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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Jayhawks playing hard for Charlie Weis

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis watches as a challenged fumble is ruled in favor of Oklahoma during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Charlie Weis watches as a challenged fumble is ruled in favor of Oklahoma during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Charlie Weis

Kansas coach Charlie Weis talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 34-19 loss to Oklahoma on Oct. 19, 2013.

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Box score

KU-OU

The Kansas University football team stormed out of the locker room with all the vigor of bunch of grade-school boys busting through the doors on the last day of school looking forward to a summer of fun in the sun.

How does that happen? How does a school that came out of Saturday with a 34-19 loss to Oklahoma that extended the Big 12 losing streak to 24 games so look forward to playing?

Energetic junior defensive tackle Keon Stowers opened a window to the pre-game locker-room scene.

“It’s loud,” said Stowers, one of the team’s four captains. “We’re jacked. We’re hyped. I’m not a big rah-rah guy. I talk to the team. I get them hyped, but I’m not a big rah-rah guy. I like to focus in, but the atmosphere is amazing.”

How does it get that way?

“Coach Weis,” Stowers said of second-year coach Charlie Weis, whose KU record dropped to 3-15. “He does a good job of getting us riled up. I know you can’t see it from him, but he gets us pretty riled before the game. Just to see him, to see his energy, his passion for the game. We feed off it.”

With each loss, bodies fly off the Weis bandwagon, but to hear Stowers tell it, none of the bodies pull KU football jerseys over shoulder pads every Saturday.

“Everybody’s against coach Weis,” Stowers said. “We’re trying to change that. Everybody’s saying he’s a bad coach or he’s a bad person. It’s up to us to change that.”

KU’s players haven’t given up on Weis, for whom they still play hard.

The defense is doing its part, but like any good leader Stowers talked more about what the defense needed to do to get better before addressing the obvious culprit, KU’s anemic passing game. Stowers talked about how the defense needs to cut back on its penalties and how everybody needs to bring the first-quarter energy for four quarters.

“I feel like we get complacent as a team,” Stowers said. “Up 13-0 on OU, whoever thought that? Coming in at halftime it’s 18-13, we’re actually in the game, so we’re like, ‘We’re in it. We’re in it. We’ve got to keep going.’ You go out, guys are moving around and they’re feeling good. Then once something goes wrong, you see those long faces. And it’s up to us captains to try to get that off guys’ faces and keep going.”

Stowers expressed the opinion that football games are won in the third quarter. In the case of KU (2-4 overall, 0-3 in the Big 12), the second quarter has been just as bad. In conference play, KU has won the first quarter, 20-7, lost the second, 41-13, and lost the third, 38-13.

“You could just feel the atmosphere of the whole team going down when the offense gets stopped and the defense gets scored on,” Stowers said. “That’s the biggest step in the maturation of a team is how you respond after adversity. We have to keep building that. We’ve built on that, but we just have to keep going up with that.”

He’s right. KU has improved in that area in that once the dam broke against Texas Tech, there was no repairing it. This one was different.

After falling behind, 10-0 to KU, Texas Tech scored 54 consecutive points. Trailing 13-0 to the Jayhawks, OU scored 25 points in a row. Baby steps.

KU bounced off the canvas, cutting the deficit to six points and then it grew to eight without any time coming off the clock because the extra-point attempt was returned for two points early in the fourth quarter.

The defense played well and so did the running game. The whole world knows why the Kansas losing streak continues to grow, so there was no point in Stowers biting his tongue.

“We ran the ball, but you can’t be one-dimensional,” Stowers said. “It’s easy to load the box and stop a running team. You’ve got to be able to pass and run, because if you’re not accounting for the pass, you just load the box and stop the run. I can draw that defense up.”

Up next: Baylor, a squad adept at passing, running, stopping the pass and stopping the run, the best team in the Big 12.

Comments

Joe Ross 6 years, 3 months ago

You gotta feel for these guys and how they put their hearts into it. Its unfortunate that winning matters so much, yet it does. College football is a crucible where the pressure to perform can be crushing. Timely article, though, to remind us that the faces of human kids--some topping the scales at >300 pounds, I grant you--are behind a wall of frustrations and losses.

Doug Cramer 6 years, 3 months ago

All you can do is keep sawin wood...and find some diamond in the roughs for the trenches.

Matthew Krische 6 years, 3 months ago

Jayhawks played tough. Progress was made today. A lot of season left. If the offense can get going they're are alot of things that can progress. Taking the bell ringer of the big 12 to the 4th qtr is a positive day. I want to win as bad as anyone but realize that it takes time. Saw more wood. Bulid.

Michael Leiker 6 years, 3 months ago

Don't think Charlie's a bad person or coach but man can he pile one bad decision on another on another.

Beyond that the team played very well, feels like they're close to turning the corner. Keep after it! They're getting really fun to be real fun to watch.

Bryce Landon 6 years, 3 months ago

Let's say for a moment that KU does not win another game the rest of the year. That means Weis would have only 3 victories as KU coach compared to Turner Gill's 5. But Weis' teams are playing harder and better than Gill's ever did and have had more chances to win that Gill's teams had. Last year's team could have been 6-6.

This team hasn't quit, and I still believe they can break through and win a conference game. Who knows, they might pull the upset over Baylor this coming Saturday.

Nevertheless, I insist that Coach Weis give up being OC to someone else. This so-called offensive guru has us at the bottom of the Big 12 in PPG with 18.8. That hardly speaks to offensive genius. No wonder the fans at Florida were glad to see him go after the 2011 season.

Clarence Haynes 6 years, 3 months ago

Bryce says....."Who knows, they might pull the upset over Baylor this coming Saturday."

We wish!

Chuck Woodling 6 years, 3 months ago

On a positive note, the 19 points were the most the Jayhawks have scored in five games against FBS foes. So the coaching tweaks appear to be working.

Chandler Accipiter 6 years, 3 months ago

Those quotes from Stowers about Weis sound the exact same as what Steven Johnson said about Gill at exactly the same time in his tenure as head coach. The more things change...

KU is a fragile team, so it doesn't take much to shift the momentum especially in conference play. The pass interference on Sendish was huge, which negated an interception and nice return by McDonald, as was the holding call on Cozart's first play, a 15 yard gain from Sims. They fought to stay in the game, but even something like a returned extra point is daggers for this squad.

Robert Brown 6 years, 3 months ago

I agree. Let's not act as if during the Turner Gill era that there weren't times that KU came out and took a surprising lead only to have the momentum reversed before the end of the game. I still do not understand the reason for changing QB I'm the second quarter when the offense was rolling. How many times have we seen strange plays like that. How many yards did the offense gain the last two and a half quarters?

Doug Cramer 6 years, 3 months ago

I 100% agree as well. Charlie isn't doing any better than Gill. Look...I'm not a Gill fan... But let's not pretend things are much different.

As a matter of fact...I'm not so sure Gills offense may have been slightly better than Weis's.

This year's secondary is the best we've had since Talib, Kendrick Harper, and Chris Harris. But the line isn't any better...and Heeny is a gamer.

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