Even though Kansas University already has three nonconference football games in the books, today’s 11 a.m. match-up with No. 20 Texas Tech might feel like the opener for the Kansas defense.
That’s not to say South Dakota, Rice and Louisiana Tech did not present the Jayhawks (2-1) with challenges. But what KU will face against the high-powered Red Raiders (4-0) is what the coaching staff and players spent a huge chunk of the offseason preparing for — up-tempo offense at its finest.
Because of all of the attention the Jayhawks gave to faster tempos throughout the offseason, junior nickel back Victor Simmons said he believed the team was ready.
“The thing that’s gonna help us with that is just prior experience,” Simmons said. “In practice, it’s never gonna be the same as a game, but it does help. When the time comes and they kick it into gear, we should be all right. As long as we keep our composure and run, that’s really the only way we can handle it.”
KU coach Charlie Weis and his defensive coaches have a couple of other ideas, some of which were revealed during KU’s first three games.
“I sat down in the offseason with the defensive staff, and I said we are going to play odd, and we’re bringing heat,” Weis said of pressuring opposing quarterbacks. “And that is what it came down to. We are going to be ready to go, and we are going to bring heat. You guys decide how you want to bring, but I want to bring it, and I want to bring it often.”
KU’s defensive line has been improved from seasons past, but Weis said the guys farthest away from the line of scrimmage have contributed just as much to better pressure on the quarterback.
“The secondary play — not just the corner play — has been pretty stout so far,” Weis said.
Today’s game will mark the 15th meeting all-time between KU and Texas Tech. The Red Raiders own a 13-1 advantage in the series, which includes a 7-0 mark in Lawrence.
KU’s lone victory in the series came in Lubbock, Texas, in 2011, a 34-31 overtime win during Terry Allen’s final season as KU’s coach.
KU lost last year’s game in Lubbock, 41-34 in double overtime and has lost its last three games to TTU by an average of 13 points.
Bye week numbers
Both KU and Texas Tech had off weeks last Saturday, and the two programs have been right around .500 following bye weeks in recent years.
During the Big 12 era (1996-present), Tech is 7-6 overall in games following a bye, including a 3-5 mark on the road. During that same time, KU is 11-9 after bye weeks, including a 5-1 mark at home.
After being favorites in its first two home games of 2013, KU enters today’s game as a heavy underdog. Texas Tech opened as a 14-point favorite, and the line has moved to as high as 18 points in some places.
Despite the expectations of others and the fact the Jayhawks will take the field with a 21-game, 1,063-day Big 12 Conference losing streak on their backs, this group is looking forward to kicking off conference play.
“We’re real excited,” junior Tony Pierson said. “The first opportunity to break the streak is Saturday, so we’ll see what happens.”