University of Kansas

Gill needs Jayhawks to execute

LAWRENCE — So far in the Turner Gill era, he has done everything in his power to accentuate the positives in his program.

Through three games, Kansas' first-year coach says he's OK with where his team is defensively. And given that he didn't know what to expect with a young offense learning a new system, he feels OK about that side of the ball, too.

But Gill couldn't hide his negativity when it came to evaluating his special teams.

"I guess special teams is the one I'm disappointed in," Gill said. "Even though we've got an all new staff, all new people, you go three games and you're not doing something well as far as in the punt return and on the punt team."

The Jayhawks' punt team allowed a blocked punt in the 6-3 loss to North Dakota State. Two weeks later, at Southern Mississippi, the Golden Eagles broke the game open by blocking a KU punt and returning it for a touchdown late in the second quarter.

"The two blocked punts that we had, people didn't block their guy," Gill said. "It wasn't really an all-out punt block (by the opponent) technically. One guy just beat our guy, came free and did it. It's just execution. It's not about scheme. It's line up and beat that guy and do your job."

While KU has been obviously deficient in the punt and field-goal units — KU kicker Jacob Branstetter missed two field goals in the loss to the Bison — it has had mixed results in its return game. Kickoff return man D.J. Beshears had two returns for 84 yards against North Dakota State, but punt returner Daymond Patterson hasn't been able to break a big punt return.

Overall, Gill just wants his special teams to start making a positive impact across the board.

"We must win every phase of the game in special teams," Gill said. "We have to be excellent in that phase. We have to make sure that special teams is not an area where we are not productive."

Related stories from Wichita Eagle