Missouri week s finally here and after a season that's fallen short of where anyone would like to be, Turner Gill get's an opportunity to try to deliver on one of his early goals. It's an uphill climb, Kansas is a 25 point dog in this one but you never know.
Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill
"I'm excited. This week is here: The Missouri game. I can remember myself in (my introductory) press conference ready for that, (saying) ‘Beat Missouri' is one of our goals each year. It got turned on pretty quick, right after the Oklahoma State game my heart, and everything is ready to get this one going. This is for our fans, this is for our alumni; this is for our players.
On Sunday, they were very spirited, they were upbeat, they were focused; they were ready. And we as coaches were ready. So that was a very exciting time. I've already got a sense of what this is all about, this Border Showdown, so I'm excited about that. I hope you've already sensed that in my voice. I think our players have already sensed that in my voice, I've already sensed that in their body language and their voices too of what this is all about. You guys probably know more about it than I do, but I am excited about this opportunity to represent Kansas here against Missouri."
Allright!! Besides a whole first paragraph without praising his staff(kidding coach, just kidding), Turner Gill also seems focused on this game from the get go.
From everything I've read and heard this week, the team, the staff and everyone is ready to give this a go. They understand the opportunity that the game presents, and while it's a HUGE challenge the focus and understanding of what the game means is there.
"Some more details on Missouri, our opponent: They're a very good football team. Gary Pinkel is very well respected in the coaching profession. I tip my hat off to him for what he has done there for the last 9-10 years. It starts with his offense. His offense has always been very, very good. They have another good quarterback in (Blaine) Gabbert. He throws the ball extremely well and has a very strong arm. The other thing about him is that he will take off running and he can run. So he's not just a thrower - he can take off running and make some plays there with his legs."
I've come to a conclusion about football. There are those teams that have a quarterback, and those searching for a quarterback. Those are about the only two categories you need. Right now Turner Gill's success at Kansas will likely be determined by his ability to find a player at the position with the tools and the football IQ between the ears to make it happen. For Pinkel a few quarterbacks really got things moving in the right direction and he's slowly built a complete team around that.
"Defensively, I think that's where they really have made improvements. I was at Buffalo and so we played them there a year or two ago, so I have played against Missouri during the last couple years. But their defense is fast, they run well; they get off blocks. They do create pressure on the quarterback; when you're throwing well they've played well against the run. But I think their biggest stat is their scoring. I think they've given up 16 or 17 points or less in every game.
This will be the toughest team we will face defensively besides Nebraska. This is what will keep Mizzou competitive in the future. Offense put them on the map, defense will keep them there.
The second thing is, as we have looked back at our last 11 games that we've played, the one common denominator is in the three games we've won, (freshman running back) James Sims has had over 100 yards in all three of those games. So that's something that we've seen that has pushed us forward to get Ws, so we'll see if we can get that done."
Coach? If you had been reading my keys to the game you would know that I've been saying this since the Colorado game. I suppose you've been busy and were just now catching up with that, but if you need any future gameplanning suggestions feel free to call me direct.
On the effect that winning the Border Showdown has on recruiting:
"I think anytime you win games it's always good. It's always good to play Missouri. Obviously, we're going to be recruiting against similar people that they're recruiting against us. So this could give us an edge."
Much has been made of head to head recruiting matchups between the two schools but it sure would seem that more often than not there aren't a lot of down to the wire head to heads. Most of the state of Missouri, belongs to Missouri. In Texas, there could be some crossover, but I've still never seen anyone's final two sit at MU v KU. The one place it could matter is Kansas City.
Freshman Defensive End Kevin Young
On if the comments made by people on online bulletin boards makes the team fired up:
"Yes, definitely. It makes us want to come out fired up. We're already fired up since it's our rival but then you hear stuff like that and that fires us up even more to try and come out and prove people wrong who think Mizzou is going to sweep us because of our records."
No comment here, just thought it was interesting. I think we all know that players here and elsewhere know what's being said by the fans.
On what a win versus Missouri would mean:
"It would be huge, especially being against Mizzou. Also, going into the offseason with a win would help us build toward next year and continue to get better."
It's big. Players like Kevin and those in his same class have slowly developed some confidence this season. They're playing better and a guy like this has 3 more years to contribute. A win against Mizzou goes a long way.
One other thing, Kevin moved inside a bit last week and I think that could be a decent spot for him in the future. Either way he hasn't been at 100% all year, so getting a local player that people are familiar with back to where he needs to be, will be something to keep an eye on in the offseason.
Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Jordan Webb
On growing up in the state of Missouri:
"I never really took sides in the rivalry. All my friends and family are going to be able to watch the game so it will be really cool. I mean all of my friends have been talking about this game for a really long time and everybody is really excited about it."
Webb is starting this week, Webb is from Missouri. When he chose Kansas, his hometown wasn't all smiles and didn't let him off easy. I think he'll remember that. Now I'm just hoping he can play a little above himself as a result.
On if he needs to prove anything to Missouri:
"I am where I am at (Kansas) and I am happy about it. I am definitely happy to be here in Kansas. You always have to play like you have something to prove whether it is to your opponent, to your teammates or to yourself. I don't feel any added pressure. This game is about a lot more than me. It is a huge event for the state and the University. For me personally it is just a huge game and a must win."
Exactly, you have to play like you have something to prove no matter what. This year, at Kansas, everyone has something to prove so playing like it, should be easy.