It doesn’t take much to figure out how fans feel about the current state of Kansas University football program.
A quick search of KU message boards, Twitter or talk radio provides a colorful, and sometimes brutal, synopsis. But with his team mired in a six-game losing streak and sitting at 2-6 overall and 0-5 in Big 12 play, Kansas coach Turner Gill doesn’t seem rattled by the negativity that’s out there.
“I understand the fans’ (perspective),” Gill said Sunday night. “I don’t know all that, but, just like myself, you would like to have a better situation than we had in October. But we do have the month of November here, and we just need to finish and give our fans some things so they can see that things are definitely making progress in this program and moving forward in a good way. We’re trying to build on a steady basis to be competing for championships.”
At this point — just two days removed from a 43-0 loss at Texas, the latest in a long line of lows for the Jayhawks — things have become pretty routine with Gill’s crew: Work hard and think positive thoughts during the week, suffer an embarrassing letdown on Saturday and show up Sunday ready to put it all behind them. Despite being stuck in a rut, Gill said the team had held together.
During his weekly phone call with reporters Sunday night, Gill was asked if he thought he or his staff had lost the team. His answer?
“No. No. No. Not at all,” he said.
That aspect of KU’s recent struggles seems to be the one that matters most to Gill. While he said he could sympathize with all the disappointment out there, he emphasized that the focus remained on his team and the final four weeks of the season.
“I’m just worried about trying to get our football team ready,” he said. “Obviously, I understand we’re not as productive as myself or the fans or anybody would like to be. But I know we’re trying to make sure that we finish this season up good, and I think that’s the key thing right now. We’ve got an opportunity with these next four games. As we all know, in most cases, you’re more remembered by what you do in November and hopefully we can make a good statement.”
Film reveals failure up front
A day after watching his offense limp to 46 yards, three first downs and minus-2 rushing yards in the loss to the Longhorns, Gill and his coaching staff watched the game film while keeping an eye out for just what went wrong that allowed UT to hold Kansas more than 350 yards below its season average. They found a clear answer.
“Our guys up front just couldn’t knock ’em off the ball, couldn’t make any creases,” Gill said. “We just couldn’t get any rhythm going.”
UT used new look
Part of the reason Texas was able to gouge Kansas for 441 rushing yards was its use of a new offensive formation.
Gill said Sunday that, on certain running plays, the Longhorns created an unbalanced look by using an extra offensive lineman. The extra run-blocker, a reserve who wore No. 82, allowed UT to put four lineman to one side, opening up big hole after big hole against the KU defense.
“They put him in at that tight-end spot, but he actually was an offensive lineman,” Gill said. “That was the only thing that was different, (from what we’d seen) and, obviously, they gained a lot of yards in running that one play.”
Other than that new wrinkle, Gill said Texas did not do anything out of the ordinary.
“I can’t say anything was a total surprise, as far as what they did,” he said.
ISU favored by 13.5
Iowa State, which KU will play in Ames, Iowa, at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, opened as a 13.5-point favorite against the Jayhawks. By Sunday night, the line already had crept up as much as a point and a half.
The Cyclones are the eighth-straight opponent to be favored against the Jayhawks.