Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill
"It's good to see everyone again, I appreciate your attendance. I just want to say one or two things about our last ball game. I do want to emphasize again that definitely, our defense played extremely well, especially as we watch the tape more in detail. They tackled well and in our last two games they also created turnovers. They started tackling better, making more physical plays. The ball was on the ground more and we always continue to talk about that. We've been talking about that all year long. I particularly think these last two games they've done that and I think that's been great for our defense and our coaching staff."
"The last three games I can definitely say that our whole football team has been competing extremely well in every phase. They also have shown tremendous toughness both mentally and physically. When you have those three things, as far as being mentally and physically tough (and) your defense is starting to play well then you're going to have a great opportunity to go out and win yourself some games. Yes, we have not totally won them all but there is progress being made in our football program and I think that's what we want to do."
This absolutely sums up my feelings on the recent trend we're seeing. I'm pretty sure no on can match Coach Gill's level of optimism, but It's a positive no doubt about it.
I think what this also confirms in a roundabout way is that we weren't competing during the Baylor, K-State, Texas A&M run. I'd never expect a coach to say that, but the results on the field and the improvement of late have shown what this team is capable of and getting destroyed by your instate rival on your home turf should not have happened.
It's that corner, we're turning. Not sure how big the corner is and if we'll be met by another corner after this one, but I truly feel that this staff and this team will have some positives to build on as they head into the offseason. From there we just need an offseason managed in a much more productive way than this past one.
"The opponent, Oklahoma State is a very, very good football team. Obviously, their record speaks for itself. (Head coach) Mike Gundy, I know him, I can't say we're the very best of friends but we do talk somewhat often. And I know he's done a great job with that program as long as he's been there."
"Their offense is very, very explosive. Probably in the three areas that you always try to do some things and get talented players they have done that: at quarterback, at running back and at receiver. So at every one of those positions, they have a guy there that can make plays and be playmakers, so we're going to have a tough time to try and slow them down. That's what you're going to do because you can't stop them, you going to try to slow them down. And that's what we are going to try to do and we've put together a great game plan to make sure we have an opportunity to be successful and have a chance to beat Oklahoma State."
"Their defense, I think that they're a team that Coach (defensive coordinator Bill Young) has done some great things there. I know him from the past. Their defense has done some good things in some areas, in some areas it's still average. I hope that we can exploit that. But they're playing very, very well right now, so we're going to have to play an extremely well-executed game."
We might need six defensive backs on the field this week. Oklahoma State has a scary offense and the problem with the six DB theory is that they run as well as they pass. Kendall Hunter and a Kansas native that we are all familiar with, Joe Randle, make up a one two punch in the backfield. Slowing Oklahoma State down is the opportune phrase, because we aren't stopping this juggernaut.
Defensively it's tough to even think about what the other team brings to the table unless we can bring something on offense. Oklahoma State certainly isn't Nebraska defensively, so we'll see what happens. This team definitely needs a confidence boost on the offensive side of the ball.
Keys to the game: We probably do this every game, but I think it's very, very important for us to score touchdowns because you're not going to win this football game by kicking field goals and not maintaining possession of the ball on offense. They are a team that really believes in trying to get as many plays run, so we've got to make sure that we score touchdowns. We've got to have ball security. And our defense has got to continue to do what they've done here in the last few ball games and that's create some takeaways. And we've got to continue to tackle well. If we continue to tackle well on defense then we're going to have some good opportunities to perform. And no doubt, our offense has got to be more productive than they were in the last ball game (against Nebraska)."
Score touchdowns!!! and keep the other team from scoring touchdowns!!! Coach Gill? This is the most obvious key to the game of football ever? All kidding aside, this is where we're at. Go out compete and let's put the ball in the endzone.
On his relationship with the senior class:
"They accepted me. I would say right from the beginning their eyes, their heart, their soul -- they've given all of that. And that's all you can ask for from a coach's perspective. And also with our staff, it's the same thing. We've kind of used a few of those terms as what we saw in our players, and in particular, with our seniors. They kind of took a hold of some things and they helped us to continue to adjust and get to know the guys. I think it's always good to know from the players, how they see things. And then we as coaches have to somewhat adjust to make sure we get our guys motivated to play well. This is a great group of guys and they're going to definitely be some people in my heart and my mind for the rest of my life."
True or not, this is the right thing to say and this weekend is about thanking this group and sending them off. These are players that were arriving on campus during the Orange Bowl season of 2007. Things probably looked pretty rosy at the time and I'm sure it's ended with a thud most didn't expect.
On building a dynasty in the Big 12:
"I think that's part of accepting the job at Kansas. I believe that the University of Kansas can be a team to build a dynasty, build a winning program and I think it can happen. Oklahoma State has done it, and you go on down the line (to) a couple other schools, K-State and so on, that have been able to be successful and have been competitive in winning championships here in the Big 12 Conference.
I think the biggest thing they've done from an offensive standpoint is, as I mentioned earlier, they have a quarterback, they have a very good running back and they have a very good receiver. So that gives them an opportunity at every ballgame to put points on the board. And that gives you an opportunity to be successful in every ballgame."
Running back? I think we'll have the depth and bodies to compete at that position going forward. Quarterback? Probably a position that needs to be focused on. Wide receiver, some potential their with some big bodies but speed is always a need. Wrapping it altogether we pretty clearly need to find and/or develop an offensive line that can run block/pass block equally well and an offensive line with a mean streak.
Senior defensive end Jake Laptad
On the defense's performance against Nebraska:
"I think that is a step forward for us. Obviously we gave up too many points, but against an offense like that ,we are happy with how we played. With the way Nebraska's offense has played all year, we put on a good performance defensively."
On playing offenses who prefer to run the ball:
"As a defense, I think we are more comfortable with offenses that run it. We need to work on our pass defense a little more. But we do like to face teams who run it more as opposed to passing it a lot."
Senior safety Olaitan Oguntodu
On his great academic standing (already has two degrees and will earn a master's in December):
"It comes from my family. My father has always been an academic guy. He brought my family over from Nigeria strictly based on the fact that the academics in Nigeria were going downhill. He was just looking for a better opportunity. A lot of credit also goes to the support and cast that has been around me. I have several second families in Texas. Since I've been at the University of Kansas, I've had a lot of professors take great interest in my success. I'm not the most diligent student you've ever met, it has more to do with the fact that people have taken interest in me and that is what really helped me accomplish my goals."
Impressive. Still think he was an underutilized player during his career but glad to see he's taken full advantage of his opportunities.
Senior wide receiver Jonathan Wilson
On Senior Day
"When I first got here I thought Senior Day was so far off, and actually time flew by and now it's here and I'm getting ready to play my last game at Memorial Stadium. It's a bittersweet moment. The games stand out, obviously, my freshman year when we went to the Orange Bowl. Just the atmosphere of running out of those gates and seeing the crowd and the support we got, that's mostly what I'll remember about playing at Memorial Stadium."
On the challenges the senior class has faced
"We were dealt a tough hand. That's not an excuse or anything, but I think we had a pretty good legacy here. We won games. This year didn't really go the way we planned, but it's a building process and I'm sure everybody here enjoyed their senior year and their experience at Kansas."
Senior running back Angus Quigley
On Senior Day:
"It's very much real for me. I remember last year I participated in senior day and I knew there was always a fallback plan, I still could come back. But that was then. Now, it's like two games and college is over for me. I already graduated so when December comes it's all done. It's right around the corner and I've started to realize that so we'll see what happens."
I remember seeing Angus during senior day last year and wondering why he was participating when he technically had another year. Obviously we found out he was ready to go ahead and be done with it if Mangino was still around. The season hasn't developed into any sort of storybook ending by any means but I guess it's good that he was able to go out on a more positive note.