Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis knows all too well the deal about the Jayhawks’ lack of success on the road.
“We haven’t won a road game around here in an eternity,” Weis said on Monday morning’s Big 12 coaches conference call.
It hasn’t been quite that long, but it has been nearly five years since KU’s last victory away from Memorial Stadium — Sept. 12, 2009, at UTEP. Mark Mangino was the head coach. Todd Reesing was the quarterback. And the 24th-ranked Jayhawks were on their way to a 5-0 start in a season that ended in disarray and sent the program spiraling toward the drain.
Despite all of the recent failures and the 27 consecutive losses away from Lawrence — there have been a handful of close calls; five games in that stretch were decided by seven points or fewer — Weis believes Saturday’s game in Durham, North Carolina, where the 1-0 Jayhawks will take on 2-0 Duke at 2:30 p.m., offers a golden chance to end the madness.
“This is a good game for us,” Weis said. “We’re playing against a nice, solid team in Duke. They’re very well coached, very methodical in what they do, but we also think this is a good matchup for us.”
The reasons for that feeling will be revealed at his weekly news conference this afternoon, but Weis summed it up in broad terms Monday morning.
“Their strengths play into our strengths and their weaknesses play into our weaknesses,” he said. “I think that gives us a legitimate chance.”
Duke enters the game on the heels of back-to-back easy victories in which they knocked off Elon and Troy by an average score of 43-15. KU appeared to be on its way to an easy victory last week at home against Southeast Missouri State after unleashing a 24-0 start in the first quarter. But the Jayhawks limped to the finish line and held on for a 34-28 victory against the FCS program that won its opener 77-0.
Although the SEMO game did not finish quite the way anyone on the Kansas sideline had hoped, Weis said it inspired the coaching staff to drum up a motto for the rest of the season. And he’s hoping the message will be received in time for this Montell Cozart-led team to go down to Duke and put the road losing streak to bed the way Cozart and KU ended a similar Big 12 losing streak with a home victory over West Virginia last November.
“Fellas, you can never be complacent,” Weis said, referencing the battle cry. “You’ve gotta finish. (Sunday) was a great day for us, because you’re in a good mood because you won the game, but there (were) tons of things you could coach off of to get better. Hopefully there’s a big move forward here this week.”
Senior cornerback Dexter McDonald earned Big 12 defensive player of the week honors, the conference announced Monday morning.
McDonald, who led the Kansas defense with two interceptions and two pass break-ups against SEMO, became the first Kansas player to record two interceptions in a game since current KU safety Isaiah Johnson did it in a loss at Texas last season and the first player to win Big 12 player of the week honors since James Sims last November.
In addition to the two INTs, McDonald added a career best 72 return yards, including picking off one pass in the end zone and returning it 62 yards to the SEMO 38-yard line.
CMU kickoff: 2:30
The Big 12 Conference announced Monday morning that KU’s kickoff for its Sept. 20 home matchup with Central Michigan at Memorial Stadium was set for 2:30 p.m. The game will be televised by FOX Sports Net.
The game will mark the Jayhawks’ first appearance on FSN in 2014. KU appeared on the network twice in 2013.
Kansas leads the all-time series with CMU, 1-0, with KU winning the only meeting, 52-7, in 2007 in Lawrence.