They have themselves to thank for that.
“In a weird way, I’m kind of glad it happened because it exposed some warts in our program that needed to get removed,” Steve Sarkisian said on Monday. “If we hadn’t removed those warts, we might not be where we are today in our program. Not all storms come to cause issues in your life. Some storms come to clear the path, and I feel like that storm cleared a path for us on what we needed to do in our program to move forward.”
But that doesn’t mean Sark will remind his players of the 57-56 loss to the locker room in the days leading up to kickoff.
“We’ve come a long way as a program...we don’t have to go backward. We recognize Kansas is a good football team but to try to make our guys feel bad for losing a game two years that sucked for everybody, I don’t know what benefit that is.”
For the first time in series history, the Jayhawks will play at Texas as a ranked team when they meet on Saturday. But with Oklahoma two weeks away in a potential preview of the Big 12 Championship, Sark does not view this week as a “trap game”. “I think this a Top 25 match-up of two undefeated teams. This game has our undivided attention.”
Here are some notes from Sark’s press conference on Monday:
Texas playing complimentary football: There were multiple times during Saturday’s game that Sark thought Texas played complimentary football. Sark mentioned the Jaylan Ford interception that turned into a 95-yard scoring drive along with the defense holding after a muffed punt.
Work to do: We knew this was coming but Sark said an area that can improve is special teams. “We saw the two muffed punts but it was other things beyond that.”
Sark won’t make changes to the returners or tweak how they practice special teams but rather emphasize staying focused. “We had players not doing exactly what we practiced Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.”
No laundry: “We’re one of the least penalized teams in the country. We’re playing really disciplined football. I love the fact that we’re, for the most part, taking care of the ball.”
“I know what he inherited and the issues they had with scholarship players.”
Transfer portal, front four all transfers, implementing schemes, stayed true, veterans that understand the nuances.
Jonathon Brooks RB1: “We felt like Cedric earned the opportunity to be the first back out. Now Jonathon has been the first guy out there for a couple of weeks and he’s playing really good football for us. I thought he set the tone for us with that long touchdown run. He’s got more juice than we give him credit for.
Preparing for Jalon Daniels: “He’s a real dual-threat quarterback. “He taxes you both ways. It’s not like you can have a guy be a scout team quarterback that’s a runner. You have to have the ability to throw it to give the defense a realistic about what they’re going to be up against.”
David Gbenda: “In this day and age of college football I think we’re diminishing and losing the value of perseverance and [David] is a prime example of perseverance. For two years he’s at best a role-player...he’s a front-line player for us and a team leader.”
Byron Murphy: “He’s built like a pitbull, man. He is strong. He’s got really strong shoulders. He’s extremely quick and powerful. He’s got a high football IQ, and he plays hard.”
Xavier Worthy: Sark said Worthy’s confidence as a return man is “extremely high” despite the muffed punt against Baylor. Sark credited Worthy for trusting and understanding the blocking schemes on returns but also said he’s improved in other areas of the game. “He’s blocking at an extremely high level on the perimeter. I don’t think we could have said that about him his freshman or sophomore year.”
Deepest room on the team? Yes, I’m talking about the safety position. Sark said they are fortunate to be five-deep and complimented freshman Derek Williams for his performance against Baylor. “He had his best game and is playing at a high level.” Speaking of playing their best game, Sark mentioned Vernon Broughton’s performance against Baylor as his best of the season.
Young, Wild, and Free? Okay, maybe not wild but Sark said Quinn Ewers is at his best when he’s able to play loose and free and it starts with his preparation in practice. Sark wants Quinn to “trust in his preparation and when the games come, trusting that preparation so he plays loose, free, and confident. He’s at his best when he’s a little more loose.”