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For Gill, nothing to say

  • Published Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2011, at 12:09 a.m.

They keep trotting Turner Gill out in front of the media and he keeps talking, even though there's nothing to say.

These are desperate times for the Kansas football program, which slips farther and farther from relevance with each embarrassing defeat.

On Tuesday, Gill stressed a new theme for the rest of the season. In short, he proclaimed it a new month, with a new goal.

To finish strong.

Well, Coach Gill, I'm going to hold you to that.

Your Jayhawks have four games remaining: at Iowa State on Saturday; at home against Baylor on Nov. 12; at Texas A&M on Nov. 19 and against Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium on Nov. 26.

If you want to show people, and especially your administration, that you deserve a third year as Kansas' football coach in 2012, then you have to figure out a way to improve your football team.

Stat.

"I just wanted to talk about where we're at for our fans and really everyone as well as what I am telling our team and our coaches as we finish the season,'' Gill began his opening statement during Tuesday's media session. "First of all, I am just telling them that this is a new month. We are looking forward to the month of November because it is about how you finish. That is what we are talking to our players and coaches about, that we need to finish this (season) in a positive way.''

Like I said, Gill has to say something. And I suppose there are worse things than coming up with a theme to carry through the last four games of a forgettable (so far) season.

But if the goal is to improve — and those who care about Kansas football at this stage will know improvement when they see it — then it's a goal you must achieve.

That's not to say Gill and Kansas have to win some of the remaining games, although wins certainly would help cool that hot seat you're sitting on, Coach. It just means the Jayhawks have to get better. Noticeably better, which hasn't been the case for a long while now.

Each week, it seems, Kansas reaches a new bottom. The most recent was a humiliating loss Saturday night at Texas, when the KU offense failed to move the football and the defense was, well, the defense.

I think people understand that with any new coach it takes time. I don't think Kansas fans are being unlike any other fan base in that regard.

But where's the improvement? Where are the signs that the KU players are buying in to Gill's way of coaching? They may like Gill, but they're not rallying around him in any decipherable way.

What's left, then, is a team that appears to be without direction or focus. One that is incapable of rising above its inadequacies. One that struggles to stem the steadily threatening tide.

"All we need to do is keep working harder,'' Gill said Tuesday. "Keep watching things a little bit longer and keep talking about how we can get better. Those are the types of things we are talking about with our coaches and players, just being more detailed in everything we do.''

Again, he has to say something. But when the something he says is as vanilla as the previous quote, it must be difficult for Kansas fans to bite their tongues. Many of them don't; many are fed up and ready for change.

As for KU's upcoming game against Iowa State, Gill said: "We are really focused and in tune on this game to get it done right.''

Words are words.

The real test, of course, comes on the field of play. And that is where Kansas has been woeful for weeks. The Jayhawks have been outscored 262-100 in five Big 12 losses and have given up at least 42 points in each of their past seven games.

Against Texas, there were tangible signs that the Jayhawks' players were running out of will after being beaten down so thoroughly and consistently this season.

And the coaches have not been able to save them.

Iowa State, coming off an improbable win at Texas Tech on Saturday, will try to pound Kansas this week. So will Baylor, Texas A&M and Missouri. To the rest of the Big 12, KU represents a pinata.

And to this point, the Jayhawks have played the role well.

But, as Gill said Tuesday, it's a new month.

"We have eight games that we can look at and improve,'' Gill said. "And that's why you play the game. It only takes one play, one game, one quarter to put together something really special.''

Again, the poor guy has to say something.

Check sports columnist Bob Lutz's blog at blogs.kansas.com/lutz. Reach him at 316-268-6597 or blutz@wichitaeagle.com.

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