Gill Pleased With Jayhawks Energy Wednesday

Aug. 17, 2011

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas football team continued Fall Camp here Wednesday afternoon with a spirited practice on the fields adjacent to Memorial Stadium. Under mostly sunny skies, an energized KU team turned its attention to some situational work in the last third of its practice, focusing on game-type scenarios the team could face throughout the season.

With officials keeping an eye on the action, the Jayhawks worked on late-game and overtime situations with the defense coming up with a big stand on the first run through and the offense taking the upper hand on the second repetition.

“We put them in situations they will surely face during the season,” said Kansas head coach Turner Gill. “I was pleased with how they handled themselves. We still have a lot of work to do, but it was nice to see both sides of the ball make some big plays in pressure situations.”

Following Wednesday’s practice session, first-year KU linebackers coach Vantz Singletary met with the media. The following is the transcript from Singletary’s interview:

Linebackers coach Vantz Singletary

On how comfortable he is with the linebackers:
“I feel very comfortable. I go out and interact with those guys every day trying to find out their personalities. What buttons you can push to get certain things from certain guys. It’s really about building relationships more than anything. Of course, the technique and the scheme and all those things happen, but more than anything I think is trust factor and communication. They trust me and I trust them and that’s sort of where we’re at right now. It’s been very good and very positive.”

On if the adjustment has been smooth:
“I think it’s gone extremely well. The guys are really working hard and one of the things I try to do is sit down with those guys and watch a lot of footage of the guys I worked with in the National Football League and how they work and how they get better at being the best that they can be. I think that film validates a lot of things. It made my work much easier.”

On Steven Johnson’s leadership:
“He has been a tremendous blessing in my meeting rooms. He’s a guy that really speaks up. He knows the defense in and out. He knows all the fits of the different positions on the football field and he can then communicate that effectively. I’m really impressed by that. He’s really like a coach in the classroom. He’s not a real howler and screamer on the field. He just really understands what’s at stake. I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as he’s worked and when you watch him on film from last year or this past spring he was kind of all over the place. He was very inconsistent, but now you see a guy who is very attention to detail. He’s passionate about what he’s doing and he can come to me and tell me exactly what happened. Most guys can’t explain exactly what happened after the play because they’re just out of it and out there running around like a chicken with their head cut off. For him to be able to articulate what actually happened is critical.”

On if Johnson has struggled at time with the expectations of being a leader:
“To me, he’s a guy that’s flying under the radar. I think he goes out there and let’s his work speak for his leadership and he’s a guy I see getting lined up and making plays. I see a guy when you turn film on, that’s the way you play football. That’s the way you play WILL linebacker. That’s the way you pursue to the ball. A lot of times guys from play to play aren’t consistent. He’s taken what he’s learned in the classroom to the practice field.”

On some rituals he uses to fire up the team:
“When I was at Hawaii I would put some war paint on my face before a bowl game or against one of our rivals. The head coach at the time, June Jones, would have me go in front of the team all the time and I would put tape on my hands and paint up and I would have the mascot paint my face. The kids loved it. They would get jacked up and ESPN would always want to get photos. I did some of that in Buffalo too, so we’ll see in maybe a game this year if it comes back.”