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Nov. 22 Cliff's Notes — Turner Gill press conference 11/22/11
With Jesse Newell kicking back in Maui, we turn to Journal-World preps reporter Benton Smith for this week's version of Turner Gill Cliff's Notes from Tuesday's press conference.
Here are a few highlights from Gill's comments at the media session before the Kansas University football team's 2:40 p.m. Saturday Border Showdown with Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium, in Kansas City, Mo.
• On the Border Showdown — This has been a great, historic rivalry. Gill thinks KU has a chance to finish the season on a good note in this prestigious rivalry game. KU has endured some up and downs but everyone is committed to getting better and this week is no different.
• On the Tigers: Mizzou's offense is different this year. Their QB, 6-foot-2 sophomore James Franklin, is going to take off and run much more often than Blaine Gabbert, now with the Jacksonville Jaguars, did. The Tigers can run the ball and throw the ball well. The Mizzou defense moves a lot with its fronts and secondary, pre-snap.
•The key to the Jayhawks' past three or four games have been ball security. KU must create turnovers and must win special teams to get a victory against Mizzou. Plus, KU will have to play well early.
• This is the last Border Showdown for the foreseeable future and it will be a well-remembered game because of that. That brings about a little bit more significance for this game. It will leave a good legacy for whichever team wins the game. With series tied at 55-55-9 (at least in KU's record books), that makes it even more significant.
• KU will do what it needs to do to win the game. Kansas is not necessarily going to take a strange new approach as far as trick plays and the like.
• Gill thought the execution wasn't there at A&M, but the effort was there.
• Last year was Gill's first time experiencing the Border Showdown. It has a history that is passed down from the upperclassmen to the underclassmen. Plus, fans and everyone else around the program is keyed in on this game. That makes it more intense than another game or week. It's something that will get more talk after the fact because of that.
• Saturday will mark the last game for KU's seniors and Gill wants them to think they have reached their full potential when they are done, from a football standpoint as well as students and members of the community. If they can leave with all that being true, the KU staff has done its job in preparing them for what lies ahead.
• Gill's coaching approach has not changed much this year because of its struggles. If it has changed at all, it is in the way he and other coaches have challenged players more of late to make sure they are getting the most out of the players. There have been ups and downs and it is positive when players respond in a good way to either of those. KU hasn't made the kind of overall progress that the staff has aimed for, but for the most part, Gill has not changed his approach.
• Gill understands fans might not see progress in the program and that is frustrating. Gill doesn't sugar-coat things with the players about how they are doing. Players are told when they play well and when they don't. KU's second-year head coach looks at the program and tries to compare it to Kirk Ferentz's program at Iowa, which probably comes with offensive coordinator Chuck Long's connection with the Hawkeyes. Iowa was 4-19 in Ferentz's first two years leading that program. It took some time to get Iowa going in the right direction. In the third or fourth year as a staff, you can start to see improvements.
• KU will not wear special uniforms this week for the Border Showdown. They try to do something like that once a year and they wore the throwbacks giving honor to John Hadl earlier this season, against Texas Tech.
• With Missouri leaving the conference, at this point it is hard to think about the void that will be left in the Big 12. Gil has not talked much with the players about it being the final Big 12 meeting for the rivals. He might get into it more later this week. Gill has been more concerned with being prepared from football standpoint.