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Kansas Football Press Conference Rewind: Week Five

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Head coach Turner Gill of the Kansas Jayhawks watches during play against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17: Head coach Turner Gill of the Kansas Jayhawks watches during play against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Bobby Dodd Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Turner Gill steps in front of the mic looking to turn the page after Georgia Tech and hope that the same doesn't occur against Texas Tech. It's nice to get Pat Dorsey back on board although it doesn't sound like we're going to see a tremendous amount of change on the defensive side of the ball. If the results aren't different this week, one has to think that change is necessary.

From the player side of things we hear from Jordan Webb, James Sims, Darius Willis, Richard Johnson and Toben Opurum.

Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill

"I'm excited about getting into Big 12 Conference play and getting ready to get started against our opponent Texas Tech. They have a very good football team. I know our preparation has been outstanding. Our guys have been really focused. Our coaching staff has put together some good things for us in this bye week and we are trying to prepare for Texas Tech. I think our guys have done some good things in our schemes and on our personnel, trying to do what is best to continue to move forward and move our program in a great way. We're 2-0 here at home and I think it's going to be very important for our fans to continue to stay engaged and continue to be loud, particularly when we go on defense. I think they are going to be very important in this ballgame for us to be successful. Homecoming is obviously always a special weekend as far as a lot of people coming back and being a part of KU alumni. Players and fans throughout the whole country will be here so I know that is going to be very good to be ready to play a great game this week."

"Tommy Tuberville is a very good football coach and has done a very good job wherever he has been. He's no different right now as they are 3-0 going into conference play. Offensively, they are just as good as they have been in the past. They always have a quarterback (Seth Doege) that's very efficient in throwing the football. I think the one difference in this year's football team is that they can run and have been very successful in running the ball. They have (junior Eric) Stephens there as a guy that is averaging over 100 yards per game. We know they are very good at throwing the football and now that they are able to run the ball, we have to make sure we are always able to stop the run and slow down the passing game. Doege is a guy that is very talented with a very good arm.  He gets the ball where it needs to be and does a good job putting the ball down the field. Occasionally, he'll take off running and he can hurt you with his legs, but he can do a lot more things with his arm."

"Defensively, they went to a 4-2-5 (scheme). This is what TCU has done traditionally. That's primarily what they have gone to as a defensive scheme. There are some things that they do well and hopefully, there are some things we can expose from our offensive standpoint. I think it's going to be a great game and our guys are ready to play. We really have improved this week and that's what I like to see. Now we just have to continue improving this week and be ready to play on Saturday morning."

On defensive personnel changes:

"I don't think they are going to be any big differences. There might be a few people that get more playing time. We are still working through that for the next two or three days. More than anything, we looked at personnel no question about it; you have to look at schemes. We are going to do things both ways; with personnel and schemes to make us a little bit better on the defensive side."

On Jordan Webb's freedom within the offense:

"We are trying to run the ball 60-65 percent of the time. We like to throw the ball there appropriately, but each game always dictates a little bit differently. We're going to still try to do the things that are our strengths. I think Jordan has done a fantastic job so far this season in the first three ball games doing the things we want our quarterback to do. He's been very accurate. We've had a few drops here and there, but I think he's really done a good job. We feel like our running backs and offensive line can definitely do some great things for our running game, and we're going to mix it up. Each game is going to dictate how much more or less that we may do as far as preparation or in a game. We are open-minded to doing it."

On the impact of Patrick Dorsey returning to the defensive line:

"I think it'll help us. We continue to get depth and more reps as far as our rotation, particularly our defensive front. I think every team needs that, particularly as we go into conference (play). We have a lot of people who will use hurry up offense, lining up and we have to get a little bit of rotation with our guys so they can go hard every single play. I think that adds a little more depth. He's an experienced player and has some skills that can make plays for us. At the D-line, you have to be able to get off blocks and make plays and I think Dorsey will give us an opportunity and help us in that phase."

On the importance of the bye week:

"We always think we need more practice time as coaches whether it's the first week, last week or whenever in the season. I think it was good for us to regroup and see where we are at. Now we have a pretty good idea what we need to improve on and what our strengths are. I think it was good for us to have that time to really sit down and evaluate a little deeper. It's a little bit harder to do when you go week after week where you have to get prepared for a game. I think time will tell. I'm glad we had it because I think we have made some adjustments to improve our football team."

On the morale of the team after the Georgia Tech loss:

"I was happy; the guys were resilient, and they were happy and eager to come back to work during the bye week. They were eager to be taught; they wanted to be taught football. They wanted to know what we can do to get better as a football team and that's definitely what you want to see. That's what you have to do, you have to come in and be ready to work and get better. There are a lot of things you have to do on your own, you have to study, but when we were together, all of the guys have good energy, and I'm excited for this week."

On junior defensive end Toben Opurum's play in the first three games:

"He's played well. I think he's going to continue to get more playing time and make more plays. People are going to throw the ball a little bit more now and get into the spread offense. He's going to be a good guy to come off the edge (as a pass rusher). He has a good motor. He's been very relentless coming off the edge and playing the run game too. He's played very well. He's one of the guys that's leading us in tackles-for-losses. I think he's played as good as anybody on the defensive side of the ball." 

On the play of senior tight end Tim Biere through the first three games:

"There's no doubt that Tim is our best all around tight end as far as being able to run block and being able to catch the ball. He understands the offense. He understands what needs to be done from a football player's perspective. He's very tough and intelligent. He's played outstanding and we definitely need his play. It's going to be that way for the rest of the season. He's going to do all the little things he's going to do all the big things as well. When he's called upon, he's going to make the plays. That's why he's a captain and that's why he's a leader on this team. He's well respected, not just within our football team but around the league." 

On whether he believes his team has found its identity:

"From our perspective we're probably trying to find our identity on more of the defensive standpoint. (We need to understand) What we're trying to get accomplished as far as being more of a man-oriented, a zone blitz team or a zone team. We're figuring out our personnel and what our guys can do. I'm big in saying we can run any kind of defense or offense we want, but we're really trying to fit our schemes to what our personnel can execute best. From that standpoint, they're still trying to find identity on the defensive side. On offense, I think we're right where we want to be. There's some improvement that needs to be made. I know where we're at and where we are at personnel-wise and what our guys can do for the most part." 

On if he believes the non-conference portion of the schedule prepared his team for Big 12 play:

"Playing time is always key. I know you can say it's a little different playing a conference team versus playing a non-conference team. We all run similar types of offenses to a certain degree. It was just good to get our young guys some playing time and to gain more confidence. To gain more reaction as opposed to thinking. We're improving. Maybe not as fast as we would have liked to on the defensive side of the ball, but I think we're moving in the right direction. We still feel good about where we're at and what we need to do on the defensive side of the ball and offensively. We played quite a few young guys, not just true freshmen but redshirt freshman, a lot of guys who haven't played a whole lot of football. There has been quite a bit of improvement from everybody. Now you just need to find a good mesh between the younger guys and the older guys and do what we need to do on offense, defense and special teams." 

On whether he wishes more newcomers would have notched more playing time in non- conference:

"No one comes to mind right now. We may have a few more guys getting a few more reps. We just want to get more guys some playing time on offense, defense and special teams as we go into the fifth, sixth and seventh game of the year. We hope to see more young guys earn more playing time. It's our job to put them in the opportunity to be successful. I'm not sure they can be successful every single play, but maybe they aren't making any mental mistakes where we're getting exposed as a football team." 

On the play of sophomore quarterback Jordan Webb:

"He's really done a great job with his footwork. We talked about being able to do that and keeping balanced. Whether he feels pressure or doesn't feel pressure or whether he goes from the first progression to the second progression his feet are always in position to make the accurate throws. That's what he's improved on from last year to this year. Scheme-wise, the people we are surrounding him with right now - tight ends, receivers - everybody is on the same page. I give credit to those guys because they did a great job in the off-season to get their timing down and I think that's what has shown. (Jordan) has matured like we hoped he would, so I feel very good about where he's at and what he's doing."


Sophomore quarterback Jordan Webb

On the bye week:

"It was good. We got a lot of good work in and it was good for some of our guys to get healthy. I think overall we improved as a team." 

On the different receivers being shuffled in and out:

"In preseason camp we got a lot of reps in with all of our receivers. Quinn (Meachem) and I both did, so it made it a little bit easier on us and how we need to tailor our routes to each receiver." 

On if the offense has accomplished what it wanted to so far:

"Yeah, because we've made big plays when we've wanted to. We've been physical and I think we'll continue to improve and we're going to have a good year." 

On his accuracy making him more confident:

"I've been confident. I knew I could get the job done. Coming into the season I felt really good about where I was. I guess it's good to show everybody else and my teammates that all my hard work is paying off."

On if his play has increased his confidence:

"Yeah, it definitely helps going out there and doing it in front of crowd rather than just doing it in practice." 

On what the morale of the team is like:

"We're ready to get back out there. We're excited for this game. It's homecoming and it's a big game for us, but we're not going to hype it up too much. We're ready to put the past behind us after Georgia Tech and come out here and try to get a win (versus Texas Tech)."


Sophomore running back James Sims

On where he thinks the offense is at right now:

"I feel like we're moving in the right direction. Coach (Chuck) Long said at the beginning he wanted us to be a run-first team so it could open up the pass game more and I feel like that's what we've been doing the last couple weeks. At Georgia Tech we kind of slipped up a little bit, but other than that I feel like we're moving in the right direction." 

On what the team worked on during the bye week:

"We just continued to work on what we do best. We practiced with a fast tempo and worked on the exchanges between quarterbacks and running backs. Nothing really changed other than working on the simple things." 

On how that improves their confidence:

"It gets us more prepared and gives us more confidence in each other going into this next ball game." 

On how much confidence the team has in Jordan Webb:

"I have a lot of confidence in him. As a team we have a lot of confidence in him. Against Georgia Tech we can't blame one person, we lost as a team. They outplayed us, but we still have confidence in Jordan Webb no matter what happens."

On Texas Tech's defense:

"They are athletic and run to the ball. Their defensive line is very strong and they make plays. We have to come in prepared and play well." 

On what the mood is like around the team:

"Excited. We let Georgia Tech go right after it happened. It's still stuck with us a little bit, but after this week of practice we got our minds right for Texas Tech." 


Sophomore linebacker Darius Willis 

On the bye week preparing for Texas Tech:

"The bye week has helped us to stay focused. The way we played last time (against Georgia Tech), as a team and as a defense, we know we can play a whole lot better. During the bye week, we've been working on our technique, we're making sure our technique is sound and working on all the little things that we have to work on." 

On how Georgia Tech was able to score 66 points:

"It was just one of those days for us; I don't think there is a single thing to blame it on. Sometimes you can say it was technique, sometimes you can blame it on the fact that we were outplayed. It's not something that was too big of a problem that we won't be able to fix." 

On how confident he is that the issues have been resolved:

"Honestly, I feel like, as a defense, we have to focus more and play together. That's one thing we have to work on, and that is definitely something we have been working on over the break."


Senior defensive tackle Richard Johnson Jr.

On how much the bye week helped the team:

"Mentally, it helped a lot; by no means did we take it as an off-week. We had three practices in full pads, just hitting each other. We definitely used it as a work week to get better." 

On if it is important to but the Georgia Tech loss behind them:

"We definitely want to forget that game and put it in the past. We need to move onto Texas Tech." 

On what the defensive line can do to improve the defense:

"We need to work on technique, you can never have enough technique when you're playing; if you get the technique right, big plays will follow." 

On the challenges that Texas Tech presents:

"When we are watching film, they get the ball out very fast, so obviously we'll have to put a stop to that. We need to get a quick pass rush and get our hands up." 


Junior defensive end Toben Opurum

On the biggest improvement the defense has to make before playing Texas Tech:

"I think we need to improve our communication, we also need to attack more. I feel like if we attack the ball, it will give us a better opportunity to create more turnovers - and turnovers are something we haven't had very many of this season. If we get more turnovers, it will give our offense a couple more possessions to try and score."

On what the defense needs to do against Texas Tech:

"As long as we're able to apply some sort of pressure to their quarterback and get him off tempo, it will definitely be good for us."

On the timing of when the bye week occurred during the season:

"I don't think it could have come during a better week. After such a disappointing loss, we needed a bye week to help to build guys' confidence. It helped us to get our injured guys back to being healthy, so that is definitely a plus."