Kansas Football Meets with Media

Aug. 23, 2011

Kansas football held practice on Tuesday afternoon under sunny skies at the practice fields adjacent to Memorial Stadium. Following practice, the team met with members of the media in the Chancellor’s Lounge at the Anderson Family Football Complex. Below is a transcript of Coach Gill’s session as well as select interviews from KU student-athletes.

Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill

On Tuesday’s practice:
“Today was definitely a humid day for our guys and it was a bit tough on them but our defense came out pretty well and did some great things, while our offense was sluggish so I am a little bit disappointed in their performance. With that being said, the defense came out and did things with a little more urgency and were more physical.”

On the defense’s progress:
“I think I have said earlier that our offense was a little ahead of our defense, but now I think our defense has caught up to our offense and feeling a lot more comfortable with (Defensive Coordinator) Coach Shealy and the style he wants them to play. We have been around now for three weeks, so I think in all we have a better idea of our personnel and now we’re just trying to put them in position to make plays.”

On the defense’s strengths:
“Our speed, particularly our linebackers spot. All of our guys in those positions can run and are able to get off blocks, which is what you have to do on defense. I think our secondary is another one of our strengths and our defensive line has definitely played a lot better, so I think we are really coming together as a defensive unit to where we will be able to make more plays, create some turnovers and get off the field a lot quicker.”

On freshman quarterback Brock Berglund re-joining the team in the spring:
“The decision was a culmination of both mine and his; I would say a little more myself, but we both did discuss it as well as myself and his parents and we all thought that this was the best thing for him to do with his legal issues.”

On freshman running back Brandon Bourbon’s progress:
“Saturday’s scrimmage was his best day that I have ever seen of him. He ran hard and he ran with a purpose. He ran for some big-time opportunities and also made some people miss, while showing some acceleration and power in the hole. It was good to see that because he was a question mark with what he could do.”

On the decision to release sophomore running back Deshaun Sands:
“All I can do is evaluate what has happened and he violated team rules. It is very sad and unfortunate to have to do that, but that is the way it is.”

On his team’s attitude and work ethic heading into the regular season:
“I love the way our guys have approached this last off-season, spring ball and even up to date. They are ready to go, focused and know what we have to get done.”

Senior linebacker Steven Johnson

On if the defense is coming together and fine-tuning before the first game:
“Mostly, coach (Vic) Shealy has put a lot of stuff in and we’ve all picked up on it pretty well. I’m pretty sure next week we’ll have a couple of new things to put in for McNeese State but what the coaches have given us right now, we’ve done the best we can do and we’re going to perfect it each and every day. I’m not going to say that we’re perfect yet, but we’re striving for perfection.”

On if he’s noticed the defense making strides:
“Yeah, we want to be a great defense, and you know these offenses in the Big 12 are going to be great so we’re just trying to push each other each and every day and remind each other that we have a game in 11 days. When it’s really going to matter and it’s going to be 50,000 people watching, we’re going to have to show up so we’re just pushing every day just to be the best that we can be.”

On if it’s difficult to progress when there are guys that get injured or aren’t 100%:
“It’s always hard to kind of progress but at the same time, you have to realize that we’re a team and we’re going to pick everyone up. I know I say a prayer after every practice and pray for every single injury on this team that they have a speedy recovery and I feel like when the game comes everyone is going to be well – some knicks and bruises here and there – but that’s the game of football so we’ll come back and be ready.”

Redshirt freshman running back Brandon Bourbon

On what Saturday was like and how much confidence he took away from the way he performed:
“I just knew all along I could do it, but it was something that I finally got to show my teammates that I could come out and play at this level, so it made me feel really good.”

On the questions from coaches and teammates on what he can do:
“There really hasn’t been a performance where everyone was out to see that I can actually play as well as I did. I think they’ve seen flashes and they knew what I’m capable of.”

On what he can get better at as the season goes on:
“I feel like I can still get better at everything. I’m never going to be satisfied with any one characteristic about anything, there’s always something to improve on.”

On if it’s important as a running back to prove you can play through injuries:
“That’s important; people need to depend on the running back. Their abilities are definitely something people have to have in a running back but as far as all of the positions go, people are going to get dinged up, that’s just how the game goes.”

On how much the redshirt season benefited him:
“I think it benefited a lot. I learned a lot and traveled to most of the games so I got to see the ins and outs of how it was going to work and now I’m just ready to go out there and play. It gave me a chance to just watch and then we had the offseason so everyone was working really hard. We had a season where everyone was disappointed so we had to get a lot of work in.”

Junior defensive end Toben Opurum

On how the defense is looking:
“I think we’re really coming together as a defense. I think one area we need to work on is communicating – whether that be from player to player or coach to player – as long as we can pick up our communication, it’s a whole new system. Once we get that down, then I think we’ll have a good defense.”

On the defensive line potential once everyone is healthy:
“Once everyone gets confidence is when we play at our highest level and it helps having someone like Kevin (Young) on the defensive line, he’s really explosive off the line and someone like John Williams who is real athletic for a guy his size; people don’t even realize how athletic he is. Those two have really stepped up their game on the inside and we definitely need it.”

On if Randall Dent has given some quality movement:
“Yeah, a lot of people were actually surprised; they didn’t know what to expect. They kind of thought he would be a body when he moved back but he actually – he’s obviously going to go the wrong way on a couple of plays – but as far as his effort and his d-line play, he’s actually surprised a lot of people and I think he’ll really be able to help us on the d-line.”