Tracking Mack: Nov. 12
Nov. 12, 2008
Opening statement: I'm disappointed for Chris Hall, because he had a great practice yesterday, but somebody fell into him. He finished practice, which is really strange, but he is such a tough young guy and we know how positive he is. He came in, talked to the media after practice and then went downstairs and said his knee was sore. Kenny (Boyd) looked at it and officially said it was a sprain. He's a little stiff and swollen today, so he will not play this weekend. It was all a surprise for us, and thank goodness David Snow has worked at center. He's been a good player for us, and Greg Smith will start at tight end and be the backup center. So we'll have to have two jerseys for him. We'll move forward.
This is a team that's handled adversity all year, and we've had a bunch of injuries. These guys have handled it well. We've told them that there are no rookies anymore, so they're going to have to get ready to go.
You start looking at Kansas, and it's really impressive what they have been able to do with their program the last few years. But really, at home, it's even more impressive. They've won 13 out of the last 14 home games. They had a streak of 13 in a row before they lost to Texas Tech a couple of weeks ago. They're 5-1 at home this year and they've won their last five senior games. We're expecting the type of atmosphere and attitude from their players that we saw at Tech a couple of weeks ago, and it should be a great game.
On the kicking situation and how it may be very windy on Saturday: We've just had one day in kicking, and both (Hunter Lawrence and Ryan Bailey) made them all. So, they did really well. But I do remember being up there in 2004 where we kicked a 50-yard field goal with the wind and I think we had a pop up against it that went about 10 yards and blew back in our face. So that will be something that we'll have to be aware of. With our rugby punting, it doesn't make as big of an impact on your punting game as it does with your kickoff, kickoff returns and some part of your passing game. But, Todd [Reesing] and Colt [McCoy] both have really strong arms and I don't think it will affect anything except kicks.
On David Snow: It really helps you now when players can come in [and join the football program] in January, because he's had a full spring practice, summer workout and he has already played in 10 ball games where he played quite a bit at center. So, it's not like he's a freshman. This probably would have been very difficult for him at the first of the year. We call them "seasoned veterans" now, so he's ready to go.
On how changing players at center will affect Colt McCoy: It really doesn't affect Colt at all because David has played a lot. He's a guy in practice that has been working with the second unit a whole lot. It would be more significant if we played most of the game up under the center. But we're not using snap counts much anymore and most of the time we are in the shotgun. So, it's not like what all of us thought it would be five years ago before spread offenses and having to deal with snap counts on the road. The quarterback-center exchange is so much different now. David snaps before every practice on the shotgun snaps. I don't see that being a significant problem at all.
On the balance between the physicality in practice and resting the players: It's a very difficult thing to decide how much you hit them, how much you lay off them and how fresh they are. Ours are in good shape, because they came back at Tech and showed they had energy and were ready to go. But we feel like if a guy can't practice at full speed, then you have to be smart and careful with him. He may be able to play in the game and you may not know it until Saturday, but he's probably not going to be able to play the whole game. At some point, he'll give into it and be tired more quickly than he would have been if he had been healthy. So we try to pick specific things that they can do. But with practice this time of year, you just try to feel it out. With the 2005 team, we were able to back off at the end and keep them fresh because we had an older team. This team has a lot of young guys and they need to keep working. They have to work on fundamentals and continue to work on tackling and doing the things that have gotten us this far. So, we're not in a position where we can really back off.
On how to maintain the chemistry if certain players are unable to practice: We actually talk to each one of them about their roles. Like last week and most of the time, we do not travel injured players. But, Brian Orakpo is such an outstanding leader for us that we felt like he needed to be on the sideline where he could help the young ends and talk to them and the defense about what he sees. That was important for us. So, you really have to handle every situation differently and if a certain player can't play all the time, you have to maybe find the 20 plays that he can play. The guys understand that. Normally, if a guy doesn't practice any, then he can't play. Quan [Cosby] ended up practicing some on Wednesday and all of it on Thursday. So we felt like his question, because he didn't get hit [in practice], would be if he could handle the contact.
On the toughness of Adam Ulatoski: He's unbelievable, and that's what makes me think Chris [Hall] will be back quicker than people think, because he's the same way. Adam played last year with a hurt elbow and hurt knee, and it's just amazing what he's been through. He's already told us that he is going to play. I think his injury report will be different from [head trainer] Kenny's [Boyd], but I don't think he cares because that's the attitude he's got.
On if Brian Orakpo's situation is the same way: We'll wait until Friday or Saturday to see. I think in some of these cases, you have to even watch them in pre-game. We felt like Chykie [Brown] would be able to play at Tech. We watched him run and he just couldn't do it much. He came in and tried it in the game, and sometimes if the guys aren't 100 percent in practice, they are 100 percent when they walk out on that field. But sometimes, they think they might be well enough to play, but there's enough pain to where they can't push off. So sometimes, you just don't know until you get there. It sounds kind of funny, but you just don't. You take anybody who is well and can help you win.
On why there is such a disparity between the Big 12 North and South: I think the year Kansas and Missouri had last year were unbelievable. It was just great. If you look at them, they are both really good again this year. The schedules are tougher and you lose some guys. I don't know enough about it. I know that when I got here, Nebraska was winning the league most of the time, Kansas State was great and everybody thought there was an imbalance between the North and South. But, it was the North, and people were asking why the southern teams weren't any good and why they couldn't compete. Colorado was that way. So it was really Colorado, Nebraska and Kansas State. I started looking at schedules and trying to figure out why they put us with all of them in the same year. I just think that sports are like society. It changes, there is an ebb-and-flow and you never know. About the time you think something is for sure, it changes on you the next year.
On how beneficial it is to have many coaches' kids on the team: We think that if we can find a high school coach's son or college coach's son who is a good enough player that they are just like gym rats. That's who they are. They're passionate about it. They don't care what time of the year it is, if they're sore, banged up or hurt, because this is who they are and what they do. So, we do feel like it's really good. Colt is so excited about Saturday like you can imagine. He and Jordan [Shipley] have been banged up and knocked around, but every time I see Jordan he tells me that he can't wait and how exciting everything is. Colt and Jordan were talking today about how they have never been to Kansas and how this will be new and what the stadium is like. It's just fun for them and a real good time in their lives.
On the cold weather: We've addressed the fact that if they want to play in the NFL, they'll have to play in cold weather, so I do not want to hear it, period. Forty-six degrees is not cold. So, if it starts in the 30's and they are out on the field running around and get cold, they are probably not running enough. Secondly, if you want to have a chance to play for and win the Big 12 Championship, it's going to be a whole lot colder than this, so you might as well get yourself ready, because I do not want to hear it.
On who Todd Reesing reminds him of: He's like all of the other quarterbacks in this league. He got so much publicity last year and he's getting an unfair amount of (negative) publicity this year. But, you watch him on film and he's just like a highlight reel. The thing that surprises me a little bit is that I think he's running the ball much better than he did when he was at Lake Travis. He threw so well at Lake Travis and he was very accurate. Like Chase [Daniel], some people thought he was a little bit short or missing this and that, but he's got everything. He's just an outstanding player and he makes plays all over the field. He's fun to watch and very competitive. It seems like it's been that way every week in the Big 12 this year. He's tough and gets banged up, but he scrambles, fights and jumps over people. In the Nebraska game the other day, they got an onside kick late in the game when they were down by 10. He's fighting to win the game. I'm not sure if there are any better competitors out there than he is.