Saturday, after an upset victory against Texas, Iowa State football coach Paul Rhoads had some interesting comments for the television reporter who asked how his team was able to win after being blown out 52-0 and 68-27 by Oklahoma and Utah, respectively, in the two weeks that preceded the game.
“You don’t lose two games like that and not keep fighting if you’ve got great character,” Rhoads said. “I got a great staff, kept ’em focused, kept ’em playing, and I got great kids.”
This week, as Kansas University coach Turner Gill and his team prepare to take on Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, the character of the Jayhawks certainly will go a long way toward determining the outcome.
Though they’ve been outscored, 159-24, in three consecutive blowout losses to Big 12 foes, several KU players said the most important thing for this team is to keep its confidence.
“We get scholarships to be football players and we can’t be babies about it,” junior tight end Tim Biere said after Saturday’s 45-10 loss to Texas A&M. “We’re supposed to go out there and perform, and the way we’re performing right now isn’t good enough. We gotta do something, obviously.”
The problem is, the Jayhawks have done something. Despite being trounced, 55-7 and 59-7 in back-to-back weeks leading up to last weekend’s loss to A&M, the Jayhawks showed up to practice the following Sunday and continued to work hard.
“As an individual, my confidence is never gonna alter,” sophomore Toben Opurum said. “I’m gonna be the same every day. I’m gonna give it my all, and the rest of my team is doing the same thing. No one’s out there giving up because we won’t accept that.”
Senior captain Angus Quigley said that’s the mind-set the Jayhawks need to have as they search for improvement during the final five weeks. Quigley admitted, though, that sometimes, it’s not always easy to stay positive.
“It is hard to go back out after getting your butts whipped,” Quigley said. “But we’re a team. We’re all grown men, and we’re embarrassed by it. That should be the motivation.”
Quigley continued: “If I go out there feeling confident in my abilities, that can spread like wildfire. Guys being confident in what they do and in the schemes, that’s contagious.”
Despite the admission that the team’s confidence had taken a hit — dating back to last season, Kansas has won just twice in its last 14 games — several Jayhawks said the recent hard times had been motivating.
“I don’t think it becomes harder (to go back out there), you just have to take it as a challenge and go out there and work harder in practice,” senior Jake Laptad said. “You can’t just take it as, ‘Oh, we’re done, so we can’t go practice.’ You gotta go practice harder every day now.”
Opurum to remain at DE
Monday morning, on the Big 12 coaches teleconference, KU coach Turner Gill said that sophomore Toben Opurum likely would remain at defensive end for the rest of the season.
Opurum, a former running back who was moved to linebacker before the start of the season, was shifted to the D-Line prior to the Texas A&M game. He finished with six tackles and helped generate pressure on the A&M quarterbacks.
“He’s definitely going to stay at the defensive end position,” Gill said. “That’s what his best asset is, being able to pass rush. He has good quickness and he’s going to continue to get better and better as he uses more and more technique.”
Gill had no further information regarding the health of quarterbacks Jordan Webb (shoulder) and Kale Pick (concussion) or defensive tackle Patrick Dorsey (concussion).
All three players left Saturday’s game against Texas A&M due to injuries and did not return.
Gill said he expected to know more about their status for this week’s game at today’s news conference.
Kickoff for KU-CU 1 p.m.
KU officials announced on Monday the start time for Kansas’ next home game, Nov. 6 against Colorado. The Jayhawks and Buffs will kick off at 1 p.m., and the game will not be televised.
KU’s streak of 22 straight games on cable or network television will be snapped this weekend, when the Jayhawks’ 1 p.m. battle Saturday in Ames, Iowa, is not televised.