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UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
September 22, 2015
COACH BEATY: Appreciate you coming again today. Obviously we're excited to be back in a game week. Obviously for our guys last week was a very important week. Like I said after that Memphis game, the bye week, we felt like it came at a great time for us. That wasn't just lip service. We had a lot to learn from in those two games.
Being the bye week, the timing worked out. It couldn't have been really much better. It helped us to have that pause in our season and try to address some things we needed to be sure we were tightening up as we moved forward.
We practiced heavy on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday last week. We were a little bit lighter on Thursday and Friday. Came back and practiced heavy on Saturday. We had a pretty heavy week last week.
I was very impressed. I thought we were productive in every one of those workouts. I was impressed with the approach our team took. A lot of that comes back to the leaders we've got on our team right now. We've got some really good leaders on this football team, which I've been around a lot of good football teams that I've been on that we haven't had leaders. Really I'm pleased with that right now.
We've got some leaders that have done a nice job setting kind of the culture around here, which we need to continue to do that. We have guys that have done a nice job there. Because of that we were productive.
Really also I have to take my hat off to Coach Jackson and my staff. They did a great job all week. We lifted them up a bunch last week trying to continue to develop them. They handled it well, they really did.
Our goals for the bye week were very specific. There were a lot of things we were looking for in that week. We sat down as a staff and set goals. Like we said last week, we're always trying to be fair, consistent and demanding in what we're asking from for our guys. At the same time we want them to have fun and enjoy a great game. We wanted to make sure we created all those things in the elements of practice last week so we could get better in all areas of the game.
A couple things we really wanted to focus on was continue to cultivate a competitive environment at all positions. We also wanted to be very deliberate with our practice methods in an attempt to improve our performance. In order to do that we wanted to make sure we were emphasizing the right things.
The number one thing was emphasizing accurate execution along with great effort, but accurate execution, doing things and doing them right, getting things done correctly. So technique, alignment, assignment, all the details that go into accurately executing, that was a big deal.
We talked about that with our kids a ton, but we wanted to do more than just get through it. So we wanted to make sure we had methods by which to make sure we were improving, having a measurement tool to do that.
We did some unique things, some things I have not seen done with our teams before. We tracked all of our things such as MAs, technique issues, loafs, hand placement, every detail that comes down to executing their job correctly, we tracked it. Every time there was an inability to execute that correctly, we tracked that. We kept that and we logged an up-down for each one of those mistakes.
We also wanted to make sure we stressed the importance that that is football, you're going to make mistakes at times. We wanted them to understand you got to keep playing. The most important play has got to be the next play. We tried to create incentive for them to continue to keep playing.
In between our practice periods, we created very specific competitions that had to do with things we needed to improve in as well, like accuracy from our quarterbacks. We put those guys through accuracy competitions that would allow them to gain up-downs back for their team, so they kept playing.
We'd do things like directional punting. If our punters were able to directionally punt successfully and put the ball where we wanted to kick, so we could cover effectively, they would be able to gain up-downs for their team. We tried to make it fun with them.
Field goal kickers, same thing. I think Wyman made a 65-yard plus field goal last week, which was a big deal. Those guys believe in that guy right now. That was something I thought was really good for us.
We even had a little fun. We had a big man red zone seven-on-seven between the offensive linemen and the defensive linemen. They were able to gain up-downs back for the offensive side and defensive side.
Our coaches got involved. We got some accuracy throws. I won't tell you how those went (laughter). Leaper actually got involved.
The kids, they really enjoyed that and it kind of kept them going and kept them practicing. I thought that was one of the best things our coaches came up with, was how do we track the issues that we're having, but then still motivate them to continue to play the next play. That's going to be the most important thing. I think that helped us by understanding we're never out of it. You always have a shot, so keep playing.
Our goal was to end the day with zero up-downs. We didn't accomplish it the first day, but we did the second, which was good. You want to see it decline. Hopefully that translates into us being more effective as we move forward.
We wanted to stress to our kids this is a fun game, you need to have fun doing it, and winning is fun. We want to create a winning culture. We need to understand how important that is to us and our stakeholders here. We want to create the ways to be successful and create that type of fun by being accurate.
Finally, we wanted to finish with the understanding of the fact that we value production just like the world does. We are going to go by what we see, not what people say, not what people say outside of our room, but what we see out there in terms of who is producing.
A great example. Tyler Patrick, who caught five or six passes last week. That wasn't an accident. He went from the scout team two weeks ago to playing for us and being productive. He's a great testament to why you need to continue to work and you have to produce. Man, that's a great deal by him.
He's not the only one. Larry Hughes is another guy. Several new faces out there that have earned their way, that come back to the whole competition of earning their way. We really put a lot of emphasis on going back to our plan of how we're going to get this done and focusing in on some of the things we struggled with as we went into those first game weeks.
I really liked the mentality and approach of our players last week. I thought they worked to improve every day, not to just get through it. That was something that was important for me to see. Anyone can go through two hours of workout. Not anybody can get a lot out of it and get better individually. Pleased with them there. Tells me we're kind of on the right track. We've got some good leaders on the team that are helping with us that.
Very productive week. Our coaches spent the balance of the week, Thursday and Friday, on the road all over the country. Those guys worked their tails off. They haven't got to see their families a whole lot, but they understand that when they get into it. They worked their tails off.
We got to go see a bunch of good friends and a lot of good football, not only around the state of Kansas, but around the country. Thursday night, Friday night, common nights for high school football, got to see some really good players, which was fun, then really get to see some old friends, which was good, continue to develop those relationships. Then some Saturday night, which was good as well.
I thought the week was extremely productive. I'm proud of our entire program because we made strides and got better this week. That was good. We needed to do that heading into our next opponent who is Rutgers. It's going to be a great place to go play. It's the birthplace of college football. It's going to be a great environment, lots of history there. I think it's homecoming for them. Letter winner's weekend. That place will be rocking and full.
I know our kids are looking forward to that next opportunity. It happens to be on the road. Obviously it's a road game so it's something a little bit different. I think that helps them with their juice level a little bit. I know they're excited about that moving forward.
They're a really good football team, offensively, defensively, on special teams.
Offensively I like their quarterback. I think the guy can throw the ball. I think he does a really nice job moving the ball around. I read a lot of things that say other things, but I like him. I think the guy's a good player. He throws it well. He leads the Big Ten in completion percentage. They average 23 first downs a game. They're a productive offense.
Defensively they got some really good players. Their defensive tackle is coming off injury, Darius Hamilton. He just came off injury. You can tell that guy is a difference maker. He was a really good player for them last year. Man, he's a good player.
They got another defensive end, No. 58. Man, that guy's a really good one. We got to know where that guy is and we got to have a good plan for him. He's a good player.
They have a young secondary, but those guys are all capable. I think their linebackers are a good, solid crew. They run to the ball and they are very well-coached.
Coach Flood has done a tremendous job there. His record there speaks for itself in terms of what he's done production-wise, wins and losses, so it will be a great challenge for us.
We're going to benefit from the return of a couple guys. Hopefully we'll get Bobby Hartzog back this week. We think things are looking pretty good for him. Not totally sure. We're fairly healthy, which is pretty good. Josh Stanford is the only guy that is still kind of banged up a little bit. He'll be kind of a game-time decision or travel decision when he see how he moves around today and tomorrow. Other than that our guys have done a good job taking care of their bodies. We're fairly healthy heading into the game.
That kind of gives you a little bit of an overview of those guys.
The last thing I want to say is those guys, I tell you, we have really got to do a great job in the third, which is something we take a lot of pride, which is the special teams area. They scored numerous touchdowns on kick returns. They have one of the most explosive kick returners in the country, Janarion Grant. He will be a challenge to stop. Every week we've played a very explosive returner and our guys have answered the bell. We've got to do a great job this week.
This guy, I mean, he kept them in the game against Washington State almost by himself with some of the crazy things he did in the return game. Very explosive, man. What a great player to watch.
We've got to hem him up on punt returns and kickoff returns. He's a talented guy. They create a lot of pressure in their punt rush which creates some of those big returns. They led the country last year, if I'm not mistaken, in blocked kicks. They're very aggressive. Take a very NFL approach to that.
It will be a great, great matchup between our special teams and their special teams. We'll really get to see where we are this week because they do a really good job there. That's something that you might want to take note of because they do a great job there and he's an explosive guy.
With that being said, gives you a little bit of background about what we did last week, kind of what we're looking forward to this week. Let's take a few questions.
Q. You said yesterday that you felt pretty good about how you prepared these guys to go on the road. How do you do that short of having their bags and putting them on a plane? How do you prepare them for a road trip?
COACH BEATY: Well, you really don't change much when it comes to how you prepare throughout the week. The change comes on Friday when you're traveling. There's some things you obviously prepare them for with regard to what the next day's going to look like, what are the steps going to look like, the walk-through. Those are really the only things. It's just giving them that kind of information. We really don't change a thing. I know that most teams don't.
We don't go to the stadium when we get to the place. We're going to get there in plenty of time to see where the 40 second clocks are. We don't spend a lot of time over there. We go in there and we get ready just like we do for any game and we try to make sure that we minimize our distractions.
That might be the biggest thing that I want to make sure that our guys understand because over a third of this team, this is their first time to travel here at KU. This is their first time to go on a road game. That's good and also a challenge at times. Some of them don't know what to expect. Haven't been in a new stadium. We have some new faces, particularly freshmen that haven't played college football in other venues. That will be new for them. But also know that they don't know anything about the past, which is not a bad thing. Almost half that team, if not more, don't know anything about the past.
The truth of the matter is the past doesn't determine the future for us. That was what it was. I was here the last time we were on a road game. That is what is. It is what is. So that's not going to determine how we play in this football game. It's going to matter when we show up and we execute accurately and we do it with great effort and we outplay them. That's what's going to make the difference.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BEATY: Man, it's not. Not at all. It's not something that I really have given too much thought to until I said it just a second ago. I read it on Twitter this morning. It's in your face every now and then because of Twitter and things like that when we're recruiting. That's one of those things that I don't think our kids really think a whole lot about that either. We don't allow them to.
That has nothing to do with them, it really doesn't. If it was a 30-game win streak or 30-game lose streak, you'd like to be on the other side of it, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter. What happens that day is what's going to matter.
Q. Briscoe had a big game your last road game. To recruit a player of that caliber, is it harder now to do after so many years of losing than it was when you had it going?
COACH BEATY: You know, I don't think so. I mean, as I go back and I remember recruiting Dezmon Briscoe, I wasn't here at KU. I was so fortunate to inherit him. I think Tim Beck signed him out of Dallas.
He wasn't a highly recruited guy. He was actually a late pickup by him. We were recruiting him line at Rice till the very end there. He kind of picked up KU.
The truth of the matter I think it lies in evaluation, in terms of the highly ranked guys, sometimes they fit what you're looking for, sometimes they don't. I think the courage lies in knowing what you're looking for.
I think Gary Patterson at TCU has done a great job of evaluating. There's some really good evaluators in this game. The guys at Kansas State, they do a great job of evaluating. They get people that fit what they're looking for. Same thing with Gary.
We're going to do the same things in terms of how highly they're rated. We don't control that, so we really look for really good football players who we think fit what we're trying to get done here.
I will say this. The men that you employ as those recruiters and the relationship-building skills they have, the sincerity and who they truly are I think makes a big difference in whoever you're recruiting. I'm really happy that we got the guys we got because those guys have good skills in that area.
Q. When you were assembling your staff, how do you try to find that out?
COACH BEATY: That's not as difficult to find out as you think. You really can kind of watch their track record as you kind of get to know them in terms of who they're bringing in, who they're responsible for recruiting, who they were partially responsible for recruiting, and how are those guys producing. There's guys in our profession that produce at a high level. I tell you what, they're at a premium.
We've got several of them on our staff. Reggie Mitchell has been doing it for a long time and he's highly sought after because he's got a good eye. We've been pretty good at runningback here for a long time through the thick and the thin. There's been one common denominator over these last few years, and he's been our runningback coach. They continue to produce.
I think that a lot of that has to do with his eye and his ability to coach. I said it before, that guy is way underrated as a football coach, way underrated. He's really good.
Q. Do you have your GAs out there writing all this stuff down? Any common theme you have seen in the evaluations?
COACH BEATY: Yeah, you got to utilize your personnel to be able to make sure all that happens. We're very fortunate here that we have unbelievable resources at this university, which is great. So we have the people we need in place. It's just a matter of making sure you execute that plan.
The thing that we really wanted to see is proper execution, you're spilling where you were supposed to spill, spilling correctly. Were you wrong arming it with proper technique or were you wrong arming it with straight legs, being able to maximize the technique that was supposed to be used to be able to put that ball carrier where we need him to be for the free hitter to be there defensively. Conversely, offensively, are we hugging tight on our split zone play. Did we do a good job there. Is there air between you and the line. With releases, are we taking a little bit of a false step when we come off the ball. How are we utilizing our hands versus press coverage coming off the ball. Just a lot of little details that you don't think about. We always do as coaches, but I'm not sure it's common to think in the outside world. Those things, they definitely matter.
As we go back and look at the tape, every one of our issues are based on just not accurately executing. So we as coaches have to do a great job of making sure we are clearly communicating what we want.
We go back and self-assess. We did that on Sunday as to how we're telling them what we're telling them. Are we telling them too much? Are we telling them too little? We go back and continually assess how are we getting that information over to them. If we're telling them too much, we have to put our pride aside and say, This guy can handle this much information. Let's see if he plays better this way. That is why we got the right guys on our staff. Nobody takes that personally in there. We all talk about how we can get better each day. That's really what the purpose was.
Q. Sounded like guys bought pretty quickly into the philosophy. Are you getting the response you hoped for? You mentioned Larry Hughes. Are you getting the response seeing that spot taken from them?
COACH BEATY: We absolutely are seeing it. Larry, I'm proud of Larry. Larry's come back and responded. I mean, he doesn't like that feeling, which is good. I think that we help him as a player moving forward because it's going to teach him some life skills about you better get up and run because somebody around you is running. You're only going to get what you earn.
So it really is starting to kind of make that mantra come true. Same thing at wide receiver. We have Tyler Patrick. I don't know that I talked about him one time in fall camp to the media. I just watched him improve over and over the. Darious Crawley. I saw him steadily improve as we went through fall camp. He's been quietly a fairly productive guy for us, which is what you want to see. You want to start seeing that philosophy take over.
That goes the same way with our production as a team. We weren't just going to walk in here and snap our fingers and say earn it's going to create wins. You got to go earn it. You have to go beat people. The way you do that is you have to focus on how you get that done. You don't get to show up, be in nice uniforms, go out there and play when there's 50,000 people out there and expect it to work. You have to earn that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.
We've been working towards that. I think we understand that it takes even more than what we've been given before. The good news is our guys are willing to give it.
Q. Coach Flood has been suspended for one game and several players have been disciplined. How has that impacted your preparation for this?
COACH BEATY: Zero. I mean, they've got a great staff over there. He does a really good job. He's been very productive there. They've won a bunch of games. They put a ton of guys in the NFL. They have got really good talent over there. They're in a hotbed of talent, obviously. He does a great job of getting those guys to Rutgers. He's a really good leader. Those guys have done a good job.
You saw guys straining on every play on the tape every night. You saw accurate execution. You didn't see a lot of MAs or bust. You can see that when you know what you're looking for. Those guys did not look different to me. I think that's a testament to him. He's done a nice job of preparing those guys whether he's there or not. I think the other guys did a nice job of carrying the torch as he had to sit out for that game. I haven't seen a big difference in that regard.
Now, in terms of players and personnel, when they lost some of those other people, somebody else is going to get plugged in there. From our standpoint, we don't control who we're playing. We control what we're doing. We try to focus a lot on that, other than being aware of what their potential is and who the problems are that we really need to be aware of to kind of stop some problems that could arise for us.
Q. You probably have no idea what's going on with Rutgers right now, but when you were here in 2009 there was a situation where there was a lot of distraction with the coaching staff. Does that weigh on the players, all this talk and all these things going on on the outside?
COACH BEATY: I know it didn't with us. I think that was because of our leadership. I think our coaches did a good job through that process, which I'm sure their coaches are, too. And honestly those kids are resilient. They work their tails off every day. Our kids worked their tails off every day. We had good leaders.
I'm pretty sure the effect is minimal. As I watch the tape, you don't see a bunch of guys loafing. You don't see guys out of position. You don't see guys that look like they've been affected by it in a negative way.
Q. It happens here when people come and talk about KU basketball, the history. Are you taking advantage of that with these guys in the bigger picture way, because you mentioned the birthplace of college football?
COACH BEATY: Not a lot. It is what it is. If you value the game, then the history is important. So we have talked a little bit about that. But more in a, Hey, man, look what a great opportunity we have. More in an appreciation value.
Man, where we're at, what we're getting to do, how blessed we are to be able to play this game, compared to what some people are going through in this world. Man, we got it really, really good. We're getting to go experience something not a lot of people do.
Q. How has the quarterback situation been the last two weeks? You mentioned competition.
COACH BEATY: Competitive. I like those guys. I like them because they all are for each other. They're not selfish. They all want to play. But they're pushing each other, just like all the rest of the positions. That's been good. It's been good to see that at the quarterback position, at the wide receiver position, good to see it in the secondary where Michael Glatczak has taken over as a starter for us. The fruits of people's labor has benefited them. It's going to continue to happen this week.
Q. (No microphone.)
COACH BEATY: I think he's worked really hard to improve. I think he's been very deliberate in practice, which he's tried to work on the things he hasn't done very well in the games previous. He's tried to build on the strengths that he's had. It's been good watching him continue to try to build himself as a quarterback, as well as the rest of the guys. The rest of the guys have done a good job, too. Deondre has done a nice job. Ryan Willis, as young as he is, he has a long way to go, but he's making steps each day. That's all we can ask for.
Q. (Question about the kicking.)
COACH BEATY: I really did initially. But the way that Coach Hyman and our staff has approached it is we see those guys as weapons for us. We see them as very major parts of our football team. We treat them as such. We put them on display a lot. They were on display every day last week. We want to make sure those guys, when they go out there, they know this team believes in them.
Because of that, I don't think it ever surfaced. I was concerned about it, to be honest with you. I think each one of those kickers have kind of taken their own identity and they've ran with it. Those guys believe in Bartolotta, they call him Yoda. Interesting story. He has a great personality. They love him. Wyman, they love him. Those guys are very well-respected members of our team, and they need to be. Those guys are such crucial parts of our team. Along with Jordan Goldberg, Wirtel, those guys. I mean those guys are right in the middle of the key players on our football team all the time, and they are key players. We try to build that with the team.
Q. Taylor, have you been able to get him any time or not?
COACH BEATY: Not yet. Hopefully we can get him in when he's completely ready. I think the big thing is making sure he's ready, not pressing that too hard, too fast. We've seen how that happens particularly with some of the injuries he's had to go through. Just got to get him to where he's ready to go.
Q. (No microphone)
COACH BEATY: Perdue, still just got to compete to win a spot. Hadn't won it yet. He hadn't done anything negative in our minds. He hasn't been able to produce like the guys in front of him yet. He's continuing to work. We're seeing him get better.
Josh, he's banged up. He twisted his ankle last week. He's just not completely back yet. We'll see how long it takes him to get there.
Bobby, hopefully he'll be back this week ready to go. We're optimistic he'll be ready to go.
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