Saturday, September 30, 2006

Awash in a sea of red

KU's Barmann familiar with NU's den of din



Courtesy Photo

More than 80,000 fans await Kansas University when the Jayhawks take the field today at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium. They're loud, they're football-savvy and they wear red, as veteran KU quarterback Adam Barmann can attest.

— Adam Barmann still can feel the electricity.

Kansas University's senior quarterback was the starter on Oct. 2, 2004, the last time the Jayhawks played at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium in front of the "Sea of Red."

Barmann's no rookie. He has played games in front of larger crowds at Oklahoma and Texas, and he has watched the Kansas City Chiefs play at the intimidating Arrowhead Stadium.

And yet, he insists he never has felt his ears ring like they did in Husker country that night.

"You really never can truly prepare for a place like Lincoln," Barmann said. "It really is loud up there."

Kansas will walk out onto one of college football's most hostile fields at 6 p.m. today for the Big 12 Conference opener against Nebraska. It's a biannual trip that usually turns to disaster, with homefield advantage, vast talent and 80,000 screaming fans doing their part the last 100 years.

Several KU players expressed their love of playing in loud, intimidating environments like Nebraska's.

But the results don't back it up - KU's 14-8 loss there in 2004 was the Jayhawks' only close game at Lincoln in the last 30 years.

"I think that a lot of it has to do with people talking themselves out of it," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "'We're going to Lincoln, they're going to have a big fan base, they're going to be all dressed in red, they're going to be making noise.'

"I'm just going to tell you the truth. If you're a college football player, no matter what side of the field you're on, you ought to enjoy playing in that type of environment. All they can do is scream and holler and cheer. They're not allowed to do anything else."

The advantage

But screaming and hollering and cheering is a definite advantage for the home team, especially if the fans are smart about it.

Barmann recalled Kansas needing to get in and out of the huddle much more quickly in Lincoln, needing to get set up at the line of scrimmage more quickly so more time could be taken going through checks and calling an audible if needed.

In 2004, KU's offense still had trouble getting plays off smoothly - one delay-of-game penalty was called, and six false starts hindered the Jayhawks.

The one delay of game was whistled when KU was inside its own five-yard line, and assistant coach Clint Bowen doesn't think that's a coincidence.

"If you look at it, about 60 percent of their seating is in the end zones," Bowen said. "If you're not backed up, it's not as bad as a lot of different places."

Go figure

278 consecutive sellouts at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium, dating to 1962 113-10 Nebraska's home record since 1989 81,067 Capacity at NU's Memorial Stadium; 6,500 seats were added during the offseason 85,181 Attendance at Nebraska's Sept. 2 game against La. Tech, a stadium record.

To try to prepare for it, Kansas coaches moved Wednesday practice to KU's Memorial Stadium and blared artificial crowd noise through the sound system. The coaches do that before most conference road games to get the players ready for a loud crowd.

But no sound system - or any other Big 12 stadium - can do Nebraska justice.

"It is loud," Barmann says again, never straying far from the thought. "It definitely makes it a little more difficult. Anytime you're on the road away from your home stadium, it's a little bit tougher."

How to combat it

Kansas is trying to take a "road dogs" approach this season, attacking KU's ineptitude away from home and, hopefully, conquering it.

The Jayhawks fell just short against Toledo, and tonight's their second chance of the season.

"We've tried to make the point with our guys that there's really not a difference in playing at home or on the road," Mangino said. "Obviously, somewhere in the translation, it's still getting lost here and there."

It's still undetermined who will start at quarterback between Barmann or Kerry Meier, but experience is on Barmann's side. He threw for 200 yards at Nebraska in 2004, and Mangino and Barmann both admit the senior's familiarity with NU's Memorial Stadium doesn't hurt.

"I think playing there once before, it will really help," Barmann said.

As for the newcomers, Mangino is hoping no big deal is made out of the hostility. Though the ears will be ringing by the end of the first quarter, Kansas is hoping to alleviate the noise by giving the Husker fans a reason to quiet down.

And what's the best way to do that?

"Stay cool, stay calm," Mangino said, "and have fun."


Kyle Crenshaw 11 years, 8 months ago

yea baby, lets shock the world and rock those huskers!

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