Perhaps Kansas University’s best chance for success this weekend at Oklahoma State is for the sixth-ranked Cowboys (4-0 overall, 1-0 Big 12) to look past the Jayhawks (2-2, 0-1), who will enter Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. contest in Stillwater, Okla., on the heels of back-to-back losses.
But thanks to KU’s first-half efforts against OSU in a 48-14 loss in 2010, that’s not likely to happen.
“Last year they got up on us, and the game was a dog fight,” OSU defensive lineman Cooper Bassett said. “This past week, they also got up on (Texas) Tech pretty quick. Unfortunately, they had too many turnovers, and they lost the game in the end. We know that we have to be focused on them, and I believe that we will be focused just like we were for our previous games.”
OSU coach Mike Gundy said Monday morning, during the Big 12 coaches teleconference, that he often uses last year’s game with Kansas as a teaching point.
“Offensively, we didn’t start at a good pace, and, because of that, it gave them an opportunity to jump up on us,” Gundy said. “That’s kind of what we talk about as coaches: You have to start fast and be prepared each week.”
Behind a touchdown pass from Quinn Mecham to Tim Biere and a 24-yard TD run from then-freshman James Sims, the Jayhawks led 14-10 after the first quarter and trailed just 20-14 at halftime. However, OSU outscored Kansas 28-0 in the second half as quarterback Brandon Weeden tossed two touchdown passes and the Cowboys’ defense blocked a punt for a touchdown.
Despite eventually taking control of last year’s game and winning with ease, Gundy said he expected the Jayhawks to pose a challenge Saturday because of their offense.
“They’ve improved, there’s no question about it,” Gundy said. “They’ve improved as much as an offense from a production standpoint as maybe any of the top five or 10 teams in the country.”
Gundy shines on ESPN
Gundy spent part of the Cowboys’ bye week in Bristol, Conn., working as a studio analyst for the network’s college football coverage.
Gundy, who worked both on the air and behind the scenes, said he learned a lot from stepping into the shoes of those who normally cover him.
He spent most of the day around ESPN personalities John Anderson, Jesse Palmer and Rece Davis.
“It was interesting to be in an environment with those guys and listen to them comment on things that were happening across the country,” Gundy said. “I thought it was fun to hear how they perceive certain players and certain teams compared to the way we see it as coaches.”
Pressed for more, Gundy went on: “When I watched them, I (had) a greater respect. It’s not easy to do what those guys do. Those guys are really good. I don’t know that I have a lot of interest in doing that (after coaching), but it was a great experience.”
Gundy also pointed to having the spotlight on OSU as his reason for doing it.
“I don’t really think we could’ve done anything to get that much exposure,” he said. “For us to be in an off week and to be fortunate enough to be in the studio with those guys and be off and on the air for seven hours, I couldn’t put a number on what that would be worth from a dollar standpoint in marketing not only the football program but Oklahoma State University.”
Jayhawks addressing third-quarter struggles
Monday morning, KU coach Turner Gill said one of the focal points for the coaching staff since Saturday’s 45-34 loss to Texas Tech had been improving the team’s play in the third quarter, particularly on defense.
The Jayhawks, who rank 119th out of 120 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in total defense, have been outscored 76-21 in the third quarter this season, including a 49-0 mark in their two losses.
“In all four ballgames, we’ve done OK offensively,” Gill said. ‘But defensively we haven’t come out the same way we’d like to in the third quarter. So that is something we’re really addressing, trying to see what we need to do and how we need to do it to change the play of our players in the third quarter.”
KU-OU kickoff set
Kickoff for Kansas’ Oct. 15 contest against Oklahoma, at Memorial Stadium, has been set for 8:15 p.m. The game will be televised by ESPN2.
KU’s last appearance on ESPN2 came Oct. 11, 2008, when the Jayhawks defeated Colorado in Lawrence. KU is 3-3 all-time in games played on the network.