Kansas coach Lance Leipold not apologizing for close-call win over South Dakota; just the opposite, in fact
Before diving into Kansas football coach Lance Leipold’s breakdown of KU’s Week 1 victory after watching it on film, let’s start with the most important thing Leipold said during Monday’s press conference.
“There’s not a position on our team that we can’t get better at,” he said.
If that does not give you a clear look at exactly how KU’s new coach hopes to build this thing, you might never get it.
There were plenty of players and even position groups that performed well during last Friday’s season-opening victory over South Dakota. But those performances are now yesterday’s news.
In order for those outings to matter, Leipold wants to see those same guys perform that well again. And again. And again. And again.
His players themselves and the rest of the coaching staff are seeking that, as well.
If KU gets to the point where enough guys are doing that enough of the time, then there may be reason for optimism in Lawrence.
Until then, the Jayhawks are still just one track into recording something they hope will sound more like a Top 40 hit and less like the kind of death metal that comes pouring out of an angry teenager's bedroom.
No one is going to brag about KU’s three-point win over an FCS program. More, bigger and better was the goal.
But when you consider that wins have been so tough to come by at KU in the past decade, the fact that Leipold and his program have openly embraced that 17-14 victory as a good first step is also a sign of how they plan to build this thing.
Humbly celebrate the successes, no matter how big or small. Work hard to fix and eliminate the failures. Do that until the tally marks in Column A far outweigh the number of tally marks in Column B. And then keep going.
In Week 1, the mere fact that Kansas found a way to win after going down 14-10 with 5 minutes to play is good enough for a mark in Column A.
“The thing that I was most proud of is the things that I maybe saw on film last year when things didn’t go right, and how we responded and overcame that,” Leipold said Monday. “And yeah, you can say. ‘It’s an FCS team’ or whatever. All those other things that I’m not going to worry about right now.
“The fact is, this team came from behind when it had to, and it had a fourth and 10 and other things, and we found a way to win a football game.”
Fans and foes alike speculated after the game that many Kansas teams in that same scenario in recent years would have found a way to not get it done.
Leipold was asked Monday if he saw anything specific on that last offensive drive that illustrated why this team came through in that situation last Friday night.
While acknowledging that he wasn’t in the huddle, the first-year KU coach pointed to a few things he believed were factors.
Quarterback Jason Bean’s composure and center Mike Novitsky’s positivity topped the list.
“Hypotheticals are always tough, to say whether or not it would have happened in another year,” Leipold said. “I'm just awful glad it happened Friday.”
The Jayhawks are going to have to improve a lot — remember that opening quote? — before anyone is going to predict them to be competitive the rest of the way. After all, Vegas listed Coastal Carolina as a 27-point favorite when the line for this Friday’s game first came out.
But Leipold and company are hoping that a little confidence from their early success combined with the new mentality of several fresh faces may expedite things a bit.
“There is enough newness in some of the personnel that hopefully can help change things as we go through this season,” Leipold said.
This week, KU travels to No. 17 Coastal Carolina on Friday for a 6:30 p.m. kickoff that represents one heck of a test and an even better opportunity.