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Monday, November 29, 2010

Keegan

Better seasons await for KU football

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Lost amid the rubble of blowout losses for the Kansas University football team that finished 3-9 lies an encouraging sign. The defense should improve as soon as next season.

Three players who came into the summer as offensive players eventually were switched to defense, and all three will be counted on as cornerstones in 2011.

Toben Opurum’s switch from running back to linebacker in August didn’t go as smoothly as his mid-season move to defensive end. Opurum was missed at running back, particularly during a season-opening loss to North Dakota State, and he has the ingredients to become an effective tight end. Yet, his ceiling appears highest at defensive end, and it’s where he’s needed most, especially with the emergence of James Sims and the promise of red-shirt Brandon Bourbon.

True freshman Keeston Terry’s switch from receiver to safety coincided with Opurum’s move to linebacker. In three games before a season-ending injury, Terry became the answer to the question: Who is the most likely player to develop into a high-round NFL Draft choice? He has that radar athletes either have or don’t, that quality that moves them efficiently to the right spot at the right instant.

Bradley McDougald played on both sides as a freshman, started his sophomore season at receiver and played the final two games at safety, where he’ll stay put. The Terry-McDougald tandem, with Lubbock Smith in reserve, makes this the strongest position.

Playmaker Tyler Patmon should be ready for every-down duty at cornerback. Isiah Barfield, burned routinely early, improved as the season progressed, and Greg Brown played well late.

The front seven look neither as strong nor as deep as the secondary, but with a productive offseason, hope exists for improvement.

Steven Johnson is the lone returning starter at linebacker, where undersized Huldon Tharp, sidelined by injury in 2010, will contend for a spot.

Look for Darius Willis to emerge as the team’s best at the position. A 6-foot-3, 243-pound middle linebacker out of Houston, Willis started four games (two at MLB, two outside) at Buffalo and missed the rest of his freshman season with a torn pectoral muscle. Recruited by several Big 12 schools out of high school, the Houstonian followed Gill to Kansas.

A year of working on technique will enable Opurum to use his strength and quickness to put more heat on the quarterback. Keba Agostinho played as a true freshman, and with a year in the weight room could lock down the starting job at the other end.

Experienced defensive tackles John Williams, Richard Johnson Jr., Patrick Dorsey and Kevin Young will be pushed by players eligible for their first taste of Big 12 football. Should he work himself into better condition, Young could become the best of the bunch.

The defense’s most important work takes place in the offseason. If the players run so much and work so hard in the weight room that they’re pushed to their breaking points, and the coaches chart where each player’s breaking point is so that they’ll know which can be counted on to battle the hardest against more talented Big 12 teams, better seasons await.

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jhwkfan162515 3 years, 4 months ago

I'm neutral on Coach Gill at this stage. 3-9 overall, 1-7 Big 12 (and one really good fourth quarter vs. Colorado away from being 2-10 and 0-8). Some glimmers of hope against the upset of Georgia Tech and the epic win over Colorado. Bad showings against mediocre teams like Baylor and Kansas State. And of course, that epic fail against North Dakota State.

The Big 12 (minus 2) is going to get harder, when we have to play ALL the teams from Oklahoma and Texas every year. So Gill needs to get better players and get more wins. Otherwise, not only are we going to lose games, but we're going to have players seriously injured.

Step it up, Coach Gill! The Big 12-minus-2 will have no mercy!

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yovoy 3 years, 4 months ago

What struck me most about everything above - including the article - is that there are some people that can actually speak and be heard defending Coach Gill. Loud-mouths, and malcontents were bogging down any realistic discussion that might have been able to have happened. I want our coach to succeed: what's good for Him is good for our FB program. I'm with the people that are willing to let it play out a little bit BEFORE going nuts about firing him. I'm sure there's a core reason that some on here want him gone, but you'll never see it mentioned by the spoil-sports. I'm just glad that seemingly since the season ended that there's more engagement with concern to our program.

My hat is off to the cooler heads above. Please count me among your ranks.

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actorman 3 years, 4 months ago

"Both try their best to belittle other universities by streaching the true, just to build up NU, which we know is not correct. Best bet is not to believe everything you see in the LJS, it is the most inferiority and missleading new media around."

To say you're a complete idiot would be an incredible insult to complete idiots. Do you have any concept of how the English language works? When you write something so stupid, it undermines any hint of credibility you may have.

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newjayhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

They need to empty the doggone DB starters and second team and start fresh ! You guys must high ! They were not good in any sense of the word good! Baylor passed for 440 yds thru the air! 410 by OSU ! 300 by Texas A & M ! 330 by Colorodo ! USM only had 195 , but they had a 90 yarder and a couple of more big gains called back because of penalties ....thank God! KSU , Missouri had at least 180 yds....Gee wiz! The defense as a whole gave up 5100 freaking yards....again. If you guys think this is improvement then I now see why this is a MF Basketball school and should join a BB super conference . The people in Lawrence are by far some of the most nice people I have ever encountered and deserve better than this. The offense was absolutely one dimensional! All the opposing defenses had to to do was stop or limit James and the game was over! If they don't get a threat besides James , next year will be a complete catastrophe. The ONLY hope for KU ...is for the conference to lose a lot of studs to the NFL. Kansas needs to get some physical , in your face , don't give a F athletes to counter the souths' dominance. Last year when Gill came he signed at least 10 kids with a minimum of seven credible offers....This year he's getting all these kids with one offer from KU or Tulsa....He better do what Troy Aikman says on his commercial and "GET REAL"! Jacorey Shephard is the

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mikehawk 3 years, 4 months ago

Anyone who knows anything about football at the collegiate, or pro level, knows you cannot judge a program and its coaching/recruiting/drafting after one year, and maybe not two. This team made progress during the year. And yes, next year we should be able to see even more progress in all areas, but for now we need potential recruits reading about support for Gill and his staff, not "what a lousy coach he is." I think some of the more football shallow fans look at Gill's demeanor on the sidelines and because he isn't running up and down yelling like Stoops and Pelini, they translate that into the guy doesn't know what he is doing. For those fans, see Tony Dungy. The law of equifinality states "there are many, many ways to accomplish the same thing."

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troutsee 3 years, 4 months ago

Great article, Keegan. Your comments are very insightful. Hope you are right. You made a lot of good points.

As far as you Gill haters are concerned, only time will tell. Even though I was very disappointed by our season, I am reminded that we finished with seven straight losses last year, even with a gifted, although gimpy, QB. You might as will stop your fire-Gill talk. Only a complete idiot would fire him at this point.

I'm behind you, coach. Go out and complete this recruiting class with some big time players and let's get it on next year.

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JayHok 3 years, 4 months ago

I really think Jayhawk nation need to wrap our head around what Gill's mission is here. He's not trying to outrecruit Colorado, Missouri and Iowa State. He's trying to out-recruit Alabama, Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and USC.

From day one he said that. I'm not sure if we even have a 3 or 4 star yet but we must understand his vision that is shared with his coaching staff.

Whether he will be successful or not in this vision, well he has five years to prove it. Certainly he can't be judged on his first year coaching a team that had just lost seven in a row.

Time will tell. Recruiting is all that matters in college football. If you need a punt return coach, you get the punt return coach. Recruiting bigtime players is the magical key. To do that you need a magical message to parents and players and great facilities.

Gill very well could be that man. How can we know yet? We don't! But it sure seems to me judgement doesn't come until we see Gill taking down the Floridas and Nebraska's and Ohio States occassionay in recruiting.

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Fred Davis 3 years, 4 months ago

I don't care if Bill Parcells was coaching this team - the talent is scarce. I'm convinced that part of TGill's incessant recruiting message during his introductory presser wasn't hyperbole but a veiled way of saying - "this team sucks and I'm going to have to recruit in order to keep my job here."

Hell, Carl Torbursh told the KC Star that they needed to recruit better players - ever heard a coach come out and say that before..? Mangino did no favors with the last few recruiting classes and we'll see what TGill and Crew are gonna do with a 3-9 year under their belt in attracting future Jayhawks... And let's not get overly wrapped up in the star system - Anthony Collins was a 3-star and Aqib Talib was a 2-star guy... They turned out okay... But most importantly for KU is whether or not they can get a QB, because without a decent quarterback - which the Jayhawks don't reliably have, TGill will be gone midway through season three if he hitches himself to Jordan Webb... I'm as disappointed any KU fan about how KU Football looked this year, but - gulp - I'm going to give T-FeelGood-Gill the beneift of the doubt this season and we'll see what kind of football coach he comes back as next season... Because players aren't the only ones who get better during the offseason....

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gdoggwr 3 years, 4 months ago

yah!!! lets get him. Fire Turner Gill!!! Run him out of town!!! We all know that the head coach's first year tells us everything we could possibly need to know about his coaching and recruiting potential. I mean just look at history, Glenn Mason was 1-10 his first year, Terry Allen was 5-6 his first year, and Mark Mangino was 2-10 his first year...

hmmm, maybe it does take more that a year to be successful. and say what you will, they way last year ended, with an 7 game skid and a coach run out of town by an AD who then retired really quick before questions started flying... Gill didn't exactly inherit the defending champs here or anything.

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Ben Kliewer 3 years, 4 months ago

Seriously...we are one game back from Texas in conference record and two games back in overall record. Does nobody else find that hilarious?

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midhawktx 3 years, 4 months ago

I really hope we have a much better year next year as this year has been miserable to follow. My questions are: will we compete with enthusiasm every game and be in shape to play four quarters? That is something that I don't think any fan, player, or coach can say happened this year consistently.

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caribhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

bb73, I'll take Texas record this year and over time for KU....And their No. 1 national recruiting class...

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jayhawkinnebr 3 years, 4 months ago

Next year Gill will have to show some respectability, after what he did this year to the team.

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Maracas 3 years, 4 months ago

There's nowhere to go but up, really. KU could have paid someone with Gill's sketchy qualifications a whole lot less to have similar results and similar prospects.

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Steve Corder 3 years, 4 months ago

Is there no perspective? For all you hyper critical "I want it now" type of people, consider Mack Brown at UT. He has money, facilities, tradition, fan support....name it and UT can claim it, and his team was more disappointing than KU. UT was a preseason top-5 and managed only one more conference win than Gill's kids. UT had the same coaching staff that almost brought them a national title less than a year before. Yet some how Gill is a coaching nightmare?

I don't know the inticacies of major college sports' programs, but I do know that successful organizations take time to find the right people for the right spots, especially for a new CEO taking over a wounded organization.

Gill may or may not be the right man, but all this chatter (since the N Dakota State loss) about his lack of (fill-in-the-blank) is foolishness.

Personally, I like the man's demeanor, and I believe he'll make adjustments to bring respectability to the program....on and off the field.

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Tony Bandle 3 years, 4 months ago

I know, I know..it's tough to feel optimistic after a 3-9 season but we are living that dream of enhanced team strengths here in St.Louis with the Rams.

Having gone 3-12, 2-14 and 1-15 the last three years, it was difficult to even imagine being in first place after Thanksgiving. Granted the Rams have many holes and the NFC West just sucks beyond words, but we are just one example that given hard work and smart planning, anything can be accomplished.

I honestly can't say if Turner Gill is the guy, but last year, at this time we were saying the same things about Ram Coach, Steve Spagnolo.

I say, let's give HCTG another season to show improvement.

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FSUJHAWK 3 years, 4 months ago

I agree with the title, I'm just not sure when it will happen-considering the revved up schedule thanks to NU and CU bolting.

Only time will tell whether HCTG is the right person for the job. He needs the unwavering support of the student-athletes, administration and fans. With his personality I'm sure he has the support of the former but I'm not so sure about the latter. Yes, I said time and support. Ask M. Mangino, B. Bowden, T. Osborne, etc what time and support can do for a program.

I'll say this again, if Misery can support G. Pinkel for 2+ years of losing KU and its fans must be able to do better!

RCJHGKU!!!

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jayhawkinnebr 3 years, 4 months ago

The cupboard wasn't bear for Gill. There is talent and speed on this team, but when you have poor coaching then it looks like talent and speed are missing. Players need to know their roles and that was missing. Gill wasn't that involved in recruiting here in Nebr. If Gill is still here, then next year he will know what it is like going against all the south teams. Indiana has an opening for a head coach Turner, interested?????!

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Dyrk Dugan 3 years, 4 months ago

as the general theme of the article states, yes, better seasons await....but competitive football records might not...at least in the short term.

the d-line will improve, because we'll actually have one year of stability. everyone realizes that this group, just had its fourth position coach in four years? (next year will be the first time since '06-'07, that the coach will be the same.)

That's a lot of new techniques, language, jargon and overall strategery that players have to absorb...and i can't imagine how that translates into your overall preparation. I would say it's not positive.

Yes, the defense will be better with the injured players coming back....but what about the schedule? the schedule just got a lot tougher....(next year, we add UT, TTech and OU...and lose CU and NU.) That's why i was fairly stunned the Big 12 didn't lock down NU and CU thru next year....not only for overall league stability, but selfishly, it would have given KU another year without OU and UT. But it is what it is, and if KU goes 3-6 in the league next year, that's a good mark.

with a legitimate big time college QB, this team will be better next year...but it's overall record not too much better. i don't think you'll see anything really substantial from this program until 2012 or 2013...and truly, with what was in the cupboard, that's not too bad.

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Mark Lindrud 3 years, 4 months ago

Next year's schedule will not be easy, but that is the way things go. We can have improvement on defense, which I do agree the Toben, Keeston and Bradley moves look really good. We have a season under our belts and the players know what is expected. I do hope Gill learned from this season and the offseason program shows the changes needed.

Offense should improve also because we do have a lot of young WR's, but I will admit we still do not have a go to WR so that is a concern. The offensive line will be better with the healthy linemen returning. Also, the guys know what is expected and understand the program better. Sims and Bourbon, enough said about the RB's and that is a good thing.

QB, well that is a mess at the moment and even if Stoudt comes in and is the stud we are hoping for the offensive line must be heads and shoulders better than this season. All that being said a team usually gets the most improvement the second season under a good coach and yes I said good coach. Next year we find out if Gill is a good coach because the team will be more to his liking with the system in place and the players knowing the expectations. We can be critical as we all have been, but now it is time to see if this team is moving up or staying put.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 4 months ago

Better season await until you realize we have to play all of the south teams.

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Andy Tweedy 3 years, 4 months ago

Can anybody tell me whatever happened to Darius Parrish? I see him on the roster, but he STILL isn't mentioned in the DL rotation, even in this article. Mangino played the guy as a true freshman, and he is massive. Is this all a result of his brush with the law?

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KU_FanSince75 3 years, 4 months ago

Better seasons await? For Gill's continued employment at KU, it better get better! I am anxious to see how many fans continue to support 3-9 campaigns. The way you explained Keegan, KU will be much improved. I do really hope so.

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caribhawk 3 years, 4 months ago

JayHok, take 5 minutes and inform yourself about KU recruiting so far, its not very good, a bunch of 2 and 3 star recruits! See Rivals.com for an objective review. KU is rated 9th out of the 12 Big 10 teams for 2011 recruits (K-State is rated 8th). So far, TG can't even out-recruit Snyder or 8 other teams, & that was supposed to be TG's one strength. Out of 18 recruits, 6 are offensive linemen and 4 are defensive backs, which KU needs. But KU has zero defensive line recruits, KU's defensive line is not very good, where are the recruits? KU only has one 4-star recruit (running back Miller) and K-State has two 4-star recruits. KU's recruiting is almost done, they have 18 recruits so far, the same number they had last year. Hopefully, KU is in line for at least 5 or 6 more good recruits, but who knows, its late & I assume most good recruits have committed by now. I know they are after the stud Juco transfer QB Stoudt, and he has some interest in KU, but we all know how Juco transfer QB Meachem worked out this year despite much higher expectations. Mangino coached these types of 2 and 3 star recruits up to 4-star levels, I doubt TG can do that, but we'll see.

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kansas22 3 years, 4 months ago

Better seasons await... Could it really get worse? Gill better hope better seasons await. I agree it's too early to come to any accurate conclusion on how good of a coach Gill can be at Kansas, but let's just say he didn't impress ANYONE in year number one. Get rid of the ridiculous rules (girls after 10pm, no cussing, cell phones, names on jerseys) and recruit better players. I think if the players played as hard as they did in the last quarter of the Colorado game, we could have been okay. That same heart they played with then simply wasn't there pretty much the majority of the season. Find a way to motivate the players to play harder for you. Better seasons await... Yeah. I'd freaking hope so.

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Sean Rodger 3 years, 4 months ago

So at the KU-misery game I was talking with the guy next to me. He was telling me that he was talking with one of the football players (particularly about the Baylor - then ksu games). He was informed that Gill gave them 5 days off from football while he was out recruiting.

If you remember....the stretch between the end of the Baylor game to the ksu game was 11 days. ELEVEN DAYS they had to prepare for ksu - they used 6. WOW! No wonder why this team and coaching staff look unprepared and lost on the field and sidelines!

Things can get a little worse, but here's to hoping they get much better!

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JayHok 3 years, 4 months ago

Can't believe the type of recruits Gill is bringing already. We will be a damn fast team with a massive line it looks like. Pair those physical traits with a character he is instilling which we indeed saw in a 21 point 2nd half comeback against Colorado and it looks like we should have quite a nice football future coming our way.

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KU_Alumn_2000 3 years, 4 months ago

Coach Gill you got my support...along with many others!!!

I like moving some athletes over to defense...it would be nice to have a nasty defense in the coming years with speed and physicality.

Still think our defense is only as good as the defensive line. Unfortunately we have struggled to recruit decent linemen on the defensive side of the ball.

The offense should be improved with the talented line we have coming in next year...combined with the veteran experience of guys like Tanner H.

Agree with Keagen...better seasons lie ahead for this program.

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HawkfromHays 3 years, 4 months ago

Better seasons await only after Gill is relieved of his duties.

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