Turnovers a recipe for disaster
The way Head Coach Turner Gill sees it, perhaps the primary contributing factor to Saturday's loss to Texas Tech was the turnover differential. The Jayhawks gave the ball up four times - three interceptions and one lost fumble - while managing just one takeaway from the Red Raiders.
"Unfortunately, our young receivers made a couple of young mistakes, misled our quarterback on the routes that they had that caused a couple of turnovers in the second quarter," Gill said. "I think that was the difference in the ball game. When you have four turnovers to their one, when you're minus three, it is very difficult and in most cases you're not going to have a chance to win the football game."
Signs of life
For a half of football, Kansas looked like a team that was on the road to putting all the pieces together. They'd given up 24 points to Texas Tech, but they'd scored 27 and, more important, the defense had managed to get a number of stops - something that had evaded them in previous games.
The bye week was a big reason for those bright spots, Gill noted.
"We came ready to play," he said. "I think we had some improvement even on the defensive side of the ball. We didn't have as many breakdowns as far as that goes, so I thought there were definitely some positive things that occurred."
Big 12 flexing its muscles
The upcoming schedule for the Jayhawks is nothing short of a murderer's row - a testament to how tough the Big 12 is at the moment.
The latest Associated Press and USA Today polls have Oklahoma (3, 1), Oklahoma State (6, 7), Texas (11, 10), Kansas State (20, 21), Texas A&M (24, 25) and Baylor (25) all ranked in the Top 25.
In the weeks ahead, Kansas will face each of them.
"This is a great conference to be in," Gill said. "You're going to be very competitive - if you're able to win a championship here in the Big 12, you're almost certain you're going to have a great opportunity in most cases to be in the (BCS) championship game."
Consistency the key
Despite the blatantly obvious steps forward the unit has taken, the Kansas offense has experienced difficulties of its own in the last two weeks - particularly after halftime.
One of the factors contributing to the lulls is inconsistency, Gill said; a not uncommon malady that is affecting both the offense and defense at the moment. Attaining a consistently high level of execution is a never-ending goal for even the best football teams.
"The pursuit of being consistent, game after game," he explained. "That's a tremendous challenge no matter what program you're in, and that's where we're at. A little bit of inconsistent play."
"We've got a lot of freshmen and sophomores playing," he added. "But there has been progress."
Third-quarter strategy a focus for the staff
The third quarter hasn't been kind to the Jayhawks this season. Kansas opponents have outscored Gill's squad a combined 71-21 in the 15 minutes after halftime.
It's an issue of which the staff is well aware, and one they are working to rectify, Gill said.
"In all four ball games, we've done okay offensively but defensively we haven't come out the same way we'd like to do in the third quarter," the second-year head coach said. "So that is something we're really addressing, trying to see what we need to do and how we need to do it, to change the play of our players in the third quarter."
Morale still strong
Despite the two tough, back-to-back losses, GIll said his team is continuing to roll up its sleeves and work toward improvement.
"These guys are all coming in here with their eyes open, ears open, and they're ready to take in the coaching and being taught," he said. "They're ready to get better. And that's always a good sign, when guys are coming in and understanding they need to come in here and continue to work. They're all working hard, and that's great to be a part of."