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LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — If Texas coach Charlie Strong needs anybody to commiserate with these days, he needs look no further than the sleepy college town of Lawrence and the guy coaching Kansas.
When Charlie Weis took over the Jayhawks a couple of years ago, a veritable purge ensued. Just about every day, it seemed, another player was suspended or dismissed from the program. Weis wanted to establish a certain culture, and those who didn't buy in had an alternative: leave.
In short, it's exactly what Strong has been doing in his first year at Texas.
When the former Louisville coach sent offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle packing on Tuesday for a violation of team rules, it brought to nine the number of players he'd dismissed. Two other players, offensive tackle Desmond Harrison and running back Daje Johnson, were still suspended as Texas (1-2) prepared to visit the Jayhawks (2-1) in the Big 12 opener for both teams Saturday.
"The difference is it's always tough to follow a legend," Weis said. "When you go to Texas, following Mack Brown, what are you going to do? Come in here and say all the things Mack Brown was doing were wrong? It's tough to do that.
"I think Charlie's doing things his way," Weis said. "He feels comfortable doing it his way, and he believes it's the only way to get it done the way he wants."
Weis made similar comments about himself when he took over for Turner Gill. But in letting go a number of players at the onset, including several starters, Weis sacrificed potential early success for what he hoped would be long-term gains.
The Jayhawks only won once that first season, but won three times last year — including their first Big 12 win under his watch — and have started to show signs of turning the corner.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns have dropped consecutive games to UCLA and BYU.
In other words, expectations are much different at Texas than Kansas.
"It's all coming together," Strong said this week. "I told the seniors, it's their leadership, and what you like, your senior year, you'd like to see them go play their best football, because some of our seniors are not playing their best football right now. And it's not going to change until we start developing pride and we have pride within ourselves and pride within our team."
As the Longhorns prepare to visit Kansas, here are a few things to keep in mind:
ASH STEPS AWAY: This will be the first game since Texas quarterback David Ash announced last week that he was done playing football because of concussions. Tyrone Swoopes will make his third straight start on Saturday. "I just feel the same way as I always have," he said. "Just have to go out there and be ready. Got to prepare and be ready to play, play for the team."
SPEAKING OF MACK: Weis and Brown have been close friends for years, but Weis said he won't pick up the phone for a few helpful tips this week. "Now, I gladly would take his call," Weis said, "but I wouldn't make that call because that's putting somebody on the spot."
CONNECTIONS: Of the 95 players on the Jayhawks' roster, 25 of them are from Texas. Perhaps not surprisingly, no players on the Longhorns' roster are from Kansas.
COMING OFF BYE: The Longhorns had a week off to digest their situation, and cornerback Quandre Diggs said they took advantage of it. "It gave us more time to refocus," he said. "Coming off a tough loss like (UCLA), where we had the opportunity to win the game, it's always good to have some time off." Diggs said he was able to get home, see family "and eat some good cooking."
MONTELL'S MOMENTUM: Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart seemed to hit his stride against Central Michigan last weekend, throwing for 226 yards and two touchdowns. Asked what the sophomore needs to do next, offensive coordinator John Reagan had a simple reply: "Just keep getting better."
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