Kansas Football Press Conference Rewind: Week Three

Good presser this week.  Coach does get a little preachy about his strength staff but at the same time the change has been noticeable so I'd say it's deserved. Goes on to talk about Tech, injuries, progress from Webb, James Sims, Tunde Bakare and DJ Beashears. 

On the players side of things we have Alex Mueller, Pat Lewandowski, James Sims, Tyler Patmon and Steven Johnson all chiming in.

Kansas head coach Turner Gill 

Opening Statement:

"I want to first compliment our team on this last ball game. I thought our team showed that they were very determined to continue to compete and believe. I think that's a great thing they showcased in that football game. They had some adverse situations come up and they kept playing. A lot of credit is owed to our strength staff, training staff and coaching staff. It goes all the way back to the reason why you do winter and other off season programs. It's the reason why you have the summer workouts. Early in the season really demonstrates what you did over the summer and winter in preparing your football team. I think our team has done a good job of being prepared and going out and executing to the best of their ability." 

On the fan support:

"The fans have been tremendous in our first two home games. They have definitely brought some enthusiasm and energy. I appreciate it and I know I can speak on behalf of all of the players who really appreciate it too. I know as we prepare to go on our first away game the Jayhawk nation is definitely excited about where we're at in our football program. I know we're going to have support there as we go to Atlanta. I just want our fans to remember to keep believing and keep belonging to our program." 

On Georgia Tech:

"Paul Johnson, their head coach, has definitely done a tremendous job of being able to build a good program. That's no different this year. They actually seem like they're more explosive on offense because of their passing game. I think they're averaging over 200 yards passing. They obviously do a great job running the football but when they start passing like that, they have a tremendous thing going right now. Defensively they've improved too just because it's their second year under (defensive coordinator) Al Groh. I think they're a little more accustomed to the 3-4 defense. It will be interesting to see how they attack us from a defensive perspective." 

On the changes in this past year's offseason workouts:

"Myself, (strength coach) John Williams, (head trainer) Murphy Grant and the whole coaching staff sat down and evaluated everything. Not just the running and conditioning part of it, but every single player, every position group and the specific things that we wanted to get accomplished. We put together a plan of how we needed to get our football team better and what we needed to do in the summer and the winter. It just shows that not only the staff but the players had to buy into it too. I think the things John, Murphy and the entire training staff have helped the players deal with is all the bumps and bruises and pushing through it all and I think that has been demonstrated through our first two ball games. They've pushed through, kept believing and have kept competing." 

On what they are doing differently in this week's practices to prepare for the road game:

"The only thing that may be different is for at least two days we're going to have more crowd noise. Other than that, as far as our format and all the things we do for preparation, it's going to stay the same." 

On if the injury to JaCorey Shepherd will be long or short term:

"We anticipate it to be short term. I think it will benefit us having a bye week next week and having an opportunity to have this week and next week. We don't anticipate it to be long, but you never know. We just need to take it one day and one week at a time." 

On if he is pleased with the progression of his team's run game:

"I feel very good about the running game. Our offensive line has done a great job. The tight ends, those are key people too; you don't talk a whole lot about tight ends blocking particularly on our perimeter runs. They're very key in getting some things done. The receivers have done a great job of that too. I'm very pleased with what has gone on in our offense and they've all done a good job." 

On why James Sims was named the starting running back before last year's Georgia Tech game:

"He knew the offense better (than the other freshmen). He understood what to do mentally. That's the first thing. If a guy doesn't know what he's going to do, even if he has some talent, you're not going to be able to perform very well. It was really because he knew our offense a lot better. Brandon (Bourbon) still had a few bumps and bruises (at that time). The combination of those two things is why we went with Sims." 

On Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington

"The combination of being able to do both (run and pass), he's going to be able to do some good things. We've faced some very good quarterbacks so far . McNeese State had two guys that did some good things and obviously Northern Illinois had an excellent quarterback (Chandler Harnish). Every week, as we have anticipated, we're going to be facing good quarterbacks the entire football season. With what Georgia Tech does with their offense, I would give the edge to Washington over (former Yellow Jacket quarterback Joshua) Nesbit overall because he can throw the football a little better and run the football as well. We're facing another good football team and another good quarterback so we just need to go out there and execute better." 

On his defense going up against Georgia Tech's option offense:

"We're going to be going up against a very different scheme than what we have seen over the last two weeks. Just from the speed aspect of our defense, I think that will help us. We did a pretty good job with them last year. They're going to do some tweeking so we need to do some tweeking on our sideline and try and keep them off guard. The main thing is our defense needs to tackle well. If you don't tackle well, then it's really going to be a tough situation because they always get you in opportunities where it a one-on-one situation. If our guys can't make that tackle then they're going to have a lot more opportunities to make big plays." 

On how his defense matches up with Georgia Tech's offense:

"Georgia Tech spreads it out. They're not solely in the box. They put their two wide receivers out to create some imbalance and they do a lot of different things of that nature. Our guys just need to be on the same page and make the right decisions. Making calls and executing the plays that are called. We need to really play better as a unit. It's not one person. It's not one group. It's a culmination of everything."

On how difficult it is for the defense having to get used to the third coordinator in three years:

"That might be a part of (the struggles) but we're certainly not going to use that as an excuse. It may have played a part in the first one or two ball games, but after that you have to put all that other stuff behind you and go out and execute. Our coaching staff is putting together some good plans and now they need to get the players to go out and execute their plan." 

On if linebacker Tunde Bakare could be a major factor in the defensive strategy this week:

"I don't think necessarily just this week, but for the whole season. He's a key catalyst on the defensive side of the ball and is able to do some things both on the run side of things, rushing the passer and pass defense. He's a key guy on our defense. We need to have his play in there because he can make a difference. We feel good about where he's going. He's shown he's got talent and he has some skills. We just need him to stay healthy." 

On how prepared the team is for the first road game this year compared to last year:

"We have a lot of guys back and also, the staff with how we'll handle things on the road. We try to emulate that in the preseason and do some things emulating what we could do and the time we do things and all that. It's still not the same until you actually get out of your own environment and go somewhere different. I anticipate us to handle things a lot better just because we have guys who have already done it before. We still have a handful of guys who haven't been on a road trip, but we're well prepared now."

On confidence in sophomore quarterback Jordan Webb:

"He's played enough football games both at home and on the road, and he's playing with a lot of good confidence right now in our offense and what we're trying to do and get accomplished. I think that's very important as a quarterback going in, whether you're at home or away, feeling good about what's going on and so he's feeling very good about what's going on and just have to hope we can continue."

On electing to receive at beginning of games:

"It's probably a feel or a sense. I'm probably more in the offensive mindset as far as just from my background. I always feel like I want the ball first, unless there's a situation weather-wise or wind or if there's something about a particular team that we think might benefit us one way or the other. It's a game by game, but I would say in most cases that we're probably going to take the football."

On D.J. Beshears' performance in pressure situations:

"It was good to see. He is one of the guys we believe is one of our playmakers. We have to get the ball in his hands. It was good to see him rise to the occasion when the ball came to him and make the catch, kept his composure, ran the routes and do everything he needed to do and not try to do something more than he needed to. He had a heck of a ball game, did a great job and made plays. That's what we talk about quite a bit as far as we put you in position to make plays and you have to finish it off and do that."

On name for Wildcat formation:

"We have all different types of names. We have a variety of different code names to call it, because it's always different personnel and people doing it. There's not just one term that we use for it. I think probably ‘the wildcat' is good to use just because it's universal and people across the country know what you're talking about versus just saying another term and what does that mean."

On James Sims debut last year vs. Georgia Tech:

"Guys go out and perform well like he did and obviously we kind of made a statement early to him that said he would be the starter that next week, so he had good time to prepare himself and be ready to go. I think the magnitude of the situation probably makes it a little more special because, unfortunately, we lost the first ball game and were playing a top ranked team coming into our home stadium so that definitely added a bit of significance for us. One good quality about him is that he takes care of the football. I think that's another reason why we kind of went with him last year too. He's continued to do that and that's huge."

On using Wildcat formations for short yardage:

"In some cases, we have Sizemore in the ballgame so we get a chance with a fullback in the game. Sometimes we don't and we have two running backs in the game as far as personnel. You get multiple things to do, and it's not the traditional way of handing the ball off underneath the center and sometimes we're in the gun formation with a quarterback so it's just trying to give them all different looks and preparing the defense to try and catch them off guard. There's times when we do have (Jordan) Webb in the game and he's spread out. Sometimes (Webb's) not in the game so they have to make some calls and particularly when we start talking about a third and short and they have to bring in their big personnel in the game. It keeps them a little bit on their toes, and they don't know which personnel grouping we're going to put in or maybe a certain personnel grouping but we're in a different formation. It's just our way of trying to be advantageous for us offensively."

On attitude of running from Wildcat formation instead of passing:

"There will be a time something will go up in the air. I think it is an attitude, and we have our sessions in the practice where we tell everyone on defense where the play is going because there is some cases where you have to do that. Everybody may know where the ball is going, but you still have to go out and perform and show your physicality and get it done. We're trying to put out a mentality and have our players understand that because it is part of a football game. You get into the four minute drills and short yardage is huge. You have to keep your drive going and it's kind of good to see we had that fourth down play and we scored but unfortunately had a holding penalty on. It's a good mentality to have and see that our guys are able to do that."

On shuffling of Defensive Line:

"Richard Johnson will be starting at the nose and Shane Smith will be coming in and taking some reps." 

On potential of great running game for a long time:

"My mentality, or plan, was that we were going to make sure that we have two to three running backs that we feel very good about and that they can be very successful here. We found quite a few guys, and we didn't promise them anything. The only thing that we promised them was they were going to have a great opportunity. How much they play is up to them. We want them to make it hard for us (to decide who to play), that we have to make some hard decisions on how many reps we give this guy or that guy. They determine that and that's a good thing. We've told them now that they've proven they can help us and play. Their role is going to be important. I want to make sure we have plenty of running backs. They'll all get bumps and bruises and you're going to lose one or two during the season. It may not be the whole season, but maybe a few games here and there because of injuries. I didn't want to have that as a situation in our offense that we're concerned that we only have one running back being able to play. It feels good as a play caller. As a coordinator, it does make you feel better when you have plenty of running backs. I know as a former quarterback, it's very good to have a good running game as far as having people that can make plays for you."

 

Sophomore quarterback Jordan Webb 

On what he remembers about last year's meeting with Georgia Tech:

"It was a fun game, because it was my first career start. I was happy to come out of there with a victory. We played pretty well, but I think we're a lot better this year." 

On this year's Georgia Tech team compared to last year:

"We know they lost their quarterback on offense (Joshua Nesbitt). They bring back some guys on the defensive side of the ball and they're doing a lot of the same stuff, scheme-wise. They have some good players, so we're just going to have to come out and play our game." 

On if the crowd will be rowdy after last year's outcome:

"Anytime you pull an upset over a team one year, they're going to have a target out for you the next year. We know going in there that they are going to want to beat us, but we just have to play our game." 

On the difference he's seen between his teammates from last year to this year:

"I think they know my strengths and weaknesses more after having a year with me. I've also improved to be able to do the things I am capable of doing." 

On if he expects a shootout with Georgia Tech again this year:

"We'll definitely be ready for that. We think our defense is going to be able to play very well against them, because they did last year. We're all excited to take on Georgia Tech this year."

 

Freshman place kicker Alex Mueller 

On what the coaches have emphasized during the offseason:

"That's one of the things they've emphasized is being bigger and faster. Hustle and try to flip the field if we're on punt or try to get one point or three points if we're out there for field goal. Just try and do our part and the offense and defense will do their part as well."

On what the biggest adjustment has been:

"Game speed and the size of the defenders. I have to pop the ball up a lot faster so it doesn't get blocked. My speed and approach to the ball is a lot quicker than it was in high school." 

On what area he would like to improve:

"Consistency on my kickoffs and of course longer field goals because I missed a 49-yard attempt last game and I would like to correct that so I can hit those consistently. I just missed it a little wide left."

 

Sophomore running back James Sims 

On what he remembers from last year's Georgia Tech game:

"I always remember it because it was my first college game. It was a fun experience. It was a fun win and I won't ever forget it." 

On what went through his mind when he found out he would play:

"I'm always nervous before a game, even now. When he told me I was going to get some playing time it stuck with me throughout the whole week. It always sticks with me until I get the first contact, but then it goes away." 

On if he was surprised how successful he ran the ball against Georgia Tech:

"I was kind of surprised, but then again I wasn't because I just practiced hard throughout the week. Before the season started I was practicing hard throughout and coach told me it was going to pay off and it did when we played Georgia Tech." 

On if the young backs have helped him:

"It helps a lot because I can't take a day for granted. You never know what can happen. The guys Coach (Gill) brought in are fast and can make plays as much as anyone else can. I just practice hard and continue to do what I do." 

On if the group of backs all encourage each other:

"We encourage each other a lot because we have different styles of everything. We have people that can run like Anthony Pierson. Brandon Bourbon is more of a powerful back and can block too. Rell Lewis is kind of similar to Brandon and (Darrian) Miller is shifty. We bring a lot to the table. It's hard to just pick one." 

On if he paid attention to who Coach Gill was recruiting at running back last year:

"Not really. I knew they were going to bring some running backs in, but I didn't know they were going to bring that many. It's good to always compete. That's what I came here to do. That's what I first did when I came on campus and that's what I need to do throughout my college career."

 

Freshman defensive end Pat Lewandowski 

On if the team is ready for its first road game of the season:

"I think so. The whole team is excited; we're ready to get our first road victory. We are all ready to hit the road for the first time this season." 

On the differences preparing for a road game as opposed to a home game:

"You have to bring a lot of your own enthusiasm, you have to bring your own passion - when you're at home, the fans do that for you. With away games, you don't have fans bringing the enthusiasm for you. We have to bring it ourselves, we need to get our minds right; away games are definitely more demanding than home games." 

On what he has seen on tape from Georgia Tech:

"Obviously they have the triple option offense, so they like to run the ball. Right now our focus is trying to stop the run. We feel like if we can stop their main plays, we'll be all right." 

On the momentum from beating the Yellow Jackets last year:

"It helps tremendously knowing that you can beat them. We'll be coming in feeling more confident than we were last year. You feel more confident knowing that you can do it again." 

 

Senior linebacker Steven Johnson

On what he remembers from facing Georgia Tech last year:

"The game last year was fun, I know they were ranked (15th) heading into the game, so that was a great opportunity for us to go out and get a win. We will be trying to do the same thing this year, we'll need to go into their house and do it. This game will show how hard we've been working in the offseason with all the conditioning and training we've been doing. It's a slow process; we're taking it one game at a time, we're calling each game like it is a one-game season, our goal is to go 1-0. If we keep an approach like that with a short run approach to our games, we can be successful." 

On the differences this year in Georgia Tech's offense:

"(Georgia Tech quarterback) Josh Nesbitt isn't back there anymore, and their running back, Anthony Allen, isn't back there anymore, but they still have their other (skill position players). I'm actually used to their offense, because that's the offense we ran in high school, and it isn't too complicated - you just really have to be sound in your assignments and technique. They still have a lot of great players out there, so we'll still have to play the football game, you can't take them lightly. They worked hard in the offseason just like we did, so we will have to go out there and take it to them." 

On if it will be a more hostile environment because of the KU victory last year:

"Maybe, but that doesn't bother me too much. Starting from the beginning of the season, I feel as though the whole world hated us, because (Sports Illustrated) only picked us to win one game. Everybody counted us out from the beginning of the season, it's nothing new. We're going to have to go out there and be close as a unit and get the job done."

 

Sophomore cornerback Tyler Patmon

On if the defense feels like it need to dominate after giving up 42 points to Northern Illinois:

"We feel like we need to execute a lot better. We had a bad game, but we still came out with the win, which is the most important thing. We are going to make sure we go hard every day in practice and do what we need to do to get back to where we were before the season started."

On what he remembers from the Georgia Tech game last year:

"It was fun. There are a lot of things to remember with their offense; the most important thing is that everybody needs to do their assignment. If everybody does what they're supposed to do, and if one person makes a big play, then we should come out with the win."

On how confident the team was going into the Georgia Tech game last year:

"Coach Torbush and Coach Shealy had both been around their offense for a long time, and they put together a great game plan. We were hyped going into that game since we just lost a disappointing game the week before, and we were excited to go back out there and play."

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