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Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Fifth Quarter: Kansas 58, Baylor 10

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Audio clips

2007 KU-Baylor Football

Some thoughts...from Memorial Stadium

Ryan Wood, Journal-World KU football beat writer

"In a lopsided game like this, objective number one is to win. Objective number two is to not look terrible doing it.

The Jayhawks accomplished both on Saturday. Their defense performed great and their offense looked OK (funny to not be wowed after 58 points were hung). What stood out, though, was the aftermath. KU was excited after reaching bowl eligibility a year ago. This year, it's barely worth a mention. A sign that this team is superior mentally to last year's shaky bunch."

Tom Keegan, Journal-World sports editor

"Take to the air and keep peppering the secondary. That was the preferred approach to playing against Kansas last season, when the Jayhawks ranked dead last in the country in pass defense. That doesn't work anymore. KU's secondary can be described with the same words as every other unit on the team: Rock solid."

Ryan Greene, KUSports.com editor

"When the weather was nasty and the teams were stuck in their respective locker rooms, left to do nothing but think and kill time, it was apparent that whoever could run the ball would have the edge. Of course, the rain subsided and both teams were able to air it out, but KU's ability to spark the offense via the run once again proved pivotal after a slow Todd Reesing start. Jake Sharp looks more and more comfortable as the weeks go by, and he showed it by going over the 100-yard mark on the ground for the third time this season. Sure, casual fans want to see the ball get aired out, but don't overlook the importance the running backs getting big chunks out of the spread offense have had for KU this year.

Also, didn't it seem like forever ago that we were talking about KU's lack of takeaways? The Jayhawks have seven interceptions in their first two conference games. Not too shabby."

Inside the numbers

4.7: KU was able to tear off 4.7 yards per carry on the ground, piling up a total of 236 yards via the run. It was the first time this year that the majority of KU's offense came on the ground rather than through the air, as Todd Reesing and Kerry Meier combined to throw for 211 yards. At the season's midway point, Jake Sharp has run for 498 yards, while Brandon McAnderson has 461. Add in a bowl game, which now is looking like a certainty, and both could eclipse 1,000 yards once it's all said and done.

2.5: While KU was easily moving on the ground, Baylor was shut off almost completely, averaging just 2.5 yards per tote, and finishing with 48 net yards rushing. KU's run defense has now been stellar in each of its Big 12 contests. In both games, the Jayhawks have forced opponents to beat them with the arms of their quarterbacks. In both contests, the opponents have failed.

88: If there was anyone who wanted revenge for last year's loss at Baylor more than Marcus Herford, it'd be hard to find that guy. Herford had a key dropped pass a year ago in Waco, and overthrew Brian Murph and led him into a camera platform on a failed trick play. This year, he got his turn and took full advantage of it. The biggest rip came via an 88-yard kickoff return for a score. He finished the day with 145 kick return yards.

3: That's how many dropped balls senior receiver Marcus Henry had. It's tough to shed negative light on such a casual-looking win, but Henry has been tough to spot since opening up the season with 355 receiving yards in the first three games. He did have a 54-yard touchdown catch today on a great move after catching a short slant, but he had a drop in the first quarter inside the 10-yard line which would have set KU up with a first and goal. Instead, the Jayhawks had to settle for a field goal. In closer games against better Big 12 competition, those catches will have to be made.

16: If you want the epitome of a freshman coming up big, look no further than No. 16, Chris Harris. He's been a big reason for the vast improvement of KU's pass defense. Saturday, he undoubtedly had the best showing of his young career. The frosh from Bixby, Okla., had six tackles, split a tackle for loss, had a pair of pass breakups and recorded an interception. With Kendrick Harper now there to spell him at times off the bench and provide a breather, look for his contributions to be even bigger.

8: Quietly, Joe Mortensen has been ridiculously productive for KU. Really, it's the offense's prolific showings which have made the junior middle linebacker go a bit unnoticed, but he keeps piling up numbers. He tied for the lead again today for KU with eight tackles, now giving him a team-high 57 this year - 18 more than the second-best total on the squad.

Just in case you missed it...

Senior punter Kyle Tucker had some struggles again today. His four punts were good for an average distance of just 33.5 yards. Backup quarterback Kerry Meier, an all-state punter while at Pittsburg High, came in for a few tries of his own, but there's still no question Tucker has the best punting leg on the team. Shaking that slump he's in will be key, and Mark Mangino made light of that in his postgame press conference. He'll have a good chance to do so in the thin Rocky Mountain air next week at Colorado.

Hopefully, you didn't miss it...

KU obviously did a better job of keeping its mental edge due to two hours and 15 minutes worth of weather-related delays Saturday. Not only did the Jayhawks force themselves into an early lead and stymie Baylor into just three points after three trips inside the KU 10-yard line early, but the Jayhawks stayed fresh after a late-first quarter lightning delay, whereas Baylor just got sloppier.

They said it...

Mark Mangino on Chris Harris playing above his experience level: "He really doesn't (play like a freshman). He's a mature kid. He made some plays today. It's nice to have Kendrick Harper to get out there to give him a rest once in awhile, but Chris Harris, he plays beyond his years, you know. He doesn't play like a true freshman."

Mark Mangino on dealing with weather delays for the first time in his coaching career: "This is uncharted waters for me. Like I said, when we came inside, everybody was wondering. The first delay, we were prepared for the game. We couldn't do any more chalk talk. We've worked hard to prepare for the game, so, coaches wanted to know what the kids should do, I told 'em 'take a nap, listen to your iPod, read. We're not going to do anything special, just take your pads off and relax. Then we came in for the second one, it was kinda nice, we were able to make some adjustments and things like that....It was kinda like hockey. There were two intermissions. It was kinda different. I don't think I want to do that again."

Mark Mangino on his punting unit's struggles: "The unit is really good. The execution, it's actually punting the football. Kyle (Tucker) is a veteran player, and in baseball, they call it a slump, I guess. But he needs to snap out of it. We need him. He's been a good player for us over the years."

Mark Mangino on his team not focusing on attaining bowl eligibility: "When we won six games last year, they told me we were bowl eligible. You know where we spent the holidays? At home. That's just propaganda. If you really want to guarantee a bowl, you've got to win more than six....the kids don't care. They've set their sights so high, I don't think it's even entered their minds."

Jake Sharp on how he spent the weather delays: "I just listened to my iPod, me and Todd Reesing messed around and played a little tic-tac-toe...I won, of course."

Jake Sharp on KU's consistency in the running game this year: "When all else fails, we go to our running game and we get chunk yardage out there, I think, eight yards a pop on our runs. And, you know, that definitely opened things up for the passing game."

Jake Sharp on the early weather benefitting KU with its ability to run: "I was like 'Coach, why are we delaying? We can run the ball, and, you know, they don't necessarily run the ball.' I was like 'Lets go play in the rain.' Me and (Brandon McAnderson) were kind of excited. It was still a little wet out there, but it wasn't too bad at all."

Todd Reesing on maintaining focus during the delays: "I think (losing focus is) definitely something that could happen. We're very programmed on gameday. We expect things to run smoothly, and so do the coaches. When things are off by a few minutes, it gets out of whack, not to say a couple of hours. It was tough to stay focused and come back after we came in after the start of the game and get your mind focused again and get your intensity back up. It was tough, but I think we managed to do that, found a way to get some points on the board on offense and as a team played pretty well."

Todd Reesing on the running game's importance Saturday: "I know (the backs) obviously want to establish the running game, and I know a lot of times (Offensive coordinator Ed) Warinner wants to come out , establish the pass and get teams to back off and open the running game up. And early on when we couldn't get the passing game going, the running game really got us settled in and relaxed a little bit. And to be able to go out there and run the ball and get first downs and pick up yards really takes pressure off me and the receivers, so when things are starting to crowd in for the run game, the pass game really opens up."

Todd Reesing on acting a couple of times as a gunner on punt coverage: "I was hoping I'd get a chance to make a tackle. I was sprinting hard, and right before he got tackled, I was about to get in there and get my lick, but I didn't quite get my chance. They tried to jam me off the line, I got a good release, though. I got down there, I had contained coverage, so I think I did my job pretty well."

Notable...

...KU's six-game winning streak is its longest since winning seven straight to open the 1995 season...KU is off to a 2-0 start in Big 12 play for the first time since 1997...KU has now won nine of 10 games dating back to the 2006 season...KU now has been bowl eligible for three straight seasons and four of the last five...KU has six wins for three straight seasons for the first time since 1960-62...The official total amount of delays Saturday was 128 minutes...KU's 58 points was the most ever scored by the program in a conference game...KU has notched 400-plus yards of offense in every game this season...KU has now recorded two or more interceptions in four straight games....Kicker Scott Webb moved into third place on KU's all-time scoring list with 244 points. He passed Bruce Kallmeyer, who had 233 points from 1980-83. Next on the list is June Henley, who had 258 points from 1993-96. The all-time leader, Dan Eichloff, had 302 points from 1990-93...Marcus Herford's 88-yard kickoff return for a score was his second this season, tying a Big 12 record. Brian Kelly of Colorado did it in 1999, while Baylor's Robert Quiroga accomplished the feat in 2003. The return also tied his own mark set in 2006 against Northwestern State as the 10th-longest in KU history...Herford moved into second on the KU career kick return yards list with 1,128. Greg Heaggans set the record of 1,885 from 2002-05...Todd Reesing's 1,652 passing yards have him in 13th place on the KU single-season list, while his 16 touchdowns are second-best all-time in a single season at KU. He is two away from tying Bill Whittemore's record of 18 in 2003...Dexton Fields now has at least two receptions in 17 straight games...Derek Fine is now in 20th place on KU's all-time career receptions list with 76.

Comments

jhawklifer 7 years, 1 month ago

We cannot afford to have Reesing on punt coverage. The injury risk is too high. I'm sold on the Phat man, but that staff's decision-making makes you scratch your head sometimes.

OhioHawkfan 7 years, 1 month ago

I agree . . . I know we have a great backup QB (and Punter, apparently) with Meier, but why risk Reesing getting hurt?

actorman 7 years, 1 month ago

I agree too. I'm also a little worried about how often Reesing challenges tacklers rather than going into a slide. The absolute WORST thing that could happen to this team would be for Reesing to get hurt.

Although I generally enjoy watching passing more than running, I couldn't care less which area KU focuses on first, as long as they keep winning. The domination on defense is tremendous to watch too. I'm not even that worried about the shaky punting. The one thing which really DOES worry me is the continued dropping of passes. That could really come back to bite KU at some point. There are just way too many easy passes dropped. Reesing's stats don't reflect how well he played, because of all the dropped passes.

shannyvan1 7 years, 1 month ago

It seems we are taking a significant risk with both Reesing and Meier seeing so much action. If both were injured in the same game who would take over at QB? Who is our 3d string QB?

JBurtin 7 years, 1 month ago

I'm not worried about Reesing challenging tacklers. I think it is often more dangerous to go into a slide than to just run it (just ask Trent Green).

Meier got injured running the ball last year because he always lead with his shouders and tried to pound forward for yards. A sore shoulder is okay if you're a running back, but is unacceptable as a QB.

Reesing, on the other hand, runs aggressively with the ball, but uses his elusiveness to shuck off tacklers and control the way that he gets tackled so that he doesn't get hurt.

I will have to agree that I really don't see any reason to have him out there on punt coverage, but as for the other uses of the two QB's, if you're gonna make an omelet you've gotta break some eggs. Nobody wins championships without taking risks, you can't afford to have some of your best players sitting on the bench while your team is out there playing "not to lose". Anybody watching closely yesterday could see that the offense was sputtering due to dropped passes. Meier's sure hands and ability to get open sparked the offense and gave everyone enough confidence to get the job done, and Reesing's running ability got us first downs on occasions that would have been punts with a QB like Barmann back there. Without those two, this game would have been a lot closer, and I wouldn't have wanted to play Baylor's offense late in the game with confidence again like we did last year. Our big lead made them force in passes that they wouldn't have otherwise and exaserbated their offensive woes.

MMM, 58-10, that's a tasty omelet!

troutsee 7 years, 1 month ago

3rd string QB is Tyler Lawrence, soph from SM West and then we have Stewart from St. Louis. Stewart is big and strong and looks like he can throw the ball.

seattlehawk_78 7 years, 1 month ago

I would have liked to see Tyler in the game yesterday. We could utilize Meier's athleticism to a greater advantage if he wasn't the backup QB. Given all the dropped passes, his sure hands could come in handy.

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