More from the Big 12 Teleconference

Big 12 Conference Quick Quotes from Aug. 29 Football Coaches Teleconference.

Baylor Coach Guy Morriss: "We need to start winding down and getting fresh for the opening game at Dallas. (RB) Paul Mosley has gotten a lot better as a complete back, and he blocks well in pass protection. He has learned a lot of things and responded well. I'm not sure how our strep throat outbreak (18 student-athletes were affected), and we heard there was quite a bit of it going around the state. They are feeling better now, but it wasn't confined to any one position. We came out of preseason camp with a commitment from our players.

We had 53 players who did not miss a summer workout and 35 more who missed only one practice. This year we're healthy and fresh and ready to play ball. Last year we got some people hurt during two-a-days and went over to UAB with several linemen dinged up; that didn't help us. We're pretty much two-deep, and we feel a lot better about our freshness and readiness for the first game this year. We will play in a lot of tough places again this year, but physically we're further along than we were last year. This is the second year we have had (defensive coordinator) Bill Bradley, and we hope to get some more picks. If we can find some pass rush and break the rhythm of the quarterback to mess up his timing, we could have an ever better secondary. Shawn Bell will start at quarterback, and he has made a lot of progress since last year."

Colorado Coach Gary Barnett: "It seems like we're having the longest camp in history under this new NCAA system. We can't wait to play the first game Saturday. We have 17-18 starters back, and Colorado State has 18-19 starters back, and it's an in-state game. We're going to start two new kids at RB in Hugh Charles and Byron Ellis, and they have looked good in practice. We're in game week, and we have been putting in some long hours. It's a way of life, but we're really ready to play somebody.

We gave up 404 yards passing to Colorado State last year, and that needs to be rectified. We did come back to win what became a shootout on the last play of the game. This is a game in the heat of the day on national television, and we're excited. Having (kicker) Mason Crosby on your team gives you a lot of advantages in the kicking game. We know we have a chance to score any time we get inside the 50-yard-line, and we don't have to work on kickoff coverage a lot because he kicks the ball deep into the end zone on almost every kick. We wouldn't have won eight games without Mason Crosby last year. We play a lot of nationally-ranked teams to get the better crowds and the national television exposure. It has been good for our program, but these games have presented some challenges."

Iowa State Coach Dan McCarney: "Like everybody else, we're still undefeated, and this is an exciting and anxious time of year. We have 14-16 people back with starting experience, but we'll also have 6-8 people in the two-deeps that will be seeing their first college action under the lights. Coach Denver Johnson and Illinois State will give us their best shot Saturday, and we know a lot about the toughness and ability of teams coached by Denver Johnson.

We have a lot of work still to do on game week, and we're anticipating that first game. Our offensive line is so important to the performance of the offense, and we know we have the skill players who can make the plays. We will have two new starters from the group that won the bowl game (17-13 over Miami, Ohio, in the Independence), and you're always anxious about that. We made some big improvement in the special teams last year, and that was a reason we had good team improvement. We blocked 10 kicks and led the Big 12 in kickoff return average. The real test now is to go play in the game and get it done. We feel like we have three returning starters at defensive end, and Jason Berryman has been playing better in practice. The Big 12 has become the kind of conference we all hoped it could be some day. It's the best conference in America."

Kansas Coach Mark Mangino: "We have had good two-a-days and are meeting an excellent Florida Atlantic team that was 9-3 last year. They have excellent defensive speed, great cornerbacks, and a very impressive linebacker in Shamari Wells. They have a probable starting quarterback who transferred from West Virginia last year, and he's a good runner-passer. Our offense is going to be a lot better. Our running backs are improved and led by Clark Green, and we have four staring offensive linemen back. We are going with Adam Barmann as our starting quarterback, but we will have some other people playing there.

We have some young receivers who are coming around; Charles Gordon is a mainstay (preseason All-America) at corner, and we'll pick and choose his spots on offense. He's such an intelligent young man that he knows all aspects of our offense and defense. (LB) Banks Floodman is one of the few guys who actually was here before I arrived. He has a great passion for the game and has come back off a serious ACL injury in 2002 to be a great team leader. Each year I seem to know a little more about the two-a-days' practice format, and with safety issues I like the system and don't think it has hindered our preparation."

Kansas State Coach Bill Snyder: "Our practices have been like most people: good days and bad days and some in between. The Florida International preparations have been a process of trying to get prepared for almost anything, and they have 18 starters (nine on offense, nine on defense) and a very experienced team. You know that teams from Florida will run well, and Florida International has a quarterback with 4,000 yards career passing. We're at the point where our guys want to go out and play as all student-athletes want to do this time of year. (On Oklahoma assistant coach Brent Venables, played under coach Snyder at KSU) Brent showed early on that he was an intense and intelligent guy, and he has continued to develop over the years.

I'm uncertain about our starting lineup; we do know that Ryan Schmidt is out for the season, but we'll have to do some mixing and matching along the offensive front. (QB) Dylan Meier could play this week, but we just don't know about his game status at this point. Allen Webb started some games last year and had a good spring and has come on at quarterback. Last year the options weren't there, and we just had to make the best of it. Both quarterbacks are very capable young guys, and Dylan is getting close after having the shoulder surgery nine months ago. We'll start the game at RB with Thomas Clayton."

Missouri Coach Gary Pinklel: "Our team is excited and enthusiastic about getting the season going. We're excited about playing (Arkansas State) at Arrowhead Stadium. Certainly, our players who aren't from Kansas City have seen a lot of big games there and know the tradition of that stadium. We will get the opportunity to play Illinois in St. Louis again after playing a couple against Illinois there earlier. We look at the economic impact of a home game on the area around Columbia. Right now Chase Daniel is the backup quarterback, and we don't anticipate redshirting him.

After the coroner's report came out on (LB) Aaron O'Neal, our team has been very focused. I cannot tell you how much the senior leadership on this team has helped in this situation. I talk with the team every day, and they have become very focused for the opener. How well we block, run and catch will be the key to the new offense. There is no learning curve here, so we have to do some significant new things in the new offense. Actually, it's not totally different from the previous offense, but there are some changes. I don't want to give away our game plan. Our Nos. 2, 3 and 4s have had a chance to move up during our recent scrimmages, and Chase Daniel and some other youngsters have moved up the charts."

Nebraska Coach Bill Callahan: "We're excited about opening the season. Right now we don't know how many freshmen might play until we see how the game goes against Maine Saturday night. I think there's a learning curve in there, and we'll have to wait and see how the offense progresses as the season continues. We haven't named a starter yet at quarterback, but Zac Taylor has been a junior college transfer who is an intelligent youngster and has a lot of skills.

We plan to release our depth chart at our Tuesday news conference, and there has been a good battle at several positions. Watching Maine defeat Mississippi State down there (9-7) last year and the defensive pressure Maine put on every play in that game, it's important we have a good protection plan and execute. We need to answer the blitz question, and Maine has an aggressive philosophy. We're not game tested yet, so we need to see how we develop defensively. At quarterback we have a freshman from the Chicago area in Joe Ganz and a guy named Harrison Beck who has looked good in practice and maybe two others who could play. We'll wait and see. I feel good about our skill position players and our potential starters in the backfield, so we'll see how it goes. (TE) Matt Herian is still going through injury rehab, and we hope he'll be ready to play soon. We have had youngsters step up there."

Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops: "Like everybody at this point in the year, we're excited to be in game week. We start off with TCU, an excellent team. (Coach) Gary Patterson has done a great job, and we talk a lot about our previous ties with Kansas State. He has an excellent program. We were fortunate when we came to Oklahoma that everyone pulled together and came together and adopted a new mindset, work ethic, and we did relate well with our players. I can't put my finger on one thing. The choice of Bobby Jack Wright to take over the secondary was mostly the way he coached our defensive ends the last six years, and he knows what our defense needs to do. He has been in on all the meetings, and we have a great rapport and great fit with him in his new position.

You can the progress and confidence of the team of Adrian Peterson during the spring and August practices. Dusty Dvoracek has gotten the confidence of the team and was elected captain. I have a final veto in this process, and I know how hard Dusty has worked. Paul Thompson can improvise and scramble and gives us a lot of option with the quarterback run-pass plays. He gives us a new dimension that we haven't had since we've been there, and Rhett Bomar is an athletic guy, too. They both can run and pass. I'm not a nervous guy, but the first game always makes you anxious."

Oklahoma State Coach Mike Gundy: "We're looking forward to playing. We have been going against each other for a month. We have a lot of uncertainty at running back and wide receiver, and we anticipate playing seven true freshmen Saturday. I don't know if I have the answer about our new offense; our players are much better at it than we were last spring. It's hard to gauge what might happen on game day and see how the no-huddle offense works as well as how the defense reacts. We have a good idea as to which guys are our playmakers, and we want to get the ball in their hands. College offenses are trying to catch up with the disguises and zone blitzes, etc.

When you play two games so close together (Florida Atlantic on Sept. 8 on ESPN2), we have cut back on practice and have allowed the players more time in the meeting room. I worry about a lot of things now, and we have talked about playing two games early like this as a staff. There's not much time to get things worked out to get ready after Saturday for a Thursday road game. We may play 5-6 freshmen on defense in the first game, and there are a lot of variables. I don't see anybody changing positions at this point, and we may put (QBs) Donovan Woods and Bobby Reid on the field at the same time. They both run 4.5 (seconds) in the 40, and they're talented athletes."

Texas Coach Mack Brown: "We know we have a tough opponent in UL Lafayette. The last time we played, they got an interception, kicked a field goal and got us down 10-0 before we made a great comeback (Texas won 52-10). Coach Ricky Bustle has done a great job at UL Lafayette, the team led the Sun Belt in total offense last year, and Jerry Babb completed better than 55 percent of his passes, so we know what we have ahead of us. (Former UT defensive coordinator) Greg Robinson is a tremendous leader of young men, and I just called him to wish him good luck in his first game at Syracuse.

He just missed some head coaching jobs in the NFL because of timing, and he has a bright future ahead at Syracuse. We see Vince progressing well as a thrower and continuing to be a great runner, and we hope he will continue to improve during his career as Michael Vick did at Virginia Tech. Being a youngster in the South with a dad and grandfather in the high school coaching profession, I was fortunate to go see a lot of good college football games in Atlanta (Georgia Tech), Vanderbilt, Tennessee Tech, Western Kentucky, and Knoxville wasn't that far away if we wanted to see Tennessee. We just wish all the people around the UL Lafayette football program and their families safety at this time, and we'll get ready to play football."

Texas A&M Coach Dennis Franchione: "We came through practice in pretty good shape and just have lost two guys for the season. We'll play possibly 5-6 freshmen in this game, and we'll take two kickers and two punters to Clemson. I can't think of a tougher place to plan than Clemson for an opener. I know our players have been excited about this opener.

Without the benefit of scrimmages or a preseason game like the NFL, it will be tougher to play a team like Clemson on the road to see how the team responds. If you have any weakness or glitches, they show up in the first game. You actually show your most improvement from Game 1 to Game 2 from previous experience in college football, and playing Utah on the road last year was a good test. We'll be playing before 80,000 at Clemson rather than 40,000 at Utah to start last season. Our maturity is much better than last time at most positions. It will be a very hostile crowd at Clemson. We are very aware of quality family time at this time of year as we are in the office for many hours. (About taking the names off the back of A&M jerseys in 2004) I think we get some residual success as far as the team concept and being able to count on each other. You never assume things are going to be the same or better than last year, and team building is a 365-days-a-year effort."

Texas Tech asst. head coach Ruffin McNeill (subbing for head coach Mike Leach): "We feel pretty about two-a-days, and we have had some injuries and soreness. (Starting QB) Cody Hodges has done a good job, and the offense is coming around well in practice with the guidance of coach Leach and the rest of the staff. This is an interesting situation to have an off week while just about everyone else is playing a first game. I think it will be a big help to get to see Florida International play a game before we play our first game. We have had a long two-a-days, and coach Leach would like to play about 16 games, but we would like to get on the field, get the referees around us, the fans, and have the barbecue smells.

We'll make Saturday as much like game week and will have a game-type practice. You know how much we go for it on fourth down: there's no telling how many times coach Leach will go for it when the season starts. We have seen Cody Hodges ever since he came to Lubbock to a seven-on-seven deal when he was a senior. He was the team leader for Hereford High School, took up the money for insurance, and even inserted himself at safety late in the game and made a key interception (they can't use coaches for seven-on-seven summer sessions). That told us a lot right there, and he has been a leader for us throughout this year's practice."

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