MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — While West Virginia must deter what Dana Holgorsen calls the “human instinct to relax” after winning back-to-back games, how much deprogramming must be done to take seriously a team like Kansas that hasn’t won any?
“We’ve got to be on guard for that,” Holgorsen admitted Tuesday, reprising the kind of speech seven previous Big 12 coaches have given this season.
Kansas has been outscored 336-94 in its league games this fall, which somehow makes an 0-7 record in the conference sound even more dreadful. The Jayhawks’ best shot at winning expired in comical fashion on opening weekend, a flubbed spike in field-goal range ending their 41-38 loss to FCS South Dakota State. (Even throwing an incomplete pass is too hard for this team.)
Allowing 573 yards per game, the defense checks in at the rock-chalk bottom of the national rankings—No. 127 out of 127.
Yet Holgorsen, as coaches must do in the run-up to these games, stuck to his talking points.
“They’ve played well in spurts defensively,” he said. “If you go and look at their video … their kids play their tail off.”
Last week’s 23-17 loss at TCU may prove the most stunning outcome in the Big 12 this season, considering the Jayhawks were 46-point underdogs.
Another outlier in a mostly noncompetitive season was Kansas losing 30-20 to Texas Tech, a game not decided until the Red Raiders scored on a late pick-six.
“When you see some of these stats and numbers, you don’t think it’s going to look good,” Holgorsen said. “But I tell you, it has looked good for 10 straight games.”
So good that West Virginia is a 28-point road favorite on Saturday. The Mountaineers were 6.5-point favorites two years ago when the unthinkable happened.
Beaty’s rebuilding burden: Kansas has gone 4-55 in Big 12 games since the start of 2009, a dreadful span that saw Turner Gill and Charlie Weis sacked and current coach David Beaty beginning his tenure with only 60-something scholarship players.
“He’s going to do a good job—he’s a recruiting machine,” said Holgorsen. “He’s going to get out there and recruit hard. Over the course of three or four years you need to sign the maximum number of people that you can sign.
“It’s not something that’s going to get fixed overnight.”
Cajuste back to work soon? Sidelined the past two games with a foot injury, Yodny Cajuste was no longer listed as the first-team left tackle on this week’s depth chart. That distinction went to senior Marquis Lucas, who has shifted from right tackle, with two-game starter Marcell Lazard now officially listed with the first unit at Lucas’ former spot.
“Yodny’s not shut down yet—I’d tell you if he was,” Holgorsen said. “He will probably see some practice time this week and we’ll see how that looks.”
Run-loaded question: The aftermath of West Virginia beating Texas while throwing only 12 passes continued to generate buzz over Holgorsen suppressing his original offensive philosophy.
“Whatever you’ve got to do to get the win, that’s what I’ve resigned myself to do,” he said. “I could’ve been worried about stats and done something to screw that game up pretty easily.’