Head Coach Turner Gill Holds Tuesday Press Conference
Nov. 1, 2011
Coach Gill Press Conference
T. Bakare Interview
R. Doherty Interview
J. Hatch Interview
J. Shepherd Interview
LAWRENCE, Kan. - Kansas head coach Turner Gill held his weekly press conference in Mrkonic Auditorium Tuesday morning. Coach Gill discussed the importance of the team putting the past behind them and starting over in a new month. He also looked ahead to the team's game with Iowa State on Saturday.
Below is a transcript of Coach Gill's press conference as well as interviews with selected student-athletes.
Opening Statement: "I just wanted to talk about where we're at for our fans and really everyone as well as what I am telling our team and our coaches as we finish this season. First of all, I am just telling them, that it is a new month. We are looking forward to the month of November because it is about how you finish. That is what we are talking to our players and coaches about, that we need to finish this (season) in a positive way. All we need to do is keep working harder, keep watching things a little bit longer and keep talking about how we can get better. Those are the types of things we are talking about with our coaches and players, just being more detailed in everything we do. The last thing is that I am determined to really change what we have done so far this football season. I will do everything in my power and my will to continue to work hard with our coaching staff and our players to finish this season in a positive way."
On Iowa State: "We are really focused and in tune on this game to get it done right. (Iowa State head coach) Paul Rhoads did a great job last week and knocked off Texas Tech. They really got off to a fast start and had a big win against those guys. One thing that stands out is that they are averaging 5.5. yards per carry and the new quarterback they have, Jared Barnett, can run the football. He definitely has made some plays for them and I would say he is a dual threat type of a quarterback, who is able to do things with his legs as well as his arm. They also have lost (one of) their running backs, but the new guy they have in there (James White) has been very good too, so I've seen them be productive in their running game. Defensively they are solid and have not been much of a blitz team. They do mix up some things, but they have been quite solid on that side of the ball."
On how the season has gone thus far: "It is not the way you would like to have it at this point, but we have an opportunity to improve. We have four games to get that done, show that we can finish up strong and get things going in the right direction."
On breaking down the Texas game: "I think we have to better job of coaching some of our players and have to come out and be ready to go. I think they (Texas) are a good football team and their front four beat our front five guys, which is tough. But we have to move on, learn from that and keep going."
On what areas the team needs to improve: "I think there has been some inconsistent play in about every phase. The offense for the most part has done fairly well, but obviously this last ball game was not good, so there have just been spurts of improvement. We have to be more consistent and on track to make sure that we can get everything done offensively and defensively as far as techniques go. We have to be exactly right on everything and cannot have any room for error, so that is why we have some inconsistencies in our play."
On what changes need to be made: "We have looked in other areas such as schemes, when we thought about doing this or trying that. Personnel wise, we have talked about that we need to do some things that will give these guys opportunities to be successful. So we have changed a little bit of those things, but more importantly there is probably more of a practice structure. We are changing some of those things that we do as far as getting the best out of our players to get down the practice part of it and then putting that into a game. That is where we are trying to make some changes and adjustments."
On his team playing with emotion: "It has been there; it just has not been on a consistent basis and I think some of that has to do with going out and making plays to get some of those emotions going. When you make some plays you can see players getting excited about some things, so you have to have some things to force that. But I think inconsistent would be the best way to describe it. Still, the emotion has been there and the players come to work every day, plus they are resilient. That is what keeps me going, is that I know we have hope and the opportunity to make some things happen during the next four ball games."
On Steven Johnson's impact on the KU defense: "He is a guy that is all in to the game. He is very passionate about the game of football and has that same passion about how he goes about talking to his teammates. He wants to perform well and he wants to be the best. I think that is carrying over (to the rest of the defense). It is maybe not going as fast as we would all like as far as the whole football team but there is progress. He is a good football player and I think Vantz Singletary and the staff has done a great job teaching him how to move in different ways to get things done. I think we have asked him to be a little more of a leader, which is not the norm for his personality. Last year, and even at the beginning of this year, we have sat down and talked to him about it and sometimes you have to get people a little out of their comfort zone. So that is what we did, we said you need to do it and here's why. (We told him) `It doesn't matter how it comes out or what it sounds like, people are going to respond to you.' So I think that has been a great benefit for him and has increased the level of his play."
On winning the coin toss versus Texas and deferring until the second half: "That was mainly for change. I think we were talking about the third quarter and just trying to do something a little bit different. We wanted to see if that would make a difference in how we would come out from the opposite side of it, having our offense have the ball versus our defense. A small victory, if you want to call it that, because there were some pluses that come out of it compared to what he had been doing in the third quarter. We thought we may have a little bit of a pooch kick and sometimes they mishandle those things, so we wanted to just change it up."
On QB Jordan Webb's season thus far: "I think he has been pretty consistent. The last couple of ball games, especially with the Texas game, he did not have a whole lot of reps, but I think he is really in tune with what he is trying to do. I like the way he is doing his footwork and he is throwing the ball really accurately. That is what I have been very pleased about. I know he gets those interceptions here and there but overall, I think he has really improved from what we were asking him to do compared with last year to this year. He still has a ways to go, but he is doing what we ask him to do and making an improvement, which is helping our football team move forward."
On a breakout week: "I think you see it every week. Also talked about things that have happened in the past, as far as teams in this month of November, how people can come through, and get on a streak, and make a big difference on the season. It's a new month, October was not a good month, now we are changing up and hope we can finish strong. There are great examples, there are many team that have done it, as far as finishing up the season in a great way, and that's what we have the opportunity to do. Every week there is somebody who was not expected to win, and that's where we are at, at this point and time in our program."
On the mental toll of a six-game losing streak: "I think that is why you have to come up with some new things that give them hope. That's why saying that this is a new month, this is a new phase in our season. We have now finished up two thirds of our season. In most cases if you can finish strong in the month of November, then you are going to be showing, not only yourself and the fans, that you are moving forward. It is how you finish. You have to play well in all games, don't get me wrong, but if you can finish strong, there is a lot to be said there. People can have a tendency to forget about what happened in the middle of the season. There is still opportunity and trying to get (the players') minds set on opportunities that things can get accomplished even though a lot of things have not gone very well for us. There are still some things that can really turn the season around in a positive way."
On how it will get better: "We have an opportunity to play. We have eight games that we can look at and improve, and that's why you play the game. As long as you have games to play, you have an opportunity to improve. It only takes one play, one game, one quarter, to put together something really special. As I mentioned earlier, there are teams that have done that, that have put together a game where they came out and got something accomplished, and all of the sudden that starts to get them rolling. That's what I see. That's what I believe can happen at the University of Kansas. I hope it is going to happen this week, that is what we are striving to do."
On Iowa State beating Texas Tech: "They got after it running the ball and got some turnovers early and got the momentum. Texas Tech was never able to overcome it. They did an outstanding job to jump on them early, and that is a key thing, to jump on people early."
On Iowa State's strengths: "I would say offensively, their offensive line and running game. Now with the quarterback (Jared Barnett) being able to run a bit more, that has increased things (they can do). Their defense is just a solid defense. They have some good players. Their corners are fairly good, they have good solid linebackers, but I think overall they are a solid group of people. They put together some good things as they play each and every week and that is why they have won a few games."
On what finishing strong can do for your program: "I think it can let our guys know they can improve on the football field in games. It can help us as we go into the offseason program. It helps you in every phase, in recruiting and everything else. It gives you confidence to see that as you go through the process as we are trying to build a program. As we come here as a staff you have got to take all of those little things, there are steps being made. Ultimately, you are looking at the W's and the L's as far as how much progress you have made, and the scores of the games. So I think it is important for us to finish strong. Obviously we want to be competitive in every single football game, and I think when you do that, you have that opportunity to win some football games as you go into the fourth quarter. So we are just going to keep on working."
Freshman wide receiver JaCorey Shepherd
On what the offense went through against Texas: "I just don't think we were executing the plays well enough. Texas has a good defense, but we came out and made a couple of plays, and we just didn't execute - that's all."
On if he was surprised at how good the Texas defense was: "They didn't surprise me; when we watched the film beforehand, we knew how good they were. They were good competition for us, so I don't think we were surprised."
On Coach Gill's message at the end of the game: "He told us we needed to keep working and to not give up. We needed to come out to practice and work hard every day."
On what Coach Gill has said about finishing the season strong: "He has told us (that we need to finish the season strong). He keeps telling us that the season is 0-0, and how we need to keep fighting."
Sophomore punter Ron Doherty
On his net punting average: "I think that is a big team component. Of course, it all starts with our snaps. I feel like, if I get a good punt off, our guys will be able to run down the field and make plays for us. It's not just me, it is all 11 guys on the field."
On Coach Gill commenting about how good the special teams have been: "It feels great; we know that we're another aspect of the team, we're just trying to help out here and there. Our main job is to just do our job - and we've been doing that. It is always a good thing when Coach Gill is pleased with what you've been doing."
On long snapper Tanner Gibas: "He has been tremendous; he has really done well stepping in as a true freshman. His snaps are unbelievable right now and he is doing a phenomenal job."
Senior tight end Ted McNulty
On earning a scholarship his senior year: "I love playing football, and I love my teammates, so coming to practice was always a joy for me, whether I was on scholarship or not. Obviously, I wanted to be on scholarship because it would have helped my family out. Coach Gill surprised me when he first told me I was going to be put on scholarship, so I'm pretty sure my face was awfully red. I thought it was a pretty good way to start the season."
On if being on scholarship changed anything in him: "I would like to think that it didn't. I'm pretty sure everyone around here knows me, and they know that I've always been the same person."
Senior cornerback Isiah Barfield
On turning the calendar to get the team to refocus: "Basically, he wants us to forget about all the games we've played up until this point and just start over from scratch. The season starts 0-0 and we want to look at it that way, rather than we're coming in on a losing streak. We want to come in with the same passion that we had at the very beginning of the season and win the month of November."
On how the younger players have handled the losing: "Our team works really hard on offense, defense and special teams. The young guys come in and they work hard. I mean, we have freshmen playing against guys who are my age, so you have to appreciate that. You have to respect that we're going out and playing as hard as we can."
On any changes in the practices: "The coaching staff isn't going to change who they are just because we're losing, but our defensive backs coach, Coach (Vic) Shealy, said he's going to coach as hard as he can, because we really need to win this month. If the younger players can't take that, then I don't know what to tell them."