The pads might not have popped as loudly as they had during game weeks, but the Kansas University football team was back on the practice field Tuesday after off days Sunday and Monday.
The Jayhawks, still smarting from a 55-7 loss to Baylor last Saturday, are in the midst of their annual bye week, which, this year, comes at a good time because it gives the Jayhawks a chance to regroup before welcoming Sunflower State rival Kansas State to town on Oct. 14.
Kansas coach Turner Gill said during Monday’s Big 12 coaches teleconference that there were several areas he and his staff would address during KU’s off week. Chief among them were better execution, ball security and rest.
“We gotta get our guys in position to make plays and our guys gotta make plays,” Gill said. “So we gotta find guys that are going to be able to make plays for us. And we just gotta take care of the football. Obviously, when you get the four turnovers (like KU had against Baylor) you’re not going to give yourself a good chance to win football games.”
Although last week’s 48-point drubbing left many to debate where the setback ranked among the most brutal losses in program history, Gill said he and his team did not spend much time talking about it after Sunday.
What’s more, Gill said he believed his players had put the disappointment behind them. Asked if he had regular discussions with his players about the big picture and the state of the program, Gill was direct with his answer.
“We talk about that, not necessarily every week,” he said. “I do talk with the captains on a weekly basis, but I also have a team counsel-member type group and discuss with more of the insight on where our team is. But I think everything is going well, guys come in, they work hard, they’re focused and I think the attitude has been good up to this point. We’re still moving forward. They all had a good attitude and approach and they’re ready to go to work.”
The Jayhawks will practice today, Friday and Sunday and are scheduled to take Thursday and Saturday off.
KU riding 4-game, post-bye win streak
In recent years, the Jayhawks have been solid in the weeks following their bye. Kansas is 4-0 since 2006 in games following their off week.
Two of those wins came against Kansas State. The first was in ’06, when KU was off on Nov. 11 and then pounded the Wildcats, 39-20, on Nov. 18 at home. The next win against KSU came the following year, when the Jayhawks, off to a 4-0 start, took their bye on Sept. 29 and knocked off the 24th-ranked Wildcats, 30-24, the following week in Manhattan. That springboarded the Jayhawks to a 12-1 season and an Orange Bowl title.
KU also has had a recent stretch of good luck against Iowa State after byes. In 2008, Kansas came back from a 20-0 halftime deficit to win 35-33 in Ames, Iowa. Jake Sharp finished with 186 all-purpose yards and Todd Reesing tossed three second-half TDs to spark the comeback. Last year, the Jayhawks knocked off ISU, 41-36, at home on Oct. 10. That win marked KU’s final victory of the season as well as the last win of the Mark Mangino era.
20 years of bye history
Since 1990, Kansas is 11-8 in the weeks following a bye. The Jayhawks did not have an off week in 2002. That year, KU started the season a week later than most teams, which essentially made Week 1 KU’s bye week.
In the last 20 years, KU owns a 3-3 post-bye record against ranked teams, with the most recent victory coming in 2007, when KU knocked off 24th-ranked Kansas State, 30-24, in Manhattan.
Four of those 19 games came against Kansas State, with KU holding a 3-1 advantage. The other victories against ranked teams during this stretch came in 1995, when KU beat 24th-ranked Colorado, 40-24, in Boulder, and 1996, when the Jayhawks upended No. 24 TCU, 52-17, in Texas.
Two of KU’s three losses to ranked teams in the week following a bye came against Oklahoma. In 2004, No. 2 OU pounded Kansas, 41-10 in Norman, and, in 1990, the Sooners, ranked ninth, beat Kansas, 31-17, also in Norman.
In addition to OU, KSU and ISU, the Jayhawks also have faced Colorado in three post-bye matchups since 1990, with CU two of the three meetings.
Next up, the Jayhawks will play their fifth post-bye matchup with Kansas State in the past 20 years, when the Wildcats visit Memorial Stadium on Oct. 14. Though the game will be played on a Thursday, K-State will not be dealing with a short week since the Wildcats play Nebraska this Thursday in Manhattan.