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Monday, March 29, 2010

Gill casts his spell on KU football

New Jayhawk era opens with spring drills

Kansas head coach Turner Gill gathers with the team during spring practice on Sunday, March 28, 2010.

Kansas head coach Turner Gill gathers with the team during spring practice on Sunday, March 28, 2010.

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KU football holds spring practice

The KU football team took to the practice fields Sunday for the first spring practice of the early season. The team returns 17 starters from last year.

Turner Gill interview - Spring practice

Turner Gill fields questions from reporters during KU's spring practice March 28, 2010.

Sunday, after nearly three hours on the field for his first official practice with Kansas University’s football team, KU coach Turner Gill had one final test for his troops.

This, perhaps more than any physical drill or simple instruction, best symbolized what Gill is all about as a football coach. With his team on one knee, huddled in front of him, Gill called on senior place kicker Jacob Branstetter to lead the Jayhawks in one of the team’s new traditions: a letter-by-letter reciting of the team mantra “B.E.L.I.E.V.E.”

B: Believe in each other and the things not yet seen.

E: Empower people by encouragement.

L: Learn and press on toward the goal.

I: Influence by being a positive role model.

E: Expect great effort all the time.

V: Visualize excellence.

E: Enjoy the college football experience.

This same idea served Gill well during his four years at the University of Buffalo and, according to wide receiver Chris Omigie, was one of Gill’s priorities upon arriving at KU.

“It was the first day (he met with us),” Omigie said. “He told us what it was and then he said, ‘Now, I’m going to expect you guys to memorize this before our season is over.’ And he’s going to expect all of us to be able to recite it word-for-word to the rest of the team.

“I’m close,” Omigie continued. “I practice it almost every day. I think I’ve got it down to the second E. I think it’s more just remembering how to spell it than remembering the words of it. Some people just get it mixed up.”

The simple sound of the drill, with its almost military ring, invoked visions of a team that relies on discipline and togetherness. The hooting and hollering that followed — after the “enjoy the college football experience” part — demonstrated that things are a little different around the KU camp these days.

“(Coach Gill) was pretty laid-back,” sophomore running back Toben Opurum said. “You know, there were a couple of mental mistakes, but that’s expected at the first practice. We just went out and played our hearts out like we know he wants us to.”

Added sophomore receiver Bradley McDougald: “The coaches, they were getting after us, but in the right way. It was definitely different, something I can get used to.”

On a sunny day, with temperatures comfortably in the 50s, Gill looked very much like the same man he had been for the past four years at Buffalo. He wore a blue pullover, gray sweatpants and a white hat with blue letters. Of course, the setting, the increased media presence, the players in the helmets and even the other coaches served as constant reminders that Gill no longer was in New York.

As he has with just about everything that has been thrown at him since arriving in Lawrence, Gill greeted his new environment with his head held high and a smile on his face.

“The only word is just exciting,” he said. “It’s an exciting opportunity to be here, to coach in the Big 12 Conference and at the University of Kansas. I’m just excited to get this thing going.”

While a large portion of opening day was a feeling-out process for both players and coaches — what senior defensive back Chris Harris called “a learning practice” — there were a few details that needed to be addressed:

• Linebacker Vernon Brooks, a senior-to-be who played in five games and made five tackles in 2009, has been dismissed from the team. Gill informed the media in his opening statement. “Vernon Brooks has been removed from our football team due to violation of our team policy,” Gill said. “Permanently.”

• Speaking of linebackers, Gill said senior linebacker Drew Dudley, who was rumored to be out for spring drills because of a shoulder injury, was day-to-day and would be limited during the first several practices. “He’s just doing the minimum stuff. We’ll just have to see how he feels. But our trainers are going to make all those calls, and we’ll do the best we can with them. There’s some guys who will be limited. On Wednesday, we’ll give you more of a specific update on where we’re at.”

• Gill said he planned to make good use of the program’s three-year-old practice fields that still look as if they were installed last week. “(In college football), everybody knows what everybody’s doing, and I’m not a person that’s going to be (worried) over somebody watching what we do and how we do it,” said Gill, asked if he was concerned about spies observing practice. “We’ll probably (spend) the majority of the time on the practice fields, but there will be times where we’ll go into the stadium, too.”

• The Jayhawks will return to practice at 3:30 today and also will practice Wednesday, Friday and Saturday to close out the first week of spring drills.

Comments

Jonathan Briles 9 years, 7 months ago

I am really excited for this season. I cannot wait for the 24th of April.

When I first read that Brooks was kicked off the team permanently I was disappointed, but when I think of the fact that this is the second coaching staff to have problems with him I don't think he was someone we wanted to have on the team.

KUFan90 9 years, 6 months ago

njjayhawk - you are correct. I spotted him too. He needs to go a little more incognito.

Drew Alan 9 years, 6 months ago

thank goodness he's going to actually use the practice fields! They took out all that student parking and tailgating space, and Mangino was worried about spies! I like Gill's attitude, no matter how hard you try, people are going to know what you are doing, you just have to do it so well that it can't be stopped. It's not like Mangino did anything "unexpected"... just bubble screens and crossing routes, and inside draw runs, and a soft cover 2 defense. What was he afraid of people seeing?

okiedave 9 years, 6 months ago

njjayhawk - are you referring to the guy with the walker?

d_prowess 9 years, 6 months ago

Wow, you can't help but get excited about the upcoming football season after reading this!

Brad Farha 9 years, 6 months ago

njjayhawk and KUFan90 --

I haven't watched the video, but are you joking about seeing Snyder (or someone who looks like him) watching the practice field. Related to that, did Ron Prince really stake out the practice field when he visited Lawrence. That's pretty wild.

I'm so excited about this year. I know we have a brutal non-conference schedule, so it will be a tough test for Coach Gill. But, I am part of the KU fan base that does in fact B-E-L-I-E-V-E.

MitchumMan 9 years, 6 months ago

Rocn_Chalkn - I wouldn't say we have a brutal non-con schedule, but I am with you that it will be one of our more difficult ones in recent history. If we aren't careful we could start the year 2-2. Let's hope Gill has these kids playing at a high intensity early so we can come into the conference games with a little bit more breathing room.

Funhawk 9 years, 6 months ago

You and I can be winners after losing a football game. Its possible to win the game of life when we b-e-l-i-e-v-e.

Michael Leiker 9 years, 6 months ago

B.A.D.H.I.R.E. - So seriously, it doesn't bother anybody out there off that you have some NU guy coming in that thinks BELIEVE is an appropriate motto for this football team right now? Is there some crisis of confidence that we're not aware of? Do these players not BELIEVE in what can be accomplished? He's still an NU guy and will never be able to get to the point in his mind where he truly sees with his eyes and his heart that KU can be the dominant team in the North. Don't like his tone, or his comments. Kansas really missed an opportunity to bring someone in with an edge that can take a group of upperclassmen that have experienced success and just run with it.

Jetson 9 years, 6 months ago

leikness - who cares if he WAS an NU guy. He bleeds KU blue now. He seems to have the players motivated which is what is important.

drewdun 9 years, 6 months ago

L - Loser E - Excrement I - Idiot K - Knave N - Nobody E - Embarrassment S - Sorry S - Sack of Sh!t

Seriously, you're not a KU FB fan. All you do is crap all over every story about the FB team. Take your garbage to Tigerboard or KSUfans. Nobody wants to hear the same crap you spew over and over and over. Gill hasn't even coached one GD second of a game at KU and all you can do is second guess and belittle him. I pray Gill gets to a bowl game this year, something the previous coach couldn't do in year seven with our supposedly best team in years. In summary, leikness you can GFY. Gill's a winner and will win here, d-bag.

jhokfan 9 years, 6 months ago

Don’t know how common spying is in the college ranks but the penalty for such should be very severe. Study your opponent’s game film. Resorting to Belicheck (sp?) type tactics is the lowest form of sportsmanship.

tgdesign 9 years, 6 months ago

Mangino's version:

B: breakfast burritos. E: Everything on a hoagie bun. L: Lick every speck off your plate. I: I WILL EAT YOU! E: Enjoy the finer things in life like all you can eat buffets. V: Very tasty hot wings. E: Even the players look like candy.

this game is fun!

100 9 years, 6 months ago

Leikness,

he has three national championships on his resume.

And he sent his daughter here...

To be a Jayhawk...

Three years ago!

gardenjay 9 years, 6 months ago

Leikness may enjoy the negative feedback. Trying this approach:

"Leikness, although I disagree with you, you are entitled to your opinions. My view is that Turner Gill was needed after KUAD dumped Mangino unceremoniously, with the added bonus that Gill looks like he keeps in shape. KUAD created an environment where we needed to hire someone else, and I give them credit for hiring someone who seems to set a good example.

However, like Mangino, KUAD is a porker. Unlike Mangino though, KUAD cannot reform, but must now hire attorneys to cover themselves in their latest mess, a new ticket sales scam. Actually, we probably don't know if that really is their latest scandal. Such further wise uses of KU money. Not holding my breath and turning blue for the supposed increased funding from KUAD to KU academics."

jhokfan 9 years, 6 months ago

Originally I had a problem with a Nebraska guy coaching at KU but the fact that he sent his daughter here shows that he has repented.

MitchumMan 9 years, 6 months ago

drewdun - Classic! Thanks for the laugh!

three2b 9 years, 6 months ago

Between Turner Gill's presence and the great, constant football coverage from Matt Tait and kusports.com, this upcoming year already has a good feel to it.

I have to say I'm extremely excited about the spring game and will for sure be there for the first time! RockChalk!

mandomax 9 years, 6 months ago

Man even our practice jerseys are awful this season.

troutsee 9 years, 6 months ago

I sense the excitement for the upcoming FB season to be building. This guy can coach as evidenced by the remarkable turn around at Buffalo. If you can recruit and turn around a down and out program like Buffalo, believe me you can do it at KU too. Thanks to the previous coaching staff, the cupboard is not bare.

Love the L E I K N E S S post. Leikness is Mr. Negative.

Kit Duncan 9 years, 6 months ago

To leikness and anyone else who thinks Gill has no allegiance for KU...

This is a job, a profession. Blue, green, purple, red, black, orange, it doesn't matter what colors the school wears or the name on the players' jerseys. It's the Coach's job to win. If anyone thinks Coach Gill came to KU to wait for the NU job to open up, realize he must win early and often at KU to warrant an offer of a D-1 job at any other school.

If that day happens and KU's record is good enough for Gill to walk away then I say great! Because that day Kansas will be on everyone's list as a school with a winning tradition and the doors will be falling in with prospective coaches looking to come to KU. If Coach Gill wins here and stays then Kansas will be even more blessed. If, Heaven forbid he doesn't produce, then you naysayers will have been correct and KU will be the worse for his hire.

I personally believe Coach Gill, like Coach Self has found a home for as long as the people of Kansas will have him and wish him all the success his basketball counterpart has had and more. Fill Memorial Stadium for every home game and root this fine coach and team on to victory come this Fall!

RCJH !

bradh 9 years, 6 months ago

Don't set your sights too high. I'll be happy with a 5 win season this year. New coaches, new schemes, ... you generally don't get a winner the first year after a new hire. Next season, after they have a chance to establish their schemes, is when I expect to know a little more about how good this coaching staff is. I like what I've seen so far with the coaches, I hope to see the same on the field.

jayhawkintexas 9 years, 6 months ago

I have some additional acronyms for them to recite at every practice: B.L.O.C.K and T.A.C.K.L.E. and finally W.I.N. Come to think of it maybe they should spell out G.O. J.A.Y.H.A.W.K.S., F.I.G.H.T. J.A.Y.H.A.W.K.S, W.I.N. J.A.Y.H.A.W.K.S!!

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