However, with Texas A&M (3-3) coming to Lawrence on Saturday for Homecoming, the Jayhawks (2-4) are convinced they can turn the season around.
Kickoff is 6 p.m. (CT) at Memorial Stadium with the game televised on
Fox Sports Net.
"I still believe in this team," KU senior cornerback Chris Harris said.
"I know we can still bounce back. We just got to get a sense of urgency
and find out what we're good at and stick with that."
Kansas certainly wasn't very good against Baylor on Oct. 2 and then
K-State last Thursday. The Jayhawks allowed 460 total yards against the
Wildcats, while throwing one interception, losing two fumbles, and
committing seven penalties for 76 yards. KSU quarterback Carson Coffman
shredded KU's defense with 15 of 16 through the air for 184 yards and
two touchdowns in the Wildcats' 59-7 victory.
But after a week of practice, Kansas hopes for a fresh start and to get
back on track versus the Aggies. KU head coach Turner Gill said his
team has been "very resilient" in practice while aiming to "get a win"
Saturday and "finish strong" in the remaining six games.
The Jayhawks will be facing a team which has also suffered its own
setbacks. After starting the season winning its first three games over
Stephen F. Austin, Louisiana Tech, and Florida International, A&M
has lost its last three contests against Oklahoma State, Arkansas, and
Missouri. The Aggies fell, 30-9, to the No. 21 Tigers last Saturday at
home. A&M, which didn't turn the ball over against MU, has 18
turnovers on the season (No. 3 in nation), including nine versus OSU
Still, Gill has great respect for the Aggies and head coach Mike
Sherman. The two were on the same staff together in Green Bay in 2005,
when Sherman was head coach of the Packers and Gill worked as director
of player development/offensive assistant.
"I know he's very detailed," Gill said. "I know he's very, very strong
offensive-minded, he's very strong at putting together game plans to
get his team ready to play. You talk about their team offensively you
start with their quarterback Jerrod Johnson. He's a very talented young
man. I know he's kind of been playing up and down this season, but he
has tremendous skills as a quarterback."
A senior, Johnson has completed 146 of 259 passes for 14 touchdowns and
1,808 yards (301.3 yards per game) this year. However, he's also thrown
nine interceptions. His two main receiving targets are junior Jeff Fuller (39 catches for seven TDs and 94.3 yards per game) and sophomore
Ryan Swope (33 catches for 57.3 yards per game), while sophomore
Christine Michael carries the rushing load. Michael has rushed for 559
yards on 113 carries this season.
On defense, the Aggies are led in tackles by junior linebacker Garrick Williams (48 stops), while freshman linebacker Damontre Moore has also
come up big with a team-leading four sacks and team-high three forced
Gill is impressed with A&M's 3-4 defense run by defensive
coordinator Tim DeRuyter.
"They definitely have improved from last year, from what I saw a little
bit this season," Gill said. "They've been able to do a lot more things
with the talented linebacker crew. ... Particularly from a passing
standpoint, with that 3-4 you can come from all different directions so
we need to make sure that our guys are in tune with making sure we know
what they have, and who they have and how they're going to go about
The Aggies' coaching staff also has great respect for Kansas, and is
expecting a hungry Jayhawk team on Saturday.
"They're a team a little like us, with their backs against the wall,"
DeRuyter said. "They struggled the last couple of weeks. They are back
home looking at us for an opportunity for them to win. I told our
defense that we'll be playing a team that's like a (cornered) animal,
ready to come out and fight. We better be ready for their best game of
the year. We expect a great game from them. They have a freshman
quarterback (Jordan Webb) who's talented. Their freshman running back
(James Sims) has done good things for them. Their receiver (Daymond)
Patterson is a good receiver that has made a lot of big plays. They've
got some tools there. They can be explosive at times. We'll have our
Gill is aiming for a good start from his team and much more offensive
production. The Jayhawks, who have managed just two touchdowns in the
last two games, must cash in on scoring opportunities.
"We need to put points on the board," Gill said. "Unfortunately, I
think some of the issues with the last two ballgames we have not been
able to put points on the board. We've been pretty good from the
30-yard-line to the 30-yard-line offensively, but in putting points on
the board we have not been effective in doing that to the best of our
ability. Which comes down to the word you hear every week from every
coach: execute. We have to execute and do it a lot better than what we
have been doing."
The Jayhawks are hoping the Texas A&M game is a new start to the
rest of the season. KU needs to win four of its last six games to
become bowl eligible.
"I still have faith that this team is going to go to a bowl game this
year," junior linebacker Steven Johnson said. "I think we can do that.
As hard as we worked offseason and in training camp, and as hard as
we've worked these last two weeks, even though we haven't ended up
winning a game, I feel like we're right there. We're right on the brink
of winning a game and everything clicking and we're going to go out
there and win some games."
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