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October 19, 2010
Players say they need to step up
The last time the Jayhawks faced Texas A&M on homecoming they led until the last three minutes of the game. That was 2006 when the Aggies pulled off a come-from-behind victory.
Odds-makers have already decided the Jayhawks are a two touchdown underdog entering homecoming on Saturday night. If they are going to be in the game until the fourth quarter it will take a much better effort than the last two games.
Over those games the team has been outscored by 100 points in losses to Baylor and Kansas State. The players know they will need a better effort than they have shown in their first two conference games. Coaches can design schemes and give hair-raising, pre-game speeches, but it comes down to what happens on the field.
"I think as players if you get us alone in a room we all agree it is us that needs to make plays," said senior linebacker Drew Dudley. "We are in the right position it's just that we aren't making the plays. That comes down to us and we are going to work hard to get that done."
You can dissect a football program and look for every excuse why a team goes into a losing streak. One of the most common is they didn't have a good week of practice or the intensity isn't there. But Dudley, a seasoned veteran says that's not the case either.
"We practice harder than the previous three seasons I have been here," Dudley said. "So far it hasn't turned over on Saturdays. It comes down to making plays and hopefully we will get it done."
Freshman quarterback Jordan Webb has been solid at times this season. He is just 192 yards away from becoming the all-time leading passer as a freshman. Against Georgia Tech, their biggest win so far, he threw for three touchdowns and the Jayhawks came up with big plays.
The team isn't doing anything different than they were before that game and Webb insists it is on the team's shoulders.
"I think the players have to step up," Webb said. "Our coaches are doing a great job with us and have done what they can to motivate us. They are keeping us on the right track. We all know we have to stick with the system. These coaches know what they are doing so we need to stick what they want us to do."
Over the last three games the defense has not forced a turnover. This week they will face an offense that likes to throw the ball. Texas A&M ranks near the bottom of the NCAA in turnovers and the Jayhawks hope to create some of their own.
"Obviously we are not playing where we need to be," said defensive lineman Richard Johnson. "A lot of guys are trying to pinpoint the issues, watch extra film and get things turned around. This game we get a chance to pin our ears back. They throw a lot and have a good quarterback so we have to find a way to contain him."
Other news and notes:
-Dudley is from College Station so he hears about the Texas A&M program every time he is back home. He expects a lot of family members in Lawrence this weekend.
"It's a very big game. 90 percent of my friends in high school go to A&M and I actually know a couple players on their team so it's more personal," Dudley said. "My aunts, uncles, and everybody are coming up for this game."
- The players are searching for answers and want to get back on the winning track. Johnson said they have met as a group trying to figure out the problems over the last two games.
"We came together as a team and talked about what needs to be done," he said. "We talked about doing all the little things right. We've met to try and figure out what we're doing wrong and turn it around."
- On Tuesday Turner Gill talked about the latest injury updates.
"As far as the injury report: (safety) Philip Strozier is questionable. (Cornerback) Chris Harris is medically ready to go. (Safety) Keeston Terry has had a little bit of knee problems so we'll see how it goes here this week. (Offensive guard) Sal Capra is probable. (Wide receiver) Christian Matthews is questionable."
- The Kansas players insist they aren't hanging their heads. Johnathan Wilson, a senior wide receiver and team captain, says they have to keep working hard.
"We've been down in games before," Wilson said. "In the Georgia Tech game, we were down early and we came back and won the game. You can't quit. We can still win, I believe in the team."