After an 0-6 start to head coach David Beaty's first season in charge, the Kansas University football team would need to run the table the rest of the way in order to qualify for a bowl game.
That, of course, is the goal for those inside the program — players talk every week about wanting and expecting to win every game — but it is hardly the focus for Beaty's young but ever-improving roster.
“Our guys are excited,” Beaty said Monday morning. “I know our record doesn't indicate it, but our guys are excited every day and they look at it as a great opportunity.”
The reason the Jayhawks (0-6 overall, 0-3 Big 12) are able to do that is the way Beaty and company have approached the season. With intense competition at every position and improvement being daily goals, the players have been better able to focus on the little things that make up a football season rather than dwelling on wins and losses or highlights and mistakes.
Beaty, who has spent nearly his entire coaching career around winning programs, said early on that creating a strong foundation would be the focus throughout his first year at Kansas.
He hired a coaching staff that shared a similar philosophy and then, together, along with the strength and conditioning staff, they went to work changing the way the Jayhawks approached things. Although signs of progress surfaced in the spring and throughout the summer, the first true sign of the Jayhawks turning a corner came last weekend when KU held the high-powered Texas Tech offense 30 points under its season average and nearly pulled off an improbable upset.
Beaty, who has remained the picture of positivity through it all, said moments like last weekend would not be possible if the entire team were not committed to the process of rebuilding and doing it the right way.
“They really do believe that the season starts tomorrow,” Beaty said of his roster. “It's a unique (deal) to have a team that can continue to move forward like this team has done. I take my hat off to our staff, our strength staff and, really, to our kids. Our kids won't be discouraged and they know what the standard is. We're expecting to win games and we're not gonna let the past define us. We're going to continue to move forward and try to get closer to achieving that goal.”
Added sophomore linebacker Joe Dineen: “The mentality's there now. We know what we can do. And we're gonna expect the same week in and week out. Anything less than that will be a disappointment for us.”