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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Crushed!

Jayhawks sloppy in disheartening loss

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— Take it away, James McClinton. Your words sum it up better than the most gifted scribe could on his greatest day.

"We kept shooting ourselves in the foot," McClinton, Kansas University's defensive tackle, said. "You keep doing that constantly, you're going to lose your leg."

Indeed, KU's football season may have hobbled to a halt Saturday, after Missouri pushed Kansas around and eventually prevailed, 42-17, in front of 55,614 fans at Faurot Field.

At 6-6, Kansas technically is bowl-eligible. But the prospects don't look good, and it's likely there just isn't enough room for the .500 Jayhawks to play another game next month.

Kansas made its share of mistakes, sure. A silly penalty in particular may have wiped away the Jayhawks' chance at gripping momentum in the third quarter.

But overall, Kansas was the second-best team on the field Saturday.

Missouri (8-4 overall, 4-4 Big 12 Conference) passed for 356 yards, had no turnovers and kept its poise when it could've psyched itself right out of the game.

"They outplayed us in nearly every facet of the game. They outcoached us and outplayed us," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "It was a clean sweep for them."

About KU's only accomplishment worth a hint of pride was running back Jon Cornish, who had 126 yards rushing and broke the single-season record set in 1991 by Tony Sands. Cornish finished the regular season with 1,457 yards rushing.

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2006 KU-MU football

But this was Missouri's day, and the biggest reason might have been its refusal to get rattled when the time was ripe for Kansas to take the game over.

A bizarre third-quarter officiating call resulted in offsetting penalties and wiped out a 75-yard touchdown catch by MU's Brad Ekwerekwu - a score that would have put Missouri up 26-10. Kansas got the ball back two plays later and eventually scored on a 42-yard pass from Kerry Meier to Aqib Talib with 8:05 left in the third quarter.

Kansas (6-6, 3-5) was down just 20-17 at that point, and Mizzou seemed temporarily ready to fold up shop.

The Tigers just about punted again on their next offensive series. But two KU defenders jumped offsides on the fourth-down punt play, giving Mizzou five yards and a first down.

The Tigers went on to score that drive on a Tony Temple run, putting Mizzou up 27-17. The game never was close again.

"We were setting up a wall," Mangino said of the neutral-zone penalty. "We're not even trying to block it."

Those sorts of mistakes eventually made KU lose its leg, but a season-long bugaboo certainly didn't help. Daniel's 356 passing yards gets him an invitation to a crowded club of 350-yard passers against KU. MU's sophomore quarterback is the fifth to do so this year.

"You could see where we were really aggressive today," said Daniel, who had four touchdown passes. "We ran three reverses, a reverse pass, throwing the ball down the field left and right. That's what we're best at."

The key for Kansas coming in was obvious - establish the run and pound it down Missouri's throat. That had to be scrapped, though, when the Tigers built a 13-0 lead, and the Jayhawks played uphill throughout the game.

Cornish had just 15 carries on the day, including an impressive 41-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He broke Sands' record with a nine-yard run in the third quarter, had one more carry for seven yards and was done running the ball. The fourth quarter hadn't even started.

With Kansas trailing and the clock on Missouri's side, Mangino felt the Jayhawks had no choice.

That in mind, it wasn't the best day for Meier, who completed eight of 15 passes for 99 yards. Nearly half his yards came on the completion to Talib, which was caught in the flat near the line of scrimmage.

Fellow freshman Todd Reesing joined the party in the fourth quarter, but he threw an interception in the end zone when the game already was out of hand.

So that's that.

The Jayhawks will have a few practices later in the week in case a bowl game wants them, but it doesn't look promising. Invitations are expected to be passed out Dec. 3, and KU's only hope is the Texas Bowl (over 6-6 Oklahoma State) or one of the scarce at-large bids.

Fact is, the Jayhawks controlled their own destiny heading into Saturday. And they left missing one of their legs.

"We had to come out and get a fast start," Meier said, "and we didn't."

Comments

jhwks 13 years, 2 months ago

The defensive game plan was terrible. We had defenders standing there waiting for the MU players to come to them (many times running right by them) in stead of attacking and trying to make a tackle. There was absolutely no pressure on Daniel in the first half. The last few minutes of the second quarter we started blitzing and had positive results. Why did it take the coaches so long to go away from the four man rush and playing 10 yards off of the receivers?

CatFan 13 years, 2 months ago

One short week from crowing to crying. Been there...done that...felt the pain. One game doesn't make or break the season. Look for the trends. None of the final scores in the three games between KU, KSU and MU were indicative of the parity of the teams. But who was best on each particular game day was very clear. Congratulations to Jon Cornish for a great season.

wstander 13 years, 2 months ago

Cornish had just 15 carries on the day, including an impressive 41-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He broke Sands' record with a nine-yard run in the third quarter, had one more carry for seven yards and was done running the ball. The fourth quarter hadn't even started.

With Kansas trailing and the clock on Missouri's side, Mangino felt the Jayhawks had no choice.

I noted how well that kind of thinking did in the Arkansas LSU game too, when, with a rushing game that had reached almost 300 yards, and a passing attack that was 3-14 for 30 odd yards, the Ark coach called four passing plays on the final drive (all incomplete) with two minutes left in the game. Kansas had a whole quarter, so even less excuse for that kind of play calling.

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