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September 2, 2009

Mangino after practice

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Kansas coach Mark Mangino spoke to the media for a few minutes after practice on Wednesday.

Has there been any rust with Justin Thornton moving back to safety from cornerback?

"Not really, he is more natural there. We put him at corner out of necessity and he did a nice job. He is not really a corner, he is a safety. You can just tell he is really cutting loose at that position where I think he was a little tentative at corner because he didn't know it that well. Now at safety he is really relaxed and can cut loose and play a lot more under control."

What do you have to improve on in special teams the most?

"Kickoff coverage has got to be more consistent. Kickoff return has got to be better and give us better field position. We do a good job on punt returns. We are improving in that area. I think we can be better in that unit. Those are the areas that I have focused on.

"We had a really nice offensive unit last year, can you imagine if they got the ball more on the 35, 36, or 38-yard line rather than the 19 or 20-yard line. Defensively, so many time we put our defense out on the middle of the field and put them in a tough situation. Special teams are so important in the field position game. Every good team I have been on has been good in special teams."

How far has linebacker Arist Wright come from last year?

"He has been here a long time and has fought through some injuries. I think he is playing his best football right now. I still think there is room for him to get better and he would say so too. He is really tuned in. He knows this is his senior year. This is his last opportunity to make a mark on our program. He is trying to seize the moment. The way he is going through our training camp and preseason practices, I look for him to have a big impact on our defense."

What true freshmen do you see playing Saturday night?

"I would suspect at this point in this time you are going to see McDougald and Opurum. At that point, I can't guarantee anybody else. I think we just want to work through this first game and take a look at ourselves. I am probably missing somebody. We will all find out soon enough."

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