UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 11, 2018
COACH BEATY: Before we get started I want to take a moment just to honor the families that 17 years ago on this day, they lost some loved ones, and they've continued to press on. And myself, my wife, my wife, Raynee, and I both have a dear friend, Steve Genovese, that passed away in the World Trade Center. And his daughter is now with my daughter at Texas A&M, they're both Pi Phis together. It's funny how the world brings you back together.
We were with them literally a month before that happened. So just a shout-out to all the families that have pressed on and to our country.
But before we get started just wanted to talk a little bit about last week, just a few things. We obviously learned a lot from this last game. It was a fun game, fun ride home, very enthusiastic. There wasn't just a whole lot of sleep, even though they were tired. That was a fun ride home. That's how we've always wanted it to be. Our challenge now is to make sure we learn so we continue to have those types of feelings.
One of the things that as a coach you always worry about is that some things that you needed to learn from kind of get covered up in times when you win.
And we as a coaching staff are putting a lot of time and effort into making sure that the things that could have gotten us beat or could have kept us from winning that game, or the things that kept us from maybe even winning it more decisive, that those things don't just go to the wayside, that we address those things, because those are the things that are going to help us moving forward.
So we learned a lot from this video. And what we learned is we have a long way to go. We have to play a lot better in a lot of areas, but there's some improvement in some areas. I think one of the biggest differences between this year and the previous three years is the fact that we've been able to win the battle of field position. We've been able to win the battle of hidden yards. And that has so much to do with your special teams.
Coach Perry and all of our coaches, because everybody has an active role in that, we put -- since we walked off that field against Oklahoma State last year we went straight to work managing that third of the game. We felt that would give us an opportunity to be in the game. And then if you play well in the other two areas, then you should have a chance to win the game without a doubt.
So we knew we had to do some things differently and we did that. We were very deliberate in the way we approached the offseason and so far it's paid off.
We were getting pinned a bunch last time at this time of year, and so far we've been able to be the guys that have done the pinning.
We've had, last week we had seven kicks or so that were pinned inside the 20. We had six of his punts or five of his punts were pinned inside the 20. Six of them were inside the 15 or five inside the 15 and one of them on the 18. So we'll take that. We'll definitely take that. That helps us by being able to keep those guys to start further back.
I can't stress enough how important that is. I think we're becoming a smarter team. We're still trying to develop in so many areas. But it's good to see some of that development starting to come to fruition.
We're only going to be as good as our next, but the turnover margin is critical. You know at this time last year, you know, we simply weren't in this position. We're plus-6 right now in the turnover margin. That was a huge emphasis as we came off the field last year against Oklahoma State. And I think we created nine turnovers all last year and we're already at seven this year.
So some of the things that we focused on that we've implemented, it's good to see the development starting to work and it's starting to become contagious with those players.
We're still working on trying to be a smarter team. We still have a long way to go there. That's not just players; that's coaches as well. So we all have to look inward as we look at this video and we move forward today.
It's going to be very important that we have a great practice today because we've got a really good opponent who played one of the better opponents I've seen on tape in a long time.
So don't put a lot of stock into that score. That is a really good football team that they played and they hit on all cylinders Saturday. The one we're playing is a talented football team. So we're going to have our hands full. There's no doubt about it.
But I look forward to that opportunity, Chris is a dear friend. I think he's one of the better coaches in the country. He's amassed a bunch of talent there. They've got the right guy, because he's brought in some real talented players. Some of those guys are young, but they've got a bright future. There's no doubt about it.
Couple of things that just stick out to me that we've got to do better. When we are able to capitalize and get turnovers, we've got to capitalize offensively and put those things in the end zone. We weren't able to do that last week. We had two missed feel goals on turnovers that were within striking distance and that's not okay.
We had two field goals. We missed one and made one. We've got to be able to score touchdowns. We love Rui but we hate field goals; we love touchdowns. And he's got to be there to take care of it when we don't get it done. But we want to see less of him and more of him on extra points.
And that's a big emphasis as we move forward this week, because as we saw the video, it was all us. It really didn't have a lot to do with the opponent, which usually every play's about that.
I know there's going to be some questions about our opponent. We did play a bunch of guys in the game. We had 25 guys play on defense alone, 27-plus guys on defense throughout the game. So that was by design to try to get some of those younger guys or newer guys in the game. And fortunately it worked out for us in that game.
So I know there's a bunch of specific stuff you all want. So let's go ahead and take the questions.
Q. You said yesterday that Pooka is available this week. Has he been cleared for the rest of the season or is this a (inaudible)?
COACH BEATY: He was withheld last week because of eligibility issue. And we're just excited to have him back on the field for this week.
Q. There's nothing guaranteed that he'll be around the rest of the season?
COACH BEATY: He was withheld because of an eligibility issue and we're excited to have him back on the field this week.
Q. Academic eligibility?
COACH BEATY: That's all I can say now.
Q. There's a highlight of Pooka on YouTube from his high school career where instead of stiff-arming the guy he jumps up and kicks him in the chest. Is that a legal play and have you ever seen that before?
COACH BEATY: I can't imagine that that's legal -- I have not seen it. I've seen guys try to jump over folks, but for some reason that doesn't surprise me. I don't know how I missed that one. I think I turned it off about four plays into it because you knew he was that good of a player.
But I've never seen that. That's a good question. I don't think you can do it, to be honest with you.
Q. The ref probably doesn't know; it's probably not in the rule book.
COACH BEATY: Well, that's something I've got to ask. It's pretty good. Because if they can we may be starting to institute a new kind of stiff leg instead of a stiff arm. We'll see.
Q. Saw a video of Joe Dineen presenting you with the game ball in the locker room after the game. Did you sleep with the ball tucked under your arm?
COACH BEATY: No, I actually didn't. I mean that was a cool moment, cool moment for our entire team. I took the ball and just threw it over to Pooka because he had a great game and really we were pointing out to a bunch of folks. I grabbed it and threw it over to the defense because that ball is about those guys.
Joe, Daniel, those guys have gone a long time without being able to see a road win, so they certainly deserved that ball a whole hell of a lot more than me.
Q. What about Kerr Johnson and what's your evaluation (indiscernible)?
COACH BEATY: What I love about Kerr, if you didn't hold a mirror under his nose you wouldn't know he's alive sometimes. He just doesn't speak a lot. But, man, he's one of those dudes, you better pay attention to because he can run. And he's a guy that he just does it right. He does it right.
The thing I like the most about guys like him and Stephon are the fact that they're doing exactly what we saw them do on tape in their college, in their junior colleges. That's what makes us feel good knowing that we got the right type of player, that he can continue to do that when he gets here.
So when they do exactly what we saw them do on tape, that's where we feel pretty good about it. We saw Kerr make a lot of good, long runs when he was in junior college. The same thing with Stephon. Those guys can run after the catch. We felt we needed to find some guys who could do that.
And I think that's the thing that sticks out to me. I mean the run in the first game by him, that's a big-time run. He stiff-armed the guy, stayed on the move. He made a very difficult catch running across the middle. It looks easy, but, man, it's one of the hardest things to do in football is to catch a slant on the move. It's just very difficult. He negotiated it well. And he runs really well after the catch.
Q. You mentioned the turnover margin and how important that's been. Obviously the offense has had a (inaudible) so far, I think it was a fumble (inaudible)?
COACH BEATY: Peyton got hit. Yeah, they had to go review it.
Q. Doing well in that, not turning it over like they had in the past. How much credit do you give Meacham and Bender for the lack of turnovers?
COACH BEATY: All of it. It's always going to start right there at the top with Doug and him emphasizing the right things, managing the game, not putting the ball in jeopardy and knowing that you can play this game and do a lot of damage to your opponent by putting the ball in play and not necessarily always trying to make it look like a big play all the time. Hanging on to the ball and going through reads.
And I think some of the best things he did the other night, he threw a glance away, where, you know, the kid was covered. He threw it away. That's real growth for him. Because he's a guy, he can keep it alive. Keeps his eyes down the field better than anybody I've ever had. But sometimes it can be counterproductive.
And really the one fumble we just held it too long. Had he got his eyes in the right spot, we would've been able to get it out. But he's done that, for the most part, throughout the fall so far. And the credit goes to Doug. Doug's done a terrific job of training him. That's how you get it. I mean, they're going to do what you teach them to do. That's how it works. And I think you can see the deliberate training that we've been putting in, Doug has been putting in, our offense has been putting in, to make sure they've got their eyes in the right place.
If you turn on the Ohio State film, the Haskins kid, all he does is just do the right thing. He is a terrific player but throw on top of it how well he runs the offense, whew, they're pretty good.
With him being that good of a player, they're pretty good.
Q. Watching the tape, how does the offensive line rotation for you shake out, the interior?
COACH BEATY: That was good for me to see. I was excited about that. Because I think we have some depth there. I think we have guys that are comparable. I don't think that we have a big drop-off when we have the second group go in, really across the board, which was good.
I'm not sure that we have a bunch of elite guys, but I think we have a bunch of dirty work guys that you can get the job done with when they believe in that.
But I will say this, we gotta get better in that area. I mean, that's an area that, if we can improve that, we've got a chance to be pretty good on offense. But we don't have a whole lot of time to get it right. We've got to get it right starting now.
So we're continuing to work at it. But those guys are starting to gel, starting to come together a little bit better. And it might be a deal where we don't always have the same five in there and they're going to have to learn to gel with all of them in there at different times. But they're developing. They really are. You've got to think about it this way: There's a lot of guys that played a lot of college football, whether it be junior college or transfer football, but they haven't done it together and they haven't done it in this system.
There will be some growing pains as we come along with it, but coaches, we're just not happy with that. We want it to be all together right now. And we're working in closing the gap. I think we made a pretty good jump in the first and second game, but that's an area we can get a lot better quicker. We have to play better up there.
Q. The four interceptions you had on Saturday, did you see the fundamentals you kind of coached on, what are the takeaways (inaudible) coach?
COACH BEATY: It absolutely can be a coachable thing. You get what you emphasize in our game. I say it all the time: You're going to get what you emphasize. I coached receivers a long time. If you want them to run a 12-yard route, you better tell them it's 14, because they'll always be two yards short. General rule in our game. If you want them to see it to the tuck, they better see it to the tuck, and they better tuck the pair of socks their mom tosses them, because if they don't, it won't become muscle memory to them.
It's all the same. Our coaches, Coach Bowen and those guys, have made a total commitment to really getting the ball out. We watched a team in our conference go from not a very good defense to a pretty good defense by getting the ball out a lot.
They changed themselves. And we put some of the same emphasis on that in the offseason. And Clint and those guys have done a great job. I mean, there's guys ripping and roaring at that ball all day every day. When there's a dropped ball, we're scooping it like it's a fumble. We want to make sure we're getting used to doing that.
So that's been good. It's very deliberate in that regard. And then the touchdown by Shak, I mean that to me showed a little bit of growth in our defense, because what he was supposed to do there, he did. He sunk and he stayed underneath the corner route and still was going to be able to rally to play, played the underneath throw, and he did exactly what he was coached to do and it paid off.
Q. Yesterday, could you go through some of the improvements that Bryce Torneden has made over the last couple of years?
COACH BEATY: You know, the thing that I've noticed about Bryce, and I thought about this yesterday, that's a good question, man, there's never going to be a problem with his heart. There's never going to be a problem with his desire, his want-to. He's got the skill set.
I thought about it today. I mean, he's a Tasmanian devil. This dude is like a -- he's a tornado coming to the line of scrimmage. But that can be counterproductive if you don't know how to get your body under control. That's one of the things we put emphasis on with him is learning how to control the speed at point of attack and knowing how to leverage the ball and he's certainly improved it.
Now he missed a couple of tackles this week by being too Tasmanian-ish a little bit, coming up there just out of control. One of the things that can get you beat in this game is you not controlling your body and understanding how to go fast, get your feet square.
He's got to learn that to become the player that I think he can really be. But we've seen that. We identified that as an area he can improve on. He's gotten better.
Q. The rushing performance you guys had Saturday, do you need more confidence running the ball going forward?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, I think -- yeah. I think whenever you're doing something and you become a little bit more successful with it, obviously you want to keep doing it. Now, a lot of it goes to the guys up front. They did also do some good things Saturday as well. I don't want you to misunderstand it. But I can't say enough about the guys on the perimeter, because when you have long touchdown runs, it's always attributed to receivers on the right guys chasing shoulders all the way down the field.
The one that went up the middle, we had four guys get body blows on that play, and that's how it happens, right? Those turn into scoring blocks. And you take one guy that takes a play off and that guy gets tackled. In this game, if you can make them snap it again, it's hard to get in. It's hard to get in the end zone. You better score when you have a chance because there's no guarantee you're going to get in.
And it's very difficult. So those guys on the exterior understanding that that dirty work is so important. It's the hidden deal, them taking pride in it, that's another area of growth that we're seeing the development. It takes a while, but we're seeing the development. And they're taking pride in it.
Q. Has Mike Lee gotten better every year as far as not being too Tasmanian-ish?
COACH BEATY: Pretty good term for him. Yes, his eyes are getting a lot better. He's still a guy that you have to -- he's so physical and he's so straight-lined that obviously you want to make sure that you're coaching him in a way to where he understands his deficiencies are sometimes what he thinks is a strength can be a deficiency. And he's starting to understand that. He's seeing it better. His communication, just in the huddle with him and Coach Bowen watching him out there communicate, it's just so much more mature than it used to be. Watching him understand what coach is talking to him about.
I mean, I wasn't joking with you the first year he knew where Tevin lined up and that's where he went. That's it. That's about all he knew, but he's grown a lot since then.
Q. Cole started the other day. What led to that change and how did he handle that first start of his career?
COACH BEATY: You know, he handled it well. He handled it exactly like we thought he would. He didn't make any big deal about it. It was just very workmanlike. We felt he had earned that opportunity. He had shown we could trust him in that position, that he had adapted to the scheme and the way that we were able to do things and that it really ultimately, with him and all of them, it comes down to who we trust is going to be able to do it the best.
And this last week he earned that. He earned that. And I think it really -- it really helped us on. I thought his week of practice was very deliberate. Didn't get to play a whole lot out there last week. I could see his development. He did a terrific job on the sideline coaching and really being with Cole the entire time. That shows some growth in our team. It shows some growth in our team. But those are just signs that we need to keep that going.
Q. Todd Reesing is going to be back in town this weekend. Just wondering you coached him for a few years, around him a few years. How much do you draw on that time, whether it's building the program to where it was then, or even recruiting quarterbacks, or what do you take from being around him?
COACH BEATY: Well, yes, absolutely. We draw on a lot of the things that several of us were here for that. And I keep looking at these guys behind you, because those guys mean so much to us and me and this program. I mean, you've got some of the best in the history of the game that are on the wall back behind you. But Todd is a guy that has exemplified really kind of what it means to be a great Kansas football player. That's just a hard-nosed blue-collar, underestimate you and I'm not going to worry about that, I'm going to play with a chip that is only driven by me being better and me being better for Kansas. And that's the thing I always loved about Todd, he was always about our team.
And then really just his competitiveness is something that I've always utilized with our team is how much that cat competed.
I mean, we used to go throw the ball around on Friday for about five minutes and he would go play receiver every week and man he would get pissed if he didn't get open and make the catch. He's just a competitive dude. He really is.
The really high level ones, they're like that. Johnnie was like that. Todd's like that, they're both from Central Texas. Central Texas guys.
But I've said it before. I mean, that guy is a really talented guy. So deserving. I'm so happy for him. I'm happy for his teams. I'm happy for Coach Mangino. Coach Mangino chose that guy when nobody else did, Coach Mangino chose him. A lot of credit goes to Coach. Sometimes it's decisions like that that can change a program and thank goodness for Coach he chose that guy because he wound up being a really, really great player here.
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