NIU-Kansas Q & A with Rock Chalk Talk

LAWRENCE KS - OCTOBER 14: Head coach Turner Gill of the Kansas Jayhawks trots onto the field ahead of the game against the Kansas State Wildcats on October 14 2010 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Make sure to head on over to Rock Chalk Talk, the best Kansas blog there is for a little smack talk, a little insight and to thank them for contributing to this little interview thing. Ours will be up on there sometime today as well.

What is the overall feeling right now surrounding Turner Gill as the head coach of KU?

I think everyone hopes for the best and we think if he can get things rolling in the right direction that he can knock it out of the park.  He's already been able to recruit at a level that we haven't seen before and get the type of athletes in place that can break plays.  The next step is winning football games so he can land those while consistently improving.  If he doesn't win the honeymoon wears off, if he wins he could turn a corner that Kansas coaches in the past have had difficulty in doing.

I'm expecting an improved offense from last year to face off against the Huskies. Is this a true statement? How good can this offense be?

Yes it will be improved.  The Kansas offensive line is healthy and they have four running backs that can make plays.  That means that QB Jordan Webb will be asked to do less and allowed to take a game manager type role which is perfect.  I don't think it's an offense that is going to blow you away by any means, but Kansas was so bad last year that having an offense that can move the ball, control tempo and score points is a huge improvement.

If the Huskies are able to stop your rushing attack, will you be able to put it up though the air?

I don't feel great about it.  Webb was very efficient last week but he was only asked to throw the ball 10 times and most are crediting the established running game for his success.  If Kansas gets caught in a one dimensional game then I think it would be a bad thing.  That said, maybe Webb is legitimately improved and he'll surprise us but at this point it's a "show me don't tell me" approach for most Kansas fans.

What was the biggest problem on defense last week against McNeese State and how much does the NIU offense scare you?

It was a little deceptive.  Kansas was improved against the run but McNeese was knocking it out of the park on screen passes, and short routes.  Kansas just wasn't executing and tackling very well on those plays and McNeese slowly but surely moved the ball down the field.  At the same time Kansas played it very "vanilla".  Inside the red zone you tend to see teams start to show more of what they'll do and in those instances Kansas was productive.  I think the issues were fixable, but Kansas isn't going to turn into a great defensive team overnight. 

With that in mind the NIU offense is definitely a concern, especially a quarterback who can make plays in multiple ways.  Kansas struggled big time against that last year. Again, "show me don't tell me" for Kansas fans.  On paper it's a group that looks far more prepared and equipped to deal with any opponent from an athleticism standpoint, but we still need to see it to believe it.

Predictions?

I go back and forth.  I think Kansas either wins this one in a close game or it's a 14-17 win for NIU.  Kansas can't get behind or they could be in trouble.  If they can establish the ground game as they did a week ago I think they keep it close.  End of the day I'll go Kansas 34 NIU 31.  Can't pick against my own team yet!

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