Will bye week adjustments be enough for reeling KU football?

Jayhawks get extra prep time for potent Texas Tech offense

LAWRENCE — The Kansas football team’s bye week provided banged up star wide receiver Steven Sims some much-needed rest.


Perhaps more rest than even he would have preferred, in fact.

Sims, a key cog in first-year offensive coordinator Doug Meacham’s Air Raid offense, has been slowed by an ankle injury for virtually all of KU’s (1-3, 0-1 Big 12) slow start this season. The 13-day gap between games, though, provided time for treatment and recovery and has Sims saying he feels “100 percent” heading into the Jayhawks’ 11 a.m. Saturday clash with Texas Tech at Memorial Stadium.

The off week also provided the Jayhawks an extra week to scout the Red Raiders — though, admittedly, it’s not an opportunity Sims was able to take advantage of live during Tech’s 41-34 defeat to Oklahoma State on Saturday, a game which had a 7 p.m. kickoff.

“I fell asleep, actually,” a sheepish Sims said Tuesday. “I wanted to watch it, but I fell asleep, so I just got to watch it on film.”

For the struggling Jayhawks, the extra rest and relaxation can’t be a bad thing.

KU is coming off a 56-34 home defeat to West Virginia in its Big 12 opener and rides a three-game losing skid into Saturday’s homecoming clash with the always-potent Red Raiders (3-1, 0-1). The Jayhawks have fallen into 18-, 18- and 25-point first-half deficits in each of their last three games, respectively.

Asked whether he would prefer a late-October bye week — the Jayhawks haven’t had one of those since 2014 — KU coach David Beaty said the timing of this year’s off week has actually been beneficial.

“You know, I wasn’t sure I was going to like it when I first saw it, but it actually worked out really good,” Beaty said. “It did because we got to see Big 12 competition. There’s some things that are synonymous I think with the conference that helps you out a little bit. You’re seeing a lot of the same body types which I think is very helpful for us.”

The Jayhawks’ byes in Beaty’s first two seasons both came before conference play began.

“We were able to get one game under our belt against a similar offense and really some similar things on defense, which was good,” Beaty said. “It allowed us to see what we needed to shore up against some of those schemes, so I thought that worked out good.”

Beaty and his staff used the bye week primarily as a “self-scout” opportunity, determining what’s working schematically and what needs to be thrown out, he said.

The one thing Beaty singled out as a positive coming out of his bye week was how much time his players spent together, a sign of team unity, he added.

“I applaud them,” Beaty said. “They’ve got great chemistry, it’s a tight-knit football team, which is good. They’re excited and ready to get back on the field and close the deal, close the deal this week.”

It won’t be easy against Tech, which enters as a 17-point favorite after last season’s 55-19 mauling of KU in Lubbock. Nic Shimonek, then a backup playing in relief of injured starter Patrick Mahomes, was 15-for-21 passing with 271 yards and four touchdowns in the cameo appearance last season against the Jayhawks.

Beaty lauded the 6-foot-3, 225-pound senior Shimonek’s quick release and mind for the game.

“You can tell he’s very cerebral. He does a nice job of progressing through the offense,” Beaty said. “He looks like A-rated quarterback.”

Opportunistic might be the best word to describe the Red Raider defense.

Tech, under third-year defensive coordinator David Gibbs, is ranked 110th out of 129 teams nationally in total defense but has 10 takeaways, the second-highest total among teams that have played only four contests and the 19th-highest mark overall.

Sims sees a “good defense” — but one that might be in trouble if it sleeps on the Jayhawks.

“I know it’s going to be a game where they’re trying to strip the ball from us and get interceptions and stuff like that,” Sims said. “But they do have holes in their defense. I feel like we can take some shots, and we have a lot of opportunities to score points.”

FAMILIARITY KEY — There should be no surprises on offense when Beaty meets longtime friend and former Texas A&M colleague Kliff Kingsbury, now in his fifth season as Texas Tech coach.

“There’s not going to be a play that he’s going to run that I’m not going to be familiar with, and there is not going to be one we’re going to run that he’s not going to be familiar with,” Beaty said. “It’s going to come down to who can get ‘em ready to play and execute at a higher level. That’s what it’s going to come down to.”

Kingsbury’s intelligence and work ethic, Beaty said, set him apart in the coaching world.

“I think his alarm goes off around 2:30 in the morning, and he’s probably in the weight room by 3:30,” Beaty said. “There is a reason why he’s not much younger than me and he looks a heck of a lot better than me.”



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