Based on the timing of the news many expected an internal hire from the get go and with the situation at hand it was likely that Turner Gill knew of the impending retirement of Carl Torbush well before the annoucement. That led to a quick promotion of Vic Shealy and Buddy Wyatt, and both along with Gill and Torbush met with the media yesterday afternoon.
Head Coach Turner Gill
On the process of finding the new coordinators:
"Just to fill you in on the process that I went through as soon as I got the news from Carl (Torbush). It was actually about three weeks ago when we had our conversation and he let me know what was happening. Obviously at that point in time I had to start getting in mind what I was going to do on my end; the hiring process and who. There's no question that I didn't leave from our staff because I knew we had people on this staff that were capable of being defensive coordinators. I kind of always had that in mind as far as when Torbush came and even with (Vic) Shealy and Buddy Wyatt if anything were to happen or if I needed to make a change that these two here (Shealy and Wyatt) would definitely be at the top of the list as far as being a defensive coordinators here.
Turnover is inevitable in coaching and especially with assistant coaches. This particular situation is obviously under different circumstances but based on Gill's glowing reviews of his staff on a regular basis, it's just another endorsement for Shealy and Wyatt to see Gill reiterating his faith in their abilities.
Coach Shealy will be the one that will make the final decision for anything that happens on the defensive side of the ball. These two work well together. I've been in their defensive meetings. I've seen how the players respond to them. The great thing about Coach Shealy is that he has shown me that he has experience. He also understands how to attack the spread offenses. His players have always responded in a great way in being developed in the proper way when they start here and when they have left after working with him. I also know that he's a person that has a pressure defense. Those are the things that excited me about him. He and Coach Wyatt are very similar in those ways.
Shealy's name was the first to emerge yesterday as the likely replacement and then Wyatt's name seemed to pick up steam in terms of player sentiment. Either way, both seem to have the respect and confidence of those in and around the program.
We're definitely going to be a pressure type defense and are going to do some things that are slightly different. The main thing is continuity and confidence. We really thought that was very important for us to have continuity because I thought we had made a tremendous amount of progress from about the second half of the season all the way through spring football. As a team we improved particularly on defense. As I mentioned I want our players to play fast. I want to see that on tape. I want to see that in a game. We've made some great progress at this particular time in those areas."
I could not agree more with the continuity piece. I think it's one of the things that has plagued Kansas football over the years and one of the big reasons why I think Kansas fans need Turner Gill to succeed and one of the big reasons why we better hope he does.
Defensive Coordinator Vic Shealy
On where the defense stands as he takes over as defensive coordinator:
"We'll make sure to do whatever it takes to get it done. The process when we came in a year ago of trying to evaluate talent. Trying to take Carl's base approach to defense and trying to fit those players structurally and philosophically into what he was wanting to do was a challenge. But from about mid-season on you began to see a shift and we began finding out what players' strengths are and put them in those positions more often to be able to show that strength. We had a chance to go back in and look at fall tape and we came to the spring and we were able to change some things. Some areas a little bit radical. Some areas we just have got to get better at what we're doing. Through the spring we did make some changes that made us a faster defense.
Our conference is an open spread offensive conference where speed and quickness are paramount over just a girth type guy. Our training staff did a great job in the off-season. Our guys are significantly faster. On both sides of the ball we were a different football team athletically this spring. So if you take that same guy that's more athletic and move him closer to the ball, then obviously you have guy that can be more dynamic at a position. It's irrelevant as far as Buddy (Wyatt) or myself being here or if it's Carl, those things will progress us forward quickly and we'll look more athletic in the fall because of it."
There are some bold statements with some very definitive words regarding the direction of the program. If you take it at face value it sure seems like there has to be improvement on some level even if it doesn't translate to wins. Mark this as another example of a staff member sounding SIGNIFICANTLY more confident in speaking about what he has to work with than anyone did a year ago. In fact, Torbush and the defensive staff might have been the most candid last year when discussing some of the concerns and defensive gaps.
On what he has learned at other schools and how he will infuse it at KU:
"Each school gives you a different take on the game. What your recruiting niche is. Every place you go to has a recruiting niche. I think it sometimes takes some time for us to find that niche. At the Air Force Academy our niche was fairly defined as far as the academic mixed with the athletics. We found a way to be pressure oriented with guys that may not necessarily be as fast. Sometimes you just have to create how you get that done.
Coach (Gill) alluded to it. We want to line up and try to create havoc. Try to create dysfunction on offense and when you are doing those things not only are you going to make plays but you're creating that seed of doubt in your opponent. You want to create that environment where you put a quarterback in a position of conflict. We want to do some things where we can choke out the run through fast moving parts and heavy numbers. Everywhere you go you find different pieces that fit. I'm not going to sit here and tell you that one scheme works at all places. Every place you have to find what works there. Every recruiting niche is different. Right now we're in the process of doing that and I think we've done that pretty quick."
On what will be added to the defensive playbook:
"Much of what was established a year ago will stay in there. Carl has a vast knowledge. When you've been around as long as he has you'll know a lot about something or a lot of things. Everyone was just searching for what fit our personnel. We will come back in and narrow some things down that stay consistent with the baseline that we started with.
We're excited to have another coach. We're sorry to see Carl go but we're excited about gaining another mind that will bring in fresh ideas. I think you'll see some changes. Enevitably it's going to happen when you get a different personality. There are many ways to skin a cat and football is no different. I would rather not get too much into the scheme stuff because we would like to have some surprises out there in that first game or two. It'll be some nice things that we'll advance toward.
Co-Defensive Coordinator Buddy Wyatt
On what he learned from Carl Torbush:
"(Coach Torbush) gets the most out of everybody around him. Whether it's coaches or players and just the way he treats people. He's up front with you. He tells exactly what he expects from you and what he wants to get done. He has experience in a lot of different defenses. He runs a lot of different split coverages and he's knowledgeable about all of them. I think I've learned some of that variety from him. Some of it I agree with and some of it I may not agree with but Carl was the boss and that's what we did. He did a good job. He's a good football coach. It's tough under these circumstances to be sitting up here when Carl is going through what he's going through. He's a good man and he's a good football coach."
On why he and Coach Shealy work well together:
"When Turner (Gill) put this staff together he did a great job. He started with his coordinators. We've got a staff full of good people from the administrative staff all the way to all the coaches. I think that Vic (Shealy) and myself sat in that foxhole together and we fought some of the same battles this year and we had to try and figure out what was the best direction to go.
As we did that we talked about some different ideas and some directions we wanted to go and we've implanted those things in the spring. We're very similar in our philosophy. Vic's background is pressure and being aggressive and that's the same background that I come from in my philosophy. I want to try and dictate what the offense has to do instead of them dictating to us what we need to do. We're just similar and we're all in this together. It all starts with the head man, Coach Gill and the staff that he's put together and the type of people that we have in this program."
The message is consistent in terms of where we would like to be from a defensive standpoint. I just hope we can get there sooner rather than later.