Kansas Football Weekly Press Conference

Oct. 19, 2010

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Player Interviews: Webb | S. Johnson | Quigley | Biere

Kansas Football

Weekly Press Conferences

Oct. 19, 2010 – Lawrence, Kan.

Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill

Opening Statement

“This week is an opportunity for Kansas football to get on track. In the last few days I’ve seen our players get together a little bit. They’ve been very resilient, and that’s a good thing. As young people today, 18-22 years old, they’ve definitely seemed to be very resilient, probably a little more than we as adults. I think that’s been a good thing and a positive for our football team.”

“Another thing I think is good for us is there’s an opportunity here with six games left to finish strong, and that’s how we look at it. I look at this football game here as an opportunity for us to have a chance to win, just like any game we play. This is an opportunity for us to win, and obviously the resolve and the things that have happened with us the last couple ball games, this is a chance for us to get a win.”

“I’d like to talk about our opponent. (Texas) A&M, they’re in a situation too, trying to find a way to win a game also. I have a truly great respect for their head football coach, Mike Sherman. I had an opportunity to work with him for a year, he hired me there and two or three other people on their staff I know as well. Tom Rossley, he gave me my first full-time coaching position at SMU when he was there. He hired me there and I was able to coach the receivers for him when he was there. Randy Jordan, their running backs coach, I coached with him at the University of Nebraska. Again, I know quite a few guys on their staff.”

“One thing about Coach Sherman, I know he’s very detailed. I know he’s very, very strong offensive-minded, he’s very strong at putting together game plans to get his team ready to play. You talk about their team offensively you start with their quarterback Jerrod Johnson. He’s a very talented young man. I know he’s kind of been playing up and down, as far as how he’s played so far this season, but he has tremendous skills as a quarterback.”

“Defensively, their defensive coordinator — Tim DeRuyter — (runs a) 3-4 defense. They definitely have improved from last year, from what I saw a little bit this season. And what they’re doing right now, particularly with the scheme, they’ve been able to do a lot more things with the talented linebacker crew that they have. So they’ve definitely done some good things there from that defensive standpoint that’s going to cause us to make sure we’re on top of things. Particularly from a passing standpoint, with that 3-4 you can come from all difference directions so we need to make sure that are guys are in tune with making sure we know what they have, and who they have and how they’re going to go about doing it.”

“I think the key to the game is we have to play well early. We need to get off to a good start, both offensively and defensively. But particularly on offense, we need to put points on the board. Unfortunately, I think some of the issues with the last two ballgames we have not been able to put points on the board. We’ve been pretty good from the 30 yard line to the 30 yard line offensively, but in putting points on the board we have not been effective in doing that to the best of our ability. Which comes down to the word you hear every week from every coach: execute. We have to execute and do it a lot better than what we have been doing.”

“(We need to) eliminate the unforced penalties. If we get a drive two going, particularly from an offensive standpoint, if we get an offsides or if something of that nature may occur, we have to eliminate those things.”

“Lastly, just about every week in some fashion I mention the turnover margin. We cannot turn the ball over, we must create turnovers, we’ve got to get at least three turnovers here to bring about even more excitement and confidence in our football team. To create turnovers is what brings that about. You can do that on defense, obviously on special teams they need to get that done also. They need to create some big plays on our special teams. We’ve done a little bit about that as far as our kickoff return, but we haven’t done that in some of the other areas.”

“The bottom line is we find a way to win the game. Find a way to win the football game.”

“As far as the injury report: (safety) Philip Strozier is questionable. (Cornerback) Chris Harris is medically ready to go. (Safety) Keeston Terry has had a little bit of knee problems so we’ll see how it goes here this week. (Offensive guard) Sal Capra is probable. (Wide receiver) Christian Matthews is questionable.”

On the impact of turnovers and A&M’s turnover margin (-6):

“I think that’s huge. For us to get points on the board whether we created them by getting turnovers or not, I think that’s a huge thing there. They’ve had some trouble taking care of the football, so we want to hope that continues, from our standpoint. That gives more opportunities from an offensive standpoint and it creates more opportunities to make more plays, so you hope that will happen.”

On moving on after the last two games:

“You move forward and you take the things that we can improve on, and you also take the things, one or two things or multiple things, that you did well. One of the things that we’ve noticed the guys have done well from an offensive standpoint is we’ve converted some third downs. But we’ve had too many third downs to be converting. So that means we haven’t done very well on first down, as far as getting some things accomplished to keep it going. Also, in the red zone and green zone area, we haven’t been able to finish drives. But the positive thing about it, at least from this last game from an offensive standpoint, I like the way that Jordan Webb hung in there and stayed in there. Later in the game, what I thought was good was defensively, and really our whole football team, the guys continued to play hard. It’s just been execution, and I guess that’s probably what the frustration becomes as far as our whole football team, including our staff. But we put those things in the past and we keep moving on. Again, I talk about our staff, we have guys that have been there and done that and you keep doing what you do. We have faith in what we’re trying to do offensively, and what we’re trying to do defensively. Again, you’re trying to put all of those pieces of the puzzles together to try and make sure you get the mesh.”

On getting quarterbacks past a rough stretch:

“You keep playing. You keep playing; keep being competitive; keep having confidence in what you’re doing. Stay within the framework of what you’re coaches are teaching you and what your reads are.”

“In the case of the quarterback, it’s all about experience. Speaking for myself, from my own experience, you’re first year playing you’re just kind of playing the plays; you’re not really truly understanding it. My second year, I really had a better understanding of what was totally going on. I could anticipate things happening a little quicker. You anticipate what’s going to occur, and now you react to it and believe in it physically. We’re still not quite there from the quarterback spot but I believe we will get there.”

Senior wide receiver Johnathan Wilson

On getting things going in a positive direction:

“We have to have a short memory. We have to go back to practice and go back to the drawing board and we have to find positive stuff in the last game to try and build on. It’s a lot easier said than done, but you’ve got to have a strong mentality to just persevere. That’s football.”

On Texas A&M:

“We have a chance with every team. Like I’ve said before, we are killing ourselves with penalties and turnovers and it sounds like they are doing the same. Both teams are going to be hungry for a win. I know they are tired of losing and we are, too.”

On the team’s resiliency:

“We’ve been down in games before. In the Georgia Tech game, we were down early and we came back and won the game. You can’t quit. We can still win, I believe in the team.”

Freshman quarterback Jordan Webb

On his role with the team:

“I just need to be more consistent. (I need to be) making plays at a consistent level, keeping drives going, and when we get in the red-zone we just need to score. That’s our big thing right now I think.”

On his grasp of the offense:

“I think I’ve gotten a lot better since my first start. I’m really understanding the offense and what we want to do. I’m understanding why each play is called and what the big picture is. That’s really going to help.”

On the team’s resiliency:

“I think we’ve been really resilient. I think after week one we were disappointed but we came back and won the next week. We’ve had a couple of disappointing weeks lately but we’re going to come back and execute and keep getting better. “

On outsiders questioning the team:

“Obviously I don’t think anybody here agrees with certain opinions. But that is somebody’s opinion; they can have their own opinions. We’re going to keep coming out to play and we’re going to play hard and get better.”

Senior running back Angus Quigley

On avoiding panic:

“You can’t panic. Panic is not going to help anyone and it will spread like a virus through the team. This is a time when you need your leaders on the team. As captains, we need people to look up to us. How we go out to practice and how we play in the game, that stuff is contagious. That is where the leadership is coming from right now. Coach Gill is going to keep coaching and they’ll put together a great game plan. The players have to buy into it, which I believe we will, and we need to go out and play the way we know we can play. We’ve shown we can be a good football team, it’s about consistency.

On negativity from outsiders:

“It’s a lot easier for me to handle. I’ve been here and I’ve been down that road before. It’s happened in the past. You’ve got to know who knows the team the best, and it’s the guys on this team. It’s the coaches we work with everyday. Our thing is to keep what’s in our house, in our house. We don’t want to worry too much about what’s going on outside. When you lose you are a bad team, when you win you are a great team. That’s just the way it works. We’re trying to stay together, that’s all we can do.”

On changing the team’s mentality:

“We need to focus on finishing. We can’t come out and do things like have a drive and then turn it over. We can’t have a drive where we jump offsides and get multiple penalties that put us in a tough spot. That’s the stuff that is killing us right now. Execution is important too. We are killing ourselves and the teams in this league are too good to come back on when you beat yourselves.”

Senior punter Alonso Rojas

On moving forward after the last two games:

“We’re just trying to look at the positives of everything and we’re trying to move forward. We’re trying to forget really quick and move onto the next game plan. Hopefully we can go out there and play hard and try and get a W. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing, practice hard and hopefully this weekend we’ll execute, because the problems that we’ve been having have been lack of execution. But I have faith in all of my teammates and I know we’re going to go out there and give Texas A&M our best shot.”

On creating momentum and excitement in the game:

“Every game is important for us. So we’re going to go out there and hopefully we’re going to execute, and hopefully better than A&M this week so that way we can get a ‘W’ and keep our crowd in the game. In reality, the crowd helps out a lot but the most important thing is the team. And right now, the team is just really eager.”

On what the team can improve on this week:

“We need to concentrate on staying focused out there and making the little things count. (Things like) catching the ball before you run, or holding on to it a little bit longer. In my case, punting the ball where the coaches want it; putting it through the uprights and forcing quarterbacks to throw the ball faster. It’s just little things like that we need to do a little bit better.”

Senior linebacker Drew Dudley

On the fans at Late Night:

“I went to Late Night in the Phog and there was like eight of us seniors that were going to go out there. They were introducing each sport individually. First was baseball and we were next. In my heart, deep down I was like, ‘Man, I hope we don’t get booed.’ But then they said football is up next and we actually got a standing ovation and it was a pretty loud cheer. That was actually pretty surprising, and it was nice.”

On going up against his hometown team this weekend:

“For me personally, playing against A&M brings it closer to home. A&M did not want me. I had some other offers and I had a couple friends at A&M and at the time, two of the coaches had daughters who were at my high school so they were pretty honest with me. They told me to go to Kansas and that it was a good choice.”

On the struggles in the Big 12 play carrying over from last season:

“They were a little bit different last year than they were this year. Last year, we lost a lot of close games. Right now, if you watch the film it doesn’t look as bad as the scoreboard is saying that it is. I think it’s just a matter of making plays, and few plays going this way and that way. I can’t explain it, but we’re still working hard.”

Senior linebacker Steven Johnson

On the attitude of the defense this week:

“Right now, I would say there’s a little bit of urgency with a little bit of frustration. I know we’re looking forward to today’s practice to just go out there and be able to move around and get some of the bad air gone. We’re looking forward to getting a win this week and pulling this thing back together.”

On the team’s mission statement “We Still Believe”:

“I wouldn’t say it’s harder to believe. I still believe in the mission statement and I still have faith that this team is going to go to a bowl game this year. We have six games left and we’ve got to win four of them to become bowl eligible and I think we can do that. As hard as we worked offseason and in training camp, and as hard as we’ve worked these last two weeks, even though we haven’t ended up winning a game, I feel like we’re right there. We’re right on the brink of winning a game and everything clicking and we’re going to go out there and win some games.”

On games coming down to only a few plays:

“Last week there was one play where it was third and nine. We were about to be off the field in the first quarter and they had converted and it was a big gain. Right after that it kind of seemed like everything started going downhill. So there’s certain plays in the game where we need to be able to create stops. And we need to pick ourselves back up and not let it build momentum.”