Head Coach Turner Gill Holds Weekly Press Conference
Oct. 11, 2011
Coach Gill Press Conference
J. Webb Interview
D. Willis Interview
A. Mueller Interview
LAWRENCE, Kan. - Kansas head football coach Turner Gill held his weekly press conference at Mrkonic Auditorium Tuesday. Coach Gill discussed how the team has been dealing with adversity recently and looked ahead to the Jayhawks' matchup with No. 1 Oklahoma Saturday. Below is a transcript of the press conference:
Opening statement: "As we prepare for this game, I know we are referring to our mission statement - the word "Believe". It's something that you have to carry on and keep moving forward. The first letter in the word Believe" is `B' - believe in each other in things not yet seen. That's kind of where we're at. Our guys have continued to believe in what we're trying to get accomplished. The things that are ahead of us, we can still get a lot accomplished in this football season.
A good quote that I looked up and really hits me and our football team in a good spot says: `He who believes is strong. Strong convictions precede great actions.' You have to have some strong convictions. As that statement talks about there, if you have strong convictions then it precedes great actions.
The positive things after five ballgames: there are a lot of good things that have occurred in our football season and also with our football team. We are No. 1 in the conference in net punting. We are No. 1 in the conference in yards per game as far as amount of penalties. Offensively, comparing a little bit with Oklahoma in some of the statistics that we look at as coaches and seeing where we're at and where we're improving, per attempt we are at 9.5 yards, and they are at 8.5. Per completion, we're at 13.8 (yards), they are at 12.5. Per play, (we average) 6.1 (yards) and they're at 6.7. Third down conversions, we're at 57 percent; they're at 47 percent. Pass efficiency, we are second in the conference, and they are fifth in the conference. There are a lot of things that have definitely been positive in our first five ballgames. I'm very pleased in those two areas - offense and special teams. Those are some good things that are happening in our program. We just have to continue to build on that, particularly in those two phases."
On team injuries: "(Brandon) Bourbon and (Keeston Terry) are questionable. We have to wait and see what happens in the next three days as we go through today, Wednesday and Thursday. A decision may not be made until that particular time, probably Thursday or Friday."
On Oklahoma: "You can go on and on and talk about them for a long period of time. Bob Stoops and his staff have done a tremendous job with that program since he's been there. They do a great job offensively, defensively and on special teams. Their players make plays. I think the one thing that really stands out is they have tremendous speed. On offense and defense, they all can run. You see it on tape. It's also a good opportunity. Looking back on when I was a youngster growing up - I think our players, too - you have an opportunity here with one of the top teams in the country. You have a chance to play them. You have an opportunity to make something happen. We also have a chance to get better. It's another football game where we have a chance to get better. That's the way we look at it. Our guys are going to be excited to play on national television. You're playing the best team in the country. A whole lot of teams aren't going to get this opportunity. This is an opportunity, and we're ready to make the best of it."
On if he worries about Oklahoma scoring a lot against KU on national television: "It is what it is. It's an opportunity. I don't back down from anything. I've had situations in my life where the odds didn't look very good. That's the way I look at it; it's an opportunity. We're ready to go out, and our players are still eager to get better. That's what we're going to do; we're going to go out to play the best that we can and try to do something great."
On the source of resiliency of the players comes from the coaches or from themselves: "It's both. It has to be both. We, as coaches, can only do so much. We all know at times that we can have two or three guys on a football team where they're maybe not quite totally engaged. Then they can maybe pull a few guys over here and do some things in a negative way. That's not good, so that's why I think it's both. You have to have us, as coaches, oversee it and continue to teach and develop. Then you also have to have some leadership in the players that they have to monitor each other, too, because we're not around 24 hours a day. That's not feasible to have happen. It's been a good response. Again, we have talked about how you have to do it in preseason as far as how you have to prepare yourself every single week, how you have to be able to keep your poise and keep your belief each and every week. Whether you win or you lose, you have to do that because you have to turn right back around within 24 hours to get your mind ready for the next game. I think our guys have got that approach. They understand that, and you have to get ready for the next one. That's what I mean by how those guys have responded in a good way on Sunday. I expect no different today as we get ready to prepare for Oklahoma."
On how he evaluates the team's switch to the 3-4 defense: "(It's had) ups and downs. I think that maybe sometimes we're not as consistent, but that's the whole thing about football. Are you consistently being able to go out and make plays? Are you consistently being able to get lined up? Are you consistently being able to follow through on what the coaches are teaching you to do? No matter if you're at Kansas or anywhere, you're trying to be consistent. We have 12 games to play. We're trying to do that every single ballgame. A little bit has been inconsistency as far as that goes. We have to go out there and produce and continue to improve as a program."
On if the 3-4 has accomplished what he wanted it to scheme-wise: "I thinkpart of it is trying to get more speed by having more linebackers. I think that will give us a better opportunity to recruit, getting more speed on the football field with a 3-4 front and guys that can run and go from sideline to sideline, particularly because of the league we play in. (The offenses in the Big 12) spread it out quite a bit, so you need to get some guys that can flat-out run and get off blocks. We're moving in the right direction. We have a few more things that we need to have taken care of, and it takes time."
On if he is always as upbeat with the team as he is with the media: "I do a little bit of both. Whether we win, lose or draw, when they need to be challenged and I feel it's appropriate, then I'll do that. There's always a time to do that. I'm just not a person that every single moment of every single day that I think it's appropriate to do that. That's how I'm wired. This is how my make-up is. There are times to challenge both sides - the coaching staff and the players. We do that occasionally and get their attention both on the field and off the field."
On if he has any specific examples of overcoming the odds in his life: "The one that comes straight to my mind is the odds of being the starting quarterback at the University of Nebraska. I'd say 98 percent of the people said it wasn't going to happen, `No way. Why are you going there?' That's just one example."
On the addition of TCU to the Big 12 Conference: "It will be interesting when we play TCU at (their) home. That's my hometown, probably a five- to 10-minute drive from where I grew up. It's good to have them in (the Big 12). They've earned it and deserve it. They're going to be a good addition to our league."
On the key to slowing down Oklahoma: "I think the biggest thing is to try to not give up any big plays. I guess I shouldn't say any. They're going to make some plays. They are a down-the-field offensive football team. They throw first, run second. I think if we can allow a minimum amount of big plays for them throwing the football then that will give us our best chance. We've got to do those two things and then the other thing I mentioned earlier, turnovers. We've got to create those."
On what it will take for the KU defense to shut down the Oklahoma offense: "Discipline. Guys have to do what they're supposed to do. We have to match their intensity. We have to match their execution. That's going to give us the best chance. We have to do everything in a great way - Offensively, defensively and on special teams. We have to be almost perfect to have a chance to beat Oklahoma."
On the play of Jordan Webb and his recent turnovers: "There's probably been a couple plays where he has tried to do a little bit too much. As far as getting out of the pocket and not seeing things and couldn't see what was happening. When you get scrambling around and throw it up for grabs. So I really think it's only been one or two plays. He has played extremely well. Everyone is a human being. You're going to have a couple plays here and there that you make a mistake. That's just part of it. He's made great throws. He's been very accurate. He's done a lot of good things. He's improved like we've wanted him to improve and he's still only a sophomore."
On who will replace Keaston Terry if he is inactive for Saturday's game: "More than likely it will be Lubbock Smith. He would go to the free safety. He kind of does both a little bit of strong safety and free safety. We'll check out Ray Mitchell. We're looking at both of those guys. If I had to say today, we'll see how it goes these next few days, but I would say Lubbock."
On his best memories of games against Oklahoma when he was a quarterback at Nebraska: "Probably the first time we beat them. It would have been my junior year in Lincoln. (When I was being recruited out of high school) It came down to those two schools; Nebraska or Oklahoma were the two choices as far as where I would go to school. It was made a little more special to beat them that year. That was probably the best thing to beat them my junior year in Lincoln then my senior year we beat them at their place."
On if the Oklahoma-Nebraska rivalry is the best in college football: "It's a little biased for me, because I had a chance to play in it and coach in it. It was an outstanding rivalry. It was fun to play in it. It was fun to coach it and be around it on both sides. It was a great experience."
On if playing Oklahoma gets his `juices' flowing a little more than a normal game: "Every game gets my juices going. This one maybe a little more because it's a big ball game at home and we're trying to play well and trying to make something happen for our football program. We want to make a good statement here for our football program against a good football team."
On if the national attention of Saturday's game makes this one bigger than the rest: "Sometimes one game can define a season, but I don't look at it that way. It's just another ball game and we're still trying to build a program. Our guys are doing good things in the right way and are improving. This is an opportunity for us to do something here on a national stage but it's still a football game. We're not going to make it more than what it is. It is a game. We're playing a good football team and we just need to continue to improve. That's what we talk about as a football team, just keep improving and getting better. That's what we can control. Sometimes you play well and it doesn't necessarily mean you're going to win the football game. Sometimes you don't play well and you do win a football game. You just try to keep improving as a team and keep developing. We're going in the right direction."
On if his team is a little more excited to play a top-five team: "It's human nature to get excited about playing good football teams. Our guys get fired up for every game. The get fired up particularly if we're playing at home. They get excited. They get excited about playing football. We always talk about how you only get a few opportunities, so you better make the most of them. This is another opportunity for us to try to make the best of it."
On the importance of the fan support at Saturday's game: "I hope our fans come out and continue to support and continue to believe in our program. We need everyone because we're continuing to build a program and it's important for our fans to continue to be involved and continue to support our student-athletes. I think they will. I expect it to be a good environment for us."
On if offensive coordinator Chuck Long has brought some schemes to KU from Oklahoma: "We all have talked about what's best for our personnel. I don't care what school you're at, you have to do based on what you have in your personnel. (Chuck) has taken some of the things he's done at Oklahoma and incorporated it here at Kansas. I think he's done a good job. There's been a big improvement from last year to this year. I think he's a guy that can relate to our quarterback and to our guys. My decision to bring him aboard was about who he was and what he was all about and that was another great advantage to having him here at KU."
On senior tight end Tim Biere receiving the Tight End Performer of the Week award: "It's good exposure for the University of Kansas. It's good recognition for him. He's a captain, leader, playmaker; he's very good and he makes plays. We've seen that a lot in the first five games. He's been able to produce for us and I hope he continues to do that."
On if the offense will try to get Biere more touches in future games: "You hear the statements in basketball, if you have a hot guy, you're going to try and get him the ball and let him go do his thing. It's a little bit harder in football to a certain extent, but you still try to get those things done and we will try to do that. I think he will have some good matchups. He's a big strong guy. He has some good hands. He can go up and get the ball. We're always going to try and find ways for guys to make plays and we've got to get them the ball a little more."
On being named the National Tight End of the Week: "It feels good to earn the honor, but it's kind of bittersweet because my performance came in a blowout (loss)."
On playing Oklahoma on national television: "We view it as an opportunity to play the best team in the nation and it's an opportunity to compete against them. We expect to win and playing a team like Oklahoma will be great. It's going to be a great atmosphere."
On if he thinks the students will come out to support the team: "It's hard to say. We don't really know what the students are going to do here, but hopefully they will show up and be loud. When they are in the game it does make a difference. I hope they show up and are really loud on Saturday."
On if he thinks he is one of the more experienced players in the country: "It's crazy to look back and realize that you've been playing for four years. It has gone so fast. When I look at the young guys and realize I've been playing four years and they have only played five games you can help them through the ups and downs and other preparations."
On what the offense has done well this season: "We're getting a lot of big plays, which was one of our main goals. The last couple of games we've started out really fast, which is what we want to do. If we do that we feel like we have a good chance. Lately though, the turnover bug has been biting us so we need to get that fixed and then hopefully we'll end on a good note."
On what has been the cause for the recent turnovers: "With me, I'm making bad plays and the other team has taken advantage of it. When you're playing a good team you can't make those mistakes."
On Tim Biere's play: "I know every time I put the ball around him he comes down with it. It's definitely awesome having a target like him to throw to. When a guy is being as productive as Tim is, you want to find as many ways as you can to get him the ball. We're going to work on doing that."
On not forcing the ball: "I feel like I'm doing really well on my reads this year and it's paying off, but I've made a couple mistakes and you can't have that. That's one thing Coach (Chuck) Long has talked to me about, you have to stick with your reads and take what the defense gives you and he knows from experience because he's been around the game a lot."
On where his resiliency comes from: "It's a little bit of both (from him and from the coaching staff). It's just people trying to move on really quick and get rid of the hurt. Losses (like Saturday) really hurt. Someone like me dwells on it a little bit, but for other guys, it might be a little easier for them to say `You know what? It's in the past' and just move on. We know that the only thing we can do is to keep working. If we stop, everything is going to go downhill. There's hope in that we have to just keep working and keep trying and it'll pay off."
On how he views the matchup with No. 1 Oklahoma: "It's a great opportunity for us. What's happened in the past couple of weeks hasn't been so great, but we still have a great opportunity playing the No. 1 team in the nation. If we can go out there and get a win, it could really turn everything around. It could give us our momentum back and give us our confidence back. It's all about this week and what we have to do this week to get a win."
On if he sees improvements in the team: "(I see) small ones, but they need to start coming more. The improvements that we strive for, we might have shown glimpses of it, but it's about that time where they need to turn on. We go out (to practice) and work hard every day. We don't work hard for nothing; we don't work hard to lose. Of course it's frustrating to go through that, but it's something we're going to have to learn from and continue to keep pressing on toward our goal. Our goal is still attainable, so we just have to continue to press on."
On what the team can do to defend Oklahoma better: "Pretty much what we have to do is get in and watch more film, because I feel like by watching film and studying a person, you learn more about their tendencies and their habits on the field. It's an opportunity to get better. What do you really want to do? Do you really want to go out and win, or do you just want to be satisfied with what you've done so far? From what I've seen this week, I don't think anybody is satisfied with where we've been the last few weeks."
On if he feels pressure to perform with what has happened recently: "I feel like the circumstances that we're being put in are opportunities to show if you really want to play. Do you want to be a great competitor? Or do you just want to go through the motions? We feel like we're losing time to make something happen, so we want to go out and perform not only this Saturday, but every Saturday from here on."
On writing the message `Show up or shut up' on the wall of the locker room: "I'm just trying to motivate the other guys around me, I wasn't trying to point fingers at anybody. If we lose, we all lose together. It's just a matter of trying to separate the boys from the men. It was just supposed to be like `Hey, we play OU this week, they're the No. 1 team in the country, either you're going to show up or you're going to shut up.' Now if you make mistakes on the field, that's understandable. But people are going to see if you're really pushing and really trying to win. You can't really control what other people are going to do, but you can control your focus and whether or not you've been in the film room watching film or working hard in practice."