Kansas Coach Turner Gill Holds Weekly Press Conference

Nov. 22, 2011

  • Turner Gill Press Conference
  • S. Johnson Interview
  • C. Matthews Interview
  • K. Pick Interview
  • J. Webb Interview

Kansas head football coach Turner Gill

On the importance of the Missouri game:
“The Border Showdown… Kansas, Missouri, I don’t think there is anything else that needs to be said. This has been a great rivalry since its inception in 1891 and I think we have a great opportunity to get a big win for this program and continue to move it forward. Our players and our entire staff are extremely excited about the opportunity to go out and perform at a high level and try to finish this year on a good note with a victory in this prestigious rivalry game.

For our fans, this is a game that people circle on their calendars every season and we are determined to prepare and execute in such a way to make the Jayhawk nation proud. This team has endured some ups and downs throughout this season, but we are all committed to the process of getting better each and every day and pushing this program to the next level.”

On Missouri’s offense:
“As far as offensively what they have been doing, I think the difference from last year to this year is that their quarterback (James Franklin) is a little bit more of a runner. He is definitely going to take off more than Blaine Gabbert did last year. Franklin has been very efficient as far as throwing the football, so Missouri has shown they have a little bit of more balanced attack. They rush the ball really well and they also throw the ball very well, so that is the difference from last year’s team to this year’s team.”

On Missouri’s defense:
“They have a solid defense and I think it does a lot in terms of their fronts and their secondary. They have a lot of movement and in their secondary their pre-snap read, they will give you one look, and then post-snap read they will give you another look, so we have to make sure we are all on track as far as what they are trying to get accomplished.”

On what Kansas needs to do to beat Missouri:
“Unfortunately, these last three to four ballgames we have not had good ball security, so I think the key to the game is us having great ball security. Obviously, on the defensive side, we have to create turnovers and we must win special teams. We have to have some players take advantage of some opportunities on the special teams side of the ball. The final thing is that we must play well early. I think all three to four of those things are the keys to the ballgame and our guys are excited to play this one and we, as coaches, are excited to coach it.”

On the possibility of this being the final Big 12 meeting between the two schools:
“I think it is going to be a game that is well remembered, just because of that. As a legacy, people are always going to talk about the last game played, so I think that is what brings about a little more significance to this game. It is the last opportunity to play in this type of situation, so it is very, very meaningful and is definitely going to leave a good legacy with whoever wins this football game. There is a little discrepancy of what the record is with 55 and 55 as far as wins for each team. If that is the case, then this game is going to make it more significant with who wins that football game on Saturday.”

On trying some different things in the game plan during the final game of the season:
“We are going to do what we need to do to give us the best chance to win the game. Every game we all have `special plays’ if you want to call it that. If you decide to run them you run them, if you don’t, you don’t, but we are going to do whatever gives us the best chance to win and we will do that to execute. The bottom line is execution. Of course there can be one play here or there that is a special play that won’t necessarily win you the game but it can put you in a better position to do some other things.”

On what he saw from watching film from the Texas A&M game:
“I thought the effort was good but the execution was just not very good. That was really the bottom line because they (Texas A&M) out executed us. Offensively we would move the ball here and there and then just kind of stumble. Defensively they just got after us and put bodies on bodies and at times we did not have enough people there. That is why it just came down to them executing better than we did.”

On the intensity of the rivalry and this being his second year a part of it:
“I think going into the beginning of the week for our players, they had a good amount of self-motivation because of the significance and the history of the game. The upperclassmen were talking about it and sharing it with the younger players, so just me seeing that transpire gave me an idea of just how significant this rivalry is. When I got hired I heard about it (this rivalry) from the fans and then you go through all the weeks with everybody talking about it and being thoroughly involved in it in the game, there is a lot of intensity. So, there is already self-motivation to play well and to play hard and for me as a coach, I have to continue to stay within myself and I am going to do that, but there is definitely a lot more intensity about it naturally.”

On what he wants his seniors to remember about playing for him and his staff:
“I just think that they have reached their full potential. As we all know everyone has full potential but not everyone actually gets there. Hopefully they believe that our staff came in and helped them get to where they need to be academically, reach their full potential as a football player as well as encouraging them to be involved in the community. Hopefully they can say `yes’ to all those questions they may ask themselves and if we have done that, I think we have done what we are supposed to do here. Yes, I understand that we want to have more wins, but the bottom line is did we improve these young men to help us on the football field, outside the football field and if they have done that, then I think they can hold their heads up high. Some of them may go on to the NFL, some may not, but they are prepared to do some great things in our society.”

On changing coaching approaches throughout season:
“I think with all coaches, there’s always a time you want to `turn up the heat.’ I would say it’s more (about) challenging them in a way to get more out of them, not only myself but also coaches on the staff. I think there’s always the time to do it, who you’re doing it to and when to do it. You have to do things the right way and at the right time to make sure you are going to get the best out of that person. The biggest thing is making sure you are attacking the behavior and not the person. That’s what we do here; there have been ups and downs and you’ve seen them respond. In a game that hasn’t gone well, you see them come back and respond in a good way. They are actually getting what we want them to do. You have to leave the past in the past but learn from it so you can become better as you move along. We’ve made good progress, maybe not the greatest progress you want them to make, but I am pleased the way our coaches have coached our guys and getting our guys to come out and be competitive in every ballgame. I can’t sit here and say that I’ve changed in what I’ve done three years ago to today. You always make a few little adjustments because you have to understand this team, this program, this university and those types of things, but nothing really drastically as far as I’m a different coach than I was five years ago.”

On fan support towards players:
“You have to talk about the reality and watching it on tape, seeing what they’re doing. I understand fans and everybody has their opinion and they’re right. We’re here to have an opportunity to where our fans can be proud of what we’re doing and the product we’re putting out there. We’re doing the best we can to do that. It’s a little bit of frustration, but we also have to stay within what we’re doing here. As far as the coaches and the players, what we’re doing in practice, what we’re doing on the field, watching it on tape and looking at themselves individually and then collectively as a unit, are we improving? We talk reality to them. I don’t sit up here and sugarcoat (it) and say they played good when they played bad. We tell it to them face-to-face and right on. I’m not one of those people that tell you what you want to hear. We do it the right way, and we’ll continue to improve.

I think we have a good foundation laid here. I think we are on the right track. The (first) two years are really the foundation years. You’re putting your foundation down to what you’re trying to get accomplished, and you hope that you get those results as far as the wins in your season. Sometimes it doesn’t always happen that way. I kind of look at us, trying to show a picture of where I see the foundation of our program and if I would compare it to some other program, it kind of looks like Kirk Ferentz at Iowa as far as his first two years. We’ve talked about it a little bit and more because (offensive coordinator) Chuck Long was there also. I also mention them just because of the Midwest and doing the things we have to do in recruiting and how we go about things in putting the foundation down. I kind of see us in that mold more because of the location. A little about Kirk Ferentz; I’m not saying we’re identical in how we approach things, but I think there are some similarities on how we go about doing things with just talking to Chuck on some of those things of that nature. The foundation is laid, and I think as you get into the third and fourth years as a staff, those are the things that will take place and you’ll see the fruition as you go into the wins.”

On if Kansas will have a rivalry void with Missouri leaving Big 12:
“I hadn’t thought about it so it’s kind of hard for me to sit here and think about this rivalry. I think it’s probably more apt to ask the fans. I think things will eventually materialize. It may not be quite the same as a Kansas-Missouri rivalry. There are always some things that take place over time. It will be different.”

On talking to players about the potential last game between Kansas and Missouri:
“We’ll talk more today. Yesterday was their day off. We touched base a little bit on Sunday. We talked just briefly about it. It’s all about going out and executing. All the other hoopla stuff that you talk about and those things emotionally, you can get up for it a little bit, but you want to go out and still do the basics.”

Freshman tight end Jimmay Mundine

On ending the season on a good note:
“It’s very important. This is a big game, but then again, it’s just another football game and we have to go out and execute. Our coaches are going to put us in a good position, so we players have to do our part.”

On if the team can pick out the things in film that have led to the way the season is going:
“There are just a few plays that we aren’t making as a team and they are adding up. We aren’t to the point where we can commit very many mistakes. We have to play sound football and execute every week in order to get the `W’ and we haven’t been doing that.”

On how much more a win against Missouri means:
“This is pretty much our championship. We don’t have a bowl game to go to, so this weekend is our championship game.”

Sophomore quarterback Jordan Webb
On possibly playing Missouri for the last time:
“It adds to the magnitude of the game. We know it’s for all the marbles and bragging rights for however many years to come. We’re definitely going to take it to heart and come out and play inspired on Saturday.”

On growing up in Missouri and now being a Jayhawk:
“I have some family members that went to Mizzou. My aunt was a cheerleader there, so it’s kind of funny because we talk back and forth. It’s bragging rights between me and my family also.”

Senior tight end AJ Steward
On playing his final game this weekend:
“It really hasn’t sunk in yet to be honest. The season is so long and the preparation aspects of it, but when I get to the game on Saturday I think it will sink in.”

On the first game versus Missouri after the death of former KU coach Don Fambrough:
“I remember all the years of him coming and giving us a speech before the Missouri game. He really educated me on the rivalry and put the passion into my heart. I’ve always known about the rivalry, especially growing up in St. Louis, but just to hear his perspective on it made me realize that this is bigger than just a game. It’ll be emotional for a lot of people not having Coach Fambrough there, but that should put even more passion in our hearts to play. He really wants us to win this game, especially since it might be the last time we ever play Missouri.”

On if he grew up a Missouri fan:
“When I was growing up I did cheer for Missouri for a few years. I didn’t follow college football a whole lot, but I did when they had Brad Smith (2001-05). I used to play quarterback so I really liked how Brad Smith played quarterback. I’ve had family members attend Mizzou. My cousin is a freshman at Mizzou this year and he wanted me to get him some tickets, but I said no because he’ll probably be wearing Mizzou colors.”

Senior linebacker Steven Johnson
On the Border Showdown:
“It’s a big-time rivalry, there is going to be a lot of emotion out there on the field. There will be a lot of guys getting after it, playing hard on both sides of the ball. It is one of those games where you want to play well for your community and your state.”

On how the KU-MU rivalry has changed in his time at KU:
“It really hasn’t changed one bit. The first time I experienced it I was sitting in the stands and it was pretty brutal. Seeing it from a fan’s point of view was a little crazy. The fans really stand behind their football teams and their universities. Now, playing in it, is a great opportunity to go out there and represent the University of Kansas.”

On where the Kerry Meier catch to win the 2008 game ranks within the rivalry:
“I think that was number one of games that I have been a part of. That was just an epic game. It was snowing and it was a great opportunity to see great players play. Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe, those guys are in the NFL now. There were some great players playing in that game. It was fun, it was epic, it came down to the last second with both teams going hard at it. Luckily we had that blocked kick to come away at the end.”

On this potentially being the last time these teams play:
“It’s not sad. I think somewhere down the road they will play again, but for now, I guess this is how it is going to be. This is like that last battle to the whole war. It has been a long journey and this is going to be the game that will decide it all for awhile and we want to be able to come away with a victory.”

Senior defensive tackle Richard Johnson
On how Coach Fambrough’s passing has effected this game:
“Every year before the Mizzou game he would come and talk to us that Thursday before the game to get us all hyped up and tell us the history about it. I think that is going to be a big thing that the freshmen are going to miss; the history, the legacy of what the MU/KU game means to everyone around here. It’s the same thing though, we have to come out and get a win, because this could be the last time we play MU for a long time. We will remember this one.”

On playing his last game as a Kansas Jayhawk and against Missouri:
“I have thought about that a lot. That rivalry is one of the biggest reasons why I came here, so it is going to be a big game in my life. It will probably set in more after the game, when I walk off (the field), but hopefully we will get that drum. That’s what I want.”

On his thoughts on the rivalry growing up:
“When I choose to commit to KU, I got teased and heckled a lot. From the outside looking in, you just look at it as another game, but when you finally get here and have Coach Fam come in and talk to you about the actual history and how far it goes back it means a lot more with those implications.”