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Kansas Football Press Conference Quotes 9.1.09

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Once again a weekly update from last year is the standard press conference held by the Jayhawks every Tuesday.  I'm working on getting something potentially special going for these things but for now the standard presser will have to do.

This week coach Mangino talks a whole lot about new players, new positions and the upcoming opponent.  We also get to hear from some of the new faces on the team with Bradley McDougald, Toben Opurum, Huldon Tharp and Kale Pick joining usual faces in Darrell Stuckey, Kerry Meier and Jake Sharp.

Easily most talked about guy seems to be Bradley McDougald, everyone got asked about him.

Onto the quotes...Get ready, there's a lot this week.

Opening Statement on game vs. Northern Colorado:


"We are in our preparation here for our first game of the year against Northern
Colorado. We have had a very good training camp and preseason practices. I like the
development of our team in just about every area. I feel like we've accomplished a
lot of things, but we're always working to get the right players in the right spots,
which is something we work on throughout the season, but so far, I'd say we're in
pretty good shape."


"Northern Colorado is a team in the process of transitioning to Division I football and
they are really doing it in the right way. They have a good plan, both on and off the
field, for the development of the program. They are a team that just won one game
a year ago, but they have plenty of people back;13 returning starters on offense and
defense. They have recruited a junior college running back, who is a very good
player, by the name of Andre Harris. They are talking him up quite a bit and I think
he will have quite an impact. Brian Wagner, the quarterback, is returning as well."

"They are a team that can give you some problems because they use a lot of
different looks on offense. You can see them in one back, in two backs, two tightends.
They also do a good job with their package of empty backfield, meaning
nobody in the backfield. They've given some teams problems with that, including last
year when they played Purdue, you can see they did some really good things out of
that package."


"This is a big game for UNC. It's an opportunity for them to come to a Big 12
stadium and compete, and it's our job to not only be concerned with them, but also
be in competition with ourselves. We must use this game as a measuring stick to see
where we are in various positions on the field and to get better."


"We are really looking forward to it. Our players are getting tired of practicing
against each other, so they're also excited to be playing somebody different."


On is it easier to scout a team early in the season which has a lot of returning
players:


"Well not necessarily because we're always adding wrinkles to our offense and
defense. We are always going to expand our package of veteran players; ask them
to do more than they've done in the past. So, I'd say it is better to have veteran
guys coming back than to have a bunch of rookies that nobody knows."


On Dezmon Briscoe's kick return game:


"He's made a world of difference back there, which we saw in just the few games he
played back there last year. He understands the lanes, he understands leverage, he
knows where the block lanes are coming from and he knows where the pursuit lanes
are coming from downfield, so he will continue to do that job and I suspect he will be
able to do it very well."


On offensive line vs. defensive line in practice:


"I think we have seen a lot of give-and-take. That is one of the things as a head
coach that you sometimes can't measure [who is progressing at a faster pace]
because you want them both to do well. They are both out there competing against
each other every day and I truly think it has been give-and-take, which is a sign to
me that we are doing well and making progress in both areas."


On the progression/improvement of the linebackers:


"We have made a lot of progress since day one; there is no question about that. I
think those kids are starting to develop some confidence in knowing their
assignments, getting their reads and getting where they are supposed to be in both
the run and pass game. We have been hindered a little by guys who have been
banged up and missed repetitions, but overall I like the progress. We just need to
continue that development as we go through the season."


On moving Brad Thorson to left guard:


"It was a situation where he was playing very well at the center position and he has
had a big winter and a good spring as well. He's a strong player and we just knew he
belonged on the field somewhere. We made a decision to move him to guard and
take a look at him there, which we found was worth doing because he looks pretty
sharp there. Now, he is still learning some things, but it was a good move for us
because we want to put our five best offensive lineman on the field and he was one
of our five best.


"There are little nuances in moving from center to guard, but nothing major. It would
be a lot tougher to go from center to quarterback, that would really difficult, but not
guard."


On Jeremiah Hatch at center:


"Hatch has a lot tools. He plays with leverage, he does a good job getting under the
defensive lineman and he has active feet; his feet are always moving. He is a young
player who is really getting comfortable with being the guy in the middle of the line
who gets us in the right protections and the right calls. He is really doing a great job
and he is excited about this opportunity to get to play in the center."


On starting the season and making a statement in the opening game:


"Well everybody is excited to play our first game. We have been looking at this since
August 6. We haven't seen a different color jersey for a month. You take a look at 15
practices in the spring, 15 practices for a bowl game and 29 practices leading up to
the first game. That's a lot of practices to have only seen one opponent, so our
players are anxious to get on the field and compete. We just want to play well. We
want to play smart football, aggressive football in the way we always do. Good,
tough hard-nosed ball is what we're looking forward to doing."


On balance between playing time in a game like this for first team and second team:


"To be honest, the number one priority is going out there with your ones and winning
the game. We are not fooling around, meaning we have not sat around saying ‘we'll
get this guy reps and have him do this and that.' We have focus just like we do
every week on our game plan for our starting players. Now, we put a good amount
of emphasis on the twos, but there is no more this week than there would be any
other week. In an ideal situation in your first game, we would like to get some young
kids some work to see where they fit in because maybe they are guys who should be
up on the depth chart and can prove that, but our focus is getting in there with our
ones and winning the game. If we get a chance to play our second-team, then great,
we'd like to do that."


On quarterback Kale Pick's reps, now that Kerry Meir is primarily at wide receiver:


"I think he has been steady everyday on the practice field. You can see him pick up
little things here and there that maybe he was not able to do a week ago, but he has
just been really steady; just how you like him. He is coming along and gaining
confidence. He has spent a lot of time working on his game. He comes in and
watches tape on his own, goes in the meeting room and studies himself and studies
the opponents, so his progress has been nice and steady."


On importance of Pick getting real game experience:


"Well yes, if it is the result of a decision we make as a coaching staff, rather than
one we are forced in to out of necessity."


On freshman wide receiver Bradley McDougald:


"We had not really spent a lot of time with him over the summer because all his work
is done with the strength and conditioning coaches. We thought he would be pretty
good, but then you hear the kids talk around the building and the strength coaches
talk and you realize he has the ability to be pretty good. As soon as we got him on
the field, just a few days into practice, we realized he was talented young guy. We
asked ourselves how fast he could run our offense, how fast he was going to adjust
to the tempo of DI football as opposed to high school, and we now suspect he will
adapt pretty well."


On defensive to offensive transition for Tanner Hawkinson:


"Obviously we want our kids to play a position they enjoy playing and can be happy
with. He is a talented young guy and to be honest, we moved him to defense last
year out of necessity. But I always had in the back of my mind that he would be best
as an offensive tackle. He has embraced it and sees himself getting better everyday,
and when kids see themselves getting better, the enthusiasm grows."

On the growth of junior lineman Sal Capra:


"Sal is an interesting player. He's a kid who played linebacker at Rockhurst and was
a very good high school player, but I knew he was not going to play linebacker here.
What we thought he would do is perhaps be a three-technique or a nose, but we
really needed some help on the offensive line a couple years ago, so we moved him
over. At first it was difficult for him, but he did everything he had to do to make
himself a better player. He needed to get bigger, so he worked hard in the weight
room and he worked hard on the practice field. Sal Capra is a guy I would term a
‘program guy.' He works hard, he is dedicated to the program, he doesn't get a lot of
fanfare or press, but he works at it everyday and has developed into a solid football
player for us and we would be in trouble if we didn't have him."


"Yes, being called a ‘program guy' is one of the best compliments because it means
the kid has done everything the program has asked him to do to become a better
player, a better teammate and contributor to the program, which he [Capra] really
has done. The strength coaches rave about him, his position coach says he's just a
hard working guy and when I watch tape of him, I see he's not flashy, he's not a
huge guy or a quick guy, but he's smart, resourceful and knows how to play the
game."


On the experience of returning special teams players:

"We don't really put out a special teams depth chart, so you will probably be
surprised by the personnel you see on the field because there have been a lot of
changes. But special teams has been highly competitive in this year's training camp.
We have made it a high priority because we feel if we are going to have a chance to
be a really good football team, we have to win the field position battles and the
special teams. I'm convinced we'll be better on special teams this year from top to
bottom."

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Player Quotes

Kansas Player Quotes
Press Conference
Sept. 1, 2009

Freshman Wide Receiver Bradley McDougald

On the biggest thing he has had to get used to in college football:
"Probably the speed of the game. In high school once you get to a certain point, it is
easy to just be able to go through things half-heartedly. But college football is
always a consistent grind. Each play is full speed and just the speed and the tempo
of the game is something I had to get used to."

On his confidence in his ability to immediately contribute:
"It was a definite goal. Coach (Ed) Warinner was the person who recruited me out of
high school and he mentioned possible playing time, but I never thought it would be
what it is now. I thought I would be rotating and working my way into the first
group. Once you get here and you sit down in the meeting room and you look
around at the receivers, it is kind of intimidating because they know more than you
do, but it is basically about getting on the practice field and making plays."

Senior Wide Receiver Kerry Meier

On playing a Non-BCS school in the first game:
"We’re trying to come out and start the season off with a bang. Northern Colorado is
making the transition to Division one and a lot of people think that this is going to be
a walk in the park for us but it’s going to be a good test for us to come out and see
where we’re at. We’re eager to come out and see what we can do."

On Bradley McDougald:
"He has the ability to make everything look easy. He’s just a smooth athlete that
takes it all in stride. A lot of times it looks like he’s not going very hard, but his
ability to make plays and make it look easy is going to be great for us. He’s come to
me numerous times, trying to figure out certain things. Anytime I can help him out, I
know it’s for the betterment of him. If he’s getting better, we are getting better as a
team."

Freshman Running Back Toben Opurum

On his feelings playing the first game of the season:
"I might be nervous when Saturday comes around, but I’m pretty good at keeping
my calm. I’m pretty calm right now, but definitely excited for the game."

On Northern Colorado:
"I didn’t know a lot about them prior to us preparing for them, but we’ve looked at
the film and what they do, I think we’re definitely prepared to handle ourselves on
Saturday."

On how practice has changed now that it’s gameweek:
"The most important thing is for us to prepare on what we do because that’s
ultimately what’s going to happen in the game. It doesn’t really matter what the
opponent does, but how we handle ourselves during the game. We have put
preparation in for this team, but it’s mainly about what we do and how we maintain
our focus."

Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Kale Pick

On winning the number two job:
"I’m very excited. It was my goal this whole offseason and Saturday is going to be
exciting. I’m more concerned about how we do coming out right away and how our
team does offense, defense and special teams. How we kick off the season is more
important than my personal excitement."

 

On his feelings for this week:

"This is something we’ve worked hard for all offseason. There are only 12 days in the
year that we are working hard for all winter long, all summer long, so this is what
we’ve been looking forward to since the Insight bowl. So it’s definitely exciting this
week and we are looking forward to Saturday."

Senior Running Back Jake Sharp

On Bradley McDougald:
"He’s really stepped up. Mentally, he’s where he needs to be for a freshman. It’s
usually the mental aspect that will separate freshmen from other freshmen to be
able to play early. He’s really showcased some maturity in that aspect."

On Northern Colorado’s season last year:
"That was last year. We don’t even look at that stuff. Bottom line is that we’re
playing an opponent this week and it’s Northern Colorado. We’re going to play as
hard as we can, like we would every other week. I’m sure those guys are working
hard down there and that thought is not on their mind at all."

Senior Safety Darrell Stuckey

On the cornerbacks going against top receivers in practice:
"I think it sets the bar high for them. I think it forces them to think big even though
they are small. It is one of those things where you start out running at a fast pace.
That pace is going to set the bar for the rest of the race. If this is where the pace is
going to start and their expectations are going to be that much higher, then they are
going to break that much faster and play better.

On helping young guys with their roles:
"The first rule we implemented was to know everything about your position. Know
everything about the people that surround you. Know everything about what your
position influences on the field. As a corner, their roles are going to be small. They
could be on an island the whole time, but when things come their way they have to
understand why they do what they are going to do."

Freshman Linebacker Huldon Tharp

On what has been most challenging:
"The most challenging thing has been learning the whole mental side of the game.
Learning the defense has definitely been a challenge – learning all the coverages."

On whether he is nervous:
"I’m definitely nervous for this game just because it has been over a year since I’ve
played an actual game. I’m nervous, but I’m also more excited to get out there and
show what I can do and help the team out as best as I can. It’s been a long time
since I’ve played."

On what it has been like since he got injured in high school:
"Originally, it was just shock – there was a possibility that I wouldn’t play Division I
football, but then KU gave me the opportunity and still had faith in me that I would
be all right. Right now, it’s paying off and they feel like I can help."

On how he spent time while injured:

"Rehab all the time. Then once I’d get cleared for certain weight-lifting things, I’d be
lifting all the time and running all the time and doing whatever I could do to be 100
percent."