As KU heads to Texas, Jayhawks remember last year’s close loss

11/01/2013 6:15 PM

11/01/2013 7:53 PM

If Kansas players had forgotten about last year’s crushing loss against Texas, a last-minute heartbreaker on their home field, Charlie Weis came up with a pretty unorthodox reminder at the beginning of the week.

He cued up a music playlist of nothing but country music — George Strait was apparently a favorite — and the Longhorns’ familiar fight song. And then he pressed play.

“That was definitely getting us in the Texas spirit,” junior nose tackle Keon Stowers said. “I feel like coach Weis always has something up his sleeve.”

In reality, no KU players, at least the ones present last season, have stopped thinking about that Texas loss. The Jayhawks led 14-7 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and then 17-14 with less than three minutes left. Kansas was a play away from a season-defining victory, and then, like so many other games, they were stuck with just another loss.

“(I remember) how close we were to moving in the right direction and giving this team some type of positive feel to the season,” Stowers said. “I feel like we’ve just been so close to getting that positive feel that we need.”

For Kansas, which has lost four straight to open Big 12 play, it’s a familiar position. The Jayhawks probably would have preferred to play Texas a month ago, before the Longhorns shook off a 1-2 start and won their first four Big 12 games.

But after being destroyed 59-14 by Baylor last week, the Jayhawks should, at the least, feel like they can play with the Longhorns.

“The players should feel like they have a chance at winning,” Weis said. “That’s the most important thing. Look, they just came off a butt-kicking this past week, so you’re getting ready to go on the road to Texas, who’s got momentum going on their side.”

Other story lines

WILL HEENEY RETURN?

Junior linebacker Ben Heeney was back atop the depth chart this week after missing the last two weeks because of an undisclosed knee injury. Earlier this week, KU coach Charlie Weis was non-committal when saying if Heeney would play. But Heeney is probably more suited to return against a physical Texas team than the spread-out Baylor offense Kansas faced last week.

WILL KANSAS STACK THE BOX?

Texas averages 200.4 yards on the ground, the third most in the Big 12. Longhorns quarterback Case McCoy, who is completing 59 percent of his passes, won’t necessarily beat an opponent with his arm. Will KU challenge McCoy and force him to beat a talented secondary?

CAN KANSAS SCORE 20 POINTS? It’s only happened once this season, in a season-opening victory over South Dakota. Last week, freshman quarterback Montell Cozart helped spark the rushing attack by providing an option look. Cozart probably won’t be running too much, but it certainly gives offenses another wrinkle to think about.

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