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Friday, September 21, 2012

Looking out for Number One: Andrew Turzilli’s finally a starter, and he’s playing to remain one

Andrew Turzilli stands in line for drills with the rest of the Kansas receivers during practice on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. Turzilli has worked his way into the starting lineup after proving himself with several big receptions against TCU.

Andrew Turzilli stands in line for drills with the rest of the Kansas receivers during practice on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. Turzilli has worked his way into the starting lineup after proving himself with several big receptions against TCU.

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Andrew Turzilli stands in line for drills with the rest of the Kansas receivers during practice on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. Turzilli has worked his way into the starting lineup after proving himself with several big receptions against TCU.

A lot has been made about Kansas University wide receiver Andrew Turzilli’s 100-yard game in last week’s loss to TCU.

Some have called it a break-through performance. Others have tempered expectations but hope his three-catch, 100-yard outing was a sign of things to come. And still others have anointed Turzilli as the missing piece in KU’s offense, choosing not to put too much pressure on him but, at the same time, openly discussing the importance of offering quarterback Dayne Crist a reliable vertical threat with which to stretch the field.

Turzilli has heard it all, from all kinds of places, but the one area he’s most concerned about is the one that has helped elevate him from unknown to untapped in a short time.

“Obviously, any receiver wants to be the No. 1 guy, the go-to guy,” Turzilli said. “That’s the plan for me, and, of course, I think I have the potential to do that. It’s gonna take a lot of work, a lot of long nights, but I’m willing to do those things.”

While the rest of the script is yet to be written for Turzilli as a college football player, his increased confidence and production have inspired Weis to promote Turzilli from a player with potential to a starter for today’s 2:30 p.m. kickoff at Northern Illinois.

“We’ve actually been trying to push Andrew into this position since the springtime,” Weis said, “because some of those things you saw in the game the other day, we’ve been seeing all along.”

Asked about his change in attitude, Turzilli’s response painted the picture of a humble player who no longer had reservations about his place on the team.

“I’ve done what I’ve been asked to do,” he said. “I got an opportunity, and I just went with it.”

With his big frame, long limbs and fast feet, Turzilli certainly looks the part. He lists NFL standouts Randy Moss and A.J. Green as his favorite receivers, not just for what they do on highlight films but more for what they’ve meant to him as distant mentors.

Turzilli likes Moss and Green because they have similar bodies and demeanors. In fact, Turzilli said he had Moss’ trademark hand-raise down. The move, which Moss made famous, is used to let the quarterback know when a receiver feels he has his man beat. But Turzilli has made sure to keep it under wraps at KU.

“They don’t like when we throw the hand up,” he said. “They really don’t.”

Turzilli’s ability has never been the problem, Weis said. It’s his mentality that held him back.

“You have to be willing to take an older guy’s job,” Weis said. “And sometimes people don’t understand that. You (can’t) say, ‘Well, he’s a senior, when he’s gone, then it will be mine.’ You have to be willing to go take it. He’s started to challenge more and more. Instead of just settling in and being the No. 2 guy, he’s competed to be the No. 1 guy, and he’s potentially a very good weapon.”

In many ways, last week’s performance mirrored the way Turzilli’s KU career has played out. He finished with zero catches and zero targets in the first quarter and had just one catch in one attempt by halftime. Similarly, Turzilli red-shirted the 2010 season and played sparingly in 2011, finishing the season with 37 yards and a touchdown on three catches in just three games.

Turzilli finally has started to feel more comfortable.

“The thing with me was I had a tough time memorizing plays so I wasn’t able to play a whole lot,” he said. “But this offense, once I got that down, I was able to play with more confidence, play a little bit faster.”

That certainly was the case in the third quarter last week, when the 6-foot-4, 193-pound wideout was targeted three times and made one reception. Turzilli had five passes thrown his way in the fourth quarter and managed to catch one.

Whether his career follows that path and Turzilli becomes a regular contributor in the Jayhawks’ passing game remains to be seen. But there are plenty on this team who believe that will happen.

“He is a quiet guy by nature,” Crist said, “but a definite competitor. You can see it in the way he practices and plays, but I think he knows that he belongs, and I think Saturday solidified that a little bit.”

On a team whose most experienced wideouts carry smaller builds, Turzilli’s length gives Weis a new option in the passing game. It showed against TCU, as most of the balls intended for Turzilli were shots down the field.

“It’s a big advantage,” Crist said. “I think it adds a great deal of versatility. Any time you have a big body in there, that is something that will always help a quarterback.”

Weis agreed, but broke it down into even simpler terms.

“There is a comfort level throwing to a bigger guy,” he said. “But the most important thing is you want guys that can get open.”

That’s where Turzilli wants to take his game. It’s one thing to see his name listed as a starter on the latest depth chart, but it’s another to keep it there.

“I’d just like to become a little more of a physical receiver, come across the middle, catch the tough passes, stuff like that,” he said. “I’d just like to become a more complete receiver, a No. 1 guy.”

Comments

Dirk Medema 2 years ago

Hopefully, he can get his completion rate above 30%, and really up to 60 or 70%, for Dayne and KU to have much of a chance.

Kman_blue 2 years ago

I agree in that I hope he can catch more of the balls thrown his way, but to be fair most of them thrown his way in the TCU game were tough down field throws that don't often have high completion percentages.

Kman_blue 2 years ago

I hope Turzilli's confidence continues to grow as I think he has a really high ceiling to his game. He's got the size and speed to be a real tough match-up for anyone KU plays and that includes the OU's and UT's of the world IMO.

Even in the little playing time he got last year you could see how potentially good he could be. He's got really good speed and a silky smooth smoothness to his game that can be deceptive to defenders. He's also not going to get out muscled or out jumped for any balls thrown his way.

Keep up the good work Andrew and just keep plugging away, and I think you'll just continue to do bigger and bigger things!

Jim Erickson 2 years ago

It's nice to have a big receiver that runs well. I've never been overly high on Beshears or Patterson both being on the field at the same time. I know it makes me a minority, but I just never saw it. I like Turzilli and Pick as 1 and 2.

nuleafjhawk 2 years ago

Big props to Cox Cable - here's my football lineup for 2:30 pm today:

  • Idaho St @ Nebraska
  • Indiana (Pa) @ California (Pa)
  • Virginia Military Institute @ Navy
  • Yale @ Cornell
  • East Carolina @ North Carolina
  • Washburn @ Central Oklahoma ( On TWO channels ! )
  • Oregon St @ UCLA
  • Temple @ Penn St.
  • Missouri @ South Carolina

I guess there is a decent show about outdoor power tools and another one that covers " a quirky look at the Russia you don't know", so it's not like I won't have anything to watch.......

danno1313 2 years ago

MU at South Carolina. USC is on the west coast.

april28 2 years ago

I think that the Washburn game has only two cameras, so they needed to dedicate a channel to each one. And I didn't realize that Indiana University of Pennsylvania had a football team, so I second your commendation of our area cable programming.....innovative and informative!

Robert Brock 2 years ago

It amazes me that this deep into the season and the TV games are AWFUL.

april28 2 years ago

Don't get too close to him at lunch time...he might eat you. "Get in my belly!"

akgjenkintown 2 years ago

Blah, blah, blah,... Lee Corso on ESPN's college game day picked NIU to win by 2 touchdowns. KU is again the laughing stock of the Big XII and the nation. I don't want to hear another quote from Crist until he steps up and plays like the topnotch quarterback we were promised by Weis and win on the road against a team from the MAC.

danmoore 2 years ago

I wouldn't take Lee Corso too seriously. He's football's version of Dick Vitale. Lots of talk, very little substance.

danno1313 2 years ago

Amen. LAST CHANCE TO WIN ONE THIS SEASON.

Danny Hernandez 2 years ago

I can see it now, rogersstate80 on his knees, begging Mangino to come back. Of course, Mangino asks rogersstate80, what's in it for him?

danno1313 2 years ago

OU trying to win in hoops is funnier.

oldalum 2 years ago

No doubt rogersstate80 is remembering that wonderful final season where we won the first few games and then lost all the rest. By then Mangino had driven off all the good assistants, and alienated most of the team. That was almost up to Gill quality. I can see why he'd want that back. It is my sincere hope that he's being facetious.

741hawk 2 years ago

Please note: Lew destroyed the fb program with his "totally unnecessary" players-only meeting prior to the Colorado game. THAT was the point at which the program slid downhill.

danmoore 2 years ago

Then why do you refer to Weiss as "your" coach?

If you really are a KU fan it's time to get over Mangino and move on.

danno1313 2 years ago

I m glad the game isnt on TV. It would suck if KU fans could watch their team (as bad as they are) like the fans of other teams. Nice work KU as usual.

Hawks58 2 years ago

Any fellow Jayhawk fans know if there is any place on the web that will be streaming the game? I am unable to get espn3 due to the fact of a poor cable and internet provider.

tku 2 years ago

I'm a jayhawk fan but i'm also a realist. unfortunately, after today's loss I'm under the impression that we won't win another game this year. Subsequently, turzillli is by far our worst receiver and has no business playing in the big 12. although seeing today's game it wouldn't have mattered who we had playing at wr, Dayne crist couldn't have out played jordan webb. and jordan webb is....well seen how successful his career has been.

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