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Completed Friday Game Prep with Matt Tait: Memphis

September 11, 2015

Matt Tait

Here's a look at the transcript of KU football beat writer Matt Tait's Friday Game Prep chat previewing KU's Week 2 match-up with Memphis. Saturday's kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Memorial Stadium and Matt and the rest of the staff will be there plenty early to handle all of your game day needs.

This chat has already taken place. Read the transcript below.


Good afternoon KU fans and welcome back to Friday Game Prep with Matt Tait... Sorry for the technical difficulties last week and thanks for sticking with us this week. We got a ton of good questions for this week's Memphis game (despite last week's glitches) so thanks for that and let's jump right into it. I know Matt's ready to roll and so are we so let's get after it.

Matt Tait

Sounds good to me. Fire away!


I was rather impressed with the crowd size last Saturday. After a loss to an FCS team in Week 1, what do expect the crowd to be like in Week 2?

Matt Tait

I agree completely. After talking to KU fans all offseason I really didn't think there would be that good of a crowd for the opener simply because I thought people were kind of over the whole KU football thing and were taking a wait and see approach.

But credit coach David Beaty for making this program one that people want to get behind again and the entire coaching staff and roster for buying into the way Beaty wants to do things.

I think that definitely helped the attendance number (30,144) and I think the good weather and terrific tailgating atmosphere definitely helped, as well.

As for this week, it'll be interesting to see how people respond to that lost. I didn't sense a whole lot of doom and gloom but it is a 6 p.m. game and, with the weather being fantastic, it wouldn't surprise me if people went looking for something else to do.

Still, based on the strength of Week 1, I'm expecting a similar showing for Week 2, somewhere around the 25-30K range. If they get it, that's not bad given the state of the program.


After this game some people are already calling for a new DC. How much of last game's defensive performance do you think had to do with Bowen either not having the team prepared or teaching bad technique, and do you think it will carry over to this weeks game against Memphis?

Matt Tait

I've heard the Bowen bashers for years now and I have to admit I just don't get it.

Bottom line: I think the guy can flat-out coach defense and I know he is as tough and as demanding as anybody I've seen when it comes to getting on his guys during practices and expecting perfection.

I think a big chunk of last week's issues on defense came down to the number of guys playing their first game at this level. Call it nerves, call it doubts, call it being overwhelmed and forgetting the fundamentals. Whatever it was, I don't think much of it was on Bowen.

Now, if those same issues show up this week and again in game 3, then you might have a case and a reason to worry. But Bowen made some really good adjustments to what SDSU was doing and the D more or less shut them down after spotting them 31 points in the first 17 minutes. Bad coaches don't do that.

I know Bowen's an easy target, but he's a damn good coach and I've heard all kinds of coaches on both sides of the ball say that throughout the years so I'll trust that they know what they're talking about.


Apart from improved tackling, what one thing, if done well, would enable KU to win Saturday's game?

Matt Tait

catsandwich!!! Always good for a laugh when that name pops up. Thanks for the question!

I think the easy answer here is the turnover battle. KU lost that last week 2-0 and had they won it or been even they probably would've won the game fairly easily.

So it goes without saying that they can't lose the turnover battle in Week 2 against a team with superior athletes and talent to what SDSU had.

Having said that, playing even up in turnovers probably won't be enough to win this week's game. I think Kansas has to win the turnover battle by at least two takeaways in order to have a shot to top the Tigers.

The easiest way to do that would be to be strong against the run, — which includes the sound tackling that you mentioned — force Memphis QB Paxton Lynch to put the ball in the air a lot and then go make a play when he does.

I think Tyrone Miller, Brandon Stewart, Bazie Bates and the rest of the KU secondary could have a big time impact in this game if they show up ready to roll.


We saw Montell play well against FCS school last year (and last Saturday) then not some much against FBS schools. With him running the ball 18 times last week, do you think Montell will be able to keep that up against bigger, faster, stronger competition? Or is it a matter of time before we see Ryan Willis?

Matt Tait

The answer to this question could be yes.

I think Cozart really is a changed man and I think all that talk about believing he's the best athlete on the field and wanting to prove it is legit and has really added to his confidence, drive and determination. He looked much improved last week — aside from the three costly plays — and I expect that positive reinforcement of what he's trying to do to really help him carry that into games against tougher opponents.

Montell knows he has to be really good for this team to have a shot and I think he has taken that to heart and enjoys the responsibility.

Time will tell, of course, and if he struggles at all or shows signs of reverting to his form from previous seasons, Willis could definitely get a look. But I think they're hoping that what we saw last Saturday was just a start for Cozart and that he's going to continue to get a little better every week so they don't have to even consider taking him off the field.


If KU wins tomorrow by some miracle do you think were underdogs against Rutgers ?

Matt Tait

Oooh, good question. I haven't really thought about it, but I guess a lot would depend on how KU wins and what Rutgers does in its games against Washington State and Penn State (remember, KU has a bye week before that game).

If I had to say now, I'd say KU will be an underdog at Rutgers no matter what happens tomorrow.


Although this is a little early to ask this of you given you've only seen a spring, summer camp and one game from the Beaty era, here's my question: Having seen three different regimes (post-Mangino) run the KU football program, how would you rank (1st, 2nd, 3rd) the three in terms of the following:

a. Condition of the athletes
b. Structure/Discipline of the program
c. Recruiting
d. Gameplanning
e. Gameday adjustments
f. Connecting with the students
g. Connecting with the fans/donors
h. Connecting with the players
i. Competence of the coaching staff

Matt Tait

Wow. Tough question. But it's so good that I'll give it a shot. In some ways I have thought a lot about this over the years and in others I really haven't. But I'll do my best off the top of my head real quick, so long as you don't hold it over my head for the rest of time... Here goes!

a. Condition of the athletes — Beaty-Weis-Gill
b. Structure/Discipline of the program — Weis-Beaty-Gill
c. Recruiting — Beaty-Gill-Weis
d. Gameplanning — Beaty-Weis-Gill
e. Gameday adjustments — Beaty-Weis-Gill
f. Connecting with the students — Beaty-Weis-Gill
g. Connecting with the fans/donors — Beaty-Gill-Weis
h. Connecting with the players — Beaty-Gill-Weis
i. Competence of the coaching staff — Beaty-Weis-Gill

As you can see, a lot of Beaty's first there, which, if correct, would definitely be a good sign for the future of this program.

Now that it's done, I actually feel pretty strongly about all of those rankings.

Great question!


All I hear is how good Memphis is offensively.
How good is their defense and after last week, is there a good chance we can move the ball on them?

My thought is if this becomes a shootout, we might have a chance.

Matt Tait

Great point. A lot of the talk has been about Memphis' offense and that's because (a) it's pretty damn good and Fuente is an offensive-minded coach and (b) KU's defense struggled so much last week.

But, you are correct: Memphis' D is nothing to write home about and I expect KU to be able to move the ball again this week. Asking for 576 more yards might be a reach, but I don't see any reason the Jayhawks can't get well over 400. It'll all come down to Cozart making good decisions and the entire offense taking care of the football.


Will Josh Stafford be KU's leading receiver Saturday?

Matt Tait

I'm gonna say no. He was pretty invisible in the opener, except for one drive early in the second half, and this week in practice he just looked a little off, like he's putting too much pressure on himself to be too good or too perfect.

That's not a good recipe for a solid game day performance so until we see that that's behind him, I think he might continue to struggle. One thing is for sure, though, we know these coaches aren't going to force feed him (or anyone else) the ball in the passing game.


Realistically, what positives for should KU fans be looking for in Saturday's game?

Matt Tait

I think it's gotta come down to the offense again. The defense knows what it has to do and it'll either improve or struggle and that'll be that. How that unit plays certainly will be important for Kansas, but if you're looking for positives and something to feel good about, I think you can walk away from this game — win or lose — with a positive feeling if Cozart and company continue to move the football and put up points.

Not only would that be a good sign for the rest of the season, but I think it also would be a good sign that the offense that Beaty and Rob Likens brought to town might actually work and could help KU become competitive again when those guys are able to bring in even more pieces to fit what they want to do.


What do you see that's different from this coaching staff to Gill's or Weis' that we see significant improvement in game 1 of Beaty and didn't see any improvement from 2+ years from Gill or Weis?

Thank you for all your coverage. It's great!

Matt Tait

Appreciate that. Glad you enjoy it. And thanks for the question!

I think the biggest thing is just the method with which these guys get after it. They're a no-nonsense bunch and guys who work their butts off when it's time to practice and get serious. When it's not, though, they're a pretty laid-back, fun-loving crew and you can tell they all really get along.

I never sensed that at all from Gill and company... He was just never that engaged with any aspect of the program. And even though it was better intially with Weis' crew, it eventually gave out because Weis was a little too passive and treated things too much like the NFL.

Beaty and company are willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work and they're willing to do that even while knowing that all of the hard work in the world might not help much this year or even next. It takes strong character to keep working that hard with that outcome existing as a possibility in your mind, and these coaches have it and they've passed it on to their players.


If Memphis's opponent last week played our opponent last week, how do you think the game would turn out?

Matt Tait

This is another great question... And I'm happy to answer it because I've heard a lot of talk about it this week.

South Dakota State would've rocked Missouri State, quite possibly just as bad as Memphis did (63-7). That physical style that SDSU brought to Lawrence would've caused just as many problems for Missouri State as Memphis' style of play did and I think the Jackrabbits would've won by a minimum of three or four touchdowns.

I don't think Missouri State is very good at all and that could help the Jayhawks indirectly because they have seen better talent in their only game this season than Memphis has in its.

We'll see.


Hey matt.... don't have a question yet... just saying hey

Matt Tait

Good stuff. Appreciate you taking the time to say hey. Hey right back atcha!


Has anyone asked Coach Beaty why he chose to burn WIllis' redshirt this season? I know that Cozart was shaken up, by why not put Forde in to throw 2 passes (or can / will they redshirt Forde???)

Matt Tait

Oh yeah. He was asked. And his answer was simple and right in line with what he's been saying all offseason: Willis had earned that spot as the back-up (at least for Week 1) and when they saw that Cozart could not go back out there right away, they immediately went to the next man on the depth chart and that was Willis.

Beaty has said on multiple occasions that he's not worrying about red-shirts this year too much. KU's numbers are so far down that it isn't really in any position to be saving guys for any reason. If it works out that a freshman never got into any games by the end of the season, then that'll be a bonus because it'll mean they didn't need him and he'll get another year back.

But if they need guys or even think they might, they're going to put them out there, both to try to compete this year and to give them valuable experience for the future, which can only help.

So don't worry too much about who's red-shirting and who isn't. I can tell you the coaches aren't really thinking that way at all.


Looks like we've got time for a couple more... Again, thanks for the wonderful questions for Matt to answer and be sure to check us out right here every Friday that KU has a game.


Besides Willis, T Miller, Armstrong & Sims, did any other true freshman get their feet wet last Saturday? Do you expect that list to grow?

Matt Tait

The only true freshman you missed was linebacker Osaze Ogbebor. He played a lot and I think he'll continue to log minutes as the season goes on. He looks like a pretty nice player.

I do think the list will grow, simply because I think KU will need more of those young guys to play, be it because of injury or ineffectiveness from other guys.

The next true freshmen on the list that you should keep an eye out for are: OL Clyde McCaulley III, who essentially is backing up both tackle spots; WR Jeremiah Booker, who, when he returns from injury, could get on the field quickly, RB Taylor Martin, who definitely will get some carries at some point this season and could factor into the return game as well; WR Emmanuel Moore, who could earn reps at wideout or in the return game; and TE Jace Sternberger, who I think will definitely play sooner rather than later.


I thought the new football intro video was so so. What did you think? It just doesn't have the same feeling like watching the basketball intro video in AFH. Maybe I'm just biased because we were winning more back then but I say bring back the Jayhawk Jet/ Metallica / Helmet explosion football intro.

Matt Tait

I was actually busy during the video and didn't get too close of a look at it. I heard similar sentiments to yours from several people, though, so I'll be sure to check it out this week.

I think you're right, though. Those old intros were pretty sick and are gonna be tough to top... ever.


If you were the coach, what would be your strategy against Memphis on offense and defense?

Matt Tait

More of the same on offense. I think the balance was good, making Memphis account for Cozart in the run game can only help and establishing the run the way they did with Kinner will open everything else up. Likens was great in the opener and I'd expect more of that in this one.

Defensively, I'd do whatever possible to contain Memphis QB Paxton Miller and make him beat you with the pass. That puts a lot of pressure on the DBs but it also brings the D-Ends more into play, which should benefit KU as long as those guys show up.


With a defense that allows 41 points against a decent FCS team, how many new faces do you think we will see against a talented Memphis team?

Matt Tait

My guess is the changes you're talking about (which Beaty referenced last weekend) might come with swapping out first- and second-stringers. I think the same core crew will play, but I wouldn't be surprised if you saw some guys who were back-ups last week getting the starting nod this week...

One guy who could easily fit that bill is local boy Joe Dineen Jr. at linebacker. Another is Kapil Fletcher over Daniel Wise at D-Tackle, given how much Wise struggled with penalties in the opener.

I'd look for Schyler Miles to get some more time, too.


Last one. And it looks like we're gonna finish with a doozy!


If you were a student at KU right now, what type of "friendly" retaliation would you like to see our student section and/ or band do when KSU comes to town for the last game of the year.

Matt Tait

Oh, man. I figured we wouldn't make it through this thing without at least one mention of the K-State band debacle... Good work!

If you haven't read it yet, be sure to check out Tom Keegan's column on this very question... He, as you might have guessed, has some good thoughts on the subject.

As for my thoughts, maybe someone could organize a fan movement where every KU fan in attendance organizes the downloading of the KU fight song on everyone's smart phone and then when the K-State band starts to play, everyone in the stands hits play on their phone and the collective noise (thought perhaps not real pretty) drowns out whatever the K-State band is playing on the field.

Could be a reach, but that would be kind of cool.

Having said that, it wouldn't surprise me at all if the K-Staters tried to "apologize" by learning how to play the KU fight song and belting that out during their time on the field.

We'll see. What a weird deal all the way around.


All right, folks. That's a wrap. Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the heck out of your weekend. We'll talk to you guys again very soon!

Matt Tait

Bingo! Thanks for the great questions and good time, everybody. I'll look forward to more and we'll definitely try to mix in something similar when basketball rolls around.

Until next time...


Tom Keegan

a. Condition of the athletes — Beaty-Weis-Gill
b. Structure/Discipline of the program — Beaty-Weis-Gill
c. Recruiting — Beaty-Gill-Weis
d. Gameplanning — Beaty-Gill-Weis
e. Gameday adjustments — Beaty-Gill-Weis
f. Connecting with the students — Beaty-Weis-Gill
g. Connecting with the fans/donors — Beaty-Gill-Weis
h. Connecting with the players — Beaty-Gill-Weis
i. Competence of the coaching staff — Beaty-Gill-Weis

6 years, 11 months ago


Brandon Mahon

I disagree completley on the intro video. I think this was the best intro video we have had in a long long time. I loved that one video showed the history, one threw it back to the 08 season and had highlights of a lot of our biggest named players and the biggest moments and then had one with current players and past couple seasons. I think I have to give the video a B+ or A-

6 years, 11 months ago


Jeremy D. Morris

Thanks for answering my crazy question Matt and Tom. I was really impressed with the condition of the players last week. Despite the heat, I didn't see one player with cramps, etc.

6 years, 11 months ago


Dale Rogers

As for the KSU thing, I hope KU students show their class by acting as if it never happened. Kind of like ignoring the little kiddies who act like spoiled brats, trying to get attention of the adults.

6 years, 11 months ago


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