Asked Tuesday how he felt about his offense’s explosiveness through two weeks of the 2022 football season, Kansas coach Lance Leipold borrowed a favorite phrase of offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki’s to keep things in perspective.
“Statistics lie and liars use statistics,” Leipold said. “And you can skew these things to look a lot of ways you want. But for us to have that type of production and scoring, yeah I’m excited.”
The numbers read like they’re from one of college football’s powerhouse programs, not a rebuilding Kansas club.
The Jayhawks are scoring an FBS-best 55.5 points per game and averaging 460.5 yards per game, which ranks 45th in the FBS. KU also ranks fifth nationally at 8.08 yards per play.
All of it, behind a strong push from the offensive line, a stellar start by quarterback Jalon Daniels and timely and efficient play from KU’s running backs, wideouts and tight ends has led to a strong dose of optimism in Lawrence, where the Jayhawks are off to their first 2-0 start since 2011.
Everyone inside KU’s Anderson Family Football Complex knows that the challenges are going to get more difficult in the weeks to come. But Leipold said Tuesday that the fast start to the season has the players on this team believing that they can hold up to those challenges.
Confidence, he called it. And it’s about more than just believing in themselves and believing that they can compete with the teams on their schedule.
“Personal confidence, confidence in a unit, confidence in the system, confidence from coach to player, player to coach,” Leipold said, illustrating how many areas of the team heightened confidence can impact.
He also said the extra attention from the outside world had been welcomed by everyone.
“People talk about you more,” he said smiling.
“There’s a little bit different energy in the building. There’s different energy within the community, hopefully, and our fan base. And that’s going to be critically important. Those are all things that put energy (into a team) and help you along the way of truly building a program for the long haul of consistency.”
Leipold has overseen plenty of wins during his days as a head football coach. And several of those came in the early stages of rebuilds at places like Wisconsin-Whitewater and Buffalo. While there are things about the Kansas task that make it different from his past stops, Leipold said his past experiences have shown him that early success in a season and the confidence gained from that can speed up the process of getting things turned around.
“I don’t know if expedite would be the word I’d use,” he said. “I would say it definitely can get contagious and you can keep building upon it and see results sometimes sooner than expected.”
None of it will come, in a big-picture sense, if the Jayhawks don’t stay locked in on what got them to this point. Leipold emphasized that on Tuesday and he has talked to the team about it, as well. The whole thing is still about discipline, work ethic, being smart, working extra on their own time and taking care of their bodies and minds.
When they do that, good things can happen. And Leipold said it’s been nice to see this bunch rack up as many wins in two weeks this season as it did all of last season.
“It’s a different type of soreness and it’s a different type of trip home,” he said of the vibe and feelings that have come with winning. “It’s my responsibility to make sure we stay focused and it’s my responsibility to make sure that we build upon this even more so.”
Kansas will head back on the road Saturday to take on a Houston team that is 1-1 on the season in two road games, at Texas-San Antonio and Texas Tech.
Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. on ESPNU.