Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill
"I'm going to start off with some of the positive things. First off, we're fifth in the country in pass defense, which I think is an excellent positive after four football games. Second off, we're sixth in the country in kickoff returns, which is excellent by our special teams. Along with that, we're all aware that D.J. Beshears is the Big 12 Player of the Week in special teams, which I think is outstanding. In four weeks we've had two guys, one on the defensive side with Justin Springer and now being Big 12 Player of the Week, and also having D.J. Beshears. In the first four weeks, to have two guys represented in the Big 12 is obviously showing that we do have some talent here, at the University of Kansas."
"The other thing in this past ball game, I thought that our defense played fast. I thought that was a very good sign to see them play fast. Also, I thought that offensively we had an excellent tempo. That's one of the things that were making sure we improved on, going into that ballgame."
Pretty clear that this will be par for the course to open the presser, positivity. Certainly this is a strength of Gill, he's an optimist and that's not a bad thing. I definitely like the kick return stat, but I'll take that pass defense with a grain of salt at this point considering the competition and the offense of Georgia Tech. The Big 12 Conference schedule will be the true representation as to how improved this pass defense is. That said, Chris Harris, Isiah Barfield and Calvin Rubles have all made plays at corner that we haven't seen in recent years.
"Baylor is a very good football team. The first thing that jumps out at you is their offensive side of the ball. They have a very good running back; they have an outstanding quarterback who is able to throw and run. Already at this point, Robert Griffin III almost has thrown for 1,000 yards. So the quarterback is not just a runner, he also can make some things happen with his arm."
Every one sees Griffin as a runner, but Coach Gill is exactly right in that he can hurt you with the pass sometimes even more. Somehow Kansas has to create pressure but also avoid getting pushed to far up field to where it creates running lanes for the QB.
"On their defensive side of the ball, the stat that is hitting me is, in their wins this season, they have only allowed one touchdown and they've had five field goals. That tells me something about some things they are doing defensively, so we're going to definitely have to be very, very efficient on our offensive side of the ball."
We can be balanced. This teams secondary has been hit by injury and they've shown some weakness against the run. But it sure won't be easy and the offensive line will be critical.
"Some updates on some injuries: (cornerback Calvin) Rubles is probable. I know he came out of the last game with an ankle injury but I don't forsee it at something that sets him back in practice. (Defensive end Tyrone) Sellers is questionable. He's going to practice today and through the rest of the week. I anticipate him playing, but we'll see how it goes. It all depends on how he performs this week."
Getting Sellers back is big this week and hopefully he'll be able to go. End needs some depth support in a big way.
On how he plans to contain Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin:
"You have to have a lot of people around the ball. They're going to try and get him in a situation where he is one-on-one with somebody, and I'd say that more times than not, he's going to win that battle on-on-one. We have to try and prevent him from having that opportunity. We have to have at least, two, three or four guys around the ball and make tackles. When we have an opportunity to make that tackle, we need to make that tackle."
We need to make sure we contain (the quarterback) in a way that doesn't let him exploit our defense. But we have to mix it up."
So we need to contain him in the way that we didn't contain Austin Davis of Southern Miss basically is what we're saying here.
On the defensive keys to the game:
"They're going to throw deep balls, every team does that, but I think it comes down to tackling not only Robert Griffin, but their whole football team. They have good speed on both sides of the ball. I think our tackling has been up and down (this year). I think there have been games where we've had tackling woes and there have been games where we've been a little average. I think that this team here has some good, skilled people. I think this game is going to give our guys a good opportunity to make some good open field tackles."
Deep balls, they do it and they've been effective at it. Big test for Barfield, Harris and the safeties.
Offensive Coordinator Chuck Long
On Quinn Mecham's preparation:
He's going to go into each game with a certain package; he gives me the plays that he is comfortable with. But this week is different deal because he's going to get the repetitions. Quinn is a very smart, very intelligent guy, he's one of those guys that we don't think needs a lot of reps to be able to finish a game. He's been so good about paying attention, and studying the game that he getting the mental part right.
We have to keep Webb healthy. I'm just not buying it and I see us getting crazy conservative if we get in this spot.
On using D.J. Beshears in the backfield:
He's a very aggressive runner. He practices hard and he loves to play hard, so we felt that right now, D.J. is better with the ball in his hand than trying to get him open on pass routes. He really has that aggressive running ability when he has that ball in his hands."
I liked it against NMSU, I'm interested to see this strategy at work against better competition.
Defensive Coordinator Carl Torbush
On Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin:
"I hope we can go out there and limit the big plays he has and keep the ball in the ball park. They are not just a one-man game. They have very good skilled receivers and they have running backs that have quickness, athletic ability. They have the same type of people that Southern Mississippi had in the skill positions and that is something we need to make sure everybody understands. I thought Southern Mississippi had excellent people in the skill positions. Baylor's offensive line is a very physical, nasty bunch and they will get after you. I have known Coach Riles and his offense for a long time and they will spread you out and move you around and try to keep you off-kilter with a multitude of things. But we need to go back and stop good football players from making big plays."
Same type as Southern Miss eh? Let's hope we see the second half of our defensive effort at Southern Miss for four quarters in Waco. I've actually enjoyed watching our defense work this year and Overall I think Tobush has done better with the group than expected. I hope he can keep them moving up the curve quickly.
On neutralizing Baylor wide receiver Kendall Wright:
"The main thing that we have to do is realize they are not a one man game. If you gang up on him, they have Griffin and receivers and the running backs. We have to make sure that we are able to match up with all their players because they will put four wide receivers out there and two running backs and you may think it's going to be twenty personnel and then all of a sudden it ends up in empty. They do a lot of things with different personnel groupings and they do it at a fast pace. The main thing we have to do is make sure we get aligned in assignments and make plays when we have opportunities to make them and go right back to what we have talked about the last several weeks. We are still not causing enough turnovers and we need to put more pressure on the quarterback."
On the game plan:
"Schematically, you need to understand if you make a miss on Griffin, instead of being a ten yard gain it is going to be a touchdown or a long play. You can not just sit there and worry about him. If you put three or four guys on him they have wide receivers that can take it to the house in one on one situations. We have to make sure that we do what we have been doing and hopefully be able to create more takeaways. Also we need to get more pressure on the quarterback than we have been able to do game in and game out."
Sophomore safety Lubbock Smith
On Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin:
"It is not really like getting thrown into the fire because we look at every quarterback as a good quarterback. He has a lot of talent and we just look forward to coming out there and to dominate and take over the game. Griffin gives a lot challenges. He is very fast and athletic. He can do a lot with his feet and with his arm. We are just looking forward to going out there and play like we do every week. We are going to have a great game plan and just go out there and try to excel and do great."
I get the feeling from this quote that the defense is going to have that same chip on the shoulder attitude when facing Griffin that they did when facing Nesbitt. Now let's hope they can limit Grifin in the same way.
Junior linebacker Steven Johnson
On making his presence felt versus New Mexico State:
"I have to give all the credit to the defensive line for keeping the (New Mexico State) offensive line off of me. It is a team effort. I am not out there doing it by myself. I have other players like the safeties, other linebackers and (defensive)-line out there and together we are getting it done. "
Bingo...keep the o-line occupied and let the linebackers work. Darius Parish made an appearance last week and he has the chance to improve this area even further for Kansas. He's coming in at a disadvantage being 3 weeks behind everyone else, but the guy is huge and he created some piles in a hurry last week. Plus he's got a mean streak. On one play after piling up three NMSU o-lineman he got up to pursue the play and re-shoved a NMSU lineman to the ground as he tried to regroup. We need some nastiness...in a smart way of course.
On how the linebackers improving as a group:
"In practice, we have one of the hardest individual groups out there. The first 25 minutes of practice we are just going at it rep after rep after rep. We keep pushing each other. We get tired, but we have a goal we want to get to and we just keep reminding each other of our goal. We go out and give it all we have. If we keep giving our best effort we are going to win games."
You have to admit, the linebackers have looked a little better than you expected.
Senior safety Olaitan Oguntodu
Talk about how having had success versus Josh Nesbit (Georgia Tech) will help prepare you to face Robert Griffin (Baylor QB):
"The success that we had against (Josh) Nesbitt was because everyone did their job. We are a defense that believes that if everyone does their job, we will be ok. That is how defenses work. They are supposed to dictate to the offense what they should take. As a group, if each of us takes care of our responsibility, we will be okay."
Cue the pregame speech!! We dictate today!
Freshman quarterback Jordan Webb
On the offensive tempo against New Mexico State:
"Our communication was really good. We had the plays called fast and I got to the line fast. In practice, Coach (Turner) Gill is behind me counting, making sure I get the ball out on time. It's something we've been working on a lot and I think we're going to get better at it. It's going to wear teams out hopefully."
Yes, much better...now do it again.
On the offensive line performance against New Mexico State
"They had a really good game. They communicated well up front and everything that the defense showed they were able to pick up. That's good for me, because it's nice having time back there, and it's good for the (offensive) line's confidence."
I was impressed with Duane Zlatnik in this one. After the first week I thought he was a little bit out of his league still, didn't quite look ready. I'm not sure what happened with Marrongelli, but Zlatnik played the majority of this one. He made several very nice plays in space, moved well and finished the blocks. From game one to game four he looked like a more confident and different player. I hope it continues.
Sophomore wide receiver Daymond Patterson
On setting the tone on offense every game:
"Practice-wise, you have to have that mentality that we're going to get better today. We don't have any time to waste in practice because when you do, it shows in the game. I think last week our focus really showed. I think in the game, when you start out on offense, just getting positive plays in the game and getting the ball moving and getting first downs. You don't want too many negative plays at the beginning of the game; you want to get that confidence going.
On winning on the road:
"I think whenever you play on the road, you're going up against a lot. The other team is going to be excited to play in front of their fans. And their fans are going to be trying to get at you and holler and scream at us, but when you can go out on the road and get a win it brings home a lot.
This week presents a huge opportunity. It might be the best of the three road games that Kansas can hope for in terms of the atmosphere. Baylor doesn't get great attendance and it doesn't sound like they are expecting a big draw Saturday at that. Throw in the fact that they are considering this a must win and Kansas can grab some road momentum if they start strong.