LAWRENCE (AP) — When Turner Gill took over the head coaching position at Kansas last year, he brought a little piece of Buffalo with him.
While he was coaching at the Mid-American Conference school, Gill told his players that "UB" would stand for "U Believe." Gill brought the believe aspect to Kansas, and the team is focusing on it as it prepares for its game against No. 3 Oklahoma on Saturday night.
"As we prepare for this game, I know we are referring to our mission statement -- the word 'believe,'" Gill said. "It's something that you have to carry on and keep moving forward. The first letter in the word 'believe' is 'B' -- believe in each other in things not yet seen. That's kind of where we're at.
"Our guys have continued to believe in what we're trying to get accomplished. The things that are ahead of us, we can still get a lot accomplished in this football season."
Kansas' defense has been the talk of its season so far, unfortunately. It is last in the nation in points allowed (49.4) and total defense (556 yards per game). The Jayhawks will be tasked with trying to stop a Sooners offense that rolled to a 55-17 victory over Texas last week.
It could be a recipe for disaster.
It could also be a great opportunity for the struggling Jayhawks.
"A good quote that I looked up and really hits me and our football team in a good spot says, 'He who believes is strong. Strong convictions precede great actions,'" Gill said. "You have to have some strong convictions. As that statement talks about there, if you have strong convictions then it precedes great actions.'"
On Tuesday, the defense called a players-only meeting to discuss the recent woes. Safety Lubbock Smith wrote "Show Up or Shut Up" in the locker room. He wasn't pointing fingers, but trying to motivate his teammates. He said the team has more accord.
If the Jayhawks lose, they lose together.
"It's just a matter of trying to separate the boys from the men," Smith said. "It was just supposed to be like, 'Hey, we play OU this week. They're the No. 1 team in the country. Either you're going to show up or you're going to shut up.' Now if you make mistakes on the field, that's understandable. But people are going to see if you're really pushing and really trying to win.
"You can't really control what other people are going to do," Smith said, "but you can control your focus and whether or not you've been in the film room watching film or working hard in practice."
Smith is part of a defense that gave up 70 points to Oklahoma State, but he is looking beyond that. He asks himself whether the situation will "break him" or whether he will continue to strive for excellence and push through the adversity.
Smith doesn't think three straight lopsided losses are a true indication for how good the Jayhawks are. Many fans have become fickle, Smith said, and he believes the nationally-televised contest against Oklahoma is an opportunity to get things going the right direction.
Linebacker Steven Johnson said the only people that matter are the players, coaches and other personnel. But he also understands the frustration of the fans.
"It's hard to be a fan and have your team losing," Johnson said. "I'm a fan of the (Philadelphia) Eagles and they're not doing too well. But I know, in my heart, if I had every opportunity to go to every Eagles game, I'd be there."