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Turner Gill Press Conference Rewind: Week Two

Coach Gill touches a little on the performance against McNeese and then jumps right on to Northern Illinois and what we can expect.  By all accounts we played this one conservative and we should see things slowly open up as needed. 

From the players side we hear from Duane Zlatnik, Tyler Patmon, Darrian Miller, Keeston Terry and Greg Brown.  A young group, but all did some positive things on Saturday.  I would say Patmon might be someone that deserves a little more time as he was probably the best coverage guy we had on the field last week.  Northern Illinois can pass, it's going to be needed. 

Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill

Opening statement:

"It's great that we got off to a great start. I'm very excited to get things going in our next ballgame. I think we improved as a football team. I thought we improved our speed, and I thought we improved our passion. That (passion) was kind of our word of the week last week, and I thought they showed that. I'm very proud of the way our team responded to it.

Offensively, I thought we did a good job in our ball security. We had a 100-yard rusher. We had over 300 yards rushing. That's outstanding. We scored three out of our first four possessions in the first half. We emphasized getting off to a good start, and I think we did that, particularly on offense."

"On defense, we held them to three points in the first half. That's excellent. We also produced three sacks in the game. We hadn't done that in my first year here. Another thing, we held them under 100 yards rushing (as a team). That's huge when you're able to stop the run. We definitely did that. On special teams, we won four out of our six phases. We didn't win the kickoff and kickoff return, but four out of six is still very good."

"I thought there was great attendance and great for our fans that came. It was great to have our fans show up, and they did a fantastic job. I thought our student body was very involved, and I thought they were instrumental in our game. I was very, very appreciative. On behalf of our players and our staff, I want to thank our student body and our fans for being there. I hope they all can come out this next week, as we have a TV game here. I want our student body to come, continue to be enthusiastic and provide the great energy along with the rest of our fans."

"Injury-wise, Daymond Patterson is doubtful. That's kind of what we have on the injury report. As far as Jordan Webb, everything is fine with him."

On Northern Illinois:

"I don't think a whole lot needs to be said. They were 11-3 last year. They have an outstanding head coach. Their new coach is David Dorn. He has some ties here in Kansas; he grew up there in the Shawnee Mission area. Last year, they went to a bowl game and really blasted Fresno State. They have a good football team, no doubt about that. They're very explosive. Their quarterback, Chandler Harnish, last year he was the 2010 Player of the Year in the MAC Conference. He can throw the football, and he can run. He's played a lot of football. I think he has more than 30 starts, so he's a very experienced player. They have very good speed. They have just about everybody back on offense, and they have quite a few guys back on defense. I think they're a very good football team. I know they'll be well-coached. I think Doeren is well-respected in the coaching profession. I know we're going to have to play very, very well against this opponent."

On the keys to the game:

"We have to be plus-two in our turnover margin. I think the other thing that's going to be important for us is making sure that we have a 2-to-1 ratio when it comes to big plays. I'm talking about 20 yards or more that we need to be 2-to-1 ratio as far as our big plays in our favor versus them with the plus 20 yards. The same thing in the special teams, making sure we have four or more phases that we win in that area."

On pass defense vs. Northern Illinois:

"I think it's just more about us and no matter who were going to be playing this week. We want to emphasize our pass rush and also being able to defend our guys better. The one-on-one coverage, we have to make sure we do that better. We had a few busts as far as our coverage and communication in the back end. We have to improve on that and I think that's going to help us (after) we've played a football game. We've only played one game plus some guys had to play a whole lot in the back of the secondary, particularly Keeston Terry and (Bradley) McDougald, making their adjustments because safeties and linebackers have to make a lot of calls. I think that's why you love to play football games and address some things that haven't been exposed to you."

On message this week:

"Focus. We have to be a lot more focused and disciplined on a lot more smaller details defensively, offensively and special teams because (Northern Illinois) has an experienced football team and they play a lot of good football. We have to be a lot more disciplined. I'm not saying we were bad (in the first game) as far as good focus and good passion, but we have to be even more (focused) particularly as you go from the first ball game to the second ball game, which in most cases you do improve, and I do expect to see that. We need to make sure we're in tune because they're very good on the offensive side of the ball. On defense, they are pretty disciplined as Doeren's been on the defensive side of the ball. He's a former defensive coordinator at Wisconsin. He's been a very disciplined defensive guy. Just knowing his background and continuing to know a little bit about their team, that's one of the things they have done a good job of, plus they have a lot of experienced players."

On secondary losing focus Saturday:

"I don't think they lost focus. They had the passion and they were into the game. There was nobody not into the game and focused on what they needed to get done, just more about execution. I think a lot of it had to do with it being the first game. A little bit more because of our defensive coordinators and defensive staff were trying to get used to a game situation. They played hard. They played fast, so effort and focus was not an issue. We just need to emphasize more in helping us to improve in those areas because (Northern Illinois) can expose you if you don't get those things corrected."

On Tony Pierson being comfortable in offense:

"He's pretty comfortable. Again, we're not going to expose him to every single play. We're going to give him enough (plays) so that we believe it can continue to help him be successful when we put him on the football field and let him go play fast and do what he can do."

On role of Pierson in offense:

"We don't have a necessary amount (of plays) we want to give him the ball. We are talking about a certain amount of plays that we want to get him in, and that's going to vary on how the game goes. I think we feel good about where he's at and I know he's going to have a big impact in our offense and our football team."

On pass protection of running backs:

"We didn't throw the ball as much and it doesn't matter to me as long as we continue to win football games. If we only throw the ball 10 times, that's okay. I think we were very pleased with the way our offensive line, tight ends and backs did when the opportunity presented itself to protect. We're just going to continue to grow from there."

On differences between Northern Illinois' passing game and McNeese State's:

"I think they may do a little bit more play action. They do some screens. They really have more of a running attack in general. They have a variety of different ways to run the ball. They have a mixture of different things in the running game and play action. They're going to throw the ball down the field. They have some good speed receivers so I think we're going to see a little bit of the same thing that we saw against McNeese State. I think they're going to be looking to throw the ball down the field." 

On if his team's style of offense confuses opposing defenses:

"I think if you've got a balanced style of offense, no matter what you're trying to do, it can definitely put more pressure on the defense. I think each of our running backs has their own specific style. It can be good vision, good speed, good change of direction or toughness. It's great for our football team to have a variety of guys that can do some good things when they've got the ball in their hands." 

On if he and his coaches held back some schemes against McNeese State that will be used this week:

"You never ran all the plays that you have on your sheet going into a football game. We still have enough plays in our repertoire to change up some things as we move on to the next few ball games." 

On where the passing game fits into his team's offense:

"When I say, ‘we want a balanced offense,' I mean we want to be more of a run-oriented type of offense. I think that's one of our strengths. We can throw the football and we're not scared to do that. We're looking for a ratio of 60 percent run and 40 percent throw. It will never measure out to that perfectly, but that's what we'd like to have done. I feel really good about our passing game. I think Jordan (Webb)'s skill level has really increased and he's done a great job in our preseason camp and also in spring ball. There's a big difference comparing where he was last year to where he is this year." 

On if there is anything the offense can improve upon after last week:

"Some of the things we noticed were a little bit of the blocking. Not necessarily when we were running the ball, but our running backs, full backs and tight ends I thought they could improve in that area a little bit. They need to be a little more physical and sustain the blocks a little bit longer. Overall thought, it was a well played game offensively." 

On how some players who are returning from injuries last season responded in the first game:

"I thought everyone looked very good. I didn't see anything poor as far as Brandon (Bourbon), (Jeff) Spikes and some other guys. I thought they played extremely well and I think that was a big reason why we did some good things in this ball game."

On his general impressions of the linebacker unit after game one:

"I thought they all played well. I thought Tunde (Bakare) showed his explosiveness. He made some plays that some other people wouldn't have been able to make. I thought that Darius (Willis) was steady. I thought all of our linebackers really showed up in this ball game and we're going to need them to do that every game. We feel good about where they're going. It's obvious that we've got some guys that can run. I think that was showcased on the defensive side and I think we will get better as the season goes along." 

On what he has really emphasized to his teams through preseason camp:

"As far as offense goes, it's about where our guys finish. For example, after a play they catch a ball or the running back is running the ball and they finish 20, 30 or 40 yards down the field. As far as defense goes we want to have eight or nine people around the ball which prevents big plays. The other team throws a pass and we should have two or three people making hits on the guy. We also have to have sure tackling. There are going to be cases when you have a guy stuck in a one-on-one and those are the times when you really have to prevent a big play. Those are all things you work on and hope they do, so it works out in a game."


Junior offensive lineman Duane Zlatnik 

On the start to the 2011 season:

"We worked all camp on being physical and dominating the line of scrimmage. We did those things pretty well Saturday and hopefully it will carry over to this weekend." 

On how he would assess his play on Saturday:

"I played pretty well. I just wanted to play physical and stay physical the whole game. It worked out pretty well for me because I was named offensive player of the week." 

On whether he prefers to run block or pass block:

"We always pride ourselves on being physical in the run game. I like being physical so I would say run blocking." 

On how different the offense is this year:

"We know what we're doing this year a lot better. We don't have to think so much. When we get the play called in we can just go and we don't have to think about what you have to do. We can just go play and react."


Freshman running back Darrian Miller 

On what it's like to share the load between all the running backs:

"We've all come from good high school programs and we're all used to running the ball a large amount of the time, but I knew when I came here the amount of carries I got would go down. The thing about it is making the most out of your carries. Something Coach (Turner) Gill always says ‘Don't count your reps, but make your reps count.' Whenever you get in you have to be able to produce." 

On whether he would rather carry the ball more:

"There are two sides to it. If you're having an off day then there are other backs to pick up the slack or if someone else is having a bad day then it opens up carries for you. Like I said, I just try to make my carries count and it also saves you from taking a huge beating with all the carries. It's harder to game plan for four running backs." 

On what his biggest adjustment has been from high school to college football:

"I would probably say pass blocking. In high school I did some, but just not as much as you have to do it here and reading defensive fronts, but Coach (Reggie) Mitchell has made it a lot easier to read things and to adjust to the college level." 

On how he's so good at not getting hit:

"I think it's my low center of gravity, because I run real low to the ground. I don't shy away from contact, but it's not the best especially when you're 5-foot-10 and 190 pounds. You don't last too long in a game. Whenever I see a defender I just try and elude him. I'm not looking for the contact too much." 


Sophomore cornerback Tyler Patmon

On what he expects to see in practice this week:

"We're going to make sure and do all we can do this week to emphasize forcing turnovers; we need to practice catching the ball, stripping, ripping, anything we can do."

On his impression of the Northern Illinois offense:

"They're a good team, the finished 10th in the nation last year (in total offense), so we obviously have a lot of respect for them. It's going to be a good game, and we're looking forward to it."

On if the mistakes in the first game were expected from having such a young team:

"I think so, because we have so many guys who haven't taken a snap in Division-I football yet, and it's their first time playing with each other. When it comes down to it, we have great confidence in our defense and the way it is set up."


Redshirt Freshman safety Keeston Terry 

On if he and Darrian Miller have a lot of pride being the only two players on the roster from Blue Springs, Mo.:

"We definitely do - especially coming from a good program like Blue Springs, they are always prideful about the way they do things, and how their students represent the school later on in life." 

On the level of pride from all the players on the team from Kansas City:

"We all have a lot of pride coming from the Kansas City area, especially since a lot of guys from the Kansas City area tend to go to Mizzou. A lot of guys on our team aren't from Kansas or Missouri, so we have to be prideful of that. So far, getting the word out about KU has gone very well, especially with guys like Darrian, (freshman cornerback) Dexter (McDonald) and myself, our word has gone a long ways." 

On how the secondary prepares for an offense like Northern Illinois:

"Focusing, watching a lot of film, and trying to find certain tendencies in their offense; just small things like that help you play a lot better." 

On the similarities between McNeese State's offense and Northern Illinois':

"There are definitely a few similarities. Northern Illinois is more of a shotgun team, but aside from that, they have a lot of the same formations. It won't be anything that we haven't seen before." 


Junior cornerback Greg Brown

On the game plan when facing a quarterback with a lot of experience:

"A guy with that kind of experience (Northern Illinois' quarterback Chandler Harnish) you have to disguise a lot of things to him, because he can weed out your defense very easily. We have to try to show a lot of different blitz formations, and disguise some of our coverages. We have to throw a lot of different things at him, and keep his mind moving."

On if he expects the defense to blitz frequently this week:

"I'm sure we'll turn up the pressure a lot on Saturday, especially knowing that their quarterback has a lot of experience. We will have to try and get the ball out of his hands as much as we can."

On who he would compare Northern Illinois' offense to:

"Passing-wise, I would have to compare them to Texas Tech, when we played them (in 2009); their passing scheme is very similar. Texas Tech had a very athletic quarterback, but he was not as mobile as the Northern Illinois quarterback is."