Baylor, which outscored KU 21-0 in the final two quarters and won 41-14, gave the Jayhawks their eighth straight loss to drop them to 1-8 and 0-6 in the Big 12. As the Jayhawks head to Lubbock for an 11 a.m. showdown with Texas Tech (6-3, 3-3 Big 12) at Jones AT&T Stadium on Saturday, Weis is still hopeful he can cross off a couple items on his wish list: a conference victory and a road win. Kansas hasn’t had a Big 12 win since beating Colorado at home, 52-45, on Nov. 6, 2010 in the brief Turner Gill regime, and its last road win didn’t happen until Oct. 4, 2008 during the Mark Mangino era when the Jayhawks escaped Iowa State, 35-33. Weis is also hoping for some other positives to happen on Saturday, which eluded the team at Baylor and the previous two road games versus Oklahoma and Kansas State.
“It would be nice if we played well for a whole game on the road,” Weis said. “It would be nice if the game was close at halftime and we showed up in the third quarter. It's important when you're doing that to say that you're not just putting it on the players now. You're putting it on all of us (coaches and players). We all need to do a better job when we're on the road. In the last three games, that's not the way it's gone.”
Weis knows it certainly won’t be easy to accomplish KU’s goals against a strong Tech team, which will be extra hungry after losing at home to Texas, 31-22, last Saturday and previously at K-State, 55-24, on Oct. 27
Head coach Tommy Tuberville’s Red Raiders feature a high-powered, up-tempo offensive attack similar to Baylor with also a stout defense. TTU is just one of two teams nationally which rank in the top 20 nationally in both total offense (No. 12, 499.6 ypg) and total defense (No. 18, 314.1 ypg). Tech also ranks No. 4 in passing offense, No. 17 in scoring offense and No. 18 in pass defense.
Senior quarterback Seth Doege drives TTU’s offensive machine, leading the nation with 31 touchdown passes. Doege, who has just one interception in his last 160 passing attempts, has completed 69.3 percent of his passes for 318.8 yards per game. He threw for a career-high seven touchdowns at then-No. 21 TCU on Oct. 20 and ranks fifth in Big 12 career history with a 68.4 completion percentage.
“He’s having a heck of a year,” Weis said.
Doege’s go-to receivers are Darrin Moore and Eric Ward. Moore has caught 50 passes for 548 yards and eight touchdowns, while Ward has 49 receptions for 643 yards and 10 TDS. Tech also five other receivers who’ve caught at least 17 passes this season.
Defensively, the Red Raiders are much improved from last season. Safety Cody Davis leads the team in tackles with 71, while defensive tackle Kerry Hyder paces Tech with 9.5 TFLs, including 4.0 sacks.
“They are as strong as any team we have played up the middle,” Weis said. “The middle linebackers are good and the safeties are really good and that is really the core of their whole defense.”
With KU’s struggles on the road this season, Weis said he will tweak his team’s preparation for Saturday’s game.
“There are things that I don't normally do that I'm doing this week, because I'm never going to stay status quo if it's not working,” Weis said. “I'm going to try something else. So we're leaving earlier than we normally leave, and we're going right on the bus, we're going right to the stadium. We're going to get out there and we're going to go run around (and practice). We're not just going to go there to take a look at the wonderful stadium they have. Then, we're going to go to the hotel, check in and get right to meetings, dinner and all of that other stuff, and go to sleep, and get up and get going. There won't be a lot of time to think about it, because when an 11 a.m. kickoff happens, it happens quick.”
Whether the change in preparation makes a difference on Saturday is anybody’s guess. One player who will certainly be ready is James Sims. The junior running back has rushed for over 100 yards in his last five games, the first Jayhawk to accomplish that feat since Laverne Smith in 1974. Sims ranks No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 9 nationally in rushing with 124.7 yards per game.
As Sims gains more success each week and the team rallies around its star, Weis said his leadership skills have grown as well.
“I think that one of the things that I've talked to him and (running backs coach) Reggie (Mitchell) has talked to him about in the last few weeks as this has matriculated, is about taking more of the responsibility of taking the team with him,” Weis said. “Obviously, we're a run-first team and he's the main guy. So I think that what's really helping James is he's taking more of that leadership role on.”
Sims and the Jayhawks would love nothing more than to beat Texas Tech on Saturday and end their eight-game losing streak. History is not on KU’s side, however, with Tech winning the last five meetings while holding a dominating 12-1 advantage in the all-time series.
An upset isn’t likely to happen on Saturday. The Red Raiders beat KU, 45-24.