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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Turner Gill emphasizes the positives and the process

Kansas football players are trying to keep a high morale after struggling during conference play.

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Turner Gill discusses in-game adjustments

Kansas head football coach Turner Gill discussed making in-game adjustments on the offensive side of the ball as the Jayhawks prepare for Texas on Saturday.

Tuesday, at his regularly scheduled news conference, Kansas University football coach Turner Gill found himself in a dogfight, fielding a barrage of questions about his future and the way he would go about fixing the problems that plague the Jayhawks. 

Judging by the way the session began, Gill was ready.

Unprompted, Gill, whose Jayhawks will face the University of Texas at 6 p.m. Saturday in Austin, Texas, spent the first couple of minutes of Tuesday’s meeting with reporters emphasizing the areas his team had improved from last year.

“I would like to focus on two phases where we have improved, on offense and special teams,” he began. “On offense, we are scoring 30 points per game, where last year we were at 16. We have improved in rushing touchdowns — we have 15 so far, and at this time last year we had seven. In passing touchdowns, we have 14 right now, and we had seven up to this point last year. Another key thing that we look at is yards per play. Last year we averaged 4.6, and this year we are averaging 5.5 yards per play. Another great stat is that our passing percentage has improved from 57 percent last year to 67 percent this year.”

All true. All worthy of applause. But none of those statistics addresses the team’s two biggest problems. The first is its defense, which, through seven games, is on pace to become the worst in NCAA history and ranks last or second-to-last in total defense, passing defense and rushing defense. The second speaks to Gill’s philosophy. While he continues to push his “Believe” mantra, many outside the program are clamoring for the second-year coach to add “achieve” to his vocabulary. Tuesday, for the first time this season, Gill indicated he understood that.

“It isn’t about saying things or making statements, it’s about doing,” he said. “We’re trying to get our guys to perform. We’re still trying to put it all together.”

With the lid lifted on the accountability questions, media members questioned nearly all aspects of Gill’s program in a search for answers about why the Jayhawks have given up an average of 57 points and 595 yards per game during the current five-game losing streak.

How did he explain the lack of energy in practice during the week leading up the Kansas State game?

“I think that’s the inexperience of our team,” Gill said. “You’re just trying to get consistency. That’s just part of the process of trying to grow a program and trying to get people on the same page.”

How does he discipline players who don’t execute?

“We do some physical things in practice,” he said. “We call them reminders, where you do some up-downs after practice or repeat plays. You talk to them and explain to them what they need to do and how they need to do it. You do all different types of disciplinary actions to try to change that up, then hopefully they get it.”

After Saturday’s 59-21 loss to in-state rival Kansas State, KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger told a couple of reporters he did not expect anyone to accept KU’s recent struggles and vowed to get things fixed. Asked Tuesday for his reaction to Zenger’s comments, Gill stuck to his message. 

“He’s the boss,” he said. “He’s gonna say what he has to say. I came here to fix something, and that’s what I’m here to do. I still believe in the plan we have intact.” 

After the 27-minute session with reporters wrapped and Gill retired to his office, a handful of KU players spoke to the media about this week’s game and the team’s struggles. Even then, the talk turned to Gill. Unlike their coach, who kept a smile on his face even while answering the toughest questions, the players seemed more bothered by the negativity surrounding their coach.

“It’s amazing,” sophomore cornerback Tyler Patmon said. “I don’t know how many people could take that criticism for that many weeks and still have the same positive attitude as him. We say it in the locker room, other coaches tell us all the time how great of a coach and great of a person he is. It’s amazing that he can do that.”

Added sophomore quarterback Jordan Webb: “We have enough pressure as it is, just for ourselves and for our own pride. But whenever people are saying your coaches’ jobs are on the line, you definitely gotta take that to heart and play a lot harder and I think we’re going to.”

With five games to play and Gill’s seat growing hotter by the week, the Jayhawks appear to be as close as ever and seem content to keep emphasize the L portion of the team’s “Believe” slogan: Learn and press on toward the goal. 

“It’s just everything wasn’t hitting and is not hitting at all times,” said senior offensive lineman Jeff Spikes. “But we’re gonna keep going after our goals and we still can surprise people by letting them know we’re not gonna quit.” 

Added Patmon: “We still believe in our team 100 percent, and we still believe that we can reach a bowl game this year.” 

As for Gill, rather than looking at the final five weeks of the season as a pressure-packed proving ground, he sees a chance to move forward. 

“You have to have the mindset to get yourself ready to improve,” he said. “We have five more opportunities to do that and we’re fortunate right now that we have those opportunities. There’s going to come a time where you don’t have any more opportunities.”

Comments

Blake Post 2 years, 5 months ago

This is stupid. He hasn't had any time to do the.job. I give five years.

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jayhawk2144 2 years, 5 months ago

you know i was watching a replay video of Ku football back in 2004. It just seem like we were bigger and more phyiscial on Offense and Defense than we have been the past 2 years. Just saying that we just dont seem that big when you compare us to other teams. I mean just look how KSU just handle us.

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Ashwin Rao 2 years, 5 months ago

Cool, we still have a chance at getting a bowl if we win the final 5 games! We will be 7-5! I wonder which bowl we will be invited to? :)

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troutsee 2 years, 5 months ago

If he gets blown out by TU, TAM, Baylor, and MU and loses to ISU....good bye. If he loses all but makes a game of it in all, maybe he gets a 3rd year because that would show improvement. Two wins and he gets a 3rd year for sure. Based on what I have seen over the last two seasons, two wins out of the remaining games seems unlikely and there will probably be more blow outs to endure.

I would be totally against hiring Mike Stoops as HC. He doesn't have what it takes to be an effective head coach. I'd be luke warm on hiring him as a DC as well, but he is probably better suited for that level of coaching.

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cobweb 2 years, 5 months ago

The bad hire was Perkins who had a reputation before KU. They got greedy and went for the money. Perkins then quadruples a salary for no reason at all since anybody would leave Buffalo for a 50% raise. Zenger gets no credit if Gill turns it around. Gill is luckier than a dog with two * and will leave with a ton of money. Hire the guy from Boise and agree to put in a blue field.

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Cal Bender 2 years, 5 months ago

If the team wins two more games this year, I think Gill will probably get his third year. If it wins one more game this year, and is competitive in the rest, he'll probably get his third year, but maybe not. If the team loses all of the remaining games, I believe AD Zenger will have the courage to "fix it."

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Marvin Koelsch 2 years, 5 months ago

Thank you for the correction. While I had the good fortune to watch Gail Sayers play football, I have always been more of a basketball fan. I still remember watching Jo Jo White gliding across the court.

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mustlehustle 2 years, 5 months ago

How does the BCS ranking factor-in "moral victories?"

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kcarod72 2 years, 5 months ago

The only positive a D1 coach should speak of are wins. If he doesn't win, there is nothing he should speak about. We deserve better as fans and should expect a better coached offense with better play calling. Go away Tuner Gil, you were a horrible hire to begin with.

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Phoghorn 2 years, 5 months ago

The positives are more or less "coach-speak". It seems as though Coach Gill does not want to excoriate his team in front of the media. I like his postive outlook, I just hope it starts translating into wins.

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hihawk 2 years, 5 months ago

It is time to cut the cord now. Get started looking for a coach immediately. The more KU waits, the more they lose, which is pretty well done now. Would like to know where jaybate is, probably looking up words in the dictionary that will make himself and gill look good, but the words are not there, because jaybate is too ignorant to realize that gill is not a coach and never was one. Just waiting for a 22 page explaination that jaybate will come up with that explains his puffery comments. jaybate, where are all the recruits you said gill was bring in, looks pretty sad

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jartiv 2 years, 5 months ago

I like the loyalty the players have for Gill... but I'll stop short of patting everybody on the back.

Are you kids in college or what? You're worried about Gill's job??????? He is going to walk away with his money no matter what happens! Awesome that you are working hard for your coaches but the point that we as fans are making is that OUR coaches are NOT working hard for YOU.

Open your eyes kids... we do not have the right staff, scheme, or game plan to win games. If Gill can't put it together, he has no place here.

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Gregor Southard 2 years, 5 months ago

3-9 was expected. Losing by 30-50 points a game wasn't. Normally, I would say give the guy three years, but this is ridiculous.

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bjejayhawk69 2 years, 5 months ago

It would be nice if Gill could "turn this around". The problem with watching these games is obvious coaching issues. Lack of halftime or in game adjustments is the most glaring - other coaches are making them - KU is not. These are rampant thru every game. If I need to point them out then you are not watching the games or are ignorant of how the game should be coached. Holding players accountable for repeated mistakes. Once a mistake is made I don't see Gill or any body else getting on a player or even coaching them after wards. I watched Synder address player mistake and then the position coach addressed it as well. The thing is KSU made so few of them because every situation / scheme is already covered in practice. Maybe we make so many of them there isn't time during the game to address them.

I would also rather Gill take responsibility and take it to heart the fact that KU is most likely with worst defensive team not only this year but possbily record setting. We could not stop NIU when we played them. They are not a top 10 ten team or even close to it. Did they even punt in that game. The argument that we so young is not valid as well. Gill chooses to play guys he recruited and not upper classmen. That is why we are so young. Manginos last year our defense was middle of the road and we didn't have NFL level players on it either.

I would be OK with current state of the program if we were even competitive - WE ARE NOT REMOTELY competitive in these games. And pointing out how we have improved on offense and special teams is nice but last time I checked football is a TEAM game. The scoreboard and how competitive and close we are at the end of the game is what ultimately matters. WE aren't even close.

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Ron Prichard 2 years, 5 months ago

I have been a Gill supporter all year. I can't tell you how many times I have said, give him more time, the offense is better, he needs time to get his recruits in. When we lost the games to TT and OU I said, "I was there. We are making improvements. A few plays here and there"

However, after the KSU game, I am losing faith in the coaches. After sitting through every home game in the stands, I am genuinely conflicted. I believe a coach needs time to recruit his players and implement his plan. However, during that period, certain things should reflect improvement:

  1. Assignments. This team misses assignments repeatedly. Safetys are continually moving forward at the snap and biting on fakes, only to end up chasing a receiver down the field. This should not happen. The safety is named 'safety' for a reason. Our team is also consistently out of position. During the KSU game, everyone in the stands knew Cline was likely going to keep the ball on an option or a read play. I watched Oporum bite hard on a zone read, run from the right side of the line to the left to blast the running back, only to have Cline keep the ball and run right through the hole Oporum created. Assignments! Against an option team (KSU & GT), each player has to play his assignment.You don't have to have great athletes to stop an option team but you MUST play assignment sound football.

  2. Penalties. Our players repeatedly make the same mistakes over and over again. Three separate penalties on a kickoff return? How is that even possible? If it was just one return, fine, but we have been penalized multiple times on returns this year, and even multiple times in one game. Offsides on our receivers? They aren't supposed to go by the count, they just watch the ball like the defense. These penalties are inexcusable. I don't mind the occasional facemask, because those things happen. But the basic stuff should be fixed.

  3. Preparedness. Our team consistently looks unprepared. I understand you are limited with how much time you can practice each week, but we should not be unprepared for every contingency that happens in the game. Fourth and two from the 23 down by 6 in the first half? Kick or go? What does the chart say? Third and long and we haven't run the ball very well? They will probably blitz. What do we have for that (besides an inside draw). When we're on D and the other team lines up with five receivers we shouldn't look like we have no idea what to do. It should be, "Hey, five wides, we saw this in film study and practiced for it, they will probably do A, B or C."

The fact is, I just don't see these qualities emerging. I've calmed down after the KSU game, but if we don't see improvement in those areas by the end of the year, I think I may end up falling squarely in the "Fire Gill" camp. I do think that would be unfortunate, because I think he can be a good coach and he is a good guy. We just are not at a time when we can have another year of this.

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prairie_rattler 2 years, 5 months ago

This team would have beaten any team from the Valensente or Allen era, so any talk about it being the 'worst' (even just defensively) shows you haven't been paying attention long. We have a young team and an unbelievably tough schedule. The bright side... HCTG is recruiting higher level classes of players than we've seen in the past 20 years. Say what they will about the SEC... the Big 12 is insanely tough this year. Iowa State and Missouri are certainly potential big wins. Regardless, we are improving, it's just hidden by the level of competition we've had the past few weeks. I suspect it will become evident soon enough. And finally, HCTG knows what it takes to be successful.He has the respect and admiration of recruits, his players, and other coaches. He has my full faith for the first four years, to build his system. I grew up watching and hating him at Nebraska, but couldn't be happier to have him running my football program. Rock Chalk! - Travis

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Steve Brown 2 years, 5 months ago

Items we need to fix: Be real about state of team performance- HCTG continue being positive yet also declare the shortcomings such as, we are improving in offense yet our penalities and missed assignments and defensive stops are in wrong direction and we are 'attempting' to address those issues. Don't sugarcoat the current performance.

Defense- Hire Mike Stoops today as 5 game Defensive consultant. Bring fresh eyes to uncover fixes & tweaks.

Halftime adjustments- The battles are won or lost in second half, before the game starts have a plan for second half to be revealed then, don't deploy all your ammo in first half. Thanks for changing up sideline play calling signs, past hand signals too easy to steal.

Defense recruits- Watch movie The Blind Side, realize the awesome opportunity 4-5 all world lineman have to come to B12, play immediately against best competition and become part of a great turnaround. Hire whatever all NFL Line coach you need to get the O & D Line loaded. It starts up front.

Schedule- I give you a pass on this year top ten schedule. This test is good for you as the strongest oak trees grow on top of the mountains where the strongest winds blow.

Timing- Replacing a coach after 1.5 years or 2 years is way too soon, in same light, don't burn anymore redshirts we have games next year also.

Mental toughness- The kids have to not get down with the scoreboard and 'here we go again' pysch just see that every game may end up 70-12 and yet every play is an opportunity to perform, quit pressing and over.reaching it gets you out of position. One bad hole in golf can ruin your whole round or you can put it behind you. your choice.

SEC- I know we have some games before then, yet a lot of sins can be forgiven if with every time they hear MIZ ZOU they put a tiger on it's back and beat Misery 70-9 it can be a nice finish to this 'rebuilding' effort.

RCJHGOKU

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rcjallday 2 years, 5 months ago

I love that Coach Gill is remaining positive. While rebuilding a program, it is imperative that you don't panic, especially with a young team. While the KU fan base is thinking the sky is falling, Coach is keeping the faith in what he believes in and that is why I believe he is the right guy for KU. Also, he is a tremendous recruiter. Just look at the playmakers he has brought in on the offensive side of the ball (Pierson, Miller, Bourbon) who were all recruited by schools with better programs than KU. On the defensive side, it is hard to argue that there is much talent. I don't see many playmakers over there, and if you don't have much to work with, no amount of coaching is going to fix that. Even when they blitz, there is little pressure on the QB which will expose a secondary that is leaky at best. I encourage fans to keep supporting the team. Gill is a great rep for the university from a human standpoint, and he will get this thing turned around.

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troutsee 2 years, 5 months ago

I think most of us former Gill supporters understand the losses. We really did not expect a lot, especially when his predecessor went 0-7 over his last 7 games and lost some of those games in embarrassing fashion in the 4th quarter. However, we were not prepared for the totally inept defense and the non-competitiveness of our team in many of the games over the last two seasons, nor were we prepared to lose to North Dakota State. Yes, one game is one game but when blow outs accumulate, one does not have to be a genius to understand that there is something drastically wrong at the top.

I also agree that our offense has not performed well since the first quarter of the TT game.

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pdt2139 2 years, 5 months ago

Why has the third quarter been so awful for KU? Because they get out coached. Good coaches use the halftime to make adjustments to the game being played.

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danmoore 2 years, 5 months ago

And yet his players are still behind him.

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Joe Ross 2 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, who do fans think they are wanting a winning program after they lay down money to watch games? Screw the boosters and alums too. They shouldn't have any expectation of winning at all.

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fu7il3 2 years, 5 months ago

Yeah, damn fans, wanting winning, or at least competitive, teams.

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Chris Bruning 2 years, 5 months ago

Keep Turner Gill, great coach and even better human being. Some of you fans are F'n ridiculous.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 5 months ago

Turner can throw out all the stats he wants but a look at the scoreboard tells you all you need to know.

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middleoftheroader 2 years, 5 months ago

Repost from me from another article: I no longer wonder/worry about whether Turner Gill should/will be fired at the end of the season, it seems blatantly obvious (even to me) that he WILL be fired. My concern is who Zenger will hire to replace him, just about any name you can throw out there is going to sound good to anxious Jayhawk fans, I hope Zenger realizes HIS own future with KU will be riding on the success/failure of his hire.

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jbrownjib 2 years, 5 months ago

Perkins signed a coach from a junior college and we wonder why he isn't successful in the Big 12. Gill is so happy because his pay checks haven't bounced. The most amazing is the thought that they can still go to a bowl this year?

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Stephen Johnson 2 years, 5 months ago

I'm still angry over the state of the program. The next step is total apathy. Mr. Gill (I cannot refer to you as coach) you have embarrassed this school.

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blackhawkjayhawk 2 years, 5 months ago

There is legitimate frustration in the fan base but lets all remember to use some class when discussing Gill. He's not some horrible human being who is not trying. I can't even imagine how the guy feels at night when he goes home.

The "flat" practice referenced in the article? After the season these guys are having, is anyone shocked that they might be getting worn down?

There is truth in the statement that first-year recruiting classes are catch-as-catch-can. The two previous classes from Mangino were not that strong. Let's at least try and be fair when evaluating Gill.

The offense has generally been good in the first half - against the opponent's starters. Is a definite improvement.

Zenger was right....over the next 5 games, you should be able to make a good evaluation. Then call June Jones.

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minnhawk84 2 years, 5 months ago

If there is a team worse than Kansas this year, it has to be the University of Minnesota. 1 and 6 so far, with quality losses to New Mexico (!) and North Dakota State (!!). Only win in overtime against Miami of Ohio.
Having said all that, new head coach Jerry Kill was awarded a SEVEN YEAR coaching extension @ $1.5m per year. He stated after the Nebraska loss (41-14 at home) that it will take FOUR recruiting classes to begin to turn around the UofM. The university is giving him a "long ride" to turn around the football program, he is not under fire from fans/alumni, and he actually thinks he can turn the Gophers into winners in the next SEVEN years. Jerry is from Cheney but sounds like he is from Oklahoma/Arkansas when he speaks -- doesn't go over well in Minnesota. His main coaching successes were at SIU and NIU....... Now, contrast Jerry's position with Turner's, and you see a coach who has been given the time to get the job done. I believe he has a tougher road at the UofM than Gill does at KU. Gill needs the time to prove himself, not just one or two years.

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Lindsey Buscher 2 years, 5 months ago

I think this is what pisses KU fans off the most about TG. Trying to "focus on the positives" of a one of the worst teams in the history of this program seems so disingenuous.

Your team sucks and the coaches are accountable because you obviously can't just throw college kids under the bus.

You might be able to fool the kids when you talk about the positives, but don't try to pass off that BS to the media and the fans.

We want a coach that gets incensed about losses and poor execution and the occasional BCS conspiracy (it's real).

Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

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Marvin Koelsch 2 years, 5 months ago

The article mentions a key point: Second Year Coach. If I remember correctly, Coach Gill was NOT hired early enough to do much recruiting his first year. And I do not think the team was stocked with quality players when he arrived. With the way most universities build their programs by red shirting a lot of freshman players, I find it interesting that Coach Gill has recruited enough quality players that many of them are already in the first two layers of the depth chart. I think too many people want to fire before he has a real chance to succeed.

For another question, would a quality coach want the job if we demonstrated that K.U. will not give someone a chance to build a quality program. We could go through coach after coach like K-State did before they finally found Snyder. I for one want something a lot better than what K-State had twenty years ago. They still celebrate a first-in-ten like most schools celebrate a touchdown.

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jayhawkintx1973 2 years, 5 months ago

Coach Gill. You don't do any coaching at all during a game, which is where they learn how to execute in situations that count. In golf, it is not enough to sit on the driving range and hit balls for 2 hours every day. You have to know which club to use for different situations, not just know how to use the clubs.

In the game on Saturday, less than 20 seconds left, a receiver goes down the middle of the field uncovered. COACHING MISTAKE. Almost every time K-State's QB had the ball with an option, he ran with it. COACHING MISTAKE. The players weren't in a position to tackle him. What exactly are you teaching these kids. Did you clarify the assignments and then iterate them during the game?

You can have the best players in the world coach, and if you don't coach them they're not going to execute. THIS IS ON YOU COACH!

We have good athletes on defense. I'm pretty sure they're smart. They're doing the same things over and over again which leads me to believe that you are failing to teach them which golf club to use from 150 yards and which gold club to use from 110 yards. Its the difference between an 8 iron and a pitching wedge, and that's a bid difference.

Why do we have the corner back sneaking inside before the snap? Hey, I'm okay with some CB blitzes, say on third and long if you have a nickel or dime situation. 3rd and long. Why aren't we disguising our blitzes? The opponents audible to a hot read and hit a wide open receiver. We might need to play tighter with the other guys on blitzes so they can't get a quick pass off. COACHING. SITUATIONS.

Now, these kids are good enough to have at worst a middle of the road defense by the end of this season.

But coach Gill, you can coach them during the game and let them know what they just did wrong in that situation.

I understand our offense is better than a year ago, but 6 yards in the second half against Oklahoma? Two fumbles in the first two possessions of the second half against Kansas State?

You need to get some fire on the side line and let them know you're working to get them to improve during the game. Get a response from them. Get some turnovers. Sack someone. Jar the football loose and recover it. No more 10 yard cushions on 3rd and 6.

What techniques are our downed lineman using to try to get to the QB? When we send five or six rushers, why are they not getting to the QB on time?

Well, the video gives the answers. If you're going to blitz, no big cushions. If you're going to just send 3 and drop others into coverage or have a couple of guys assigned to the QB and running back, you can do get some stops.

Texas A&M and Baylor are going to present opportunities for this team to show some major improvement. Losing by margins of 30, 40, or 50 points can't persist Coach.

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Ferd Magellan 2 years, 5 months ago

Throw the numbers out the window, because a good chunk of those offensive scores came against opposing reserves. The offense has not looked good since Tech, and even in that one they went silent for almost 3 quarters.

Next time you try to fix something, do it at a MAC school. You've proven to be the worst repairman we've hired in my lifetime, and you accomplished that feat in under 2 years.

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