Saturday loomed large for the Jayhawks, as the Oklahoma State Cowboys gave Kansas their seventh loss on the season. With the road loss came an extension of streaks that the Jayhawks have yet to break. They sit at 27 straight conference losses, as well as five straight seasons ineligible for post-season play.
“This season will be remembered on what happens in the last four games,” said Weis.
What will the fans remember from the Oklahoma State game? That on the opening kickoff Justin Gilbert returned the ball 100 yards for a touchdown? That Kansas was outplayed in every aspect of the game except for time of possession? It’s possible that’s what they remember. Will they remember that Cozart, a freshman, played with more success than Heaps, a player who KU was extremely excited for in the pre-season?
The next three games are against West Virginia, Iowa State, and Kansas State. The next opponent, the Mountaineers of West Virginia, are 4-6, with conference losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Texas Tech and Texas(Sound familiar?).
Even if Kansas wins the season out, Weis isn’t going to be happy.
“I’m going to be miserable anyway; it doesn’t really make a difference,” said Weis last Tuesday. “I like to win every game. I’m 2-6 [now 2-7] as the head coach this year—I’m not very happy, but it’s not because the players aren’t playing hard.”
The players are playing hard, especially James Sims. He’s had 703 yards rushing on the season with three games left. There have been three games in the season where he rushed for more than 90 yards (South Dakota, Rice, and Oklahoma). He has 145 yards receiving as well. His best receiving game was against Texas, where he made five catches for 51 yards.
It’s not just James Sims. Many players on the defensive side of the ball have shown how hard they play with their game statistics. Ben Heeney has 63 total tackles on the season, and he sat out both the Oklahoma and Baylor game. Heeney also has 10 tackles for loss, with two of them being sacks. Isaiah Johnson is right behind Heeney in total tackles on the season with 61 and has four tackles for loss. The defensive unit as a whole has 42 pass breakups with 10 interceptions on the season.
With basketball taking over most of Jayhawk Nation’s attention, how can the “gridiron gang” gain the attention of their fan base? Obviously a win or two or three would help, but other than that?
Good fans support their teams in good times and in bad. It’s essentially like marriage. Look at the Kansas City Chiefs for example. Last season they were 2-14. This season, they’re 9-0. Most teams don’t have great success immediately after personnel changes, most of the time it takes a few years. This season is two years after personnel changes. Patience is key in times like this. It’s hard to be a fan of a team that has two wins with three games left, but patience is something that needs to be kept. Without the support of the fans, what would the team be working toward?
Regardless of if Kansas wins out or loses out, the players aren’t professionals. They’re still in the process of learning. They’re college kids. They’re kids ranging in age from 17-23. They’re kids that need support, regardless of their record.
Where does Kansas go from here? They’ve had things to fix all season. In the last three games of the season, it’s time to put everything to the test. It’s time to showcase all the changes and development. It’s also time to realize that life as a Jayhawk could be worse. Two wins are better than one. Two wins, that’s progress. It’s not a lot of progress, but it’s a start, and the season isn’t over yet.