Now, KU looks to complete two good halves as the ‘Hawks face Colorado today at Memorial Stadium at 1 p.m. (CT). Like Kansas (2-6, 0-4 Big 12), the Buffs (3-5, 0-4) have lost their last four conference games.
"We got to execute a full four quarters of football," KU coach Turner Gill said. "I think our guys are excited about an opportunity to play
another football game. We're trying to make sure we can get a win. Find
a way to win the football game.'
A win would be a great morale boost for both teams.
After Colorado won three of its first four games, the Buffaloes have
dropped their last four in Big 12 play to Missouri, Baylor, Texas Tech
and at Oklahoma last Saturday.
Senior quarterback Cody Hawkins has taken over the starting quarterback
job after Tyler Hansen was lost for the season with a ruptured spleen
suffered against Texas Tech on Oct. 23. Hawkins has completed 55 of 112
passes for three touchdowns this season. His two favorite receiving
targets are Scotty McKnight and Toney Clemons, who've caught 36 and 30
On the ground, Rodney Stewart carries the load with 737 rushing yards
this season for an average of 92.1 yards per game. Defensively,
linebacker Michael Sipili leads the team in tackles with 61, including
a team-best five tackles for loss.
Gill knows coach Dan Hawkins' team will be quite hungry this afternoon.
The KU coach likes the Buffs' talent.
"I think that coach Hawkins has a very athletic football team," Gill
said. "They are multiple on the offensive side, they do a lot of
multiple groupings and formations, so we have to prepare for a lot of
different things. On defense, they kind of base on a 4-3
formation, but they also do a lot of man coverage. They do a lot of
press coverage. we have to prepare for (that) to make sure our
receivers can get off the line of scrimmage."
Gill saw some positives from KU's last game against Iowa State that he
hopes will carry over today.
"I think we definitely improved as a football team," Gill said. "I
thought our coaching staff did a very good job of preparing our
football team to play an improved football game. As for execution, I
thought our players executed the game plan better than we have in the
past, particularly on defense. I thought we put better pressure on the
quarterback, which is something we have been talking about for weeks.
They also played physical. I thought our offense definitely played well
as a unit with (quarterback) Quinn Mecham in his first start."
Mecham completed 22 of 33 passes for 149 yards and a touchdown. He also
threw an interception. Gill will choose between Mecham, redshirt
freshman Jordan Webb, and sophomore Kale Pick as his starting QB. Webb,
who started six straight games before missing the ISU game with a
shoulder injury, will likely start if he is healthy.
Whichever quarterback gets the starting nod against CU, the Jayhawks
must give a better performance after halftime. KU has been outscored in
the third quarter the last four games by a whopping 70-0.
"When one thing happens, another mess up happens and little mistakes
just keep happening," senior safety Chris Harris said. "We have to be
able to overcome those. ... We know when we play sound and do what our
coaches tell us to do and not have mental mistakes we can play. We have
to continue to do that for a whole game."
Gill talked about other keys to playing a complete game.
"I think part of it is our guys staying focused, continued to have
confidence that we can get the job done," Gill said. "I think in some
cases here we're starting to get a little big fatigued at times. But I
think the biggest thing is for our guys to finish the plays. We keep
continue to let them know they can do it. We've seen it been done, now
they just need to go out and execute."
If they execute today, KU might just escape the cellar in the North
Division and leave CU there alone.
Something has to give Saturday. KU has lost 11 straight Big 12 games
with Colorado starting the streak with a victory over Kansas last
season after the Jayhawks won five straight to begin 2009. CU,
meanwhile, has lost 15 straight road games dating back to 2007.
Look for the Buffs to lose No. 16 as Kansas finally gets back on track
with a 28-21 victory.
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