Monday, September 19, 2011

Jayhawks insist they’re ‘better’

Georgia Tech running back Orwin Smith runs past KU's Steven Johnson on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 in Atlanta.

Georgia Tech running back Orwin Smith runs past KU's Steven Johnson on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 in Atlanta.


They might not have done much Saturday to back it up, but Kansas University’s football players want people to know this year’s team is different than the one that finished 3-9 and rarely competed during 2010.

“Guys are making progress, slowly but surely,” junior safety Bradley McDougald said after KU’s 66-24 loss to Georgia Tech in Atlanta. “Fans may not see it, but guys are definitely getting better.”

A year ago, after a similar embarrassment at Baylor, the Jayhawks were unable to contain their emotions and left Waco, Texas, in a rage, searching for answers and unsure of why things had reached such disturbing levels. Linebacker Steven Johnson marveled at how much bigger and faster the Bears were that day.

That wasn’t the case in Atlanta. Sure, the anger was there. But this year’s team left with its collective heads held high and its eyes fixed on improving. In the world of college football, where entire seasons can turn in a week’s time, such a mind-set is crucial, especially for a team such as Kansas, which now heads into its bye week and has two weeks to prepare for its Big 12 opener Oct. 1 against Texas Tech at Memorial Stadium.

“We’re 2-1,” KU coach Turner Gill said repeatedly during Saturday’s postgame meeting with reporters. “I still want to look at that. It’s one football game. We still have a lot of season left, and I feel good about where we’re headed. We have improved.”

To say that is one thing. To leave it at that is another. And KU’s players aren’t willing to do that, especially those who play for a defense which has allowed 132 points and 1,650 yards in three games. To put that number in perspective, during KU’s worst three-game stretch a season ago, the defense gave up 159 points in blowout losses to Baylor, Kansas State and Texas A&M.;

“The defense definitely wants to show up for the offense,” said McDougald, noting that KU’s offense has done enough to keep the team competitive. “We want to get them turnovers, get stops for them and set them up with good field position. We’re gonna scratch and claw and do whatever we have to do to get it.”

Simply having the desire to improve does not make it a given the Jayhawks will deliver. Despite winning two of its first three games, the KU defense consistently has struggled to pressure opposing quarterbacks, prevent big plays and force turnovers. Despite the coaching staff emphasizing the importance of takeaways during the past two weeks, the Jayhawks have forced just one turnover this season, and that was a fumble on a failed fourth-down attempt by McNeese State in the season opener.

“I know as a defense we’re way better than this,” Johnson said. “The stats might not show it, but I just know it. I feel it in my heart that we’re better than this.”

How can Johnson, a co-captain and two-year starter, be so sure?

“I have a lot of faith in this team,” he said. “This is a different team, and it’s not like last year. What I can take away from this is we fought. When it was looking really bleak, we fought. Nobody hung their heads. We know we’re better than this.”

Added quarterback Jordan Webb, KU’s poster boy for improvement: “We’re so much better this year. If people can’t see that, I guess they don’t know too much about football. We know the nay-sayers are out there, but we’re not gonna listen to them. People can jump off the bandwagon now if they want, but we’re gonna work our tails off to get better.”


manginorh00lz 7 years ago

They are 0-1 against legitimate D-1 competition. I agree it is too early to really tell how bad this team is, but they did look pretty darn bad.

Stephen Londerholm 7 years ago

No this team has really improved from last year and I excited about the future and right now I think they are talented enough to go to a bowl game I mean we were in that game and our offense was set to go for 500 yards which is real good before KU feel apart mainly because of the play calling by Vic Shealy I saw nothing from him that made me think he has a clue on how to stop any kind of offense. We have talent on defense I know that star rating on rivals really dosen't mean much but most of the 4 star athletes KU has gotten is playing on the defensive side of the ball. I have faith in the players I don't have faith in Vic Shealy and it is about time that we FIRE Vic.

Kyle Helmer 7 years ago

How about 1-1. Remember, we were 7 point underdogs to NIU. That is a great won. I know they got hammered by Wisconsin, but if you have seen them play, they might be the best team in the country.

Dirk Medema 7 years ago

We're 1-1 against bowl teams from 2010, though we certainly did look bad most of the game against GT.

Ironically, even our best plays (1st punt coverage by ?Brown? that was downed at the 5) added to their records (record setting 95 yd run vs. just a bad 80 yd run).

Glen Miller 7 years ago

Northern Illinois had 10 wins and went to a bowl last year.... I'd say that's legitimate D-1 competetion. Not on the level of GT, but still a quality team that we wouldn't have beaten last year. I've watched two games and I can tell that we are definately a better team this year. Are we on the level of OU, Ok State and A&M.... no, but I do believe there is hope in the future!

hawk316 7 years ago

This bye week may have come at a perfect time. After a thorough butt-kicking that this team received in Atlanta, these guys are going to be completely focused on getting better. I suspect that there are still 2-3 wins to be had, but our defense has to make significant improvement...obviously.

gardenjay 7 years ago

I agree with this article except for putting the word 'better' in quotes. Doesn't that seem to say the players are putting it in quotes?

Which they clearly are not. They believe in themselves and the team, and the least we can do as fans is back them up. Go you jayhawks, RC!!!!

Matt Tait 7 years ago

Webb says it:

Added quarterback Jordan Webb, KU’s poster boy for improvement: “We’re so much better this year. If people can’t see that, I guess they don’t know too much about football. We know the nay-sayers are out there, but we’re not gonna listen to them. People can jump off the bandwagon now if they want, but we’re gonna work our tails off to get better.”

Kman_blue 7 years ago


You may want to fix the caption of the photograph as you correctly said in the piece itself, Bradley McDougald is a Junior, not a Senior.

Kman_blue 7 years ago

I like that the players are still positive and believe in themselves and it's great that individual players may be improving, but our defense is not improved at all at this point. The proof is in the pudding so to speak and the pudding is the performance on the field and so far it's been a soft smelly lump of rotten gelatin.

It's time to start backing up those positive beliefs and individual improvements with a solid collective team performance on D!! Another high powered Tech offense awaits. It's time to start stepping up or shutting up fellas! Let's make it the former rather than the later and take it to the Tech team coming to town in 2 weeks! I'll be there and supporting the team and I hope everyone else will be too. It's time to start living up to your own expectations and why you all still believe in each other fellas! Get it done!

johnnyhrdwd 7 years ago

Johnson was planning his offense for this one the day after KU beat Tech last year. We are young and it was our first road game, Darian Miller was making some great runs. This team is better and will improve. Probably wouldn't be a bad idea if Gill would bring in some juco D lineman in this class. Lets put this one behind us.

John Brown 7 years ago

I hope they use the week off to watch some film of the next opposing team.

Ted Toulouse 7 years ago

We ARE better this year....on offense.

To only have 1 turnover in the first three games is inexcusable. We need disipline and we need coaching and right now we aren't getting much of either one on that side of the ball.

Andy Tweedy 7 years ago

Special teams have been okay so far, too. But the defense sure if awful!

jaymar74 7 years ago

how many times have the other team turned us over?

willie_fu_fu 7 years ago

I don't understand why recruiting DT's dosen't seem to be much of a concern. Over the last three classes, including this one, KU has landed 1 DT and Edwards won't ever play. We had to go to the 3-4 due to a lack of DT's and now with Williams hurt we are worse off. It's no wonder we can get a pass rush or stop the run. Gill and staff need to get atleast a couple Juco's and HS DT's in the next class.

Alex Berger 7 years ago

For one they are definitely not a middling ACC team. They are one of the top 3 teams and won the ACC title 3 years ago. I mean this wasn't Vanderbilt we lost to. It was a top 25 team, in their home stadium, and they were mad as hell that they got embarrassed by KU last year (hence running for it on 4th down when they were up by 40).

The schedule does look rough, but KSU and ISU are definitely not as good as GT. We still have a shot at 4 wins (and thats not counting any other surprises). I'm ready to see the raw talent we have get better and move forward.

squawkhawk 7 years ago

Neither KSU nor ISU have to be anywhere nearly as good at GT to beat KU by 20 or so points.

supersonicf111 7 years ago

ISU beat Iowa 44-41!

ISU beat UConn at UConn

Iowa came back Saturday and beat Pitt when they were getting it put on them at home.

I'm a KU fan, but I think I'd be picking ISU at this point. Not to mention the game is in Ames.

OMG, how many points is TTU going to put up on us??? Shoot me now!

Sure looks like a 2-10 season to me

Dyrk Dugan 7 years ago

we don't have the horses to play good D right's just that simple. You can talk about scheme all day long, but you need fierce, hard hitting fast LBs...and up the field, wreak havoc in the backfield DTs and DEs...and we have neither.

plus, our DBs are all very inexperienced. This unit will improve....Dorsey hopefully comes back before KSU....and that will help. but in the meantime, the offense has to chew the clock, limit possessions for other team, and our kicking game could help us out some (we're young there too.)

I've said all along, that our record this year may be the same or worse as last year. i'm still holding out hope for 4-8....and then we can start to build this thing.

HCTG must be allowed to get his players in....and since the DC that he hired couldn't be with us this year.....the judgement on the new guy's performance should be allowed to happen as well. Maybe Shealy isn't the right fit. He is now the 4th DC in 5 years.....that hurts the continuity and the preparation.

but he's our guy this year, and you have to trust the staff to put our guys in the best position.

ahpersecoachingexperience 7 years ago

These guys have a better chance of selling me a pair of miracle socks than selling me on their improvement!

Andy Tweedy 7 years ago

You did it! Somehow, I've missed this miracle socks phase, but constant references got me to their website today. You get any royalties for this?

ahpersecoachingexperience 7 years ago

It was an infomercial that ran EVERY timeout during the NIU game. Guess you had to be there.

supersonicf111 7 years ago

lol, stop, you're going to have me crying soon!

Andy Tweedy 7 years ago

This team IS better. The offense is leaps and bounds better and I haven't seen anything awful from special teams yet. But good lord the defense sucks! I do believe our offense will win a couple more games, but against good offenses, that's just too much to ask of them to score every time they have the ball. I hope HCTG is scouring the JUCO ranks for D-linemen because we just don't have any...

hailtoku 7 years ago

I'm not going to lie...

The headline for this is priceless. I read it sarcastically as, Jayhawks insist they're "better".

who_said_it 7 years ago

They are better on offense. We finally found a quarterback who can play (at least is consistent through 3 games), and all the running backs look promising. Once the game got out of hand, it didn't really matter how the offense looked, because the defensive was atrocious. We were in it for a half, and if the defense could have stopped them once-maybe once a quarter, our offense was good enough to win the game. I'm not sure If Vic Shealy didn't prepare or if we simply do not have the athletes on the defensive side. It looked like a combination of both. Embarrassing.

Alex Berger 7 years ago

On the bright side we know that KU wasn't spying on their offensive signals. No cheating here!

jaymar74 7 years ago

Punting game much improved over last year, speicial team coverage on all kicks much improved, more and better running backs than last year, faster, QB looks better in footwork and decision making, good your WRs (remember our two best were out against GT as was a solid LB), all are small steps forward.

jayhawkintx73 7 years ago

For the rest of this season, this team has a chance to prove that they're better than last year. If this team does lose to Kansas State, it can't be another 59 to 3 embarrassment at home. It has to be more like 24-21 loss. That Kansas State team should not be able to score more than 24 on a team that is greatly improved from a year ago.

This is up to the coaches to make in-game adjustments, and they did not do that on Saturday but the other team sure as heck did.

Kyle Crenshaw 7 years ago

did anyone else notice our horrible, very predictable play calling? at least 90% of series' (while the game was still relevant) had us running 1st and 2nd down and throwing on 3rd down. yeah it worked in the first half but it tech easily picked up on it in the 2nd half. Webb has shown the ability to make big throws so why not throw it more often on 1st and 2nd down so that way we don't end up with needing to have 3 plays to get 1 first down each time and that opens up the run game more. The O coordinator needs to get better at this so we're not so predicitable!

Kyle Crenshaw 7 years ago

did anyone else notice our horrible, very predictable play calling? at least 90% of series' (while the game was still relevant) had us running 1st and 2nd down and throwing on 3rd down. yeah it worked in the first half but it tech easily picked up on it in the 2nd half. Webb has shown the ability to make big throws so why not throw it more often on 1st and 2nd down so that way we don't end up with needing to have 3 plays to get 1 first down each time and that opens up the run game more. The O coordinator needs to get better at this so we're not so predicitable!

tical523 7 years ago

Exactly, Webb is good enough to pass on 2nd & 7. . . . makes no sense at all. Even my sister noticed that "we only pass on the third play", it is embarrassing to know my sister could pretty much handle being a defensive coordinator for G Tech and succeed against us.

OKHawkFan 7 years ago

wait wait wait.....Predictable offense??? I believe GT ran the ball more than they passed correct? So by that rationale we should have been stopping the predictable triple option. Play calling did not doom KU.... A better team beat KU plain and simple.

jayhawkintx73 7 years ago

KU was predictable on Defense too. They didn't change anything throughout the game. The kept the Line backers inside and kept having them try to go through the line after the runners were already on the outside.

Both sides of the ball would have been busy for Nepal University to beat us on Saturday, and Nepal, they don't even have a team.

OKHawkFan 7 years ago

Maybe you should listen to Vic Shealy's explaination. They did try to make adjustments. Plain and simple KU got out schemed. That and our defense just isn't that good mainly because we don't have any type of presence up front. I saw a GT team that is pretty good. IMHO if you have better athletes and better talent you're gonna beat an inferior opponent 8 out of 10 times (the other 20% being the superior team had a bad day with turnovers and what not). Again GT was just a better team.

yates33333 7 years ago

The optimism of KU football fans is underwhelming. But justified!

Bill Kackley 7 years ago

I think we are being a little hard on the defense and soft on the offense. If the players should be watching anything from the game film it is the great blocking by the GT line and ends. Turn that around and we have a great game, maybe even a win. You have to block to win. We plain lost that game up front.

KU 7 years ago

Thank you for your dose of reality. Our offensive line is not "vastly improved", as Keegan said earlier in the week. They looked good against inferior competition. Look for them to get their a$$e$ handed to them the rest of the season.

Football is won at the line of scrimmage. Our offensive and defensive lines are subpar for the Big 12. I've been saying it for the past 3 yrs. Therefore, we will probably lose most of the Big 12 games. We may stand a chance against KSU and MU, but just because those are rivalry games and the bets are off on those type of games. KSU? Their coaching staff can run circles around ours. ISU? They are so much better coached than KU that I don't see a chance, especially away. MU? The talent differential at the line of scrimmage is remarkable.

The rest of the Big 12? Texas Tech is our best chance of a win. Does anybody really expect that to be a W?

troutsee 7 years ago

Sorry guys but I don't see any improvement in the defense over last year. No takeawys. Poor to little penetration. No adjustments. Game one, we were susceptable to the screen pass over and over, and game two to the outs, and game three to the non-use of the triple option. Good teams are built on solid defenses and this defense has looked very, very soft and poorly adapatable to game conditions.

However, the offense is vastly improved as is the punting. So, maybe, if we can keep our defense off the field, we can win some games. I cannot criticize the play calling. We simply must run and take time off the clock on offense.

the defense better show up against TT or it is going to be another embarrassment.

jhawkroger 7 years ago

If, as Mr. McDougald says, this team is getting better, I would sure hate to see them if they were getting worse. I am totally glad I saved my money and stayed home in Atlanta rather than going to see the "Fiasco on the Flats". I guess if you say that we have won 2 games this year as opposed to the one last year, we are getting better.

Kirk 7 years ago

What we're seeing is micro-improvement.

We need to see improvement that leads to a more competitive football team.

Still waiting.

Marcia Parsons 7 years ago

We seem to be building our team by starting with the offense. Hopefully the next couple recruiting classes will concentrate on the defense and we'll see a similar improvement. Right now we just don't have the horses on defense.

Michael Leiker 7 years ago

I see kids making mistakes, but making them going forward instead of playing on their heels like last year. You cant fix problems that are being made when guys are not being aggressive. This was a bug hurdle to climb after last year. Credit to Gill and Staff.

Saturday was embarassing, but I am extremely happy with the progress in terms of athleticism and demeanor this year. Lets hope they keep it moving in the right direction. If they can stay consistent in those two areas we could see some quick improvement. Hopefully TG will be as willing to move the O athletes he recruited to defense as he was with Ginos recruits.

Jasonator 7 years ago

U guys are looking through red and blue colored glasses, yea this team looks a little better, they still suck. They don't have a defense, they r gonna get drilled bc of that defense. Do u really think ku is gonna beat ksu? Snyder has their number, he has been scheming this game for quite a while. If u don't think they r gonna run down their throats ur crazy. Hell look how ku made Carson Coffman look like a stud, that just shows u what kind of coach he is. He knows how important this game is and they will be ready. No offense but gill reminds me of prince bc he is just in over his head. Also, u guys seem to think ur safe in this realignment issue, remember it's about football not basketball, football is what drives this not gayhawks basketball :).

OKHawkFan 7 years ago

Jason man your are brilliant!! I mean at this point we shouldn't even play the game right? I'll tell you what. KU will chalk up an L for the football season against K-State and the Wildcats can chalk up 2 or 3 L's this basketball season. I mean why bother right? No sense in playing these games.

Jasonator 7 years ago

Not what I'm saying, anything can happen. But their defense is horrible, the only thing u can hope for is for turnovers and special teams. Exactly what Prince needed. He wanted lean and fast guys exactly what ku wants. Look where that got ksu a fired coach with lots of money. I'm just saying for some reason Snyder knows ku we will see though anything can happen!

OKHawkFan 7 years ago

Oh I see what you're saying you see a correlation between Prince and Gill. Let me guess you're an athletic director by profession right? If only Lou Perkins had consulted "Jasonator" we wouldn't be in this mess. Gill doesn't understand anything about winning or how to coach. He learned absolutely nothing from Tom Osborne. He's been in the coaching profession for these many years because he's a nice guy right? Look I'm not saying TG is going to make it. Maybe he doesn't have what it takes to be a head coach in a BCS conference. I do feel he at the very least deserves 4 years to try to build this team his way. A lot of people think TG is too nice and everybody knows nice guys finish last. We should hire a guy who can win now and fast regardless of the cost or the corners that must be cut to win now. However, I'm willing to give a guy who has intregity a chance. Who here can honestly say Way to go Auburn you won a national championship without snickering underneath their breath...."Yeah right all thanks to Scam Newton." You know Tressel would still have a job if he had displayed integrity. Sadly integrity means nothing anymore to a lot of people as long as we win/are successful in life.

Yakihawk 7 years ago

To all KSU trolls: Remember the 1980's? There was this team that wore purple and they didn't win a whole lotta games. The internet didn't exist, but even if it did, I don't think any JAYHAWK would care enough to comment on said team's fan thread.

KU 7 years ago

This is just a sad post. I'm Jayhawk thru and thru. Why would you point to the 1980s to support your school and put down another school? That's frickin' pathetic. I don't give a damn what happened 30 years ago. I want to win NOW, damn it!

squawkhawk 7 years ago

Remember back in 1863 when KSU existed and KU didn't? Stupid post!

Yakihawk 7 years ago

Totally missed the point. Allow me to rephrase. Both of our programs have had their low points, and I don't understand why rival fans would come and kick up dust on our website, and I think KU folks have class and wouldn't have went out of their way to kick KSU when they were down in the 80's, or any time. Geez, I guess I'll leave the creative writing to someone else.

squawkhawk 7 years ago

Yaki, get real. Fans of all schools check out other school's websites and blogs. Check out the star and you'll see plenty of KU fans commenting on MU and KSU articles. Where do you get this "we are better than thou" attitude? It is what give all KU fans a bad rap.

JacquesMerde 7 years ago

Can you imagine a sorrier state of affairs than KU and KState fans trading insults about football? Even more so, which team is better!!!! Too bad we can't get Iowa State fans involved then we could really have a powerhouse discussion.

kellerman411 7 years ago

Hahahaha... no joke.... god it's so sad... We all love it though!

HawkNVegas 7 years ago

"better" than what, Devry School for the Blind? Please, ya'll ninjas suk so bad you make Division II seem like thats Too Good for the sorry football Hawks. Sorry guys, and if any player reads this, YOU SUCK! Come see me in Vegas if your coach lets you stay out past curfew? Nah, can't even Facebook huh? haha, keep playing that Turner Gill, scary ball, and we'll keep wishing Mangino Never Left. Poke Ya in the Chest much!?!?

Randy Bombardier 7 years ago

Well, it wasn't pretty Saturday. We are definitely better than that. We were not prepared. They were motivated. I hope we remember this game a long time and do something about it.

kellerman411 7 years ago

Did you see KU defenders getting ran over and knocked backwards? Not really. The kids were so far out of position, well, I don't even have anything to compare it to. Never seen anything like it. I mean, it wasn't even like the GT backs were running through arm tackles. KU defenders weren't even close enough to invade their personal space. On the rare occasion that a KU defender was accidentally in the right position, I thought they tackled fairly well actually. Our defensive staff did not prepare the kids to sniff out all the GT fakes. Hell, it looked like no one on out entire team watched any film. That was the single worst performance from the linebacker position that I have ever seen at any level.

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