Friday, April 1, 2011

Turner Gill more comfortable as spring drills begin

Head coach Turner Gill purses his lips as he makes his way from the field alongside tight end Bradley Dedeaux (87) and defensive coordinator Carl Torbush following the Jayhawks' 6-3 loss to North Dakota State, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

Head coach Turner Gill purses his lips as he makes his way from the field alongside tight end Bradley Dedeaux (87) and defensive coordinator Carl Torbush following the Jayhawks' 6-3 loss to North Dakota State, Saturday, Sept. 4, 2010 at Kivisto Field.


A little more than 12 months ago, Kansas University football coach Turner Gill strolled out to his new team’s practice fields for the first day of spring drills and tried his hardest to project that he was in control.

It wasn’t that difficult. Basking in the abundant sunshine, Gill smiled his trademark smile, joked around with his new players and spoke a language he knows as well as any — football.

Still, while the pieces from all the other spring football openers he had been a part of were in place, Gill was not completely comfortable.

“It was the unknown last year,” Gill told the Journal-World Wednesday, as he counted down the hours to the start of this year’s spring drills, which begin at 3:45 p.m. today. “Now it’s the known. We’re all a lot more in tune to where we’re at.”

For Gill, that means a greater sense of belonging. It’s his program now. He knows it. The players know it. And everything the Jayhawks do they do because that’s the way Gill wants things to be done. From emphasizing greater focus on mental toughness and explosive movements during the offseason conditioning program to which stretches and drills are done in what order during the pre-practice routine, everything that happens has Gill’s stamp on it.

It’s not just Gill who finds that appealing.

“There is a different feel on both sides; I’m talking from a coach’s perspective and from the players’ perspective,” Gill said. “Now they know what the expectation is, and they know what we do and how we go about doing it. Here’s what we have. Here is where we can improve. And here’s how we’re gonna do it.”

Gill and company spent much of last spring getting used to each other. There was new terminology to learn, new rules to adhere to and different philosophies to be bought and sold.

Though a good chunk of every spring is spent shaking off the rust and getting back into the routine, Gill’s hoping this year’s squad will be able to work more on improving and less on feeling comfortable during the next four weeks.

“Now I know how to approach it and I know my players better,” he said. “We know what we need to do to get them to respond in a better way. We didn’t know that last year.”

There are plenty of questions to answer this spring, but, if year two is anything like Gill’s debut, there is no guarantee any of them will be answered.

Firmly planted atop the list of things to watch this spring is the Jayhawks search for a starting quarterback. Senior Quinn Mecham and sophomore Jordan Webb will be in camp and both have starting experience. They’ll be competing for the job with incoming freshman, Brock Berglund, who graduated high school early, enrolled at KU in January but then had to return home to Colorado for the rest of the semester because of “personal circumstances.”

“It would be helpful and great if Brock was here in the spring,” Gill said. “But it doesn’t deteriorate him possibly having an opportunity to still be the guy in the fall. It’s no different than any other school. A lot of (freshmen) quarterbacks are coming in (in August), too. So it’s no different as far as that goes. We’ll just see how it all plays out.”

That’s the same approach Gill plans to take with all positions. No jobs have been handed out, no players are out of the running. Gill likes to give all of his guys a chance to compete for their spots.

“I just really want to see every position be more productive,” Gill said, when asked which position he was most looking forward to evaluating this spring. “We’ve got to be better as a football team and there’s not one position or another that’s more important. I know everybody’s going to look at the quarterback, and I understand that, but I’m looking more at the areas of offense, defense and special teams. (We want to) identify our playmakers and our leadership development. When you have those things in place, you can move forward in trying to be better individually, better as a unit and then, obviously, better as a football team.”

Tharp back in action

Sophomore linebacker Huldon Tharp, 6-foot, 217 pounds from Mulvane, will be back on the field when the Jayhawks open spring drills this afternoon. Tharp, who earned freshman All-American honors in 2009 after racking up 59 tackles while playing in all 12 games, missed the 2010 season because of a foot injury he suffered last August.

Gill said Wednesday that Tharp was 100 percent and ready for spring ball.

“He’s going, he’s going, ready to go,” Gill said.

Three returnees expected to sit

Gill confirmed Wednesday that three returning Jayhawks would miss spring drills because of injuries.

Junior running back Rell Lewis, 5-9, 205, senior cornerback Isiah Barfield, 5-11, 185, and sophomore offensive lineman Riley Spencer, 6-7, 300, all will sit out of contact drills this spring. Barfield and Spencer are recovering from shoulder surgery, and Lewis is still rehabbing the torn ACL that forced him to miss 2010.


Ben Kliewer 3 years ago

Also, I bet we'll field a better team this year. I would actually be willing to put money on it...HOWEVER, with the altered conference schedule, who knows if we'll be able to tell or not. But instead of wallowing in depression, I raise a glass (of fuzzy naval) to Coach Gill and say "Here's to the 2011 season! Best of luck! Rock Chalk!" Because instead of choosing to hate, I choose to "Believe!" (Hey, it worked for the Royals! it didn't. Oh well. Anyone for "Cowboy Up?")

Call me a hopeless optimist if you will, but like I've said before, it's just a better way to live. But if you prefer to constantly talk about how awful the world is because Turner Gill is the coach, well, enjoy your coronary.


Ben Kliewer 3 years ago

I might as well weigh in...I see it being another long summer of us all calling ahperse and idiot, ahperse calling us all idiots, while the whole time, in actuality, we're all idiots.

p> is pretty awesome though. Concerning Uniforms: Those computer mockups of what we can only assume are the new unis do look pretty nice. At least our guys will be looking sharp this year. Looks like, to my delight, they're bringing the crimson helmet stripe back, and player names on the jerseys. Also seems that they're doing all white pants this year, at least according to the mockups. Of course, this is all speculation, they also have pictures of the current jerseys and pants posted (including the crimson jerseys, where did those go last year?) But what I find very intriguing, from a pointless fashion point of view, is the apparent introduction of a "throwback" off-powder blue jersey with a white helmet (?) The only thing that looks throwback about the jersey is the color, otherwise the design is identical to the other mockups of the whites, crimsons, and blues. Save for the player name on the back of the jersey is replaced by a retro Kansas "K." Also, looks like the white shoes are now white/blue shoes. Which is at least better than straight-up white. Gross.

Alright, now that I'm done talking fashion, I can be a man again... Pass me a fuzzy naval, and for my date, the girliest drink you got. Two fuzzy navals, coming up!


jhawk613 3 years ago

Is the website complete? Some freshman are mentioned (D. Miller), but others are absent (Brock and Dreamius).


Maracas 3 years ago

It's going to be another long season.


KGphoto 3 years ago

Prinz Kande is at linebacker now, at a 194 pounds? This one, single move has really convinced me that TG has sold out on getting faster on defense. I got it when Opurum went from LB to DE. Then WRs started moving to safety. But now a 194 pound safety to LB! He's serious. I think it will work too, because Kande is not only fast but he's physical. He has great cover skills and I bet he plays 2011 at about 205-210 lbs. to help endure the grind. That move could be the single biggest position switch of the season.

Along with a healthy Tharp, and the new guys Tunde Bakare and Malcom Walker, this is gonna be a crazy fast, deep, and well-coached group.

I couldn't help notice the omission of several key players, not the least of which is Lubbock Smith. He seems like another candidate for a switch to LB. Also Darrius Parrish, John Williams. Any word on those guys?


Randy Maxwell 3 years ago

Anyone else notice Duane Zlatnik not being on the O-line list?


jayhawkinnebr 3 years ago

After a downer year with Self, now we can look forward to Gill's football team, what a joy!!!!!!! Will the hurt ever end, maybe Bonnie, o now, not another one. "Go Kansas ST". What was 6-pack Brady doing on the 3 point shot show last night?, What a dork, only made 9 and he ran out of time. Last place in the show, well, that shows what he did with the team. Reed would have been a better choice, my god, Self, get real.


Waylon Cook 3 years ago

Win games and show that we should be on the field with the teams we play=good recruits. A website can only do so much..


Phoggin_Loud 3 years ago

I saw this coming a long time ago...Pick to WR.

He always reminded me of Kerry Meier. Very fast but not a real accurate passer.

I wish him the best.


ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years ago

Gills trademark smile?!? What about his trademark blank emotionless stare on the sidelines?!? Oh, and if Brock (who considers himself a combination of manning, Vick, and tebow) can't deal with his high school girlfriend, how is he going to take the heat of being a big 12/10 qb?


Dirk Medema 3 years ago

Matt - Thanks for the update on Rell also. Sad to hear that he's still recovering, because while RB may be stacked, he has shown the ability to be a playmaker. It would seem there should be someplace for him to play.


Dickless Head 3 years ago

I assumed the headline was an April Fool's joke. I'm sure it actually is.



Joe Joseph 3 years ago

No mention of Kale Pick in the quarterback discussion?


Randy Glenn 3 years ago

Did not mention Kale Pick as a qb candidate-is he moving to another position?


LSHawk 3 years ago

The jersey's on that web site are showing "player" on back of uniform, does that mean our guys will have thier names on the jerseys this year??


TaCityHawkFan 3 years ago

Thanks for the update on Tharp, Matt!


LSHawk 3 years ago

Hox, what web site are you referring to? I'd like to check it out.


kujayhox 3 years ago

i really like the new website for the football team! made me excited about next season.

are those new home, road and alternate jerseys they have on there going to be on the field this year (including names back on the jerseys, the red stripe being back on the helmet AND the jayhawk on the back? cause all that looks really good i think)? and are we keeping the white pants? i still dont know how i feel about those...but i do know that we are going to be a better team than last year. i think what we did against colorado can happen against anyone. i cant wait for the season to start!

rock chalk jayhawk go ku!


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