It's another big challenge for us. I think the past couple of weeks our offensive line has been coming back together after our little slump that we had. I think we have some guys in positions where they feel a little more comfortable and I think that definitely benefited us last week. It boosts our confidence as well, being able to play as well as we did. We know we have another challenge this weekend and we're looking forward to being able to play a good game against Texas."

On the offensive line's progression throughout the season:

"There were a lot of questions going into the season. We obviously had our bumpy points in the season but now we're kind of getting back into the form that we know we can be and everyone is positive about that. I think everyone is finding their roles and feeling really comfortable with it at this point."