Gill assesses Spring Game

The Kansas Jayhawks wrapped up spring practice Saturday with the annual Spring Game, in front of an announced crowd of 6,000 fans. Afterward, Head Coach Turner Gill met with the media to discuss the progress of his team. Phog.net's Jim Williamson is here with a breakdown of Gill's comments.

Overall, what impressed you in the spring game?

"The execution of our offense, for the most part, particularly when Jordan Webb (three rushes for 39 yards, 8-14-1 passing for 108 yards) was in the ball game. He did some good things. I liked the tempo – we look at the tempo as going in and out of the huddle, getting up to the line of scrummage, getting plays called, guys getting lined up and then executing."

What did you think of your defensive line?

"(Toben Opurum, two tackles, one sack) is a guy who's going to be reckoned with in the Big 12. I think he's going to be a guy that people are going to be talking about as time throughout the rest of the season. I think (Pat) Lewandowski made a couple of good plays in there (three tackles). He got a lot of reps, so I know he was worn out toward the end of the scrimmage."

Any surprises Saturday?

"Overall, the offensive line did some good things. They did some things there as far as knocking people off the ball, getting our running game going. I think overall, the defensive linebackers – it was good to see Huldon Tharp out there, making some plays (three tackles). I definitely saw some things there that I hadn't seen since he hadn't had a whole lot of reps. He was able to get off blocks and make some tackles, so I think he was one guy who caught my eye."

How far ahead of last year at this time are the Jayhawks?

"We're a better football team than we were last year. We have more confidence in our guys. Some guys have been able to make plays. You're gonna have to have someone on offense, you're gonna have to have someone on defense, hopefully you have more than one person that ends up making a play for ya, and I think we now have that potential to be productive. No doubt, I think we've seen a few guys now compared to last year at this same time, now we feel like we do have a few guys who can be productive and make plays in a game."

The quarterback situation.

"Both guys (Jordan Webb and Quinn Mecham) have done some good things, but if I had to give an edge right now, I'd give it to Jordan Webb, but I'm going to evaluate the tape."

Where do the players go from here?

"We're going to meet individually with the players and let them know where they're at. It's really going to go into the fall at every position, because there are some guys who can do things in the spring and then come back in the fall – they may not be the same guy."

Was Saturday a fair display of how much Webb has improved?

"He has anticipated more things, he understands what's going on a lot better than he was last year, and he's been more productive, and that's the bottom line: Is he productive or is he not productive? And we're gonna play guys who are productive."

Talk about surprising reserve QB Blake Jablonski (8-13-0, 76 yards)

"Blake's a guy who's done some good things. It was very, very impressive, what he did today. I think he had a lot of situations where it was third down and fourth down and converted and made plays and receivers made plays for him, and that's a good sign. I don't think he's at a point of saying that he's competing (to start), but it was good to see him produce and do good things when called upon."

Where does Josh Smith fit going into the fall? (two rushes, 11 yards)

"Josh is doing well. We're probably looking at him as a fullback. He's going to be a multiple guy that's able to play fullback and tailback, too. Him and (Nick) Sizemore are competing for that (fullback) spot. He's progressed pretty well and I think he's going to get better."

What kind of a spring has Darrian Miller had? (four rushes, 23 yards)

"Very impressive. I thought that he got more yards than what was blocked, and I think that's how you define a good running back or a running back with good vision."

"James (Sims, five rushes, 11 yards) and Darrian are guys who we feel very good about. We've got good depth and good people. Brandon Bourbon was coming on strong; unfortunately he got hurt. I anticipate him to be a guy who's ready to go in the fall. We're going to have a very solid group of (running backs)."

Overall, how has the running back corps improved?

"I talked with our coaches as we went through the recruiting process last year that I want to make sure that we have people in our backfield that have an opportunity to score on just about every single play, and we have that in our program today."

Will an incoming freshman quarterback be able to compete for the starting job in the fall?

"(The QB position) is up for grabs, unless there's just a wide, wide variance, then it's a question, is it worth it for us to name a (QB)? Both of them have made good progress, but I can sit here are say that Jordan has been more consistent in making plays with our offense. Right now, we'll go into fall camp, and we'll go up until I think it's the appropriate time for us to announce who's the best guy to start on our football team and lead us to victory.

Will linebacker be more of a strength than last season?

Counting all three linebacker spots – as far as (Steven) Johnson, (Darius) Willis and Tharp – those guys need to get off blocks and make tackles in the open field, and all three of them can do that. As a unit, we have improved. They still have some things they need to improve on, but overall, I feel linebacker corps-wise, we've definitely gotten better.

Did any one the receivers stand out Saturday?

"Christian Matthews (two catches, 56 yards), it was good to see him makin' plays. (Chris) Omigie (one catch, 33 yards), and they've done it pretty much the whole 15 practices. (Matthews) had a transition going from quarterback and now playing receiver, there's still some little technical things that he has to learn. Once he gets that confidence, I think he'll be a tremendous receiver in the Big 12 Conference."

Other game notes:

· Jordan Webb's 39 rushing yards led the Jayhawks.

· KU's QBs were a combined 22-38-1 for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Quinn Mecham was 6-11-0 for 102 yards.

· Opurum and DJ Marshall collected sacks; John Williams had two. All four sacks were against Quinn Mecham.

· Greg Brown and Malcolm Walker led the team with five tackles each.

· The longest pass play of the day was a 53-yard connection between Mecham and Christian Matthews.


Phog.net Top Stories