Big 12 Media Days, Day 2: KU sets goal of 'Going to Mass Street'; Jeremiah Hatch trims down; Gill says communication better in Year 2
4:05 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
We're going to go ahead and wrap up our online coverage from Big 12 football media days.
Be sure to check back to KUsports.com for more stories in the coming days from our time here in Dallas.
3:57 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Two more videos before we wrap up our live blog from Dallas.
First, KU coach Turner Gill was asked what his team's goal was this year. He didn't back down, saying it was to win the Big 12 championship.
Also, KU offensive lineman Jeremiah Hatch (like tight end Tim Biere) has been impressed by KU's incoming freshmen.
3:45 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Matt mentioned in his 11:02 a.m. update that KU offensive lineman Jeremiah Hatch was in great shape after dropping between 35 and 40 pounds this offseason.
The senior explains (in an entertaining way) how he went about losing that weight in this video.
3:31 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
It's official: KU will be switching to a base 3-4 defense this fall.
KU linebacker Steven Johnson said new defensive coordinator Vic Shealy had informed the team of the change about two weeks ago.
"We have a lot of good linebackers," Johnson said, "so we're trying to make our defense built to our favor."
Last year, the Jayhawks ran a base 4-3 defense. The year before, under former coach Mark Mangino, KU's base set was a 4-2-5.
Matt Tait previously reported that KU might switch to a base 3-4 in this article from last month.
3:05 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Kansas coach Turner Gill said KU's second offseason under his watch was more productive than their first. See video below:
2:28 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Evidently, the Jayhawks getting picked last in the Big 12 changed linebacker Steven Johnson's shopping habits.
The KU senior said — though he was tempted — he avoided buying all of the preseason magazines he saw at Wal-Mart.
Check out the video below:
2:15 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Though last year's 3-9 record was tough on KU fans, it sounds like it was even tougher on offensive lineman Jeremiah Hatch.
He talks about how last year's struggles motivated him this offseason in the video below:
2:05 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
KU coach Turner Gill said Tuesday that he anticipated that the Jayhawks would win more games in 2010 than they did. Video below:
12:46 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
I know there's no cheering in the press box, but it's still hard to not like KU linebacker Steven Johnson (Here's a feature on his remarkable journey from walk-on to starter from last year, in case you haven't seen it).
Not only is he engaging in interviews and a good storyteller, he also isn't somebody that takes himself too seriously.
That can be seen in the video below as Johnson — who said one of his goals was to represent KU at Big 12 media days — actually thanks media members for interviewing him.
12:35 p.m. update: By Matt Tait
One of the more incredible things to watch at these types of events during the past couple of years has been the increased role Twitter has played.
Like with any other aspect of our society, Twitter seems to be one of the media's favorite methods to deliver news fast.
With all kinds of Tweets flying around throughout the morning, it can become tough to keep an eye on the best ones out there. Some are funny, some are newsy and others are just flat-out baffling.
One of the most interesting Tweets to pop up so far today came from Brian Hanni, host of Rock Chalk Sports Talk on 1320 KLWN. During the radio portion of the day, Hanni had KU coach Turner Gill one-on-one. When he asked him if freshman QB Brock Berglund could come in and compete, provided he arrives as scheduled on Aug. 3, Gill delivered an interesting response. Here's a look at Hanni's Tweet:
"Asked if Berglund has his issues enough behind him to come in & compete, Gill said "Michael Cummings is gonna be able to compete" #kufball"
Earlier in the day, I asked Gill if he had any further comment on the Berglund situation, considering that Berglund's lawyers [released another statement yesterday] about him planning to report to camp on Aug. 3 and having a trial date set for December.
Gill was mostly quiet and simply said, "That's about it, he'll be here Aug. 3, ready to go."
Maybe his response to Hanni was unintentional, but we'll definitely check back with him during the one-on-one sessions with the print media later today.
More to come...
12:15 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
To view photos from Day 2's action of Big 12 football media days on Tuesday, [visit our online photo gallery].
12:10 p.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Kansas senior tight end Tim Biere says KU's 2011 recruiting class is the best he's seen since he's been in Lawrence. Video below:
Noon update: By Eric Sorrentino
I thought one of the most interesting topics of Turner Gill's press conference regarded the levels of communication between the Jayhawks' players as last season progressed.
"I thought early on in our season and all that, our players didn't talk to each other very much," Gill said on Tuesday at the Westin Galleria. "Not just football-wise, I'm just talking about just in general."
KU suffered back-to-back brutal losses of 55-7 (at Baylor) and 59-7 (vs. Kansas State) in the first half of last season. The Jayhawks' highlight of the second half of last season was the historic 52-45 comeback victory against Colorado on Nov. 6, 2010 in Lawrence, the greatest comeback in KU history (35 unanswered points in the final 11:05).
Gill took action himself last season to assure better communication amongst his players.
"I'm trying to find ways and did a little bit of seminars and trying to get our players to be able to communicate," Gill said. "If you're not able to communicate, we're not going to be able to move forward in our program to be champions."
11:38 a.m. update: By Eric Sorrentino
Here are some Tweets I had (follow me [@Big12_Spotlight]) from Turner Gill's press conference, which ended a few minutes ago:
• Turner Gill: I'm a little bit more at ease as I go into this football season. Last year at this time, I didn't quite understand deep details.
• Gill: Everybody is a lot more confident ... I really feel good about our work ethic. We have gotten faster.
• This year, we got competition. That's what we didn't have last year at some positions.
• On Big 12 schedule/round-robin format: I think that's a plus for the Big 12. It's good for our fans. I think it will be a long-term deal.
• I think there was tremendous improvement as a football team in the last four games of the season ... There was communication. At the beginning of last season, our players didn't talk to each other too much.
Stay tuned for more updates shortly...
11:35 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Kansas coach Turner Gill says that he doesn't think it will take a long time for the Jayhawks to become a winning football program. Video below:
11:15 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Kansas linebacker Steven Johnson talks about the Jayhawks' goal in 2011 of "going to Mass. St." See below:
11:02 a.m. update: By Matt Tait
We've heard about it all summer but now we've finally seen it. KU senior Jeremiah Hatch is in fantastic shape and looks as good as he's looked in years. The reason? Consistency. Hatch, who's dropped about 40 pounds, said he's always been able to lose the weight but keeping it off was the problem.
This year, the end of his career looming has inspired him to amp it up a notch and the result has put him in the best shape of his life.
Hatch credits strength coach John Williams and offensive line coach J.B. Grimes for helping him focus in and said his faith, his pride and his family have all played key roles in getting him ready for a big senior year.
Beyond shedding the extra weight, Hatch said he's entering the season at 100 percent and added that knee and back problems that have plagued him in the past are now behind him.
More to come...
10:35 a.m. update: By Jesse Newell
Stay tuned for video of several Kansas football topics, including Jeremiah Hatch's weight loss, KU's goal of "running to Mass," Turner Gill talking about how long it will take to turn around the program, and Tim Biere talking about KU's impressive 2011 recruiting class.
Original post: By Eric Sorrentino
Dallas — After a rough start in coach Turner Gill's first season, in which the Kansas football team finished 3-9 overall and 1-7 in Big 12 Conference play, not many pundits pinned the Jayhawks as bounceback contenders in 2011.
Earlier this month in the Big 12 preseason poll, [the media predicted Kansas] would make a return appearance to the basement of the conference.
Will the Jayhawks surprise folks and string together some victories, or continue their downward spiral in Gill's second season in Lawrence?
Welcome back to the second day of KUsports.com's live coverage of [Big 12 football media days] at the Westin Galleria.
We'll have live updates throughout the day, so keep it locked on KUsports.com and follow us on Twitter. I'm live in Dallas with KU football beat writer Matt Tait (Twitter [@mctait]) and KUsports.com online editor Jesse Newell (Twitter [@jessenewell]). My Twitter feed is [@Big12_Spotlight]. We plan to string together video, text updates, pictures and more from today's proceedings.
Gill is scheduled to address the media at 11:20 a.m.
Should you have any questions, comments or otherwise, post in the comments section below or Tweet at us. Is there a question you want us to ask one of the players? Seniors Tim Biere, Steven Johnson and Jeremiah Hatch will be available to the media from 2-3 p.m. today. Ask your question in the comments section and we'll do our best to try and have it answered.
Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville will begin Day 2 at 11 a.m. The Red Raiders will be followed by Gill (11:20 a.m.), Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads (11:40 a.m.), Kansas State coach Bill Snyder (noon) and