Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill
"This week is an opportunity for Kansas football to get on track. In the last few days I've seen our players get together a little bit. They've been very resilient, and that's a good thing. As young people today, 18-22 years old, they've definitely seemed to be very resilient, probably a little more than we as adults. I think that's been a good thing and a positive for our football team."
"Another thing I think is good for us is there's an opportunity here with six games left to finish strong, and that's how we look at it. I look at this football game here as an opportunity for us to have a chance to win, just like any game we play. This is an opportunity for us to win, and obviously the resolve and the things that have happened with us the last couple ball games, this is a chance for us to get a win."
As usual says all the right things. I suppose this is a chance at a win, but I'm certainly not counting on it. What I'm more interested in is everything else he says. Is this team really pulling together, does this team work to resolve things and can this team get back on track.
It's going to sound like a broken record from me at this point, it's not about W's and L's, it's about looking competitive.
On Texas A&M and keys to the game
"I think the key to the game is we have to play well early. We need to get off to a good start, both offensively and defensively. But particularly on offense, we need to put points on the board. Unfortunately, I think some of the issues with the last two ballgames we have not been able to put points on the board. We've been pretty good from the 30 yard line to the 30 yard line offensively, but in putting points on the board we have not been effective in doing that to the best of our ability. Which comes down to the word you hear every week from every coach: execute. We have to execute and do it a lot better than what we have been doing."
"(We need to) eliminate the unforced penalties. If we get a drive two going, particularly from an offensive standpoint, if we get an offsides or if something of that nature may occur, we have to eliminate those things."
"Lastly, just about every week in some fashion I mention the turnover margin. We cannot turn the ball over, we must create turnovers, we've got to get at least three turnovers here to bring about even more excitement and confidence in our football team. To create turnovers is what brings that about. You can do that on defense, obviously on special teams they need to get that done also. They need to create some big plays on our special teams. We've done a little bit about that as far as our kickoff return, but we haven't done that in some of the other areas."
"The bottom line is we find a way to win the game. Find a way to win the football game."
Makes me feel better about things when the three things he mentions here were in my keys to the game last week. Pretty much these are basic fundamental keys to winning football games. They seem obvious, they seem cliche, but until the team is doing these things we don't need to worry about the finer points of football.
On getting quarterbacks past a rough stretch:
"You keep playing. You keep playing; keep being competitive; keep having confidence in what you're doing. Stay within the framework of what you're coaches are teaching you and what your reads are."
"In the case of the quarterback, it's all about experience. Speaking for myself, from my own experience, you're first year playing you're just kind of playing the plays; you're not really truly understanding it. My second year, I really had a better understanding of what was totally going on. I could anticipate things happening a little quicker. You anticipate what's going to occur, and now you react to it and believe in it physically. We're still not quite there from the quarterback spot but I believe we will get there."
I'm not sure we can keep being competitive when we haven't been to begin with but I do think that between coach Gill and coach Long we have two former quarterbacks that have to in some way understand the struggles that Jordan is going through and how to best handle them.
Senior wide receiver Johnathan Wilson
On getting things going in a positive direction and resiliency:
"We have to have a short memory. We have to go back to practice and go back to the drawing board and we have to find positive stuff in the last game to try and build on. It's a lot easier said than done, but you've got to have a strong mentality to just persevere. That's football."
"We've been down in games before. In the Georgia Tech game, we were down early and we came back and won the game. You can't quit. We can still win, I believe in the team."
I always find these comments hard to believe, but from my conversations it seems to be true. The team is not pointing the finger at the staff, they are pointing it at themselves. Some things have been said that were being left unsaid through the first six games of the season and it doesn't sound like a group that has "quit" in the same way that it might have a year ago. Actions on the field do seem to be trailing slightly, but as a fan you look for any positive you can the same as the team.
Freshman quarterback Jordan Webb
On his role with the team:
"I just need to be more consistent. (I need to be) making plays at a consistent level, keeping drives going, and when we get in the red-zone we just need to score. That's our big thing right now I think."
"I think I've gotten a lot better since my first start. I'm really understanding the offense and what we want to do. I'm understanding why each play is called and what the big picture is. That's really going to help."
On the team's resiliency:
"I think we've been really resilient. I think after week one we were disappointed but we came back and won the next week. We've had a couple of disappointing weeks lately but we're going to come back and execute and keep getting better. "
On outsiders questioning the team:
"Obviously I don't think anybody here agrees with certain opinions. But that is somebody's opinion; they can have their own opinions. We're going to keep coming out to play and we're going to play hard and get better."
This always seems to happen when a team struggles. The "they don't know what they're talking about" insinuations toward fan opinions. Yes I agree with Jordan that they are opinions, and yes there are going to be opinions that don't necessarily line up with what the team believes, but when you are failing to compete on Saturday as a team at such a level it's going to happen and you have accept that.
One thing I will say is that these are opinions that EVERYONE wants proven wrong. The players want to prove the fans wrong and the fans actually WANT to be proven wrong. There's nothing better than writing one of those "look what I said" posts after a season when things work out better than you'd hoped. It's not as fun when things go the other way.
Senior running back Angus Quigley
On avoiding panic:
"You can't panic. Panic is not going to help anyone and it will spread like a virus through the team. This is a time when you need your leaders on the team. As captains, we need people to look up to us. How we go out to practice and how we play in the game, that stuff is contagious. That is where the leadership is coming from right now. Coach Gill is going to keep coaching and they'll put together a great game plan. The players have to buy into it, which I believe we will, and we need to go out and play the way we know we can play. We've shown we can be a good football team, it's about consistency.
Angus is back in a starting role so either he's showing some of that leadership or they just feel he fits the pass blocking role that might be needed in the backfield a little better. Either way Angus has called out his team twice in the media so he's not afraid to put it out there. For the record, I still like Sims better and if he can't block, they need to teach him now.
On negativity from outsiders:
"It's a lot easier for me to handle. I've been here and I've been down that road before. It's happened in the past. You've got to know who knows the team the best, and it's the guys on this team. It's the coaches we work with everyday. Our thing is to keep what's in our house, in our house. We don't want to worry too much about what's going on outside. When you lose you are a bad team, when you win you are a great team. That's just the way it works. We're trying to stay together, that's all we can do."
On changing the team's mentality:
"We need to focus on finishing. We can't come out and do things like have a drive and then turn it over. We can't have a drive where we jump offsides and get multiple penalties that put us in a tough spot. That's the stuff that is killing us right now. Execution is important too. We are killing ourselves and the teams in this league are too good to come back on when you beat yourselves."
Senior linebacker Drew Dudley
On the fans at Late Night:
"I went to Late Night in the Phog and there was like eight of us seniors that were going to go out there. They were introducing each sport individually. First was baseball and we were next. In my heart, deep down I was like, ‘Man, I hope we don't get booed.' But then they said football is up next and we actually got a standing ovation and it was a pretty loud cheer. That was actually pretty surprising, and it was nice."
This is good and I'm glad it went down this way. Yes it's been a disappointing season and yeshimself takes a lot of criticism, but none of these guys set out to lose or play poorly. And for the eight seniors that stepped out there, they were part of that 2007 Orange Bowl team so it's good to know that they received a positive response from fans.
On the struggles in the Big 12 play carrying over from last season:
"They were a little bit different last year than they were this year. Last year, we lost a lot of close games. Right now, if you watch the film it doesn't look as bad as the scoreboard is saying that it is. I think it's just a matter of making plays, and few plays going this way and that way. I can't explain it, but we're still working hard."
I think everyone is struggling to explain, but I sure don't think that it's a matter of a few plays going this way and that. Yes I think a few plays get us in a hole that we can't dig out of and from there things tend to snowball...but we're far from a few plays making a difference.
Senior linebacker Steven Johnson
On the team's mission statement "We Still Believe":
"I wouldn't say it's harder to believe. I still believe in the mission statement and I still have faith that this team is going to go to a bowl game this year. We have six games left and we've got to win four of them to become bowl eligible and I think we can do that. As hard as we worked offseason and in training camp, and as hard as we've worked these last two weeks, even though we haven't ended up winning a game, I feel like we're right there. We're right on the brink of winning a game and everything clicking and we're going to go out there and win some games."
I have to say, if this team pulled off bowl eligibility I would be absolutely ecstatic and I'd travel to Canada in January if that's where the bowl was.
On games coming down to only a few plays:
"Last week there was one play where it was third and nine. We were about to be off the field in the first quarter and they had converted and it was a big gain. Right after that it kind of seemed like everything started going downhill. So there's certain plays in the game where we need to be able to create stops. And we need to pick ourselves back up and not let it build momentum."