When Kansas brought in new coach Charlie Weis and former Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist, a one-win season is not what the Jayhawks had in mind.
Kansas (1-8, 0-6) will look for its first conference victory this weekend when the team travels to Lubbock to face Texas Tech (6-3, 3-3) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Weis said it is important to keep a positive outlook regardless of record or standing and make sure coaches are putting their team in a position to win.
“I think the most important thing is, on a weekly basis, you try to make sure that you’re putting your team in a position to win that game,” he said. “No matter who you’re playing, you never go into a game and say, ‘Well, we’re not going to win this one, so let’s just play him.’ You don’t do that.”
While the Red Raiders have seemingly flourished offensively, the Jayhawks have struggled to establish any rhythm from the offensive side of the ball. While the Jayhawks have run the ball well, ranked No. 33 among Football Bowl Subdivision teams, they have struggled mightily in other offensive areas. Kansas ranks 111th and 116th respectively in passing yardage and scoring offense, according to NCAA.com.
Weis said it is virtually impossible to re-create the fast-paced, up-tempo offense the Red Raiders run in practice, so it is challenging for the Jayhawks defense to get a grasp on what they may see Saturday morning.
“I think that no matter how you practice, you can’t simulate (the hurry up offense),” Weiss said. “Even if you practice with two huddles, so that you’re going quick, (the scout team players) still have to look at cards to see what the play is to try to give you the best simulation. And they’re not as good of athletes as the guys that they’re simulating. So, still, at the end of the day, you can give them the looks that they’re going to go against, but not at the tempo. No matter what you do, you still can’t create the tempo.”
Sophomore running back Tony Pierson has been dealing with a shoulder injury for several weeks.
Weis said he expects Pierson to be able to play without the support of a brace on his arm this week, and he thinks Pierson will look like a completely different running back against Tech.
“We get the brace off of his arm this week and as soon as that happens, I think that it’ll be night and day,” he said. “I think that what happens is you can’t bend it that much and you have this brace to protect it, but then you end up playing and only carry the ball in one hand and you don’t carry it in the other. I think that this week is about the week that we get past that stage.”
The Jayhawks sole victory occurred the first game of the season when the Jayhawks defeated South Dakota State 31-17. The Jayhawks nearly pulled off an upset victory against Texas two weeks ago. Kansas went into the fourth quarter with a 17-14 lead against the Longhorns. Junior quarterback Case McCoy then entered the game and led Texas on a game-winning drive to defeat the Jayhawks 21-17.
Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said although Kansas’ record may not fare well, they have played teams tough and he expects the same when the Jayhawks come to Lubbock.
“I know they haven’t won but one game, but they’ve played well,” Tuberville said. “They’ve been in most of their games. A lot like Texas, they run the ball offensively. They’re playing a couple of quarterbacks. Defensively, the guy that coaches them is a good friend of mine — Dave Campo, who was with the Cowboys when I worked at the University of Miami. (Campo is a) very good football coach, so they’ll come in ready to go, well disciplined, ready to play and looking for a win.”
Tuberville first met Weis traveling in the Middle East.
Tuberville said although he may maintain relationships with coaches on different coaching staffs, on Saturdays for four hours he could not care less about who is coaching on the opposite side of the field. The goal is to try to beat them.
“We spent two weeks together in Iraq and Afghanistan traveling around,” Tuberville said. “He was at Notre Dame at the time, I was at Auburn. I didn’t know Charlie that well. He had been in pro ball. But we had a good time together, became very close. I know a lot of guys on every coaching staff. But for about four hours, you can care less about who they are. You go after them and try to beat them. There’s a lot of carried-over friendships in this business because we deal with each other on a different basis than a lot of businesses.”
Tuberville also is familiar with the Jayhawks defensive coordinator Dave Campo. Campo and Tuberville worked together on Jimmy Johnson’s coaching staff at Miami before Campo followed Johnson to the Dallas Cowboys.
Senior quarterback Seth Doege said the Jayhawks have made vast improvements on the defensive side of the football, and he anticipates Kansas’ best look when the two teams matchup this weekend.
“I know that they’re a lot better on defense than they were, and I know looking at their schedule, they’ve played some teams really tough,” Doege said. “They’re a tough football team, and I think they play with a lot of pride and they play well for their university. I think they’re excited to come in here and play us, and I think just by looking at games in the past of ours and then theirs, they have confidence in playing us.”