Executing a pair of key completions that didn’t happen and the Kansas University football team could boast a 3-1 record, instead of 1-3. Not only that, the reality of the challenge that faces Charlie Weis could have been delayed, shoved for the moment into the shadow cast by a winning record.
Try telling anybody a quick fix simply isn’t a realistic possibility for a team that has a 3-1 record.
It shouldn’t be so tough to see that now for a program that has gone 6-29 in its past 35 games. Things stand to get worse before they get better, with the remaining eight games all against Big 12 teams and so many starters out of eligibility after this season.
Weis fixed the troublesome academic state of the program swiftly, appointing himself academic liaison and running from the program those not interested in the student half of the student-athlete title. Guys with dirty urine were shown the door as well. In the case of good-guy quarterback Jordan Webb, Weis’ assessment of his talent led to his departure.
Charlie has upgraded the good-citizen aspect of the program. Now he needs to attract more good football players.
On a day when former Jayhawks encountered mixed results — Webb threw for 345 yards in leading Colorado to its first victory; Turner Gill’s Liberty squad, 7-4 a year ago, dropped to 0-4 — Kansas had mounting concerns exposed on the right side of its offensive line and at quarterback.
Looking to 2013, the offensive line shapes up as the most frightening concern. Fifth-year seniors center Trevor Marrongelli, left guard Duane Zlatnik and left tackle Tanner Hawkinson will leave a huge void in more ways than physically.
Three-fourths of the starting secondary also must be replaced. Even if promising young players develop alongside returner Tyler Patmon, the lack of experience will show.
At quarterback, Jake Heaps, whose star faded during his two years at Brigham Young, brings more spontaneity than Dayne Crist, but is handing him the job instead of making him compete for it wise? Competition tends to bring out the best in athletes.
Not all of the hurdles to improving are personnel-related. The quality of the streamlined Big 12 Conference enhances the difficulty of a rebuilding process because such a brutal schedule makes building confidence a stiff challenge. Nearly half of KU’s nine Big 12 games are against schools now ranked in the top 15 and two-thirds are against Top 25 teams: No. 7 Kansas State, No. 8 West Virginia, No. 12 Texas, No. 15 TCU, No. 16 Oklahoma, No. 25 Baylor.
The three unranked Big 12 foes, Iowa State, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, have a combined record of 8-1.
Even if Weis and his staff continue to build on an encouraging recent recruiting run, this shapes up as a long, slow climb from the Big 12 basement.