Gonzalez gaffe a good example of great mindset, poor execution
When the ball bounced off of LaQuvionte Gonzalez’s shoulder pads late the second quarter of last week’s loss to Ohio, the sneaking suspicion I had at the time was that the muffed punt came because Gonzalez was dying to take another kick back to the house.
Just one kick earlier — that time on a kickoff — the Texas A&M transfer sparked the struggling Jayhawks with a 99-yard kickoff return that put Kansas on the board and back in the game.
So there he was, with those heroics fresh in his mind, ready to receive a punt and hoping to do something similar after a stop by the Kansas defense on the next Ohio possession.
It never happened, though. Gonzalez either took his eyes off the ball, did not get in proper position to field the kick, or possibly even both, and the Jayhawks paid dearly for it.
KU coach David Beaty confirmed the suspicion that I and many others had about that muff on Tuesday, when looking back at Quiv’s miscue.
“I think the thing is he wants to make a play every time the ball is in the air and I think that's what happened to him,” Beaty said.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that mentality. Kansas wants and needs more players with that mindset. But only if those players can have that mindset while still playing smart football.
Gonzalez messed that up not once but twice and by doing so completely negated any advantage that killer instinct might have provided.
Gonzalez will get his opportunity to redeem himself. Heck, he’ll probably get plenty of opportunities to do so. Both Beaty and special teams coach Joe DeForest said they were not worried about his ability move on from the mistakes he made against Ohio.
“I talked earlier about not having Quiv do too much,” Beaty said. “And that's where we have to be very careful about making sure that we don't put too much on him, and really, talking to him about, ‘Hey, man, listen, you don't have to win the game for us. All you've got to do is exactly what we tell you to do.’”
Added DeForest: “We believe in Quiv, we believe in his ability.... You gotta be fearless as a punt returner and I think Quiv is. He just made a technique error and it’s our job, as coaches, to clean it up and get him ready for the next one.”
Prior to last weekend’s loss, Gonzalez elected not to speak to the media for the rest of the season. So it’s up to the coaches and his teammates to speak on his behalf. Although it would be better to hear thoughts directly from the horse’s mouth, those guys who spoke about Gonzalez following Saturday’s loss and again on Tuesday did a nice job of examining the reality of the whole situation.
“I don't think he's scared of anything to be honest with you,” Beaty said of Gonzalez. “He’s not. There are some really good punters in Division I, and the majority of the kicks are going to be fair catches. You've got to wait for them to make a mistake and, when they make a mistake, you've got to capitalize on it. But when you start being selfish and you do things off-schedule, that's where dangerous things happen. We saw it happen to our opponent (Week 1), and it happened to us (last) week.”
What happens from here will tell us a lot both about Gonzalez and Beaty and his coaching staff.