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UNIVERSITY OF KANSAS FOOTBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
August 29, 2017
DAVID BEATY: Obviously we are excited about game week. I know our kids are excited about it. I'm excited about getting to it. It's time for us to get out there and put all that work out there on the field and see where we're at. Now at this point, I know there's a bunch of guys excited. I don't know that there's one more excited than Ryan Schadler. I was talking to him just the other day about where we were at a year ago at this time in his living room. Was kind of a crazy memory that we had.
We got a lot of great stuff happening this weekend, but none more important than this game. Our job is to go win the game, and we understand that. But there's a lot of cool things that are going on this weekend with the reunion of the Orange Bowl team, having Coach Mangino inducted into Hall of Fame. Really excited for him and his family. That team is going into Hall of Fame, Aqib obviously going in with the team but going into the Ring of Honor, what an awesome deal that is, and then Anthony Collins also going into the Ring of Honor. So happy for those guys and well-deserved for all of those folks, and we're excited to have those guys back home, so that's going to be fun.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the folks and the situation down in the south Texas area, down there by Houston. Man, it's just a devastating situation that they're going through, but just to see their heart and just their resolve and the different people that are pitching in to help everyone down there, it's just been really good for the heart to see how many folks want to help, and it's hard not to turn that TV on while you're in your office just taking a look at that.
I've actually talked with every one of our students, student-athletes' parents, so I've been in contact with every one of them. We have not had one of them thankfully that has had to be displaced from their home yet. Now, some of them have had water up close and they've had family members that have had to be displaced. We're obviously trying to be here for them in any way that we possibly can. We're working with them, our department, to do whatever it is that we can do within our athletic department to support that effort down there.
And our athletic department is huge and big on that. I know that there's a lot of different folks around the world that are trying to help, and we're no different. We're trying to help, as well.
But as of right now, we're all accounted for with our kids that live down in that Houston area. I just got off the phone with my last parent, Shola Ayinde's parents, just a second ago, so that was the last one I had not spoken to. It's been good to talk to those guys.
And Shola and them are down there in that Greatwood area, which is kind of where the levee broke yesterday, so they were down in that area where I was really concerned about those guys.
Good to hear that everybody is safe. I know all of them when I'm talking to them, it's so funny, all they can talk about how excited they are for the game and they can't wait to get here. I mean, it's really cool to listen to them talk about that and have something to look forward to, even in the eye of all the destruction that they're going through. We're just praying for all of those people down there that it has a great result.
Last couple of housekeeping items, we're going to practice over at the grass fields today just so you guys where we're going to be. Starting this week, we're going to move this back to 1:30 just so it's a little closer to our kids getting out of class because we ran into a bunch of problems with guys being able to be here until after 2:15 today, so rather than you have to wait around for a long time, we'll just push my part back, and that way that kind of condenses it a little bit.
You know, we got a really good opponent that's coming in here this weekend. There's some really good returning players. It's always a difficult task when you've got a returning quarterback. They've got the Jesse Hosket kid, who is a big, good-looking dude, can throw it, moves around a lot better than you would want him to, but the guy has got a big arm. He's a big dude, too, and to have that kind of returning experience is always big for a team. I think that's the first time they've had a returner in a number of years. That's obviously a positive for them.
Coach Matukewicz done a great job there. They're very -- I think they're about a year ahead of us in terms of how long he's been there, and basically that rebuilding project, and you can see his team continue to improve. A couple of really good players on defense that stick out to me, the Meredith kid who was an outside linebacker, really good player. He can probably play anywhere he wants to play. He's a good player. Kendall Donnerson, another guy that sticks out to me on tape, makes a lot of plays. They've got a couple of really good corners that we think are really good. They've got -- they've been really good special teams. Now, they lost their kicker. I think he had like straight 52 PAT field goals there, so they've got a streak that I know they want to extend, but they've done really well in the kicking game. They do a good job covering punts, they do a good job covering kicks. They do a nice job. They're very disciplined.
They've got a new running back that went to Highland that is not a very big guy, but he is quick, and watched some of his tape to see kind of what we're in for, and he's a guy that you've got to be mindful of where he's at and how you're going to take care of him. They've got a load of receivers back there that can play, so it's going to be definitely a challenge. They've got some big guys up front that can hold gaps pretty good. They don't have a lot of returning starters on each side, but they've got a lot of guys that have played. They may not be all returning starters, but they've played, so they've got a lot of experience on that team, which is always a difficult task.
But for us, we're looking forward to hosting those guys this Saturday. We know it'll be a fun game for both of us. I know both teams are looking forward to getting on the field. I'll take some questions from you.
Q. When do you expect to tell the players who's going to start at quarterback?
DAVID BEATY: They'll see it when he runs out.
Q. When are you going to tell the quarterback who's starting?
DAVID BEATY: When he runs out.
Q. Right before he gets out on the field?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, he'll be ready.
Q. What's the reason for waiting?
DAVID BEATY: No advantage for us to tell anybody who's playing that position until we go out there. I mean, can you give me another way to ask that question to see if I can figure out how I can not answer it?
Q. What has Jeremiah Booker done to stand out?
DAVID BEATY: Well, I think, number one, his production. You can work hard. You can do all those things that make a guy really get you excited about off-season, but if you can't produce when you get out to practice, it isn't going to matter. It's not going to matter. His fall camp has been really, really solid. He's done a nice job. He's been healthy. That's probably the biggest difference between Booker this year and the two previous years is staying healthy. He broke that collarbone the first year, came back, battled a high ankle sprain last year for a long, long time, so he's been healthy, which I think helps him a lot. That combined with an unparalleled work ethic. There's a reason why he was chosen as a captain. He's a guy that most of our team would probably say may set the pace when it comes to commitment on our team. He's just a stud in that regard.
Q. Coming down to the wire, how are the battles at the right side of your offensive line?
DAVID BEATY: Well, I mean, I know you're not going to like the answer, but with everybody that we have, you are only as good as your next. That's it. I mean, you're only as good as your next. The other thing I'll say is that, man, that first play will let you down. The starting position, whoever starts, that doesn't mean anything. I mean, it goes away right away. I mean, it goes away right away. You have to continue to produce. So for us, we don't put it in those terms. We put it in terms of being able to earn that opportunity to continue to gain reps at those positions.
I know that that's not what the world wants to call it, but as for us, we focus on knowing that you're only as good as your next. Offensive line-wise, it's not going to be any different.
I love Antoine Frazier. I think he's done a really nice job for us at that right tackle spot. I think he's going to be a really talented player, not only now but in the future. He can only get better. I think he came in somewhere around the 240, 250 range. He's over 300 pounds right now. Don't tell him I said this, but he don't have a lot of fat on him. I mean, he's a good looking kid now, big basketball player out of Houston. I like him a lot. I think he's done a nice job.
The guards, I mean, we've got a number of different dudes that can play that guard spot. You know, the Hughes kid has really had a good fall camp. He's had a good fall camp. He's slated as a starter right now. We'll see how the rest of the week goes, but I know this; Larry is not just going to give it to him. Larry is continuing to improve and get better, which has been great for us because it's that competition finally that makes you better. That's where the depth helps you. It really helps you when you actually have legitimate players that can help push each other. The right side, I would say there's a good chance that if the week goes the way we think it'll go, it'll probably stay like it is right now, which right now Hughes is in that first huddle and Antoine is in the first huddle.
Q. Chris Hughes?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah.
Q. Now that it's game week, does your adrenaline surge any stronger?
DAVID BEATY: Oh, yeah, absolutely. I mean, from our standpoint, just I'm happy for those guys because they get to literally put it on the field against somebody else. This camp for some reason, I don't know what it is, it just feels like it's been longer, and number of days it really hasn't, but it just feels like we've had an extra week. It almost feels like we're a week behind for some reason, and it doesn't -- I don't know, it just -- I know they are itching to get at someone else and being able to put those schemes on the field and see if we can execute and just honestly run into somebody else. They've been running into each other a lot. It's getting really, really chippy out there. Hey, that's part of the game, but all of our adrenaline is up.
I expect today's practice to be outstanding. I can just sense it. I can feel it in the building when I walked in today, just watching those guys work out there morning in their lift, I can tell they're excited about today.
Q. That first depth chart doesn't have Daylon with the ones. What's kept him from reaching his potential so far?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, just production. Some of it's been availability, being able to be on the field, and when he's not on the field, whether it be an injury or anything else that might keep him off the field, but he's battled some things throughout fall camp, which is kind of -- his availability hurts him a little bit in that regard, but we've got great competition out there. That's the one thing is that when you've got Daylon Charlot that's not listed as a 1 right now, at the 2 or the 3, that's telling you that you've improved a little bit because Daylon is a talented guy. He'll definitely play Saturday. There's no doubt about it. I don't know who will run out there first. It might just depend on what package we're in. We've got so many different guys right now that we think can contribute, it gives you a little bit of an advantage because you might be able to package them.
Q. Take a look at your two deep there on defense; not one, not two, but maybe three (indiscernible) what's that maybe say about the level of football around here and what have those three guys done to earn that shot?
DAVID BEATY: Well, if you know these guys that are around here, these coaches that do such a good job, we could easily have the same thing with Dirk's guys over there at Lawrence High. But those three guys, the thing that sticks out to me is they're just tough guys, tough. From a workout standpoint, they don't ever miss anything. They're always there. They're early. They actually are always leaders, which is -- Jay Dineen is probably the biggest leader in that freshman class. He does a great job. He's got a talent, a gift in that. Joe has got a gift in that. And Bryce Torneden is on our leadership council. He just got elected the other day. He was a hair's breadth from being a captain this year as a second-year player.
I mean, I think when you talk about local football in this town, it's always been strong, and there's always been really good football players in this city. But I think it speaks as much as anything to the coaches that are in this city. They do a terrific job. I've watched them. We've been to their practices as it's legal for us to go over there during recruiting, and they run it like we would run it, and in terms of how they run their practices. It's very collegiate-ish, so to speak, and I'm excited for those guys because I know they're kicking their seasons off and they're wanting to keep all their guys healthy, but I know they're excited, too, because we do have a lot of talent in this city.
Q. Bryce almost got away, and now that you look at him in that position that he's in and running out there to start, is it surprising that he was able to come on that fast?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, a little bit, just because the thing that surprised me the most was it's usually backwards. When you look at a guy, you think he's bigger in his uniform than he actually is. When I watched Bryce play, and I got to see him a bunch because my daughter was cheering so I was there watching her cheer, he just happened to be playing, so I got to see him a lot, he didn't look very big in his uniform. But if you stand next to Bryce, that dude is put together. He is put together. The further the season went, you started seeing how versatile he was, and watching how he covered ground back there, this dude can -- the thing I really like about this guy is he is a terrific tackler. He gets you down. He's strong, he's physical, and he's a put-together guy. Now, he's probably 185, 190 pounds, and he's not -- he ain't 5'8". He's not a little guy, but in his pads when you're standing up in them stands, he doesn't look very big. Sometimes that stuff can be deceiving.
Probably a little bit of a surprise because when he first got here, I was like, man, this dude is bigger than most of our freshmen, and I didn't realize that. I mean, you just see him out there on the field, you don't get to see him behind the scenes. But when he got here, we were like, wow, that's a good-looking dude, and he really hadn't grown much. He was the same kid, just for some reason he looks a little bit slighter in his uniform than some.
But you're talking about a great one, I'll tell you what, if I could build them like Bryce Torneden, I'd do it over and over and over again. Great kid.
Q. What did you learn from Coach Mangino in your two seasons as an assistant that has helped you?
DAVID BEATY: Man, there's a lot. I could list them forever. But I think the biggest thing for me that I'll always take away from Coach Mangino is that there should never, ever be an ounce of complacency in you at all. If you don't have something to be done, doing right now, then you create something and you make something and never be resting. There's always a new and better way out there, and research and see if it works for you, be courageous enough to do it if you believe in it, and also just make sure that you encourage/pressure your coaches to do it the same way. I mean, he kept such a tight grip on us when it came to details that it made us all better. It made us all better. I mean, I am a much better coach today after working for him than I would have been without working for him because there's so many details that he taught me how to pay attention to that just made a difference in my career. It really did. And I'm nowhere near as good as most of the guys in the country, but I'm a lot better than I was as a result of working for him.
Q. How much of the DNA of that Orange Bowl team remains within this program?
DAVID BEATY: You know, that's a great question. I'll tell you what, this is probably as big a compliment that I could give to Coach as anything I could say, is that even through another set of coaches that I was here with after Coach left, you still feel his teachings here. You still feel those things. They were here with this last staff, and they were here with the staff with Turner because I was here with Turner for a year, and you could still feel it. As a coach, if you have that much of an influence on a program and a place, and it was a positive thing, it wasn't a negative, it was just -- there was just such a standard here of having a hard edge and a toughness to you that it's like anything else. Bad habits are hard to break, but good ones are, too, and he has left a lot of good habits around this place, as well. That's a compliment to him, because of just his steadfast relentlessness when it comes to details.
Q. When you surprised the walk-ons with the scholarships at the Royals' game, who came up with that?
DAVID BEATY: Well, first of all, you had to have a willing participant with the Royals who were great. They were fantastic. But it all started with Katy Lonergan and Jen Allee, who are terrific at their job. We were just going to call their names out, and Katy said, hey, we're going out to that game, what do you think about doing this. I said, well, it's not mandatory to our guys to go, but I think that's a pretty cool idea if you think you can get it pulled off. That would be good. It wound up being something I thought was really, really cool, really unique, because those kids were truly surprised, which is kind of what we wanted to happen, right. We weren't really wanting to do anything to really get on any kind of social media or anything like that. It just wasn't that. We wanted to make sure that those guys were surprised, and it wound up being something that kind of went a little viral, but it went in a good way.
Those guys, they thought they were going to the hot dog race, and they were asking me, Coach, I don't want to do this. I'm like, I don't care, you're doing it. You're the ones that are getting chose, you're going to do it, Bo. Bo Lawrence, you're doing it. Coach, I cannot outrun them guys; I cannot fit in that hot dog suit. Well, you're doing it.
So that was really, really cool to watch their eyes. That was cool as a coach.
Q. You mentioned you didn't intend for it to go viral or anything, but obviously it did. Do you think that'll have any kind of residual effect moving forward?
DAVID BEATY: I've got to believe it'll be motivating. I do, particularly -- the thing that I've noticed about walk-ons that wind up gaining scholarships is that I've been around zero that when they get announced as a scholarship that the team is not so happy for them, every one to a man, because they simply do everything they're supposed to do. They deserve it, right.
So I haven't been around any of them that have gotten one that has been -- anyone has been like, man, that guy shouldn't have got a scholarship. They love those kids, which I think it just is motivating to those guys to stay with it. Hey, being a walk-on is hard. 98 percent of them, they quit, and I tell them all the time when I first get them here, listen, if you'll stay, if you'll stay, you'll get on scholarship, but you've got to stay. It's got to be worth it, right. There's a lot of cool things on that campus up there that they could be doing, and it's hard. It's a hard road. But if they stay, they will get on scholarship, and most of them will play. Most of them will play, and all four of these guys, before their tenure is over, they'll help us.
Q. What have you seen from J.J. Holmes?
DAVID BEATY: Yeah, we knew J.J. was a talented guy. There's no doubt about it. Watching him at Hutch, Ryan Rhodes and those guys do a great developing those guys. All of our JuCo guys in this state do a really good job. The thing that really sticks out to me is that J.J. is not afraid of work. He's a defensive tackle that -- he is a big, good-looking sucker, but man, I've been around a lot of DTs that they're as much problem to manage as they are to get them on the field and play good. He's not that way, and when you meet his mom and dad, you know that he probably doesn't choose to go home as much as he should because when he does, he's going to be out in the field with his dad cutting trees down, which is what their family business is, and he's going to be doing that until he leaves. He's got a really nice background from his parents that have taught him what hard work does. I'm excited because he's lost some weight. I mean, he had to get rid of a little volleyball that he had in the spring, and he's got it down to a softball, which is good.
Q. It's week 1, so maybe some rust, all those things that come with the opener, but it's also year 3. What do you need to see Saturday to tell you personally where we're at, where this thing needs to be, if we're there, all those types of things that probably go through your head?
DAVID BEATY: I want to see a clean game. I said that two years ago. I say that every year wherever I'm at. There's no reason why you shouldn't play clean on the first week. It drives me crazy listening to commentators go, well, you know, it's first week, there's going to be a lot of sloppiness. Why? Why does there have to be sloppiness? We've been practicing for 29 days. There's no reason there should be sloppiness. That's a lack of attention to detail. That's a lack of focus. That's the inability to keep your mind where it needs to be and off of distractions because there's going to be a lot of distractions. Hey, there's a lot of distractions for me today. My challenge as a coach is to keep it focused on what the main thing is, and that's the same thing with our players. They've got to keep it focused. That's where those problems come, five-yard penalties, things like that, will kill you, jumping offsides, lining up offsides, not having enough receivers on the ball, having enough linemen on the ball. Those type of things are things that you want to prevent. You want to play a nice clean game, making sure that you have 11 people on the field. Seems really simple.
I don't know if any of you guys saw many of those games Saturday. Seems like a simple deal. But not to have 11 people on the field, that's just not okay with me, not okay. And I'm not going to be okay with that. We're not going to be okay if we don't have 11 people on the field and we don't have the right 11.
Those are minimum expectations to be able to play the football game, which is to be able to make them beat you. Make them beat you, because it's hard to win a football game. There's a lot more of them that are lost than won. We're going to focus on trying to be a smart team and trying to play clean football, and then let's see where the chips fall off that. If we do that, it could be a lot of fun around here.
Q. At dinner last night you talked about Octavius and said you want his story to be told. Is there anything else you can tell us about what has led him to play football?
DAVID BEATY: Let me just be kind of very direct on what he has and what happened. That story will come out when Octavius is ready to talk. When you hear the story, you'll realize why. There is a family history. His mother just passed away about three months before he got here. She was waiting on a heart transplant. She was waiting on one, and it didn't get there.
Luckily he signed with us, and we have -- our cardiac screening is far above what most schools do. We do both an EKG, we do an echocardiogram with all of our athletes, and they see cardiologists before they participate, which is not mandatory. You have to be able to have resources to do that, so our cardiac screen probably saved his life is what it winds up coming down to. He has a condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is the exact diagnosis, which can be life threatening if not managed. His decision to retire was one that was come to by our sports medicine staff, myself, our cardiologists, determining that he should not be playing this level of a sport because it could be dangerous to him. Like I said before, he's not ready to talk about it. There's a lot of things that he's went through, including the loss of his career, that he did not plan on happening to him. He had high hopes, and I'm just going to tell you, Octavius is really talented. Might have been one of the more talented guys that we've had since we've been here.
He had a real chance to play at that next level. He had more than a real chance. He's talented. And that was all gone like that. So as you can imagine, he's struggling not only with that but the loss of his mom with a very similar situation. There's a lot more to it than makes his story really unique, so when the time is right, he'll speak and he'll talk about it, but if you would just keep him in your prayers just because we need him to keep going, and the great thing is KU wraps their arms around people like that. He's part of our family. He's going to continue to be part of our team. I'll talk a little bit more about what our plans are for him as we go, but if he does what I ask him to do, which I know he will, he's going to have a long career in football somehow, and I think he'll be able to do that.
Q. With the five guys the players selected captains, what makes them unique in their leadership, and why do you think they ended up being the guys that were chosen?
DAVID BEATY: I think the first thing for those guys that sticks out to me is their work ethic. Absolutely zero times have those guys been on a list. Zero. They never have a hold on their account. They are never late signing up for classes. They're never late picking up their books. They're never late to anything. They're always there. They're great representatives of what it means to do things right. The good news is they set such a good example, 98 percent of our guys are never late or never on anything. There's always a couple. I think that's number one. Number two is their work ethic, their willingness to do more. And then number three, I think, is the respect that they have from their peers because they know that those guys are going to do the right thing no matter what.
One of the ones that -- it surprised me that they chose him because I wasn't sure our team was mature enough to see it, but Denzell Evans was a great choice for captain. He's like the old man in the room now. I mean, it's fun being around those guys and listening to everybody talk about what they think is important and then Peepaw gets up there and talks, and it's really cool for him to say, listen, that uniform stuff will be what it'll be. This is what it's about. And everybody just kind of goes -- because he's got that kind of respect, you know.
So really happy for him. Even in a season where he's lost a season because of an unfortunate accident that happened to him. But he'll be a big part of our team still.
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