The final statistics told one story, and the gaping holes told another.
Gill said Sunday night that starting quarterback Jordan Webb was doubtful for Saturday’s game against Colorado because of his left shoulder injury.
“I probably really can’t answer any more until maybe by Wednesday to see how he feels at that particular time,” Gill said, “and I still may not have an exact answer at that time, but I’ll have a better sense of whether he’s going to be available.”
Gill said backup quarterback Kale Pick, who suffered a concussion against Texas A&M;, had improved in the last week.
“Definitely Kale’s probably more available (than Webb), if I said today, but again sometimes relapses happen,” Gill said. “That’s why you’re kind of just cautious and say that both guys right now are somewhat doubtful, and we’ll see how it goes.”
Saturday, during Kansas University’s 28-16 football loss at Iowa State, the Jayhawks turned in their best rushing performance in weeks, buoyed by new schemes, all-out effort and the fact that many Jayhawks were embarrassed by their recent performances.
“I think we definitely run-blocked better,” senior guard Sal Capra said. “We were a little bit more physical, and we had some different schemes in there, which did help us a lot.”
Those schemes, employed by KU coach Turner Gill and offensive coordinator Chuck Long as a way to simplify the offense, focused largely on running up the middle.
“We came in and tried to run some more power because we had watched on film that teams had gashed them with power,” senior Angus Quigley said. “We came in with the mind-set that we could run the ball, and we had some really good plays in the run game.”
Said Gill of the reason for the success: “I think our guys (were) winning the battles (at the line of scrimmage) and also (we ran) a little scheme we hadn’t done as far as our alignments and formations.”
Quigley and freshman James Sims combined to rush for 129 yards on 33 carries. Quigley gained 69 of those, and Sims hammered away for the rest.
KU’s solid showing on the ground served the Jayhawks well in several areas. It moved the chains. It chewed up clock. It gave Kansas confidence — something the Jayhawks really hadn’t felt since September.
The positive gains on the ground also took pressure off of the passing game, which was driven by first-time starter Quinn Mecham, a junior-college transfer from Snow College in Utah who filled in for the injured Jordan Webb.
“We haven’t done so well on offense the past few games,” Quigley said. “So creating a run game takes a lot of pressure off of teams rushing us like they’ve been doing, sending the house and things like that.”
Mecham, who was 22-of-33 for 149 yards and a touchdown, was especially appreciative of the support.
“Because we were successful, that definitely gave us that confidence that we needed,” Mecham said.
Of course, Mecham wasn’t the only Jayhawk who had someone to thank Saturday. Capra said the offensive line was inspired by how hard KU’s running backs ran on every play against the Cyclones.
“Oh yeah, definitely,” Capra said. “If you make a good block, they’re gonna make a big run. I think we executed well. There weren’t a lot of plays that we couldn’t run against them.”
Most of KU’s production on the ground came in the first half, before ISU coach Paul Rhoads and his defense made the adjustments that ultimately led Iowa State to victory. Quigley and Sims combined for 99 yards in the first half and just 30 in the second.
“I thought we did a good job of running the football,” Gill said. “Things went well. (They) obviously didn’t go well enough for us to get a W, but I thought we made some progress.”
Added Quigley: “I think that’s a positive from this game. That’s something we can build on, and that’s what we need as a football team.”