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Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Kansas keeps fighting after close calls

By David Ubben

For the second time in three weeks, Kansas' defense took the field with a lead and a chance to win a Big 12 game. The first occasion came against Texas back on Oct. 27.

Case McCoy converted a fourth down at midfield and kept the Longhorns moving, punching in a game-winning touchdown with 12 seconds to play.

Saturday, KU got on the board first in the first overtime, but couldn't get the game-winning stop and lost in the next overtime.

The Big 12 losing streak stretched to 19 games and Kansas left the field with that same sinking, losing feeling, perhaps intensified by how close the Jayhawks came to experiencing the intoxicating high of a hard-earned win.

Two games. The same result.

Except that it wasn't. At least, not entirely.

"The most positive thing that came out of the game is it wasn’t a ‘woe is me’ on the sideline at any time during the game," Jayhawks coach Charlie Weis said. "I think normally, when a team gets in a habit of losing, when one thing goes bad in a game, it’s like, 'OK, here we go again.' This was the first time in awhile where I felt that way, that no one was like, 'Here we go again.'"

Weis saw that feeling against Texas, even though the Jayhawks made plays and a go-ahead field goal in the final minutes that got them oh-so-close to setting off a memorable celebration at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence.

"In this game, the team is starting to get past that waiting for something bad to happen and instead trying to make something good happen, and I think that’s a good thing," Weis said.

The next opportunity should be the Jayhawks' best out of a dwindling number of chances to snap the Big 12 streak before the end of the 2012 season. Iowa State beat Kansas just 13-10 in Ames last season, and the Cyclones are coming off a 33-7 beating against the same Texas team the Jayhawks nearly nabbed last month.

"Every week we do something a little bit different. I already got some things that I talked to the team about yesterday," Weis said. "When the team gets into that rut when they get used to losing, I think that you have to make sure you have fresh ideas each week so that the team doesn’t get stale."

Sometimes that means trick plays. The Jayhawks successfully converted a fake punt and a fake field goal on one drive against Kansas State earlier this year. Sometimes it's new wrinkles. That's been a necessity in the running game that's ridden James Sims to six consecutive 100-yard rushing games.

"Everything we’ve done this year will just make us better going forward, because now we’ve had to come up with more and more innovative ways to try and run the ball when everyone knows we’re trying running the ball," Weis said.

Even if Kansas can't snap the streak this year, the progress it made in the past month will eventually become even more evident, Weis says.

"When you get into an offseason where you develop your passing game, which has been very inefficient, but you develop your passing game to be a compliment to this running game that you’ve been progressing all year," he said. "That investment in the running game will just make you that much better once your passing game becomes more efficient."