Friday, September 17, 2010
Q&A: Kansas linebacker Justin Springer
By David Ubben
Kansas had one of the best two-week turnarounds in Big 12 history to begin the season. They lost to FCS North Dakota State before beating defending ACC champions and No. 15 Georgia Tech.
One of the biggest reasons for the turnaround was linebacker Justin Springer, who earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors for his 15-tackle performance in Week 2.
The Jayhawks will be looking for an encore tonight against Southern Miss (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET), and a move to 2-1 on the season.
Springer took a few minutes to talk to ESPN.com earlier this week:
David Ubben: What have the last two weeks been like for you mentally?
Justin Springer: The past two weeks have been really, really fun -- well, not fun when we lost -- but as a defense, I think we've played pretty good and it's just been natural. I've been stressed out with school and stuff, but when it comes to football, all the other stuff just leaks out and I've been really getting after it at football and having fun with it.
DU: What happened in the last week that allowed you guys to bounce back like you did?
JS: I think just everybody believed in each other. We did a really good job of not listening to what other people were saying about us, because we know they were saying a lot of bad stuff about us since we lost to North Dakota State. But at the same time, we did have a lot of pride in ourselves and our coaches in us, we had a great week of practice, we came out and played hard and won the game.
DU: What did Turner tell you guys about dealing with the first loss?
JS: He just told us it was one game. One game doesn't determine a whole season, so everybody kept that mindset and we got focused for that week, and we really just forgot about that loss, put it behind our backs and looked forward to the next game.
DU: What did Turner tell you about dealing with the win?
JS: He just told us that was a great win, great job, but that was still just one game again. We won one game, but we've still got 10 more to go now. It was pretty much like the first game. We lost the first game, but it was just one game. We won this game, but it's just one game. So he just told us to be confident in yourself, don't get too happy when people pat you on the back, because last week, they weren't patting you on the back. Be humble about it, and come out to practice on Monday and practice hard.
DU: So you come back, what was the best part of the win on Saturday?
JS: The best part, I thought, was how hard we played as a defense. Everybody was doing their best and getting their job done. I'm serious on that. Everybody was just so focused on what they had to do and we played so hard, and we fought. That whole week of practices was really tough. We ran so much to the ball, practiced so hard that week, and winning that game, all that time and effort during the practices and meetings paid off.
DU: I know Turner has a lot of experiencing running the option. What did he tell you guys about defending it?
JS: Pretty much just to stay on our keys. If you've got the dive, take the dive. If you've got the quarterback, get the quarterback. If you've got the pitch, get the pitch. That's pretty much what he told us. Don't be so focused on trying to get tackles and trying to get to the ball. Just do your job and if you do your job, you'll stop the offense pretty well.
DU: Moving forward, it seems like people aren't very sure about what to expect from Kansas the rest of the year. What do you expect from this team?
JS: I expect that we play as hard as we can, and the only way a team is going to beat us is if they're truly better than us. We're going to play as hard as we can and no matter what, like coach said, we don't care what the name on the jersey is, we don't care what the ranking is, anything. We're just going to play as hard as we can and try to get the job done. If we do that, then we'll win.