Credit Kansas University football coach Turner Gill with consistency. He arrived in Lawrence from Buffalo sharing a one-word acronym, and there he stood again Tuesday touting the same.
“As we prepare for this game, I know we’re referring to our mission statement,” Gill said. “As we know about the word ‘believe,’ it’s something that you got to carry on and keep you moving forward, and I know that’s what our players are (doing) and our coaching staff.”
One of Gill’s first assignments for his players was to have them memorize what each letter in the word ‘believe’ stands for in his mission statement.
“The first letter of the word believe is ‘B,’ (and it stands for) believe in each other and things not yet seen, and that’s kind of where we’re at,” he said.
Things not yet seen, such as sound tackling. If you don’t believe you can tackle, you never will, but if you believe you can, that doesn’t guarantee you will.
“A good quote that I kind of looked up here, and I think really kind of hits me in a good spot and our football team too,” Gill said, “it says, ‘He who believes is strong. Strong convictions precede great actions.’ That’s why that word, ‘belief.’ You gotta have some strong convictions.”
I’ve been accused over the years of being a Doubting Thomas, not necessarily always a fair criticism. For example, I used to firmly believe I was going to win the lottery. Now I’m starting to wonder if I ever will. Lately, I’ve started to think that maybe rather than just believe that my numbers will come in, I need to pursue another means of dealing with financial pressure.
KU’s football coach’s pressure is not of the financial variety, rather from the unrest swirling around the state of his football team. If he’s feeling any of that heat, he doesn’t show it. His outlook remains positive, his temperament even. He continues to treat people the way he would like to be treated.
Those of us who don’t have access to coaches meetings, film sessions and practices tend to focus on the numbers on the scoreboard, such as the 56-7 halftime score Saturday in Stillwater, Okla.
Coaches study the numbers more deeply, Gill explained.
“After five ballgames, we’re No. 1 in the conference in net punting,” Gill said, referring to the aspect of the game the opposition rarely shows against Kansas.
He added that KU has the fewest penalty yards in the conference.
Next, Gill compared the Kansas offense favorably to that of the next opponent, third-ranked Oklahoma.
“Comparing per attempt, we’re at 9.5 yards and they’re at 8.5; per completion we’re at 13.8 and they’re at 12.5; per play, 6.1, they’re at 6.7,” he said. “Third-down conversion, we’re at 51 percent, they’re at 47 percent. Pass efficiency, we’re second in the conference, they’re fifth in the conference.”
He didn’t mention that Kansas allows 49.4 points per game, Oklahoma 15.6, or that the Jayhawks allow 556 yards a game, compared to the Sooners’ 330, or that KU opponents have a 55-percent success rate on third down, compared to 32 percent for OU foes.
Those numbers fly in the face of blind faith and could undermine the mission statement.