Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill
"Good afternoon, I want to thank everyone for coming. It's definitely another week where we've got to get ready to play another outstanding football team. Just a few comments about last week; first of all, on behalf of the staff and our players, I want to thank the fans. They had tremendous energy and tremendous enthusiasm. I also want to thank the student body for staying engaged throughout the whole game. It was awesome. The Marching Jayhawk Band and the spirit squad and everybody there did a tremendous job. They really helped our football team win the game."
I was at the opener. It was a tough game to get into and the crowd stunk. It just wasn't there and it's tough to point blame due to the circumstances. I wasn't at this one, but I know plenty of people who were. From all accounts Memorial was about as on as it's been in some time. And that was with a lower attendance number than the week before.
I know it's been said that we're a basketball school and this and that, but I think this fanbase is ready for football. There is plenty of work to be done, but it was definitely good to hear about more than a few voices lost last Saturday due to getting loud for our team.
"I think our guys played with a tremendous purpose and they played with outstanding passion. That' s what we've got to have week after week. Hopefully our players and coaching staff have that tremendous energy and tremendous passion. The challenge is to do that week after week. The last positive; we executed better. In every phase of the game whether it be offense, defense, special teams, I thought we drastically improved. Again, I'm always going to bring up something about our staff. I could speak about them a whole lot, but one tidbit about this staff is that they've coached 93 all-conference players. That's a lot of people that our guys have coached and they have tremendous experience."
After the 7 game slide to end last season and the opener against North Dakota State, how fun was it to watch a team play with passion and purpose. Perfect words to describe it, the teams back was up against a wall and they responded. Also, does anyone else find it refreshing how often Gill deflects attention to his staff? Not that Mangino was one to bask in the glory, but it just feels a little different. It's as if Gill might be one of those people who's greatest strength is surrounding himself with good people and he knows that.
On Southern Miss:
"I know that they play well at home. They do a fantastic job at their home stadium. I've coached there on one other occasion, so I have had an experience there and there will be an issue with crowd noise, particularly it being a Friday night game on ESPN.
From a player's standpoint, they have very good athletes on every side of the ball. They have a great return guy on punts and kickoffs that really is going to be a person that we have to stop. Everybody has heard about their receiver DeAndre Brown. (He's an) outstanding player, (who) has size and speed and is a big-play guy. He's somebody we have to limit. We're not going to shut him down, but we do have to limit his big plays.
Their defense is extremely solid. They have nine returning starters. They all can run and are dynamic players, so we are going to have our hands full there.
The keys to the game-we have to play with tenacity. Our guys have to play with the same type of execution, passion, and confidence that we played with last week. We have to win the special teams battle. That's going to be an important phase. Obviously you have offense and defense, but special teams we are going to have to play well. That's going to be very important.
We have to have more big plays than they do. They are a big play team, particularly on offense. They will throw the ball down the field quite a bit and we cannot allow them to have big plays in the passing game. They also do some pretty good things in the running game with their quarterback and they also have some good running backs. The other area that is going to have to be taken care of is penalties. We cannot have more penalty yards than they do, otherwise it will be very difficult to accomplish our goal of winning the game."
Generally speaking this is a great rundown of an opponent by a coach. In the previous two weeks Gill hasn't gone into this kind of depth regarding the opponent. We're going to have our hands full Friday night, not surprised that we aren't favored and if Kansas comes away with a win it would be a pretty big deal in my mind.
This is a team that is going to challenge us in ways that we haven't been challenged this year both on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball. This is one that has a chance to truly expose our depth concerns and reignite the worries at linebacker. It's going to be a big game no doubt.
On how he handled the difficulties of week one:
"I don't read the newspapers and I don't read the internet. I don't get involved in that. I'm so focused on what I have to get done. That is teaching our coaches how to teach our players. Teaching our players how to perform on and off the football field. That's where I'm focused.
I just wanted to point this out because I'm pretty sure they didn't get this quote right. What I heard was, "I don't read the newspapers and I don't read the internet, well minus Rock Chalk Talk because that site is the best and covers Jayhawk football all day every day from that standpoint." I swear that's how it went down.
Junior tight end Tim Biere
On if the team is still celebrating its win versus Georgia Tech:
"I think it is still kind of going on. Everyone is really excited but we have moved on to focusing on Southern Mississippi. We had practice on Sunday and we had Monday off. It was a good practice. I think we're going to be ready to go on Friday."
I think Biere missed press conference 101. Perhaps more role playing is in order. Next time someone asks if you are still celebrating a win three days later the answer should in no way resemble a yes. Especially when the next game is on a short week. Oh well.
On how coach Turner Gill kept the team's spirits up after their loss to North Dakota State:
"After our game against North Dakota State, he (coach Gill) came into the locker room and said, ‘It's the first game. It is the least important game. You always make the biggest improvement between weeks one and two. Just get ready for this next game.' Everyone bought into it and we had the best week of practice we had all year last week."
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Webb
On how he felt his first start went after watching the game film versus Georgia Tech:
"There were some things, obviously, that I missed. That's going to happen every game no matter how old you are or how seasoned you are. I think I took what the defense gave us and as an offense, we just executed well."
Well, to be fair Jordan, that's going to happen every game no matter how old you are or how seasoned you are unless your name is Todd Reesing and it's the year 2007 AD.
On how they are going to prepare for Southern Mississippi:
"We started the week off early since we are playing earlier. We are just going to go into the game pretty much the same as we did last week. There shouldn't be much change. The coaches should have us prepared. We're going to go in and hopefully execute and stick to our game plan."
I hope he's right.
Senior cornerback Chris Harris
On teammate Justin Springer:
"He is doing a great job, he has learned a lot from the older guys that played before him. He is continuing the linebacker tradition. He has a great knack for the ball, can run very well, and has been doing a great job."
Anyone else wonder how things might have been different had Springer not blown out his knee?
On how the defense is being coached:
"I feel that as a defense we are well prepared and we always have a great game plan going into the game. The coaches are using everybody's strengths' and it has been working. I believe that as long as we continue to be well prepared going into the game we should play well."
I think this is absolutely on point. No one is going to sit here and argue that we have superior talent defensively, but what we are doing is executing well and we seem to be doing just enough. Last year when we hired Carl Torbush we had A&M detractors all over the place telling us how bad he was. So far I'm not seeing it. I'm sure there will be times where we'll pull our hair out but so far he's done a nice job with a group that no one really gave a chance.
Junior linebacker Steven Johnson
On the defense:
"Every week is a challenge and you always have to prove what you can do every week. Every week you have to show that you are capable of being a great defensive team. We go out each and every day ready to improve so we can be ready to win a game."
I like this attitude. I think it reflects the road that Johnson has taken to get to this point. He had an uphill climb all the way and taking a day off just wasn't an option. That reflects in the way he plays and perhaps it's rubbing off on everyone else.
On the confidence of this team:
"I believe that right now we are pretty good, but we went back and watched the film and saw that there is still room for improvement. There are some areas that I know that I can improve upon. Every day the coaches are pushing us to be the best we are capable of being."
Stay thirsty my friend.
On teammate Justin Springer:
"He was making some amazing plays last game. He was always there making plays. He has so much passion for the game and when you're out there playing with someone who has that much passion as you do its exciting."
I can remember a brief exchange with Springer about a year and a half ago and I had the same impression. He seems like someone who genuinely loves the game. That isn't always the case at this level. That's why it puzzled me last year when he never seemed to get things going. I'll say this, there was a reason for that and we all know what that was. His passion is back now and it's fun to watch.