Weekly Press Conference

Nov. 23, 2010

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S. Johnson | Webb | Strozier | Steward | Young

Weekly Press Conference

Kansas Football

Nov. 23, 2010 – Lawrence, Kan.

Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill

Opening Statement:

“I’m excited. This week is here: The Missouri game. I can remember myself in (my introductory) press conference ready for that, (saying) ‘Beat Missouri’ is one of our goals each year. It got turned on pretty quick, right after the Oklahoma State game my heart, and everything is ready to get this one going. This is for our fans, this is for our alumni; this is for our players. On Sunday, they were very spirited, they were upbeat, they were focused; they were ready. And we as coaches were ready. So that was a very exciting time. I’ve already got a sense of what this is all about, this Border Showdown, so I’m excited about that. I hope you’ve already sensed that in my voice. I think our players have already sensed that in my voice, I’ve already sensed that in their body language and their voices too of what this is all about. You guys probably know more about it than I do, but I am excited about this opportunity to represent Kansas here against Missouri.”

“Some more details on Missouri, our opponent: They’re a very good football team. Gary Pinkel is very well respected in the coaching profession. I tip my hat off to him for what he has done there for the last 9-10 years. It starts with his offense. His offense has always been very, very good. They have another good quarterback in (Blaine) Gabbert. He throws the ball extremely well and has a very strong arm. The other thing about him is that he will take off running and he can run. So he’s not just a thrower – he can take off running and make some plays there with his legs.”

“Defensively, I think that’s where they really have made improvements. I was at Buffalo and so we played them there a year or two ago, so I have played against Missouri during the last couple years. But their defense is fast, they run well; they get off blocks. They do create pressure on the quarterback; when you’re throwing well they’ve played well against the run. But I think their biggest stat is their scoring. I think they’ve given up 16 or 17 points or less in every game.

“But I think the one big stat that probably makes a difference is a +10 in the turnover margin. That stat right there says it alone. It’s probably been the difference of this season for both teams. We tip our hat off to them, but again, we’re going to hopefully change around here in our game. That stays with the keys to the game – that is the turnover margin. We have to win that. We win that, and there’s going to be some great things happening.”

The second thing is, as we have looked back at our last 11 games that we’ve played, the one common denominator is in the three games we’ve won, (freshman running back) James Sims has had over 100 yards in all three of those games. So that’s something that we’ve seen that has pushed us forward to get Ws, so we’ll see if we can get that done.”

“Again, we’re excited about this opportunity and this is one of the reasons I chose to come to the University of Kansas.”

On the effect that winning the Border Showdown has on recruiting:

I think anytime you win games it’s always good. It’s always good to play Missouri. Obviously, we’re going to be recruiting against similar people that they’re recruiting against us. So this could give us an edge.”

On understanding the history of the rivalry in his first season at KU:

“My daughter (Jordan, who attends KU) has talked to me about it. She’s told me about it since she decided to come to the University of Kansas, so I’ve had two or three years just from the perspective of a student. And obviously, fans have talked to me periodically about it and just people I’ve talked to since I’ve been out in the community. Even just being in the conference, I’ve always seen it from afar. But I get a lot more excitement about it being involved and here now. Every day there’s going to be a little more involvement, and we’re here to get this thing done the right way.”

On what his daughter told him about this game:

“‘Dad, you better win this one.'”

On what a win in the final game of the season would mean:

“It would help. I’m not going to sit here and say that it’s going to be just totally overjoyed. We set our goals to have an opportunity to be the Big 12 North Champions and play in the Big 12 Championship game, win that and go to a bowl game – all those things. But it’s always good to finish on a good note and winning a football game, particularly your rival game. So I think it will make up for some, but it isn’t going to make up for all of what has occurred here in this football season, but I think it will help us to move forward as we continue to build this football program to be a winning one.”

Junior Defensive Tackle Richard Johnson

On if the game versus Missouri is still a big game:

“It’s always a big game no matter what the records are. We’re just trying to end the season strong, end on a win and send the seniors off on a good note.”

On if Coach Turner Gill has a feel for how important the rivalry game versus Missouri is:

“He said when he got here a lot of people talked to him about this game. He’s been preaching to us since our last game to get ready for Mizzou week and go to Kansas City and get a ‘W.'”

On growing up in Missouri but attending Kansas:

“I always watched the rivalry game on TV and went to a couple games. Growing up I guess I just had a change of heart. I’m in the right place.”

Freshman Defensive End Kevin Young

On if the comments made by people on online bulletin boards makes the team fired up:

“Yes, definitely. It makes us want to come out fired up. We’re already fired up since it’s our rival but then you hear stuff like that and that fires us up even more to try and come out and prove people wrong who think Mizzou is going to sweep us because of our records.”

On what a win versus Missouri would mean:

“It would be huge, especially being against Mizzou. Also, going into the offseason with a win would help us build toward next year and continue to get better.”

On getting to play at an NFL stadium:

“It’s definitely a big perk getting to play on an NFL field. I’m a Chiefs fan, too, so that’s exciting for me. And to play right in our backyard on a neutral field, I’m looking forward to it.”

Junior Linebacker Steven Johnson

On people saying the Missouri game is the one game all year the team needs to win:

“I’ve heard that plenty of times. It’s just one game, but it’s a big game. Our season hasn’t quite been the greatest season right now, but I’m trying to finish strong.”

On how the team uses being the underdog to its advantage:

“We’ve always used it to our favor. We’ve been the underdog predominantly the whole year. We can use anything to our advantage right now. It just keeps throwing fuel to our fire. We’re resilient enough and we’re going to go out there and be relentless.”

On what a win would do as far as summing up the season:

“It would get everything going in a positive direction. We could go into the offseason feeling good about ourselves. We just have to believe in ourselves and work hard, go out there and get the job done. It’s a long offseason and we have a great strength and conditioning staff and coaches to put us in the position to win. I think we’ll be fine if we get this win this week. It would turn everything around, get everybody feeling good and (allow us to) go into the offseason with a step.”

Junior Tight End AJ Steward

On preparing for the Border Showdown:

“The Boarder Showdown is very special and it’s just another feeling preparing for the game. It is just another game, but it is far more than just a game for Jayhawk fans and Missouri fans. It is a personal rivalry and there is a lot of traditional with the rivalry. It is a big deal and I am a St. Louis guy so when I go back home it is a big deal when we win, but when we lose they give me a tough time about it. I have been waiting for this for all year.”

On his Thanksgiving Day plans:

“I am probably going to go home. I live only four hours away, but if I don’t make it home I will just go to one of my teammates’ houses. I plan on having a good meal either way.”

On how the weather impacts the Border Showdown:

“I haven’t looked at the weather, so I am not sure what the weather will be on Saturday, but last year it was as good as it could be. Ideally, you want to be playing in perfect weather like that, but we are also prepared for in playing in cold weather because we practice in this weather. We would prefer to play in weather like last year, but you just never know what you are going to get.”

Junior Wide Receiver Daymond Patterson

On how the outcome of the Missouri game will affect the season:

“No matter what the records are going into the KU-Mizzou game, the winner will always feel a lot better at the end of the game. We are trying to go out there and win this game because it would make the season feel a little bit better.”

On Coach Gill turning his attention to the Border Showdown following the OSU game:

“He immediately said just to try to concentrate on Missouri. He said we would look at what happened in our last game, but after that it is all about Missouri because it is Missouri week. This is one of the biggest games of the year.”

On the coaching staff understanding the rivalry with Missouri:

“I think a lot of the coaches are excited because it is one of the first things they heard about when they first got here. They were given “Beat Mizzou” shirts when they first got here so I think they picked up the importance of the game quickly. They know all about the KU-Missouri rivalry and they are all excited.”

Redshirt Freshman Quarterback Jordan Webb

On growing up in the state of Missouri:

“I never really took sides in the rivalry. All my friends and family are going to be able to watch the game so it will be really cool. I mean all of my friends have been talking about this game for a really long time and everybody is really excited about it.”

On playing in and starting in his first Border Showdown game:

“It’s exciting because I am going to get to start. It will be fun. I am definitely excited. Like I said, I have been looking forward to this game all season. I hoped to be starting and I wasn’t completely sure I would, but when I found out I was definitely happy. I just found out earlier today.”

On if he needs to prove anything to Missouri:

“I am where I am at (Kansas) and I am happy about it. I am definitely happy to be here in Kansas. You always have to play like you have something to prove whether it is to your opponent, to your teammates or to yourself. I don’t feel any added pressure. This game is about a lot more than me. It is a huge event for the state and the University. For me personally it is just a huge game and a must win.”