Coming off losses, Kansas, Kansas State hope for better play at home

John Curtis

The Kansas Jayhawks and Kansas State Wildcats are coming off road league losses and will be looking forward to a return home. Unfortunately, they both have to battle teams from the Big 12 South Division that are in the top 10 in AP polls.

The Wildcats will host the No. 4 Oklahoma Sooners at Bill Snyder Family Stadium, while the Jayhawks will battle the No. 6 Texas Tech Red Raiders at Memorial Stadium.

On Monday’s weekly Big 12 teleconference, both coaches talked about last weekend’s losses while looking ahead to this weekend’s games.

Wildcats host Sooners after heartbreaking loss

The Wildcats lost at Colorado 14-13 and a lot of talk was about whether Kansas State should have tried to make one more run in the first half.

Kansas State head coach Ron Prince, however, said he felt that since the offense wasn’t having great success against the Buffaloes, it would be better not to risk turning the ball over and giving Colorado a chance to score.

“Based on the fact that we had some opportunities down there and hadn’t come away with scores, we really wanted to get a completion and kind of spark us a little bit and get a little drive going,” Prince said. “As close as the score was, we weren’t interested in doing anything to have any kind of issues there in the half and give them anything easy with good field position.

“We wanted to come out and put a good performance in the second half. We did come out and score in the second half, but we didn’t get anything else the rest of the way until we had the turnover late. We didn’t think at that point (before halftime) those would be the last opportunities to score in the game.”

Kansas State (4-3, 1-2 Big 12 North) has the only North win in the eight interdivision games that have been played in the conference. Prince said, however, that the teams in his division are just as competitive as the teams in the rival division.

“We’re going to face one of the best teams in the country on Saturday,” Prince said. “For us, we feel that every team in the conference is right up there; and the North is very competitive. We have a lot of good teams and a lot of good players. It seems that the longer a team has their coach in there, the better opportunity he has to play consistently and sustain it. That’s where many of us are striving to get to.”

The Wildcats have not been strong consistently on defense, and with the Sooners (6-1, 2-1 Big 12 South) coming into  Manhattan, defense is going to have to be at their best. Oklahoma gained 674 yards in total offense last weekend against Kansas.

“They have great players and the great facilities and are in contention every single year. They have a great coaching staff, and I think the biggest thing I see is that not only do they have an overpowering offensive line, but they really do have the perimeter people that remind me of the great Florida State and Miami teams. The skill people are just absolutely superior and physical; and they are capable of doing the same thing on the defense.”

Jayhawks face another potent offense

The Jayhawks are coming off a good offensive showing, but their depleted defense gave up 674 yards in a 45-31 loss at Oklahoma on Saturday. They fell to 5-2 overall, and 2-1 in the Big 12 North.

“We went in and played a team that was explosive on offense. Sam Bradford is a sensational player and he had some good weapons around him,” coach Mark Mangino said. “They are a good team from top to bottom, and we went in with what we thought was a good plan and fought with them. In the end, they just made more plays than we did.”

The Jayhawks will have to face another team that believes in big plays for the offense. Quarterback Graham Harrell has thrown 23 touchdowns on the season — 12 to receiver Michael Crabtree. The Raiders are one of three teams with a 3-0 record in the South (7-0 overall).

“Texas Tech is another explosive offensive team. Graham Harrell runs their offense with great precision, and he’s well protected,” Mangino said. “He has a great bunch of receivers around them; and they have some good running backs, so they can run if they want to. It’s a good challenge for us at home.”

The Raiders have had to work for their wins the last couple of weeks. Texas Tech had to play into overtime to beat Nebraska and followed that by trailing at halftime before winning at Texas A&M. Mangino said none of that matters this week when the Raiders make the trip to Lawrence.

“Anytime you play a team, you like to jump out front and get some momentum early; but I don’t read anything into the Nebraska game nor the Texas A&M game,” Mangino said. “Each and every game and each and every opponent has its own challenges and own weaknesses to deal with. In college football, you can’t say that you can do this because another team did that and vice–versa. You have to have your team prepared. We tell our kids to our kids to start fast and finish faster.”