Jayhawks Stage Orange Bowl Press Conference

University of Kansas

Football Press Conference

Dec. 14, 2007

Head Coach Mark Mangino:

On Virginia Tech:

“I’ve watched some tape and there’s no question, it’s a very fine football team. They are athletic. Their defensive line is very good and their secondary is very good. They are led by their corners with the big one, (Victor) ‘Macho’ Harris will be playing on Sundays. On the offensive side of the ball, they have worked with a couple of quarterbacks. They seem to be able to get that two quarterback system to work for them. They do a good job. Virginia Tech, if they can run the ball on you; they will run the ball until you stop them. They have talented receivers so they can throw the ball. They are not a one dimensional team even though they’ve used the two quarterback system.

On the Virginia Tech special teams:
“They are very good. They do a great job with their coverage teams and they do an excellent job with their punting, their net put and covering. They are very good at returning kicks. They have good schemes for punt blocks. They’ve been known to block a lot of punts, field goals and PAT’s. It’s a challenge for us. We play special teams here very well and this will probably be our biggest challenge in special teams so far this year.”

On Virginia Tech:

“Their program has passed the test of time. This is 15 consecutive bowl games for Virginia Tech. I believe this is the fourth year in a row with 10 wins. This is a team that is used to playing in big games, playing on the big stage. There are some folks that have an argument that perhaps they should be one of the teams playing for the National Championship.”

On getting everyone healthy for the game:

“I still think that we have a few where we have to be mindful of their repetitions on the practice field, but a lot of guys who were hobbling around with (bad) ankles, knees, hips, shoulders; those guys feel pretty good. I don’t see any lasting problems. We are only going to have one player, to this point, that will be out with an injury that won’t participate in the game and that is Arist Wright.”

On Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer:

“He is highly respected in coaching circles. As I mentioned, passing the test of time is the true test for a program. He started out somewhat like we did several years ago here. It wasn’t easy for him, but he stayed the course, he kept at it and he methodically built a program. He’s done it with great recruiting, a great organization, attention to detail and excellent assistant coaches. Fifteen bowls in a row is pretty impressive. Coach Beamer has done just a fantastic job there. He is highly respected in our profession.”

On practicing with such a long break before the game:

“Right now we’re practicing primarily with the younger guys. The tempo of the practices the way we want them for preparation will start this week. Our routine will stay the same but there are certain areas we have to focus on, certain things our opponents will do that we need to be able to identify. Our practice routine is always fast tempo, it’s always fairly physical.”

On what the BCS game means to the football program:

“I think it means a lot. We want to win it. We don’t want to just go to a bowl game, we won’t to go down there and play well and have a chance to win the game and that’s what our focus is. Is it a defining moment in the program? No, I don’t think it is. I think going to the bowl game and getting our foot in a BCS opportunity is important for us. I think its important for us to play well and give ourselves a chance to win. As I talked about Virginia Tech passing the test of time, now that’s the challenge we’ll face now.”

On KU’s All-American selections from this year:

“I think it’s terrific. I’m really proud of those kids. I’m really proud of Aqib [Talib] and AC [Anthony Collins] and J-Mac [James McClinton]. I think J-Mac should have been first team. You ask any offensive lineman in the Big 12 and he’ll tell you he’s the hardest guy to block in the conference. I’m really proud of those kids. They’ve done great things here. They’ve done things here that a lot of people didn’t think that they could do.”

Junior Cornerback Aqib Talib

On the trip to Miami:

“We are ready to go. We are going to enjoy our Christmas vacation first and then we’ll get into it.”

On the practices:

“We are trying to get healthy and stay in shape and then we’ll start to focus on Virginia Tech. It will get more intense with the practices coming up.”

On Virginia Tech:

“They have some pretty good receivers. They have a real fast and real good defense. It’s going to be a tough game and we’ll have to prepare well if we plan on making it a game.”

On his postseason awards:

“It means that I had a pretty decent season. I didn’t even think I had that good of a season. I thought it was decent, but I didn’t think I deserved all of that so it was a surprise to me. I’m honored if they want to give it to me I’ll take it.”

Sophomore Quarterback Kerry Meier

On his versatility:

“Right now I’m happy with where I’m at. I’m having fun and we’re winning. I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I don’t know in the future, but right now I’m going to enjoy what we are doing.”

On being on the Sports Illustrated cover:

“I think I handled it like any other situation I’ve had. I take it how it comes and however it helps me I’m going to adjust to it. I think that’s how I’ve come into the season. I’ve adjusted well and whatever has come my way I’ve taken it and ran with it. It’s been great with all the things that have happened this season and I’m happy with where I’m at right now.”

On the Miami warm weather:

“I’m enjoying it right now. We are not even down there, but everything leading up to it, it’s been great. I know I’m excited, we are all excited as a team to get down there and experience a BCS bowl game. It’s a goal that we’ve set out since the very beginning and because of our motivation we are here. We are in a January bowl and we’re happy.”

On mixing business with pleasure:

“The team we have now is very focused on getting things done and focused on the business aspects of football. We came here to win football games and we are going to enjoy doing it. We are on a business trip going down to Miami and that’s the mentality we are all going to have come January 3rd.”

Senior Tight End Derek Fine

On the experience of going to Miami:

“I think about how exciting it is everyday. I’m really excited because we’ve worked really hard to get where we are at. That (Miami) is all the things that come with it. I think if you are not excited about playing football and in a BCS game then you should switch to a different sport.”

On practice:

“We aren’t really doing a lot of practicing yet as far as the varsity squad guys. Most of the guys that are getting all the reps are the younger guys and the guys that are red-shirting this year to get a head start getting into our system and a head start going into spring ball. We really haven’t started doing our practice hard yet until tomorrow (Saturday).”

On how to keep that football edge:

“Football is like riding a bike. Once you get back on, you remember everything as you go. We’ve been playing football for so long, so it’s no big deal.”

On the Virginia Tech defense:

“Overall they have physical and fast linebackers and are some of the top rated linebackers in the nation. They are real physical guys and that is the kind of approach they take and it’s something that I have to prepare for. I’m excited that we get the opportunity to play a big time program like Virginia Tech”

Sophomore Running Back Jake Sharp

On practicing in Lawrence:

“(Practicing in the cold weather) doesn’t bother me. We do have an indoor facility, which does have Astroturf, so your knees and ankles ache a little more, but it doesn’t bother me to be around here for Christmas.”

On the team getting healthy:
“The morale definitely goes up when everybody isn’t beat up. We’ve been running and lifting to get our strength back. It’s good.”

On getting to have fun at the bowl game:

“We’re going down there to win a football game. I have two goals for going down to Miami: No. 1 is to win the game, No. 2 is to meet ZZ Top, if that’s possible. They’re kind of my idols. But it’s a business trip, we’re going down there to win a bowl game. I’ve never really been to a bowl game before, so it’s going to be new to me. I’ve never even seen the ocean, so going down to Miami will be fun.”

Senior Running Back Brandon McAnderson

On going to play in Miami:

“It’s going to be fun, there isn’t going to be all that snow and ice on the ground out there. It’s going to be great. We do have to stay focused on the game, but it’s going to be a fun time for us.”

On keeping the focus on the game:

“When we went to Orlando (for the Tangerine Bowl in 2004), I think a lot of people lost focus and said ‘wow, we’re in Orlando, this is fun’. Then we went to the game and got thumped because as a team we were more focused on the experience and having fun. I don’t think that will happen this time, but we do have a lot of freshmen, so I think that’s something we’ll need to talk about. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.”

On facing Virginia Tech:
“I’m excited. We haven’t had an opportunity to face a team like this. They’re one of the best teams in the country. They play great special teams and have two of the best linebackers in the nation. They have one of the best cornerbacks in the nation. They’re just stacked on defense. So the bowl game is going to be a great challenge for us.”

University of Kansas

Football Player Quotes

Dec. 7, 2007

Senior wide receiver Marcus Henry

On the atmosphere of playing in a big game:

“I think (playing Missouri at Arrowhead) will help us, because we’re used to the crowd noise. That is going to be the most important thing we concentrate on.”

On what his last few weeks have been like:

“We have been lifting and running and just staying in shape, but pretty much just resting my body. It was needed because we had our bye earlier in the season and eight games in a row were pretty tough.”

On getting back to practice:

“I think everybody is excited to get back into practice and focus on Virginia Tech.”

Senior defensive tackle James McClinton:

On the practices:

“It seems like every other practice we’ve been running in the morning. It’s bringing back a little bit of our winter workouts. It’s cool though, we have to stay in shape and we can’t be getting all sloppy.”

On whether playing in a BCS bowl is actually a good recruiting tool:

“I believe it is. Look at Boise State in the WAC (Western Athletic Conference). They are getting real good talent so I believe that it is a real good (recruiting) tool, especially if you have younger talent that is coming back, that’s a plus. It’s really good and beneficial for the program.”

On how much of his success his talent and how much is hard work:

“Talent is important, but this game is not just shown on the field. It’s also in practice and workouts. It’s a year-round sport. You have to have a mental edge and for me I have to stay (up on my prayers) and keep my trust in God.”

Senior kicker Scott Webb

On playing in a big time bowl game:

“It’s awesome. It’s a great feeling getting to the Orange Bowl, with all the tradition there and all the history. Going out my senior year, I don’t think there is a better way to go.”

On having time off between games:

“We have some time off. I think we need it to give the guys some rest. I think it will be very beneficial to get some time off. We have some guys banged up. As soon as we get the guys healthy we’ll be ready to go.”

On playing Virginia Tech:

“I haven’t had to watch too much film, but I do know that they are a very good team. I’ve seen a couple games on ESPN and they are good. Traditionally they are always in the top 10 and are a very good team year after year. We are very excited to play them. They are a team that we would be able to see outside of a game like this. We have to take this opportunity to play well and it will be very fun to play them.”

Sophomore safety Darrell Stuckey

On when to prepare for Virginia Tech:

“I think individually it’s started already. We’ve been watching them play on TV all year because they always play on TV. They are a great team and a great school. It’s funny because just last semester our whole athletic department was wearing Virginia Tech shirts after the tragedy. God has blessed every thing that has happened there because they persevered through that and came back to another bowl game.”

On preparing for two quarterbacks:

“One specializes in running the ball and getting the running game going and the other one is more of a threat in the passing game. So I think if you put them both together, we are getting ready for one quarterback. When you have two quarterbacks, there is a reason that team has two quarterbacks. There is a reason why they want to emphasize one aspect of the game while one is in and the other aspect while the other is in.”

On going to Miami:

“I’ve never seen the ocean or the beach. When I think of Miami, I think of the Will Smith song ‘Miami’. Then after that I think of Bad Boys 2 and the Miami Heat. I think of different things. I think of the ocean, the beautiful beach and being in peace. There is a lot of diversity down there and a lot of people get along better.”

Sophomore quarterback Todd Reesing

Since the Orange Bowl announcement:

“I’ve just been enjoying myself. It’s been awesome. We haven’t really gotten started on game plan and stuff, but we’ll be getting there soon enough. It’s been pretty fun seeing everyone on campus and around town being excited about the game we have.”

On mixing school with preparing for the Orange Bowl:

“Right now, we’re kind of at a stand-still. We’re trying to finish up with school and then turn our attention to the bowl. It’s kind of hard to look ahead because I have too many finals I have to worry about next week.”

On mixing school with preparing for the Orange Bowl:

“Guys take notice to it. Most of the guys on the team carry pretty good GPA’s and work pretty hard at school. That’s something that we pride ourselves on and I think last semester we had the highest team GPA in history.”


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