Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill
"Looking ahead to (the game against) Texas; we are two football teams looking for a win. Texas has lost its last two and we are looking to right the ship as well."
"The comparison from last year to this year is what I would like to focus on in two phases where we have improved on offense and special teams. On offense we are scoring 30 points per game, where as last year we were at 16. We have improved in rushing touchdowns - we have 15 so far and at this time last year we had seven. In passing touchdowns we have 14 right now and we had seven up to this point last year. Another key thing that we look at is yards per play. Last year we averaged 4.6 and this year we are averaging 5.5 yards per play. Another great stat is that our passing percentage has improved from 57 percent last year to 67 percent this year."
"On special teams we gave up one blocked punt last year, this year we have not given up any. Also, we have actually blocked two punts. So the punt and punt return has improved. Kickoff and kickoff return is about the same in yards and averages. The only difference is that last year we had a kick return for a touchdown and this year we have given up a kickoff for a touchdown. Back on the offensive side there has been 16 times where we have had a drive of 10 plays or more resulting in 13 touchdowns. There has been improvement, there is no doubt about it, especially on the offensive side and in our kicking game. We still have some work on the defensive side, but I see some things going in the right direction. There are two phases that have been better. We just have to get the other phases going on defense and we will do that."
A throw back to some of last years press conference tendancies. Last year Gill liked to sing the praises of his staff using statistics and accomplishments from years past. Now he's heaping praise on the statistical improvement from a year ago. The problem here is that we have five losses and all five have come in embarrassing fashion. I've got a stat. Loss margin during conference play, 2010: 32.28, 2011: 32.6. That's the problem.
I love the improvement on offense and I don't even care what the record shows. Right now it's just a general gut check and there aren't many people left that are all that convinced with the Turner Gill show in Kansas.
"Everybody knows about Mack Brown. He's been there for a while; a veteran coach. He's done a great job there. Obviously, this past season he's made some changes with his coordinators. (Defensive Coordinator) Coach (Manny) Diaz is a guy that will be doing a lot of blitzing. He blitzes from all over the place. He's does a lot of different stunts. We're going to have to be really well prepared to take on that task. On the offensive side, there are multiple shifts and a lot of motion. They will run just about every play that you'll see in the playbook. They have a lot of different people. They get the quarterback to run; they have a couple different running backs that they use. It's going to be a great challenge to make sure that we stay on track to get accomplished what we need to."
On the keys of the game:
"I think the keys to the game are about the same as what they have been all season. The first two possessions of the half - the first half and obviously the second half - we've been okay. The second half hasn't been quite as good, where the first half has been pretty good. In this game, it's going to be really key. The first two possessions of each half, you want to try to get some points on the board on the offensive side of the ball; on obviously on defense you want to prevent them from getting any points. That's the area we have really talked about and emphasized as a staff and will continue to do with our football team."
On the team's energy level:
"I think that's the inexperience of our team. That's something we have talked about, where there have been days where there's been good energy and then there's other days where we don't. You're just trying to get consistency. That's just part of process of trying to grow a program and trying to get people on the same page. We're very demanding on (the players) to try to get them to do what they need to do every single day. That's where we're at; and that's the inconsistency that we have right now. That's why some times you see us doing some good things and other times we don't."
On some of the team's defensive struggles:
"That's what we're all trying to pinpoint. I can sit here and say that maybe some of it is the transition of coordinators being switched late in the summer like they were. That happened, and unfortunately people are still trying to make those adjustments. We're doing a few things differently than how (former Defensive Coordinator) Carl (Torbush) did. And there's still some inexperience. I think a majority of it is in the secondary, where guys are making mistakes and people are capitalizing on it. Every team makes mistakes, but (our opponents) have been able to exploit that on the defensive side.
You have to just keep on working; you have to keep trying to find ways to mix up things in practice and stimulate the brain a little bit differently. That's all you can do. We're going try to do some different things in our practices where we simulate a halftime, where we take a little time off and then come back and go against each other with the No. 1 offense against the No. 1 defense. We'll also create some scenarios that we may have in a game: third down situations, goal line situations, red zone and green zone situations. We're doing all different types of things to make sure we correct those things on defense."
On if it's disappointing that the team didn't have energy against Kansas State:
"I think that some of it was said out of context. I think some of that is just frustration; we all are after losing a football game. We didn't play as well or perform as well as we'd like to against a rival opponent, like Kansas State. Obviously, they played better than we did. Again, we just have to keep working. It isn't about saying things or making statements, it's about doing. We're trying to get our guys to perform. We have a great opportunity to do that this week against Texas. We have to play extremely well. We're just going to focus on our guys and get them to improve every single week. We're still trying to put it all together. There's two different phases that you try to build, one is going well and the other isn't really going very well. We're going to try to get those things going."
On if the start of the second half against Kansas State was frustrating:
"It was disappointing. You're a human being, you're frustrated. We all have our emotions. That definitely was a tough deal in back-to-back plays with the end of the first half and the start of the second half. That's not the way you want to do it. Again, with the stage we're at with our football team, we have to be very precise with what we do. We're not at the stage where we can make those kinds of mistakes and still overcome it."
On how he disciplines players when they make mistakes:
"We do some physical things in practice. We call them reminders, where you do some up-downs after practice or repeat plays. You talk to them and explain to them what they need to do and how they need to do it. You do all different types of disciplinary actions to try to change that up, then hopefully they get it. It's no different than some of the things you might do with your own kids. You try to find ways to get it across to them that this is what you need to do and this is how you need to do it."
On how he bounces back from losses:
"That's life; that's football. Just like each and every one of us today, you have to get back up and go to work. That's what you have to do. You have to have the mindset that you have to improve. We have the opportunity to do that. We have five more opportunities to do that and we're fortunate right now that we have those opportunities. There's going to come a time where you don't have those opportunities any more, but that's what it's about. That's what sports is all about.
With football, it's a week-to-week thing, where you don't get too high if you win and don't get too down when things don't go very well. You have to bounce back, you have that 12-24 hour window, you have to get yourself ready to go play another football game. You have to get yourself ready, as a coach, to get ready for a game. We have to work our way through it; it's just like anything else in life. You just keep working, you keep communicating, you keep talking football and keep teaching and developing. It takes time; we want it to happen faster, just like everybody else. We're all frustrated to a certain extent, but we're going to work. We're going to find a way to get this thing right and that's what we're here to do."
I have a hard time believing that this team doesn't feel down. That's part of the energy problem, it's part of the mistakes. It's that "here we go again feeling" and our football team gets to that place in a hurry and from that point on it becomes quite chaotic. What's worse is there doesn't seem to be much communication or working to dig out of it when the situation gets bad. Basically it took a Colorado meltdown last year in order for us to dig out of a hole and that's the only instance where we've done it.
On where he feels like the program is compared to how he envisioned it:
"I'm a human being and a good competitor. I wanted (the turnaround) to happen immediately. I don't like to lose, but I also understand as you go into a program and you find out where it's at and what you need to get corrected, none of us know how long it's going to specifically take to get the program where you want it. That's winning on a consistent basis. I think you'd like to get your program to where you've had guys in for three to four years and they understand where you're at and what you're doing. Then you also have the guys that have been in your system that know what you want to do and how you want to do it on a consistent basis. You can't fix it all in one or two years. Again, I still feel good about our plan, what we're doing and particularly what we're doing as a coaching staff with recruiting. We have one phase that we have to get corrected. I understand that, our staff understands that and we're going to do it."
Actions don't support the words here. The offseason heading into year one has been reported as a disaster and the results on the field over the past two seasons don't paint a picture of a coach who had the capability or know how to direct any sort of a turnaround.
On what the plan is that he's trying to establish:
"When I say a plan, I'm talking about what we're trying to do offensively. We're trying to run the football 65 percent of the time, compared to 35 percent throwing the football. That has been put into place as far as the personnel and the people we have in place to do that: linemen, receivers, backs, I feel good about them.
Special teams, I feel good about where we're at as far as speed and explosiveness and athleticism. We've had a temporary setback with (Carl) Torbush leaving. It is what it is, I'm not trying to make excuses, but we brought in a new guy in Coach (Vic) Shealy. I want him to be able to do what he had to do and going into the odd (front) defense. So then we had to go in and get that kind of personnel to run what we're trying to run in that type of scheme. The plan is in place, now we have to get the people - there are some people here who can do that - to execute it."
Ok. So it's a personnel and talent issue in Gill's mind. Great, that's at least something that I can believe. That means we absolutely MUST address it immediately this year if Gill is going to go into year three and start winning football games.
On if he thinks the defensive plan in place is the right one:
"You're always evaluating the plan, but I'm going to wait until after the season to see how it plays out. We've still got five ballgames left and a lot can occur here in five games if we get the season going in the right direction. I think it's too early to make this decision or that decision."
Evaluation is easy, somebody's in trouble.
On if it's tougher for a defensive player to learn a new system than an offensive player:
"I think it's maybe a little bit more, because of today's offenses. If you compare today's scoring to, say 20-30 years ago, there's a lot more scoring than there was then. The offenses today are ahead of the defenses. People always used to say that offenses usually take longer to get going than the defenses. Offenses here now are putting up points and so the defenses are trying to catch up with them. They eventually will, because we all know that it goes in cycles, but right now the offenses are ahead of the defenses.
I think the primary part of that is the running quarterback. Now you have 11-on-11 where you're spreading people out and you let the quarterback do what they're doing. It takes a little bit longer for a younger guy to be able to play defense, but you can play some younger guys but you know there's a lot more things you know they have to do."
I will agree with the fact that we're in an offensive cycle. I'll give him that, but we're not even playing basic defense effectively. Has anyone ever seen so many instances in one season where a receiver finds himself wide open behind the safeties?
On what he's seen from Texas quarterback David Ash:
"He can run and he can throw. He's a dual-threat type guy - he can run and he can throw. We hope that we can rattle him a little bit, but they do some many multiple things, I think that takes a little bit of the load off of him. They put two running backs in there and (Jaxon) Shipley comes and plays in their ‘wildcat' formation. They take a little pressure off him where they don't have him taking 75 snaps a game. They have all different people back there running out of the quarterback position. They keep him in the game, but they put him all over the place: he's in the backfield; he's outside at receiver, short-side or wide-side. I think that takes a little bit of the pressure off of him."
On if it hurts that Texas hasn't announced who its starting quarterback will be:
"A little bit. They're going to run multiple things and I don't think (whoever the quarterback is) will change that. We just know that we're going to have to be very, very sound in what we do, because they do so many different things on offense as far as shifts and motions to try to confuse you. You have to make sure that you're on track with everything."
Sophomore quarterback Jordan Webb
On refocusing after the loss to Kansas State:
"We just have to look at every game and every practice as a day to get better. Our coaches have us focused on Texas this week and we're going to come out and have a good game."
On what he looks at when watching film of a game:
"A lot of it is the little things that can be corrected so easily, and that's the frustrating thing. Whether it's a footwork thing or a little thing by me. It's right there in our grasp."
On what Texas brings to the table:
"As usual they have very good athletes. They have big guys up front on defense and it's going to be a good test for us."
Junior wide receiver Kale Pick
On what his perception of Kansas football was when he was being recruited:
"They were having a really good year, because that was the year they went to the Orange Bowl and I liked their offense. Their offensive scheme really fit me well and they were having a good year so that is what attracted me here."
On if he thought the program was on the rise at that time:
"Whatever team went to the Orange Bowl, you figure they are a team on the rise and you figure that will attract pretty big recruits."
On if he followed Kansas football growing up:
"To be honest I didn't watch too much Kansas football growing up, until I got to high school. There are a lot more Kansas State football games out there (Dodge City), but I didn't really watch either of them that much. I was a Nebraska fan growing up, so I watched a lot of Nebraska games."
On if it seems like it has been a long time since being recruited to now:
"Yes, a little bit because of all the spring football I've been through and the two-a-days. I have been through four of them, plus all the winter conditioning. It has seemed like it's been quite a while. I think I've become a much more mature player than I was back then and now I know what college football is all about."
Junior defensive end Toben Opurum
On the break in practice to simulate halftime:
"In most practices, we have 13 to 14 periods, and after the sixth or seventh period, after one of our special team's periods, we'll have a couple minutes of a break. (Coach Gill) just wants to simulate us coming out of halftime and being able to immediately play right after that."
On the upcoming game against Texas:
"I think it is an opportunity for us to right a lot of the wrongs that have occurred this season. It gives us a chance to face a ranked opponent on the road and it's an opportunity for us to get another win so we can get our confidence back. (Texas) is a young team, but they definitely have talent."
On the confidence level of the team:
"As a team, we can be more confident than we are, even though we have dropped a couple of games in a row. Overall, our confidence is high, we know what we are capable of, we just haven't been able to put everything together."
Senior linebacker Steven Johnson
On how the defense needs to improve for next week:
"It is really just all about us maintaining focus, staying together and continuing to execute each and every series. We need to take it one week at a time and not try to do other peoples jobs for them."
On if he was surprised on how physical the K-State team was:
"I think we just missed a lot of tackles - they weren't anything that we haven't seen before. They were a good team; I just think the executed better than we did on that day."
On if the secondary is having a tough time figuring out the schemes in practice:
"I think it is just miscommunication for them, even if one person isn't grasping a concept, you just have to remind them of what they need to do. It just comes down to communicating, every defensive back knows what they need to do, and it's just a matter of going out there and doing it."