It’s hard for most of us to imagine how difficult life would be if, all of a sudden, our car became known as our microwave.
But that’s exactly what the Kansas University football team has spent the first few days of spring drills trying to get used to.
See, on top of putting a new face on the program and moving away from some of the harsh realities of the old regime, the addition of Turner Gill has brought with it a new way of communicating on the football field.
“It’s just terminology,” Gill said. “It’s somewhat challenging. There are similar plays to what they’ve done, but we’re calling it something different so guys aren’t automatically reacting to it because you have to wait and say, ‘Does this mean this, does that mean that.’”
The new lingo is common in football circles and Gill and his staff have done their best to provide time for the Jayhawks to pick it up. Still, the first couple of days have sounded a bit like a foreign language to some.
“It’s been pretty difficult,” safety Lubbock Smith said. “They’re giving it to us quick. But I’m pretty sure we’ll get everything down.”
Added wide receiver Erick McGriff: “It’s a lot to think about when you first hear it, but they really ease you into it and there’s not too much pressure. As soon as you get it, you’ve just gotta keep it up, study your playbook and come in ready to work.”
McGriff, a red-shirt freshman and the son of former Major League Baseball standout Fred McGriff, stopped short of providing a glossary of the new terms. Overall, he said the titles of his routes have changed, schemes have been scrapped and several key words and audible indicators also are new.
“They’ve kind of got different names,” he said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
The fresh language is not entirely new for the Jayhawks. Gill said they began introducing it in meetings about a month ago. But hearing words in a meeting room and acting them out on the field are two entirely different things.
“They’re still thinking,” Gill said. “And that’s going to happen throughout this whole spring practice. It probably won’t hit until maybe mid-preseason camp as they get a lot of reps.”
One group that already has plenty of practice in this department is Gill’s staff. Gill and his nine assistant coaches essentially have had since the first of the year to take care of the tongue twisters that now make up the Kansas playbook.
“If you add up all the years on our coaching staff, there’s really not any terminology out there we haven’t heard,” offensive coordinator Chuck Long said.
Beyond that, Long said the chemistry on the new staff made the process even easier.
“There’s a lot of experience,” he said. “It’s one of the best staffs I’ve been on in terms of that. Our meetings have been smooth, guys just know what they’re doing. So there’s not a lot to go over. They really just pick it up so fast.”
That’s the goal for the players, who, after a slow start, believe moving forward soon will come easier.
“You do have to learn a whole new offense, but it’s just football, same old stuff you’ve been running since you were a little kid,” McGriff said.
Gill and the Jayhawks will wrap up the first week of spring drills with a 3:30 p.m. practice today and another on Saturday.