Mark Mangino weekly press conference

Mangino on Watkins, Iowa State, the defenisve line and believing.

Opening comment:

"Charles Gordon continues to be a bright spot for us. Charles is just playing very well. He is a three-way performer in this conference as a redshirt freshman. I believe we are ranked second in the conference in punt returns and are in the top 10 in the nation for punt returns. He obviously has something to do with that. He had nine receptions on Saturday. He played well on defense including a pass break-up and a sack. It was a good days work for him."

"Adam Barmann came out prepared and ready to play well. He was knocked from the game and I had to pull him out because he couldn't function the way he liked."

"Brian Luke came in and did an admirable job for us. Iowa State will be here this week. Obviously it's a game where our kids want to get their sixth victory and become a bowl eligible team. We will have to play very well and I can tell you that Iowa State is a team with a lot of pride and they will play hard. They don't back off anybody. They have had some problems but we understand that because we have experienced it in the past here."

"They have a very capable wide receiver in Lane Danielsen. He is a really talented guy and is very consistent performer for them. Last week they got Jordan Carstens back, who is their defensive tackle and a very good player for them. Iowa State will be prepared and will come down here ready to play hard and get after it, so we have to be ready to get after it. I am extremely confident that our kids will be ready to go and compete Saturday."

On the quarterback situation:

"Bill Whittemore had his most intense workout (on Monday) on the field since he was injured. He looked pretty good but certainly not perfect. Adam Barmann looked sharp on the practice field but he is still hobbling a little bit -- but we think that by today that will be gone. Brian Luke took some very good repetitions as well. We don't know just yet how things will play out with Bill. He needs to practice with a lot of intensity and a lot of repetition for a few days here and I think we will know for sure. He certainly has a chance to play Saturday -- there is no question. After I watch him for a couple more days and he continues the way he did last night and build on his practice performance -- I think he will be ready to play."

On Bill Whittemore:

"Last night, watching him on the practice field -- studying the video tape. He started out practice without a complete range of motion and ended practice pretty close to a complete range of motion. The more he works the more he will get in a groove and feel better and more confident in his ability to use his complete range of motion. If he is ready to go then we will start him. Adam knows that Bill is the starter. We seldom demote a kid due to injury. That's just not fair to any player. You have to think that Adam has filled in very well and gained some valuable experience."

"If Bill is ready to play he is going to execute our offense. If he can't execute the complete package we won't be able to use him. There is no question that I am pulling for Bill because he has done some wonderful things here -- but he hasn't finished the season. I don't think anything would be more deserving than for Bill to play this week, play well and win in his last game at Memorial Stadium."

On how the team progressed:

"I am looking at the big picture here and there is no question that winning the game Saturday means alot to our program. It gives the progress of our program a boost and I believe our players deserve an opportunity to become bowl eligible. They have made a great commitment to this program -- they really have. They work awfully hard and have made a lot of sacrifices. I told our kids that it's not the end of the world Saturday if you don't win, but for all you have invested it has to be a situation where you have to give yourself and your teammates every opportunity to win the game. It's the last game of the year and you want to do anything you can because you have to look back to all of the sacrifices and dedication you made to this program. You have an opportunity to take a giant step for this program on Saturday. I don't have to say that too many times because the kids know that -- they really do."

On pressure being felt to win on Saturday:

"There is no pressure -- no pressure at all. Most people didn't think these kids would win more than three or four games. All summer long people were saying if you can get three or four wins it would be great and now we have a chance to get six so our kids don't feel any pressure. They feel some hunger and want to get it done."

On Charles Gordon and John Randle's defensive performances:

"Charles is more confident getting off blocks in the perimeter. He's a sure tackler and we used him on a blitz where he was able to get a sack. That's unusual for our corners to pick up a sack. It was a planned play but he executed it very well. He hid it and bluffed it -- they didn't know it was coming and then at the last second he made a break as if he had been doing it his whole career. He gets better every time out and so does John Randle. There was a drive where John Randle made four consecutive tackles. Three of those four tackles weren't really his play. He made a play for some other person that should have been in position for those tackles. Those kids are doing real well -- I am really proud of them."

On balancing the playing time of Charles Gordon:

"He means so much to our offense and he makes so many plays. He can break a game open with one play. He will get repetitions on defense. I'm not going to put him into a position where he is fatigued in the fourth quarter and suffer a senseless injury. That's what I'm trying to guard against. I want to win and the kids want to win and we will do anything we can in our power but I don't want to put him in harms way because he still has to play a lot of football for us. After talking with our offensive and defensive coaches I make a decision on where I want to cap his plays. I have an aide that charts all of his plays on offense, defense and how many consecutive plays he is on the field."

On KU's defensive line:

"We have to continue to put those kids in a situation to be successful. Our defensive staff is always trying to work out schemes that may be suitable to the talent and ability of the players we have up front. I think the last couple weeks they have played against offensive lines that were a little bigger than them, both in weight and size. I think they had a little bit of struggle with that at times -- that is no excuse. Those kids are given schemes and taught ways to circumvent that fact we might not match up sometimes with bigger, more physical offensive lines. I told yesterday there are no excuses, we are going to get this done. We are going to practice hard and very intensely this week on defense."

"We are going to find a way to get this done. I believe these kids are capable. I believe in them. There is always a way to get it done. We just have to keep at it and find a way. I think our kids up front are a little embarrassed they haven't played well in the last couple weeks in the second half. A&M was a close game at the half, Nebraska was a close game at the half and last week was a close game at the half. We come out for the second half and we don't keep the same focus and concentration that we had before halftime. I don't know the reason for that. I think our kids realize they are capable of playing good quality football on defense against quality opponents. We have to do it for four quarters rather than two."

On Iowa State:

"I know Dan McCarney is a great football coach. He has done an outstanding job there. When you are team that is trying to build and climb into the top echelon of this conference and then stay there, you can't afford any injuries, you can't afford to have any bad games with turnovers. The margin of error is very small. Their best defensive tackle was out for a period of time. They haven't settled their quarterback situation at least until this week. You have to have one field general out there calling the shots and the kids believe in him. We are lucky here at Kansas. We have a starting quarterback the kids believe in. We have a backup the kids believe in and we have third guy in Brian Luke who is capable. The offensive players believe he can make plays too. We are very fortunate. Not every team has that."

On Moderick Johnson:

"We threw him in there because we needed him. We needed to give our receivers a rest. He has proven he is quite an athlete. Moderick is a guy that has made great strides since the day he arrived on campus. He has shown he is capable of making play. He must get in our weightroom and get stronger. He is a big guy with a big frame. When he puts on 10-12 pounds of lean weight, he is going to be a really tough guy. With his size, you won't be able to press up on him and with his speed he can beat zone or man coverages. He needs to get stronger to keep people off of his body."

On Travis Watkins:

"He gave his very best but to his own admission he was not a big factor in the game. He is really hobbling around. He is down a bit. We told him to stay positive and good things will happen. He is not functioning 100 percent. He and I will continue to talk and we will do what is best for the team and what is best for Travis. If he can go this week then it is fine and if not then we won't play him. He just isn't pushing off very well. He can't utilize that leg and foot in the kind of manner he is used to. In the defensive line there is a lot of leverage and pushing off and changing direction. He just can't do it to his very best. We will just continue to rehab him and work with him. I told there is no pressure on him to play. As long as he is ready for opening day next fall."

On Zach Dyer:

"You always get 100 percent from Zach. That is his makeup. The kids respect him for that. His role is limited to special teams this year and he takes pride in it." Top Stories