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Cliff's Notes: Turner Gill press conference, 11/15/11
With Jesse Newell out in the Big Apple with the rest of the basketball bunch, we turned to our new prep reporter Benton A. Smith to handle this week's Cliff's Notes from KU football coach Turner Gill's pre-Texas A&M news conference.
Here are some of the highlights from Gill's latest meeting with the media.
KU (2-8 overall, 0-7 Big 12) will play at Texas A&M (5-5, 3-5) at 11 a.m. Saturday in College Station, Texas.
• Reflecting on the overtime loss to Baylor, Gill was proud of the seniors, who showed great leadership. He also thought young players gained experience and were productive. The team is showing work ethic, commitment to culture of building a winning program.
• On the offensive side, after Baylor tied it up Jayhawks came down the field, showed resilience and confidence with score in overtime. That shows they are moving in right direction. On special teams, KU won the battle, and is showing progress. The defense created nine turnovers in last three games. That gives KU a greater chance of winning.
• Safety Bradley McDougald has been creating plays, causing turnovers. He moved from free safety to strong safety this year. The game has slowed down for him. He sees things and reacts. It's still his first year playing on the defensive side of the ball.
• Running back Darrian Miller has done a great job as a young guy. The game is slowing down for him. Being here in spring helped him. He has taken care of the ball. Miller's a hard runner who carries the ball with determination.
• KU has to stay the course as it goes into A&M. There are no new injuries to report.
• On Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman: Gill is very familiar with him due to their time on Green Bay Packers staff. Sherman is a great offensive mind. Aggies will do a lot of play-action, take some shots down field. Another good offensive football team in the Big 12, the Aggies average over 500 yards.
• Gill went to Green Bay trying to be wide receivers coach, ended up in a player development position, helping with young players transitioning to NFL, and serving as a liaison between players and coaches. Sherman was very organized in everything he did, Gill got to zero in on that and it taught him a lot.
• Familiarity with Sherman: Sherman knows what Gill knows and Gill knows what Sherman knows. That kind of cancels out any kind of advantage for either staff. KU will be facing a good front seven. Jayhawks will try to find match-ups where KU may have an advantage, maybe a certain offensive lineman or wide receiver. And also try to address positions where they may be vulnerable.
• A&M defense leads nation in sacks. The Aggies play a 3-4 up front, and that will be a little different to see. They try to cause a lot of havoc for the opposing offense.
• With two games left, the number one priority is playing guys who give KU the best chance to win. The Jayhawks will not necessarily play youngest guys to give them time
• KU is going to have to build on good things that have occurred in the past two losses. Continue to work, coach, believe. When adversity hits, how do you respond?
• The Kansas defense has been more effective past two weeks, which is a credit to players and coaches. They are staying the course, and simplifying a few things on defensive side of the ball. Bottom line: Put the guys in position where they have a chance to play fast. He wants to see that when they watch tape on Sunday.
• Big 12 teams are going to move the ball. You have to create turnovers. When you do that, it brings momentum to team. KU has been more successful of late, because the Jayhawks are staying the course, continuing to work at it. Players have stayed engaged with coaches and vice versa.
• Kyle Field has a noise factor more so than some other places KU will travel to. Players shouldn't be too affected by it. Maybe some guys from Texas will go to their home state and try to do to much, that's a bigger thing to worry about. Gill first went there with SMU, a couple times with Nebraska. The press box was shaking. That was really the only thing that may have been a little unusual. His younger sister, Jackie, graduated from A&M. He joked he will have to see which side of the fence she will be on.
• A&M leaving the Big 12 doesn't have much impact on KU players or coaches and how they will play. They will put together a game plan like any other week.
• Kicking duties: Ron Doherty could be doing both kickoffs and field goals/extra points, but it hasn't yet been determined.
• The Aggies' offense starts with quarterback Ryan Tannehill. He really makes it go. He's great at reading defenses and making reads needed to be successful.
• KU QB Jordan Webb's confidence at this point is good. In the last couple games there have been a few plays that didn't go his way. They just need to eliminate those scenarios where a bad play is more probable.
• Gill was animated in the fourth quarter of Baylor game. You get emotional in games sometimes. He was just reacting to what happened on the field. Excitement is part of football.