There seems to be a bit more life around Kansas football these days. Though, they’re 0-2 since Clint Bowen replaced the fired Charlie Weis on September 28, the Jayhawks have some more spunk to them. Once again, they’ll try to end their five year road losing streak today at Texas Tech. While it won’t be easy, you have to at least think they have a fighter’s chance.
After all, the Red Raiders have the exact same record as Kansas and are struggling. Here are five things to watch, as the “Fighting Bowens” look to score themselves a major road victory.
Last week, Cummings replaced Montell Cozart as the team’s starting quarterback and the move netted results. In fact, Cummings nearly led Kansas to an upset win against Oklahoma State. However, that was at home. How does this translate on the road?
Two years ago, Cummings nearly engineered an upset road win at Texas Tech in the Jayhawks’ last visit to the South Plains of Texas. Kansas fell 41-34 that day, but make no mistake, they can win in Lubbock. It’ll all start with Cummings.
2. The passing game
Piggy backing off number one, does the passing game continue to improve. Yes, it all starts with Cummings, but Nick Harwell, Nigel King and Jimmay Mundine all started to make things happen last week against the Cowboys. Their abilities to stretch the field help open up the running game, which in turn, helps the offense and defense. If they’re big, Tech could be in a little bit of trouble.
3. The running game
DeAndre Mann and Corey Avery have been a couple of the bright spots for Kansas this season. Their success has primarily come without much of a passing game. If this changes, their growth will be obvious.
4. How does the defense handle the Red Raiders “Air Raid?”
Yes, Texas Tech is struggling, but under Kliff Kingsbury, they can still light up a scoreboard. Traditionally, dating back to the Mike Leach era, Tech has been an awful matchup for Kansas, regardless of how good the Jayhawks have been at the time.
It’ll be critical that the KU defense gets some stops and create turnovers. If they can do this, they’ll have the ability to control things. Otherwise, they’ll have to win a shootout, which may be the worst-case scenario for their cause.
5. How much have the Jayhawks improved?
It sounds generic, but is a valid point. Since taking over as interim coach, Bowen has Kansas getting back the basics and has implemented the formula that he has seen work time and time again at Kansas. To borrow, former coach Mark Mangino’s famous phrase, they are back to “sawin’ wood.”
That’s the mentality Bowen wants from his team. He wants them fighting hard every play, all the way to the end and to leave every thing out on the field. Eventually, if you continue grind, you’ll see the results. Winning on the road against a quality opponent would go a long way towards emphasizing that exact point. Then, with a bye week coming after this game, they'll have the chance to heal and build off what would a huge momentum booster.