There were so many requests for Jeff Long to comment on the future of the Kansas football program after a humiliating loss to Nicholls State that the Jayhawks’ new athletic director made the rare but practical decision to issue a statement.
It didn’t exactly give embattled coach David Beaty a vote of confidence.
“We all expected a different outcome Saturday,” Long’s statement read, “but I continue to support our student-athletes and coaches and ask all Jayhawks to do the same. Our evaluation of the program is ongoing without a predetermined timeline.”
The next chance to evaluate comes Saturday at Central Michigan.
Still smarting from their overtime loss to a Football Championship Subdivision opponent — at home, no less — the Jayhawks will try for their first road win since 2009. They’ll also be trying to turn around a season that is already threatening to run off the rails, and perhaps show Long enough progress in Year 4 of the Beaty regime to take some of the heat off their coach.
Or at least turn the temperature of his seat down from searing.
“That one definitely hurts, the game everyone’s expecting you to win,” Jayhawks quarterback Peyton Bender said this week. “You can’t change it now. There’s nothing you can do about it. Just have to learn from it and just move on. It’s over with, there’s nothing we can do about it now.”
Besides, the Jayhawks have had plenty of trouble with Mid-America Conference opponents, too.
They lost to the Chippewas at home last season, then lost to Ohio on the road. They also lost to the Bobcats at home the year before that, which means Beaty is 0-3 against the league.
Central Michigan lost its opener to Kentucky last week, but was competitive in the 35-20 defeat — it was 21-20 at halftime. The Chippewas also return plenty of starters from a team that won eight games, tied for second in the MAC West and played in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl last season.
“They’re coming off a difficult loss at home, one where they made mistakes, which were costly,” Central Michigan coach John Bonamego said. “You have to understand who you’re playing. They could be dangerous. We need to take care of our side of things and focus on us.”
Purdue braces for EMU
Purdue coach Jeff Brohm thought his defense looked every bit as bad on tape as it did in person last week.
It gave up 31 points, more than 400 total yards, forced no turnovers and struggled to get off the field. When the Boilermakers did get a crucial third-down stop with 2:31 to go, Lorenzo Neal was called for a personal foul and Northwestern ran out the clock to seal its win.
Brohm didn’t like the results or the effort. So this week he issued a challenge.
“We have to get the front seven to play a whole lot better and to play a whole lot harder, to be much more effective and disruptive, play with tremendous energy and toughness,” Brohm said. “We have to tackle better in the secondary. We’ve got to be able to do things on defense, know guys are going to go hard, be able to come off the ball and figure out a way to create penetration.”
For the moment, it doesn’t sound like lineup changes are imminent. But if the approach doesn’t change — and fast — Brohm may not have a choice.
On Saturday, the Boilermakers (0-1) welcome Eastern Michigan to Ross-Ade Stadium. Many outsiders expect this to be a tuneup for next week’s contest with Missouri, but Brohm knows after seeing the Eagles (1-0) pile up 51 points and 473 total yards while going 7 for 7 on third-down conversions against FCS foe Monmouth last week.
This week, Eagles quarterback Tyler Wiegers faces a bigger, stronger, deeper, more daunting opponent in his second career start.
But if the Boilermakers’ defense turns in another dud, Brohm knows what the ramifications could be.
“If we don’t play well, we’re definitely capable of losing to anybody,” he said. “We have to concentrate, refocus, come out and play extremely hard, find a way to win.”
Friday's top 25
No. 16 TCU 42, (at) SMU 12: KaVontae Turpin ignited sluggish TCU by returning a punt 78 yards for a touchdown before adding a 42-yard scoring catch, and the Horned Frogs pulled away for a rain-soaked victory over Dallas-Fort Worth rival SMU that ended early Saturday morning.
The start of the game Friday night between former Southwest Conference foes was delayed nearly two hours by lightning, and a steady rain fell until halftime.
The Horned Frogs (2-0) finally secured their first seven-game winning streak in the 98-game Iron Skillet series after midnight, winning comfortably after struggling early for the third straight year. TCU has outscored SMU 83-14 in the second half the past three meetings.
The Mustangs (0-2) led 9-0 early in the first home game for coach Sonny Dykes, but had just 167 yards total offense after Braeden West’s 51-yard scoring run on the fifth play of the game.