The chalk message was difficult to miss, resting just a few steps outside of Kansas’ Anderson Family Football Complex on Tuesday afternoon.
“We still believe,” the note read. “God bless Kansas.”
Though well-intentioned, the scrawl hinted at the solemn feeling surrounding the program following Saturday’s unexpected 45-27 home loss to Central Michigan.
Just a week ago — after a season-opening victory over Southeast Missouri — KU continued an offseason of optimism. That feeling was buoyed by last year’s win over Texas and also numerous recruiting victories.
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Saturday’s result ended many of those feel-good vibes abruptly. KU coach David Beaty, now 3-23 in three seasons, will enter each of the final 10 games as an underdog, and he worked during Tuesday’s weekly press conference to keep perspective with so much season left.
“We’re still a good football team. Nothing’s changed. We’re not panicking,” Beaty said. “We learned a lot. It stinks, but sometimes you learn that way.”
The message is likely a tougher sell following Saturday’s lopsided defeat.
Central Michigan quarterback Shane Morris picked apart KU’s secondary for 467 passing yards — the fourth-most by a QB against KU since 2000. The Chippewas also averaged 8.2 yards per play against defensive coordinator Clint Bowen’s group, which is the worst performance of any Power Five team against a non-Power Five foe this season.
“I know we will get that fixed,” Beaty said. “I know (Bowen) feels terrible. I know our defense shoulders a lot of that. It wasn’t all on them. It was a collective effort, I can assure you.”
The challenge won’t be easier Saturday, as KU is a 7 1/2 -point underdog for its road game against Ohio.
Then again, that kind of expectation also means the Jayhawks have an opportunity to quickly rebuild momentum. A win over the Bobcats would not only end a 41-game road losing streak, but it also would improve the team to 2-1 entering the conference season.
“I know our guys are embarrassed. They’re also very prideful,” Beaty said. “They’re a group that is resilient, and they’re ready to get back on that field.”