For Kansas, Saturday ended in much the same way the last ten Saturdays of Big 12 football have ended, that being with a loss. Since last year's conference opening victory against the Iowa State Cyclones, the Jayhawks have failed to get a victory in now 10 straight as a slipup early last season has turned into a bit more of a major downhill slide for the Kansas program.
Saturday though, looked just a bit different. For the first time since conference play opened, the Jayhawks seemed to compete at least for a good portion of the game. A year ago at this time it would have seemed silly to talk about moral victories. Kansas was still looking at a chance at bowl eligibility, the Jayhawks had their best talent in years, but the beginnings of the troubles at hand were starting to show. In 2010 it's been a constant battle and moral victories might just have to suffice
The season has been plagued by inconsistencies, questionable effort and constant mistakes which lead to the obvious question at times as to whether or not the team had quit. Turner Gill says all the right things, but how much is this team buying in?
On Saturday the Jayhawks spent a day up in Ames showing that they are still fighting and that while the buy-in isn't at the level it needs to be at, the team doesn't appear to have thrown in the towel on a first-year coach.
In the first half of play Kansas controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides and put together a conservative game plan that allowed the Jayhawks to take a lead into half. For the first time all year the Jayhawks were getting pressure from their front four and the Jayhawks running attack was slow, steady and effective. No it's not at all what anyone wants the final result to be, but after seeing a team completely knocked out after one quarter in the last three games, it was a moral victory of sorts.
The thing with Kansas and the season at hand is that many fans were very cautious with their optimism to start the season. The win tally predictions hovered somewhere between the four to six win mark at the high end. After the opening game loss to North Dakota State, that tally probably moved to somewhere between 0 and 4. It's not the win, it's not the losses, it's how the Jayhawks have played in losing.
For weeks fans have just wanted to see a sign of life. Some hope that the talent on the team isn't so far misplaced from where we thought it was and any sign that there is still some pride left. Saturday in a small, small...small way, did accomplish that.
No it wasn't perfect and no one should be overjoyed with the fact that Kansas put together a half of football before losing a game this week, but with the horrific start to 2010 the building has to start somewhere.
It's hard to believe that three seasons ago this was a team on an Orange Bowl run. Today fans sit talking moral victories over a middle-tier Iowa State team. It's proof positive that Kansas is on the bottom at the moment, hopefully Saturday's glimmer of hope is something that can be used to build toward the future and help the program get up off the mat.