Come this Saturday, it will be 1,063 days since Kansas won a Big 12 football game.
Charlie Weis in his second year as head coach is looking to end that streak.
“You don’t do it as a negative,” Weis said during a press conference on Tuesday. “You just say, ‘This is where we are. We’re going to beat somebody.’ You want to get this out of the way. We talk about the steps we have to take. OK, you make them aware of what the issues are because as the program is building, these stumbling blocks, these hurdles you have to get over. This would be a good time to get over that hurdle.”
In preparation for Saturday’s 11 a.m. game, Weis is watching video from current Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s playing days as a Red Raider quarterback.
These two have history, dating back to 2003 in the New England Patriots organization.
“When we drafted him, he was a sponge, behind that Brady guy so he didn’t get much action, so that gave him more of an opportunity to study and learn the game,” Weis said. “It doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s coaching, and it doesn’t surprise me at all that he’s having very, very good success. Sometimes when you go against different people you get coach-speak, but I really like Kliff (Kingsbury) and I hope he has a lot of success, just not this week.”
In comparison to when Kingsbury was in college, Weis said that Texas Tech is throwing the ball a little less, even though it is about 70 percent of the time.
To prevent the nearly 410 passing yards that the Red Raiders average each game, the Jayhawks will bring the blitz in a more aggressive package than in years past.
Last year, in a 41-34 victory against Kansas, Tech passers threw for 508 yards and four touchdowns.
“I sat there, like you guys did, and I watched those quarterbacks stand there and pick us apart,” Weis said. “I would rather lose by 100. I would rather do it by getting after them and forcing them to make a throw and sometimes throwing it to us. You will notice our blitz percentage has gone up significantly.”
The Jayhawk defense is led by junior linebacker Ben Heeney who leads the conference in tackles with 10.7 per game.
Junior cornerback Dexter McDonald is also a big playmaker, leading the nation with 2.67 passes defended per game. Fellow cornerback JaCorey Shepherd averages 1.67 passes defended per game.
“The secondary play — not just the corner play — the secondary play against the pass has been pretty stout so far,” Weis said. “The corner play in particular, whether you are playing man or you are playing blitz zone three, it still comes down to isolations on the outside. Both of them have done a nice job out there on the corner where they are isolated.”
Against Tech, the corners will match up with wide receivers Eric Ward and Bradley Marquez.
The main concern then becomes, who guards junior tight end Jace Amaro – a linebacker, a safety or a defensive back?
Amaro, being bigger and taller than virtually anyone who covers him, leads Tech with 29 catches for 367 yards.
“Do you go one-on-one with him?” Weis asked. “Well, it depends if you can get somebody faster than him, but then he’s got girth. Now you could put somebody with some girth, and now he’s faster than you. … You have to have a pretty good plan. We’ve been talked about this now for the last week and a half, what’s the best way to match up with him along with other people. At least on paper I think we’ve got a pretty good idea.”
Offensively, Kansas returns running backs James Sims and Tony Pierson, who ran for 127 and 202 yards, respectively, last year against Tech.
However, the Jayhawks have had trouble scoring, averaging 18.2 points last year and 19.3 this year.
When asked how many points he thinks it would take for Kansas to win this weekend, Weis answered, “Let’s not go there. We need to score one more than them. That’s how many we have to score. So if they score 12, we have to score 13. Then and only then will I be content with another low-scoring game.”
Saturday will be homecoming for Kansas, and if there’s any time Weis and company will break the 21-game losing streak in conference play, the atmosphere would be right against Tech.
“This would be a good time,” Weis said. “It’s homecoming at 11 a.m. Everyone’s going to be fired up. We’re all going to be out at Allen Fieldhouse on Friday night. Hopefully (the fans) have stayed out all night and they’re ready at 11, ready to go for an 11 a.m. kickoff.”
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