Thursday, September 12, 2013

Kansas focuses on road victory


The question was simple and the answer astonishing.

Earlier this week, as Kansas University’s football team began its preparations for Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. kickoff at Rice, KU coach Charlie Weis asked his team of more than 100 Jayhawks if any of them had won a road game while at Kansas.


Although some of KU’s longest tenured players were a part of the program that September day in 2009 when KU last won a road game — 34-7 at UTEP — none of them played in the game and most did not even make the trip. Because of that, the responsibility of breaking KU’s 22-game road losing streak falls on a bunch of players who have yet to win away from Memorial Stadium during their Kansas careers.

“I can’t explain it, man,” junior linebacker Ben Heeney said. “That’s the focus this week, winning on the road.”

To help them zero in, strength coach Scott Holsopple plastered posters throughout football complex with a simple message written on them. Listed below a photo of a convoy of team buses following a police escort to a game, are the motivational words of the week: “Our last road win was Sept. 12, 2009 at UTEP.” Heeney snapped a photo of the poster and made it the background image on his phone. Just about everything the Jayhawks have done this week has been done with snapping the losing streak in mind.

“I think this game is gonna be one of the biggest games we play all year,” Heeney said. “There’s no one on our team that has gotten a road win at Kansas. It’s pretty crazy. But we’re ready for it. We need to get this one. It’s a game we feel like we should win.”

There have been a few close calls since KU topped UTEP on Sept. 12, 2009. Later that season, KU lost one-score games at Colorado and Kansas State; in road games at Iowa State in both 2010 and 2011, KU was within seven points of the Cyclones in the fourth quarter; and last year KU lost by a touchdown at Northern Illinois and Texas Tech, the latter coming in double overtime.

“I’ve only been here a year,” Weis said. “I could care less about any games before I got here. All I know is, for the program, winning last week got the losing streak out of the way. Winning this week would get the losing on the road out of the way. Winning three weeks from now could get the conference win out of the way. So there’s stepping stones you have to take, and this just gives us an opportunity to get one of those put aside.”

One Jayhawk who has road wins on his résumé is junior quarterback Jake Heaps, KU’s first-year starter who transferred from BYU following the 2011 season.

Heaps was a part of four road victories during his two seasons at BYU — at Colorado State, Ole Miss, Oregon State and Hawaii — and he still remembers the feeling after each.

“There’s nothing better,” he said. “You have the opportunity to go down and make that whole environment about your team, and you feel the crowd kind of give in and you know, at that point, you’ve won the game.”


John Fitzgerald 8 years, 4 months ago

"It's not the will to win that matters - everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters." - Paul "Bear" Bryant

Lets hope our guys have as strong a will to prepare as they do to win. RCJH!

ccarp 8 years, 4 months ago

Don't just focus on solely winning the game to break the streak. Each player should focus on executing and dominating every single down.

nuleafjhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Kansas focuses on road victory

Not to be critical, but I think we could leave out the word " road ". I hope that's how the coaches and players are thinking about it anyway.

gorilla10 8 years, 4 months ago

I want to see improvement from week one. I want to see SMARTER football. I want to see a competitive defense that can make big plays. I want to see a win more than anything but as long as we're competitive and improving every week I will take it. We aren't fighting for a BCS bowl game this year or a conference championship. This year is all about bringing KU football back to a competitive program. We will forcus on the BCS playoff and winning a conference title next year. Can't wait to watch Jenkins moore, Harwell and Short after their redshirt seasons....

texashawk10 8 years, 4 months ago

I want to see a win more than anything but as long as we're competitive and improving every week I will take it.

The second half of that statement is the biggest issue with KU football, being satisfied with being competitive is the loser mentality that Charlie Weis has mentioned multiple times that he is trying to rid KU football of. Even Turner Gill had some competitive games at KU. Stopping after the first half is the attitude this teams needs. Wanting to win more than anything. Anything after that does nothing for KU football's problems.

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