Ames, Iowa Step into the manager’s office of any sub-par baseball team from any city in any decade, and the same mouth that spits tobacco juice into an empty cup on his desk will spill the same tired words of a man trying to make himself feel better about his fate.
“When (spit) we hit (spit) good, we don’t (spit) pitch good (spit),” he starts. “When we pitch good (spit), we ain’t hitting (spit) worth a (spit). Then, when we pitch good (spit) and hit good (spit), we can’t (spit) catch (spit) nothing.”
The manger desperately seeks confirmation that it’s just bad luck dogging his team. He wants to believe that’s the case. Once the luck changes, so too will the winning percentage. Even if he can’t bring himself to say it, he knows better.
Well, nobody associated with the Kansas University football team has been able to make such a claim, at least not during the six-game losing streak the Jayhawks will try to end today in a game against Iowa State that kicks off at 11:30 a.m.
Starting with the nonconference finale in Atlanta against Georgia Tech, it’s pretty much been a total breakdown in all areas for KU.
Obviously, Kansas has a better offense than it does a defense, but it’s not better than any other Big 12 offense, according to the numbers.
A statistical look at the Jayhawks strictly in Big 12 games reveals KU has the worst rushing offense, worst total offense, and next-to-last passing offense.
On a brighter note, Kansas averages 6.4 fewer penalty yards than its Big 12 foes, so over-aggressiveness clearly isn’t the problem.
So if that’s not the issue, what is? Pretty much everything else.
Kansas ranks last in the Big 12 in the following defensive categories:
• Total defense (559.2 yards). Baylor is ninth (515.8).
• Pass defense efficiency (161.4 rating). Baylor is ninth (153.2).
• Opponent first downs (145). Oklahoma State (135) is ninth.
• Sacks (three). Texas Tech has four.
KU is last in these offensive categories:
• Scoring offense (20 points per game). Iowa State is next at 23 ppg.
• Rushing offense (121.8 ypg, 3.2 yards per carry, seven touchdowns). Texas Tech (126.8, 3.5, nine TDs) is ninth. Four teams have eight rushing TDs.
• Total offense (308 ypg). Kansas State is next with 337.4.
• First downs (82). K-State has 99.
• Third-down conversions (28.9 percent). Iowa State is ninth with 37.1 percent.
Also, KU is last in kickoff coverage (37.1 yards from the point of kickoff that opponent takes possession). Texas is ninth at 40.
There is reason to believe the numbers will get better because Kansas already has faced the top three teams in the Big 12 standings and still hasn’t faced three teams with losing conference records (Iowa State, Baylor and Missouri).
But the weaker schedule only has relevance if the players still believe in the coach’s message, which best can be summed up in one word: Believe.