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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

At 2-1, Jayhawks boast better mark than Longhorns

Texas wide receiver Jaxon Shipley (8) runs the ball against UCLA during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Texas wide receiver Jaxon Shipley (8) runs the ball against UCLA during the first half of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

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For just the second time in the 13-game series history between the Kansas University and Texas football programs, it’s the Jayhawks (2-1) who take a better record into their match-up with the Longhorns.

It’s hard to say that KU’s one-game edge over the Longhorns (1-2) just four weeks into the 2014 season means much, but it begs the question is Kansas catching Texas at the right time?

KU coach Charlie Weis and his two coordinators, Clint Bowen and John Reagan, were asked that very question during Tuesday’s meeting with the media, and while their answers shared a common theme, it’s safe to say that none of the three believe Texas is vulnerable entering Saturday’s 3 p.m. showdown at Memorial Stadium.

“I would rather have played them three weeks ago,” Weis said. “As early as possible.”

Reagan agreed and even went back a step further.

“You feel good that you are getting them early because maybe they aren’t settled into a routine,” he said. “With that being said, maybe it would have been nice to play them for the spring game and be done with them.”

So far this season, the Longhorns have been anything but the big, bad Texas program that the Big 12 has come to know. First-year coach Charlie Strong, hired away from Louisville in the offseason to replace longtime UT coach Mack Brown, has endured a rough transition period fraught with new systems on offense and defense, unexpected losses, a handful of lengthy suspensions and even a few outright dismissals.

The UT offensive line alone is operating without three projected starters, both tackles and a center.

“It’s a totally different line than we’ve seen from Texas the last couple years,” Weis said. “And I think they’re just trying to get settled in at that position. I feel their pain.”

All that turmoil, as well as Strong’s adjustment to a new style of play in the Big 12, make now as good a time as any for Kansas to play the Longhorns, particularly at home on homecoming weekend.

“There are some growing pains with a new staff that are just inherently there,” Bowen said. “I don’t know if it is good or bad (for Kansas), but coach Strong, coach (Shawn) Watson and coach (Joe) Wickline are highly respected men and very good football coaches. These guys are really good and they know what they are doing. Their kids are playing hard and lined up right and playing sound, but inherently every time there is something new you have to work through some kinks.”

Despite a few things seeming to fall in KU’s favor, Weis has made it abundantly clear this week that the Jayhawks will have to play a nearly flawless football game to emerge victorious. He’s also certain that, new coach or not, suspensions or not, early in the season or not, the Jayhawks have not put much on film that figures to have UT’s players and staff that worried.

“They’re sitting there and saying, ‘And this is who we’re playing next?’” Weis speculated. “I would think that after watching those two games (SEMO and Duke) and then having a week and a couple days off or something like that, they feel pretty good about rolling into Lawrence for the start of their conference season.”

A little help from his friends?

Weis and Mack Brown have been friends for a long time and foes only a few times in their careers. It makes sense, then, to wonder whether the two exchanged information this week about Weis taking on Texas for the first time without Brown on the opposing sideline.

“I had a couple of humorous texts with Mack this week on that subject,” Weis joked. “But I wouldn’t make that call. Everyone would think I should, but I would not make that call. Now, I gladly would take his call, OK, but I wouldn’t make that call because I think that you’re putting somebody on the spot, and you’re asking him to do something uncomfortable. But if he wants to call me, he has my cell phone.”

Depth chart changes

There were a few minor tweaks to the KU depth chart this week, but none involving any starters.

Junior wide receiver Nigel King is now listed as the primary back-up behind Justin McCay and Tony Pierson; sophomore wideout Tre’ Parmalee is back on the depth chart behind Nick Harwell after recovering from an elbow injury; Jordan Shelley-Smith is listed as the No. 2 left tackle behind Pat Lewandowski; and freshman Jacob Bragg is listed as the No. 2 center beyond Keyon Haughton.

Weis said Bragg’s inclusion on the depth chart was due to an illness suffered by regular Haughton back-up Joe Gibson.

O-Line update

Speaking of illnesses, Weis did not know on Tuesday whether senior guard Mike Smithburg (appendectomy) and junior Damon Martin (illness) would be able to play Saturday vs. Texas.

“We could have neither, we could have one, and we could have both,” Weis said. “I would hope to have at least one of them back because I think that if I had one of them back, I would probably play them at right guard and keep Larry (Mazyck) at right tackle. If I had both of them back, they would both start at right guard and right tackle.”

Keeping it physical

Last week, Weis said practices leading up to the Central Michigan game would be significantly more intense and physical than what the Jayhawks were used to during the first couple of weeks of the season.

He liked the results of that kind of preparation so much that he plans to keep it that way for the foreseeable future.

“If you’re asking if we’re going to pull off, not a chance,” he said. “I’m a very superstitious person. I think the physical practice helped us last week.... If we don’t bang Tuesday and Wednesday, then we won’t be ready to play Texas on Saturday.”

Comments

Phil Leister 7 years, 11 months ago

What's up with our place kicker? Did I miss the update as to why Duvic, who was listed as number one on the depth chart, has given way to Wyman?

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 11 months ago

all Weis said was that Duvic won the starting job in camp, but after he was named the starter, a week before the first game he didn't handle it very well. We don't know if that means that he behaved badly, or that ke stopped making kicks or what because Weis didn't expound.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 11 months ago

The longhorn's loss to UCLA is better than our win over CMU. So the 1-2 record doesn't mean much except that they got blown out of a game that they shouldn't have been blown out of against BYU and they lost a really tough game to a team that many have thought to be a CFP contender this year. I'm not sure how good Jerry Neuheisel is, but he proved that UCLA is bigger than Brett Hundley. Are the longhorn's going to lose two games in a row to basketball schools?

Travis Clementsmith 7 years, 11 months ago

A win is always better than a loss. I don't think you really understand sports if you don't get that basic concept. Now, you can certainly say you're more impressed by Texas' loss to UCLA than our win vs CMU. That's an arguable point. But, if at the end of the season we end up 6-6 with UT at 5-7, they're not going to say, "Well, UT's loss here was better than KU's win there, so UT gets the benefit of the win and is considered the bowl eligible team.

Jonathan Allison 7 years, 11 months ago

Very true, but if KU ends up 7-5 and UT ends up 6-6, KU will be in for a rematch with some middling MAC team in Memphis and UT will be probably selected for the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. Because their schedule strength will be top 10 and ours will be middle to bottom of all power conference teams.

Dirk Medema 7 years, 11 months ago

Jonathan - It seems that you are trying to make a very valid point about UT's performance against UCLA being better than our performance against CMU, but you're talking yourself into holes. Our SOS has been very high in the past, and not middle to bottom of all power conference teams. While none of our non-con have been against glitzy programs, the last 2 were bowl teams in 2013.

Robert Brown 7 years, 10 months ago

Our strength of schedule is high because unlike all other teams in the Big 12, KU does not get to play KU.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 11 months ago

UCLA's offense scored 7 points against Virginia, they gave up 35 points to Memphis, and have not looked like the PAC 12 contenders everyone thought they were thisbyear.

Keith Gellar 7 years, 11 months ago

"At 2-1, Jayhawks boast better mark than Longhorns"---- Time to hang another banner

Robert Brown 7 years, 11 months ago

It is clear that Texas is down and a win versus Texas would not surprise me. Given the issues with UT's offense, I expect the game to be close. I am really cannot tell what type of team KU really has. My gut tells me they have to be better and more competitive. I would like to think that things just spiraled out of control versus Duke or is this the type of team that falls apart once they face some adversity. They certainly have not played a complete game this year.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 11 months ago

This is a big boy game. Texas's studs on their D-line will give Cozart some serious problems...and we have no discipline in the trenches. Too many penalties and too many mistakes.

Texas 38 - Kansas 10

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 10 months ago

Doug, have you watched Texas play this year?

I'm not saying 10 for Kansas is going to be too far off ( especially if Martin and Smithburg are out again), but the Texas offense is terrible this year. They've lost at least 3 starting OLine players to injuries, suspension, or dismissal, their staring QB is about as good as Cozart.

The Texas offense scored 17 points on a UCLA defense in basically a home game for Texas A week after UCLA gave up 35 points to Memphis at home. This Texas team is probably only going to win 3-4 games this year. I'm not calling for the upset, but it's not going to be a 28 point game either. UT is that bad this year.

Doug Cramer 7 years, 10 months ago

Hey Aaron. Watched Texas play UCLA. Missed the BYU and Memphis games.

Texas will win more than 4 games this year for the exact reason why our program has taken a nose dive. They have an NFL caliber D-line that will create havoc against Big 12 offenses. They have one of the best defenses in college football, that will continue to get better as the year progresses.

Agree that Texas's offense is down this year...but their defense will create stability in their overall performance this year.

Our overall talent level compared to Texas's will look like an FCS team playing a the typical big dog.

Hope I'm wrong, but I don't see this being a "feel good" game after it's said and over with.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 10 months ago

You're giving Texas too much credit simply because they're Texas. Their talent in the trenches isn't great and their depth is non existent at this point because of transfer, dismissals, suspensions, and injuries. Consider the fact that Texas did not have a single player drafted last year. The talent level just isn't there in Austin right now. BYU beat them 41-7 in Austin and the game wasn't that close.

Again, I'm not saying KU scoring 10 points is a bad guess, but UT scoring 38 just isn't happening this week because they don't have the talent or depth this year. Duke is the best team Kansas has played so far and the will still be true after this game.

Chris Bailey 7 years, 10 months ago

We don't have much chance against the Horns. I agree Doug. Aaron you can come on here and humiliate me if I'm wrong but I think Dougs score prediction isn't far off. We can't move the ball well against an FCS team and barely were able to against CMU take out our 4th quarter and we put up 10 points. Pretty sad. This team lacks talent on both lines and that is a glaring weakness. We also have a QB that doesn't know how to make decisions. He is not a D1 level QB in my mind which leaves me wondering how the heck we have 3 or 4 on our roster and none being talented enough to truly play at the D1 level. We had a better QB under Jordan Webb than our current one. I don't see us winning another game meaning I can't pick one out. We have a chance to win a couple sure but I'm not betting money on any game. We can surprise teams possibly as the season wears on but we could also see our already thin lines have injuries or as we do now illness. I hope I'm wrong. I know we can get better I have no doubt about that but every other team in the conference will improve as well. I think the Weis experiment will end after this season. He hasn't shown he can recruit the right players thus far IMO. Time will tell. I hope I eat my words. I hope we shock Texas. Hell I hope we win 6 and go to a bowl I just can't see it happening.

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 10 months ago

Chris, you're entire argument is wrong because you're arguing something that I never disagreed with. Tell me where in my posts I said I thought the KU offense would doing anything special against Texas?

My entire argument about this game being much closer that what Doug predicted is based upon how awful the Texas offense is this year. They're going to be missing 3 starting offensive linemen, they're playing a back up QB because their starter's career is over. They're 111th in total offense so far so tell me why they're going to score that many points on KU? The Vegas line for this game is 41.5 total points for the game by both teams combined. There's a reason for that and it's because both offenses are terrible.

Chris Bailey 7 years, 10 months ago

My only finger point at you was me agreeing with Doug on the score. The rest was just me ranting. Didn't mean to make you think I was getting after you. My bad.

Chris Bailey 7 years, 10 months ago

As for how they're going to score that many on KU my only argument is it'd KU and we've not proven we can stop anyone this year. Aside from CMU we've been pretty poor on defense. I think we can both agree they are not a good team, meaning CMU. We were shelled by Duke and come on it's Texas. Maybe the offense isn't great but I'd trade our QB for theirs any day. They're defense will most likely be reading all this crap as bulletin board material and throttle us. Look I said before I hope we win. I hope we win every week but hope doesn't make me foolish in my prediction (and I'm not saying you're foolish I'm not on here to call you out only to talk football and I want us to win worse than I can convey in words). I just know it's Texas and we haven't proven we can beat anyone really. I mean SEMO? We played them 10 more minutes and we lose that game. No need to mention Duke. And CMU wasn't anything impressive although we seemed to wear them down in the 4th but even then we could've lost that game if things went CMU's way one play in the 4th. Saturday will be here before we know it. And I hope we show up. I hope we play great. I'm just not sold on our chances.

Glen Miller 7 years, 10 months ago

If we come out and punch them in the mouth, I can see your logic. But we don't typically do that. If we come out flat and they get a few quick scores...... 28 may be low. Besides their defense is probably good for a couple scores off picks. Cozart throws picks left and right and they have the speed and awareness on that side of the ball to make him pay. All I have heard is how vulnerable they are and how bad they are.... I'm sure their players and coaches are also hearing this. I'm quite worried for this game to be honest.

Bryce Landon 7 years, 10 months ago

Why worry? To borrow the words of Homer Simpson, our team has been "the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked" for the past 4-1/2 years, and we haven't beaten Texas since the Great Depression; so what's the worst that could happen? We'll get blown out again.

Glen Miller 7 years, 10 months ago

You make a valid point...... besides, I could never argue against anyone using Homer and his wisdom as backup!

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