While KU has lost eight straight games, the team has actually showed progress the last two contests. KU held Iowa State to just 13 points two weeks ago and dominated Baylor for three quarters last Saturday in leading 24-3 before eventually losing 31-30 in overtime.
"This football team continues to show great heart, great determination,
excellent work ethic and a commitment to the culture of what we're
trying to do in building a winning program here," Gill said.
Kansas (2-8, 0-7 Big 12) could help salvage the season and continue
building the program by winning its last two games against the Aggies
(5-5, 3-4) and then Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium on Nov. 26.
First up is Texas A&M at Kyle Field, one of the most hostile
environments in college football. The Aggies have a 6-1 advantage over
KU in the Big 12 era, although Kansas won the last time in College
Station in 2007, 19-11.
KU will be facing a hungry team Saturday. After winning three straight
games against Texas Tech, Baylor and Iowa State, the Aggies have now
lost three straight to Missouri (overtime), Oklahoma and to K-State
(53-50 defeat in four overtimes) last Saturday in Manhattan.
But with a win over Kansas, A&M will earn its 33rd trip to a bowl
game. The Aggies feature one of the most explosive offenses in America,
ranking No. 6 in total offense, No. 12 in scoring offense, No. 16 in
rushing offense and No. 16 in passing offense.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill leads the passing attack, ranking No. 11
nationally in total offense, while running backs Cyrus Gray (No. 33 in
rushing) and Christine Michael (No. 40) pace the ground attack.
Defensively, A&M ranks just No. 90 in total defense, No. 89 in
scoring defense, and No. 119 in pass defense, although the Aggies are
second in the country in sacks and No. 20 in rushing defense.
Gill has great respect for the Aggies and their coach Mike Sherman,
whom he worked with in Green Bay in 2005 when Gill served as player
development director/offensive assistant and Sherman was head coach
Gill said Tannehill engineers the offense while calling Sherman and his
staff "very bright as offensive minds."
"They run a west coast-style offense," Gill said. "They want to be
balanced as far as being able to run and also play-action off of the
run. They'll take their shots down the field as far as deep balls.
That's kind of his strategy. The offense averages over 500 yards a
game, so we're facing another good offensive football team. They have
been very productive so far this season."
Defensively, Gill is also concerned with the Aggies.
"They do a lot of blitzes," Gill said. "They are in a 3-4 front so they
show a whole lot of different looks. It will be a little different than
what we have played the last two ball games. Iowa State and Baylor were
pretty standard in what they did defensively. A&M (is) multiple in
what they do and how they do things and try to cause a lot of havoc on
the defensive side of the ball. Our offense will have a challenge with
The Jayhawks are looking toward to the challenge and getting their
first road win in the Gill era. They know they'll have to force
turnovers as they have the last three games (9).
"When you create turnovers, you are able to have your players, both
offensively and defensively, get excited," Gill said. "They're going to
run around with more enthusiasm when you cause some fumbles and get
interceptions. When you cause turnovers, it brings some energy to your
KU's defense has been more energized and productive the last two games
as Gill and defensive coordinator Vic Shealy have simplified the
schemes. There have been other positives lately as well. KU went
three-for-three in fourth-down conversions against Baylor, while
freshman Darrian Miller rushed for a career-high 147 yards and D.J.
Beshears set the KU single-season kickoff return yards record. Bradley McDougald has also come into his own at safety, while Steven Johnson
has grown into a tremendous leader at linebacker who ranks 10th
nationally in sacks with 109.
Now, KU just looks to have all the parts come together and break its
eight-game losing streak on Saturday. As they've shown the last two
games, the Jayhawks are still sticking together and believing in Gill
and the program.
"These last two weeks we've been so close to winning," Johnson said.
"There is no quit in us, we aren't giving up. We're going to keep
working and get the momentum for next season."
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