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Fast start to season has boosted Kansas football team's confidence, Leipold says

Kansas quarterback Jalon Daniels (6) bumps fists with Kansas wide receiver Quentin Skinner (83) after running in a touchdown during the first quarter on Friday, Sept. 2, 2022 at Memorial Stadium.

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.

Comments

Jeff Coffman

Two wins in two opportunities is seldom seen at KU. Throw in one of those wins was on the road to a pre-season top-25 Big XII team, we could have only dreamed for such a solid start. I think the most interesting part of that game was that we fell behind 14-0 at the beginning and historically the mantra would be to get to the first half with a field goal, so that we wouldn't be shutout. Instead the team marched forward and got 7 and although they didn't stop them, they positioned themselves for a solid comeback.

The second thing that interested me, was in the second half the team came out and scored and held the other team. This shows some good adjustments at halftime. The game tipped quickly on a 28-3 flip for KU. I must admit that I'm not entirely sure why WVU switched from a passing offense to a run offense in the second half, but it did enable an exciting game.

There were mistakes, but for the first time in a long while the other team made more mistakes then our Jayhawks, which was a welcomed change.

1 week, 4 days ago

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Dirk Medema

Jeff - Did it start raining more in the second half? I don’t recall; couldn’t tell.

I think you might also have the team rankings mixed up for WVUs first game. Pitt was ranked top25. WVU was not.

It was also interesting to listen to Holgerson’s news conference. Besides complimenting KU a lot, he also spent quite a bit of time lamenting his team’s “stupid, undisciplined” performance. Repeatedly commented that it was the reason they lost. He cited numerous specific examples, but repeatedly followed the brief criticism with, “but that’s not why we lost the game. We lost because we were too often stupid and undisciplined.”

I found myself thinking how the complete opposite was the case for KU. Aside from an uncharacteristic rash of penalties that really enabled WVU early on Saturday, KU has played really sound, disciplined football. Being disciplined doesn’t guarantee a victory anymore than being undisciplined guarantees a loss (looking at you ’Bama), but it certainly helps.

Rock Chalk COTY

1 week, 4 days ago

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Rodney Crain

COTY hilarious.

1 week, 4 days ago

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Benny Armstrong

I'm by no means saying LL is a lock to win it, but we all know from the basketball COTY awards that it almost always goes to the coach/team that exceeds expectations most in that season. This is why Self almost never wins the award and it would go to someone like Bruce Weber who would finish 4th in the conference after being projected to finish 8th in preseason. So if KU somehow wound up at 4 or 5 wins and maybe 7th in the conference, I would bet the house LL wins COTY.

1 week, 4 days ago

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Lonnie Ross Dillon

Uh, Holgerson coaches for Houston...but honest mistake, he used to coach at WVU :)

1 week, 4 days ago

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Rodney Crain

2 wins in a row and COTY talk. What a joke.

KU would have to win the B12 for that to happen. Maybe, if there was no one else, at least play in the B12 Championship game.

Dirk you never cease to amuse me.

What's next CFP or bust talk?

1 week, 4 days ago

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Brad Watson

Huge game this weekend...Total focus...Blinders on....Play smart...Dominate the guy lined up across from you....and yes...PLAY WITH CONFIDENCE!!!

1 week, 4 days ago

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Dirk Medema

Rodney - You are absolutely correct if the COTY comment was based on 2Ws. While you might have just noticed, my comment goes back to well before any games were played this season. I don’t recall definitively, but I think I first posted it at the time of the first projected W totals for the season.

It’s not terribly different than last year when I predicted the pattern we saw play out of bad loses early in the season changing to quality games as the season progresses. August was essentially spring ball, and September was fall camp. That was without realizing that the last 3 games would be against the bottom 3 (other) teams in the conference. Didn’t predict a particular W number just the overall outlook for the team.

This year it’s a matter of
1. seeing the continued progression of building the culture,
2. having by far the most returning players
3. having a load of superseniors this year vs just 2 last year
4. Losing a boatload of players to the portal but none from the 2-deep. Addition by subtraction.
5. Filling essentially every need on the team through the transfer portal, but also seeing the returning players step up their development.
There might have been a few more that I’m not recalling at the moment. It’s not much of a statistical analysis but does embody the same concepts of a wholistic evaluation of good stochastic analysis.

Just a little nerding. Your welcome 😉

1 week, 4 days ago

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Rodney Crain

It's nice that you feel the need to over respond to my "discussion" of your comment. It is what I do too sometimes. Its fun!

In this case though you setting off a COTY Flare after two wins, one over a cupcake team, is like you holding up a "We are Number 1 Giant Hand" in the stadium. When there isn't a game.

It makes you look a bit odd and silly at this point of the season.

- I do like your use of big words to justify your post. Please keep doing that, it might help my scrabble game.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Dirk Medema

For cross checking, duke’s new coach has already received some COTY comments apparently because he’s a first year that has exceeded expectations. Essentially what Benny said.

1 week, 4 days ago

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Rodney Crain

There are a lot of coaches who are being talked about after 2 wins. It makes them look foolish too. All that means is you are not alone in getting carried away.

You are going to need to be more specific Dirk. Are you saying "ANY" COTY, B12 COTY, or the other 25 or so COTY awards out there? Maybe your giving out your own new COTY Award, only for the Coach of KU Football?

I will help you with some of the top awards out there for a COTY.

It looks like a participation award kind of thing, since they use different kinds of criteria for the winner.

Here are the top 7 -

- AFCA: The American Football Coaches Association hands out COY awards for all divisions and has regional and assistant awards as well.

- AP: The gold standard of college football coverage for decades didn’t give out a COY until 1996, for some reason.

- Bear Bryant: The distinction is that it’s given out after the bowls. They also give out a lifetime achievement award.

- Eddie Robinson (FWAA): This is not to be confused with the other Eddie Robinson Award, which recognizes excellent FCS coaches.

- Home Depot: This is ESPN’s COY award. It’s given out at their awards show and is selected by their analysts.

- Sporting News: This used to be a way bigger deal, back in the day.
Walter Camp: SIDs and coaches vote on it. It’s one in a suite of Camp awards.

I am always here to help you Dirk. It's a lot of work but somebody has to do it.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Rodney Crain

Ps DIRK - It looks like the real sports folks who give real COTY's don't call them COTY. It's COY. The word "the" is not in the abbreviation.

It's ok buddy I am always here to clean up the crumbs for you. You can still use COTY even though no one else uses it. Everything is ok. I am sorry I did not know what COTY meant since real sports people do not use it for the award you were talking about. Again that's on me. It's not your fault you make up stuff.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Edward Daub

Please allow me to answer Dirk's question about the rain. Yes, there was a light, but steady rain during the second half. Out here in West Virginia, my son and I sat in the WVU season ticket holder section. We were seated directly opposite of the very small group of KU Fans in attendance.

When we got down 0-14 in the 1st quarter, I said to myself "here we go again" anticipating a loss. But, the KU offense came back and played great for the rest of the game. I must admit the KU Defense has a long way to go. Our ability to stop the Run has improved, but the Pass rush and coverage needs alot of work.

When the score was 21-28 with 29 seconds left in the 1st half, I thanked Neal Brown for going conservative. WVU ran the ball once and never took their last 2 timeouts. Brown was satisfied to lead by 7 points at the half, even though KU would receive first.

Sure enough, the KU offense marched right down and tied the game at 28-28. Going into the 4th quarter, KU actually had the lead! Lance always says "get to the 4th quarter, with a chance to win". But again, the KU Defense yielded down the stretch and we were fortunate to win in overtime.

My final thoughts on Morgantown Live, I was impressed with the entire KU Offense and I am now a firm believer in Jalon Daniels! As for the KU Defense, we still have a long way to go, we gave up 500 yards and J.T. Daniels "carved us up" in the 1st half. Rock Chalk!

1 week, 3 days ago

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Dirk Medema

Edward - Thanks for the weather confirmation. Do you think it had anything to do with WVU being so much more run oriented in the second half?

Brett pointed out elsewhere that Jalon was about 10% worse on his pass completions; 3 incompletions. Based on what you were sitting through, do you think the weather could have had that much effect on the performance?

1 week, 3 days ago

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Doug Roberts

Wow. Hey Rodney, maybe don't be an ass.

1 week, 3 days ago

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Edward Daub

Dirk, I will attempt to answer your two questions.

The football was definitely wet during the second half. I never realized WVU went more ground oriented in the second half. I do think the KU Defense made some halftime adjustments to limit the WVU big pass plays in the first half.

The wet football may have also affected Jalon's throwing in the second half. However, I only remember 2 or 3 throws all game, where Jalon was off target. Mike Novitsky did a great job all night snapping the football. And KU had zero turnovers for the game, quite remarkable.

Rock Chalk!

1 week, 2 days ago

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