Two Kansas Schools: Both Need a Win
By Paul Myerberg // Oct 14, 2010
Among the interesting storylines associated with tonight’s Governor’s Cup, none are as intriguing as this: two teams, one with its back to the wall, another licking its wounds after a horrible performance against a bitter rival a week ago tonight. There’s Kansas, 2-3 through the first portion of Turner Gill’s debut season. There’s Kansas State, formerly 4-0, now 4-1 after a 35-point loss — at home, no less — to Nebraska last Thursday. Which team is in worse shape? That’s easy: Kansas. While the Wildcats are merely dealing with a single defeat, as disappointing as it might have been, the Jayhawks are still searching for an identity, a strength upon which to hang its hat under Gill’s guidance. It might take some time.
It’s not fair to say each team is headed in the same direction: for now, today, Kansas is scuffling while Kansas State seems on the right track. Yes, there’s that pesky loss to Nebraska — a game where the Wildcats looked slow, plodding, ineffective, what have you. Let’s not allow one loss — a loss to one of the best teams in the country — overshadow the strides the K.S.U. program has taken in less than two years under Bill Snyder.
Not to say the Wildcats won’t be searching for a measure of recompense, a performance that allows this team to forget what transpired a week ago. Well, perhaps not forget. K.S.U. would be wise to remember such a defeat — perhaps use the setback as motivation through the remainder of Big 12 play.
One could have said the same about Kansas: after a loss to South Dakota, a loss to Southern Mississippi or a loss to Baylor. It’s been nearly two weeks since that 48-point defeat at Baylor, but the sting remains.
While Kansas State suffered its most recent loss on a larger stage, the Jayhawks undoubtedly looked worse — yes, it’s possible. This is no slight to Baylor, which looks like a bowl team, thanks to a healthy Robert Griffin III. Kansas was simply overrun by a team largely lacking in top-notch athletic ability — in other words, Kansas was out-coached.
Several of Gill’s early moves have been puzzling. Not just on the field, either — though I’m curious as to his rationale behind a few position changes, or his handling of the team’s precarious quarterback situation over the first two games. I know it has nothing to do with K.U.’s on-field performance, but still: Gill’s decision to limit his player’s contact with the opposite sex after 10 p.m. is, well, strange.
History will prove whether Gill has a firm handle on the situation in Lawrence. History has already proven that Snyder knows what he’s doing: we have years of proof, in fact. I’m not swayed in the least by his team’s showing against the Cornhuskers: for starters, Nebraska might be just that good; and secondly, Snyder’s teams — such as a year ago — have always fared better once in the heart of conference play.
I don’t suspect this season will be any different. Yet the two teams do share a few similarities, as noted. Above all else, both are coming off disheartening defeats. When taken in a big picture view, however, I can’t help but come to the belief that while Kansas has work to — and work, and more work — before challenging for a bowl berth, K.S.U. is already poised for at least sevens wins this fall, if not more.
Both teams need a win; Kansas State is more equipped to get one. For Kansas, a team searching for answers, led by a coach still finding his rhythm, each game should be viewed as a learning experience.
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Tags: Bill Snyder, Kansas, Kansas State, Turner Gill
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