LAWRENCE — The week started with a history lesson, Kansas coach Charlie Weis playing the role of professor. Tweed suit and elbow patches? Probably not. But the lecture, according to Weis, contained a detailed history of the Kansas-Kansas State rivalry. The origins. The evolution of the Governor’s Cup. Memorable moments from more than 100 years of in-state battles.
(On Tuesday, Weis even expressed an interest in getting to the bottom of why the two schools didn’t play in 1910 — the sarcasm meter only a few ticks above sincerity.)
“I think it is important that your players understand what you are playing for,” Weis said.
Of course, it’s the more recent history that has Weis most concerned. Yes, he’s memorized that stuff, too.
In the last three seasons, since the return of K-State coach Bill Snyder, the Jayhawks are 0-3 against their in-state neighbors — the last two losses coming in embarrassing fashion at Memorial Stadium.
Now Weis will take a Kansas team into Manhattan for the first time against No. 7 Kansas State, and things certainly look a lot like they did back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when Snyder’s teams regularly stomped the Jayhawks at home.
Consider: Snyder is 9-1 against Kansas in Manhattan, the last loss coming in his first season at K-State in 1989. Glen Mason. Terry Allen. Mark Mangino. All left town bruised and battered. (And Turner Gill, it appears, was only spared by a scheduling oddity that had KU hosting K-State the last two seasons.)
The grim math gets worse when you consider Kansas is averaging just fewer than seven points per game in its last five games in Manhattan against Snyder-coached teams.
All the history left Weis piecing together a K-State-prep formula that included two major facets: Developing some added toughness and a game plan that will allow KU to hang with K-State for 60 minutes.
“I think that this is a (K-State) team that really plays sound fundamentally on both sides of the football and lives off of your mistakes,” Weis said. “And if you make mistakes, they pounce on you.”
In preparation for K-State, Weis said he spent the bye week emphasizing physicality. For Weis, it went along with the theme of finishing games, a season-long problem for the Jayhawks.
“They probably hit more last week than they’ve hit any week the entire season,” Weis said. “Everything was full speed.”
That included struggling senior quarterback Dayne Crist, who spent the week operating under live action and real pressure.
“There were no red jerseys out there,” Weis said.
To engineer an upset, Weis says, the Jayhawks will have to find a way to get their struggling offense on track. And they’ll have to do it in an efficient way that chews up the clock and grinds down a fundamentally strong K-State defense.
For Kansas, though, the toughest task may be simply keeping its offense on the field against a K-State defense that ranks No. 22 in the country in scoring defense. In four games, the Jayhawks are converting just 25 percent of their third-down attempts — the fourth-worst mark in the country.
“You have to be ready to nickel-and-dime them the whole day,” Weis said. “You can’t all of (a) sudden say, ‘Well, let’s do this.’ They’re not giving you that. So you have to stay patient.”
Crist moves on — Kansas coach Charlie Weis sat down with senior quarterback Dayne Crist on Monday night for their weekly meeting — a ritual that has turned into a weekly pep talk. Crist went into the bye week after putting up another mediocre performance in the Jayhawks’ 30-23 loss to Northern Illinois on Sept. 29.
Crist completed just 10 of 26 passes for 147 yards. And for the year, Crist is completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes while throwing two touchdowns and four interceptions in four games.
So perhaps Weis’ latest message wasn’t a big shock: Leave September in the past.
“The bottom line is all’s he gotta worry about is doing the best he can to put us in a position to try and beat K-State,” Weis said. “He can’t worry about the games we’ve played already. They are past tense.”
Weis also tried to give Crist another confidence boost by removing his red jersey at practice and allowing the quarterback to feel some live pressure in a game situation. Crist, meanwhile, says he’s tried to rebuild some confidence by focusing on earlier times in his career, when he was the quarterback he believes he can still be.
“I think it’s coming back,” Crist said. “I think that this week was great for me, as a player and as a person.”
With an extra week to rest, Weis said the Jayhawks should be fully healthy this Saturday against Kansas State. This suggests that junior running back Taylor Cox, who was last seen leaving early because of an injury against Northern Illinois on Sept. 22, should be ready to go against K-State.
“Everybody is on the go-list,” Weis said. “Even the guys that were banged up the last time we played.”
Junior college-transfer quarterback Turner Baty will get a new — but important — assignment this week in practice. Baty, a sophomore from the College of San Francisco, will take on the task of playing K-State quarterback Collin Klein in practice. Baty, 6 feet 2 and 215 pounds, earned the role over transfer quarterback Jake Heaps, more of a pure passer