Kansas football’s open week is here, and here’s what the Jayhawks are going to do
LAWRENCE — A couple days before Kansas football took on Iowa State this past Saturday, Jayhawks offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki and defensive coordinator Brian Borland each spoke to what the upcoming open week would comprise of.
Kotelnicki, then not far removed from a conversation with his head coach about the open week, highlighted the need to re-emphasize fundamentals. Given the better understanding the coaching staff has of its personnel, Kotelnicki said they can install a few more things now that they normally would have been able to get to during fall camp. On top of there being time for more players to get healthy, the Jayhawks will self-scout themselves, too.
Borland said the practice schedule would be adjusted so the team could accomplish some other things. He views the open week as a chance to get younger players more reps than they’d receive in a typical week. In addition to getting ahead on the game plan for the Oct. 16 matchup against Texas Tech, he mentioned fundamentals as well.
Both made it clear that just because Kansas has a free weekend, it isn’t going to press pause on its development. And when Jayhawks head coach Lance Leipold spoke postgame this past Saturday, he noted that the 59-7 loss against the Cyclones wouldn’t lead to some massive rewrite of his team’s plan.
“We had this plan … what we were going to do, before the score of this game or anything else of how we’re going to approach it, what else we have to get done, and how we’ll go about it into next week,” said Leipold, whose team is now 1-4 overall and 0-2 against the Big 12 Conference. “… You don’t coach mad. You don’t modify. I mean, you look at some different things that you can do to improve on but it isn’t like you’re going to drastically change everything you do because otherwise you’re just grasping at straws.”
While Leipold understands that his staff — as it’s currently constructed — didn’t have a spring ball with the team, he won’t try to make up for that lost time by overworking his team. He knows his players did go through spring practice, even if he wasn’t there with them while they did. He pointed out his team has to be smart about managing the mental and physical demands a season presents.
Leipold said Monday would be a day to watch film, and that practice would follow the next three days. There’d be opportunities to get some weight-room work in, and chances for guys to get healthier as Kotelnicki had mentioned. He didn’t think what the Jayhawks would do would stray much from how a team normally approaches an open week.
Super senior defensive lineman Sam Burt, who sustained an injury in the opener against South Dakota, is one of those players that the open week could be beneficial for. Leipold, who had said after the loss against Coastal Carolina that Burt would miss a month or so due to the injury, revealed Burt had started to be involved in some things. According to Leipold, every day Burt can have matters and Burt is getting closer.
“We’re going to look at some different things and things,” said Leipold, referring to the open week. “Plus, we’re going to be out recruiting and doing things like that. So, we’ve got a lot of things, lot of balls, in the air. But we’ll get some Texas Tech work … some fundamental work … Some of the younger guys, going to try to find opportunities for them to get back into the swing kind of like a fall camp.”
Redshirt junior quarterback Jason Bean sees the value of the open week as getting better each day. That’s where the focus is, in addition to it being about each person “looking in the mirror” to figure out what they need to fix. He was adamant the Iowa State loss wouldn’t define Kansas, and that he’s excited for what the future holds.
“We hope to just establish a mindset of physicality, basically,” said super senior defensive end Kyron Johnson, discussing the open week, “and doing the little things right and just making sure we are, like, fundamentally sound.”
Jordan Guskey covers University of Kansas Athletics at The Topeka Capital-Journal. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @JordanGuskey.