Keys to success
During his regular Tuesday press conference, Head Coach Turner Gill isolated two areas in which the Jayhawks must have success, in order to have a chance to win the game.
First, the defense has to continue to force multiple turnovers. In Saturday's close 13-10 loss to Iowa State, the Kansas defense recovered a pair of fumbles and had an interception as well.
"Then I think special teams," Gill said. "We have to win that area. We must get a big play in special teams. There's a lot of little things that need to take place, too, but I think those two areas are very, very important for us."
Webb progressing smoothly
Quarterback Jordan Webb may not be putting up the eye-popping numbers of late he did early in the season, but Gill is still pleased with the progress he's seeing from his sophomore signal-caller.
"He's really improved in everything we've asked him to do," Gill said. "We have to help him out a little bit more here with our running game and our receivers doing some things."
A Saturday positive
It seems as if the Jayhawks have been doing an awful lot of searching for moral victories in the past seven weeks, but Gill said he was nonetheless pleased with the play of his defense in Saturday's loss.
The unit gave up 426 yards of total offense, but held the Cyclones to 13 points and forced three turnovers - giving the team every chance to win the game.
"We didn't have any major busts, I guess as far as assignments or anything of that nature," he said. "And the big thing I was very pleased with is our guys played hard, they tackled fairly well and I think we had a lot of guys around the football. it was good to see our guys play a four-quarter game."
Bowl no longer a mathematical possibility
Despite the loss of a potential bowl as motivation - as were the Jayhawks to win out, they would only tally five on the season - Gill said the coaches and players will find other ways to stay focused.
"I think if you're a competitor, you always want to be competing and play well, want to coach well, and we just try to translate that over to our players," he said.
McDougald coming on strong
One player who has come into his own of late is safety Bradley McDougald. The junior has logged two sensational games in a row, and Saturday recorded 11 tackles, two tackles for loss, forced a fumble and picked off a pass.
According to Gill, that's evidence he's at least reacting and playing instead of thinking on the field.
"It's great to see that," he said. "To see him the last two ball games really understand what he needs to do. He was a little more hesitant early in the season about some of his reads, what to do and when to go, all those things. So now he gets it."
Johnson's growth a point of pride
By now, pretty much every Kansas fan knows the story of linebacker Steven Johnson, who turned himself from walk-on to scholarship player, to starting linebacker and, finally, to Big 12-leading tackler.
Gill said seeing that metamorphosis take place is one of the most exciting elements of coaching.
"Now, to see where he's at today, and more important just how he has grown as far as being able to communicate," he said. "Again, not just football but just communication to us as coaches and talking more in the zone. And that's what exciting about coaching. Seeing guys develop."
Gill proud of senior class
This Saturday, a handful of seniors will play their last game at Memorial Stadium, and their head coach said he was proud of the leaders into which they've transformed.
They communicated with the coaches, they called position meetings on their own, they asked for suggestions and, most importantly, they bought in to what he and his staff are trying to accomplish.
"I think that kind of describes what type of people they are," Gill said. "To understand it's about the program, it's about the team, it's about the university. They're unselfish. I think that's the best way to describe this senior group. They're unselfish. They understand the big picture."