Three weeks into the 2010 season, fans of Kansas University’s football program have seen three vastly different KU teams take the field.
That’s not surprising, according to KU coach Turner Gill, who continues to preach patience and discipline as the Jayhawks (1-2) prepare for their final nonconference game of the season, at 6 p.m. Saturday against New Mexico State (0-2).
“Every game I’ve spoken to them about the same thing,” Gill said. “We’re trying to improve on every phase of our game. My talk hasn’t changed. It doesn’t depend on the quality of the opponent. We’ve just gotta get better as a football team. That’s what they heard (last weekend), and that’s what they’ll continue to hear.”
For the second time in three weeks, Gill and his coaching staff have entered game preparation on the heels of a loss. Although there are several negatives that come with carrying a loss through the weekend — particularly during a week such as last week, when the Jayhawks played on a Friday — Gill said it also can be easier to get a team to focus.
“There’s probably some truth to that,” Gill said. “I think that’s in most cases of any human being, particularly if you’re a competitor. When you didn’t perform as well as you had hoped for, you are going to come back with a lot more sense of urgency.”
Sims further cements spot
Freshman running back James Sims played well enough during Friday’s 31-16 loss to Southern Miss to earn the trust of the KU coaching staff. During the preseason, Gill and offensive coordinator Chuck Long said they hoped to find one back capable of getting 20-25 carries per game. With 17 carries against Georgia Tech and 20 more against Southern Miss, Sims appears to be that guy.
“At this point in time, we would say that James Sims is the back,” Gill said. “I’d say Sims and (Deshaun) Sands would be the guys that would get the majority of the time. I think (Sims is) going to get better and better as he continues to play here at this level. I think he has done some good things and, obviously, still has some improvement (to make). But I like what he’s doing.”
Through three games — only two of which he has played in — Sims has recorded 175 yards on 37 carries and added one touchdown. The record for rushing yards in a season by a freshman belongs to June Henley, who gained 1,127 yards in 1993.
Gill talks Bourbon, red-shirt
After hinting at it last week, Gill talked more specifically about the current status of freshman running back Brandon Bourbon and his potential to red-shirt this season.
Bourbon has yet to appear in a game this season and, therefore, could decide to red-shirt, which would allow him to retain his four seasons of eligibility. Bourbon, or any other player, loses the option to red-shirt as soon as he appears in a game.
“Right now, we kind of got him on a hold,” Gill said. “(If) somebody gets hurt, then we would play him. So, right now, he’s kind of on a hold as far as the red shirt. Particularly here in the next game or two. If it stays the way it is and no injuries occur, then we’ll definitely probably have him on a red-shirt path at this point in time.”
KU-Baylor set for 11 a.m.
KU officials announced Monday that the game between the Jayhawks and Baylor University on Oct. 2, in Waco, Texas, will kick off at 11 a.m. and be televised by Fox Sports Net.
The game, which is the Big 12 Conference opener for both squads, will mark the Jayhawks’ 20th straight television appearance.