Sunday, October 14, 2007


Keegan: Kansas upgrades pass D


KU rips Baylor, 58-10

The Kansas Jayhawk football team got revenge for last season's single-point loss to Baylor by stomping the Bears to the tune of 58-10.

Audio clips

2007 KU-Baylor Football

Kansas University's football team finished 6-6 in 2006 in a way that led many apologists to respond with, "But we should have gone 9-3."

No, the Jayhawks should have been 6-6 because they were outscored six times and outscored opponents in a half-dozen games. They blew leads routinely, which had nothing to do with bad luck and everything to do with a pass defense so inept it statistically ranked dead last in the nation among Division I-A schools.

Peppering the air was the way to defeat KU a year ago. This year? No team has figured that out yet, least of all Baylor University and its coach, Guy Morriss, who took a few more steps down the plank Saturday in a 58-10 loss to KU.

Baylor scored five touchdowns via the pass in last season's 36-35 victory against KU, which had led 35-17 with less than 10 minutes remaining.

Baylor has switched quarterbacks since then, from Shawn Bell to Blake Szymanski, and Kansas has a new defense, one that picked off four passes Saturday. True freshman Chris Harris intercepted one pass, dropped another he might have returned for a touchdown and broke up another. He also made six tackles. He hits like a safety, covers like a corner and handles his assignments in the Kansas zone as if he were born studying the scheme.

Harris wasn't among the handful of players made available to the media after Saturday's game, but senior James McClinton introduced his name into the conversation.

"The DBs were going to work, especially Chris Harris," McClinton said. "He did a good job today. Chris Harris, he's a player. I think he's going to be a freshman All-American."

Strong words. And not the least bit unreasonable. With Aqib Talib on the other side of the field, the tendency is to want to pick on Harris. It doesn't work.

Baylor's only touchdown came on a kick return.

How about that secondary?

"Our defense, period, was fantastic," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "... Our linebackers and secondary just smothered them in coverage. They just did a fantastic job in coverage."

With the addition of junior-college transfer Patrick Resby, Justin Thornton doesn't get as much playing time at safety this season. He picked off a pass at the goal line early in Saturday's game.

"I read the QB's eyes," Thornton said. "I started drifting back, and he threw it right to me. I could not score an easier pick."

As they have been doing all season, the D-backs did a terrific job of simultaneously watching the passer and receivers.

"Most of the day he stared down his receivers," Thornton said of Szymanski. "He stared his guy down most of the way, and I was able to read his eyes and come up on one. It wasn't too hard telling where he was going to throw it."

A year ago, it wasn't too hard for Bell to hit receivers.

"I remember almost every play of that game," Thornton said. "I was part of some of those unfortunate incidents."

Said McClinton: "Coach showed us the film. I looked at it and said, 'Man, was this us last year?' Lack of communication. The quarterback getting out of the pocket. Them picking up third-down conversions. We're a way better defense than we were last year."

And a way better team with a way better record.


actorman 14 years, 1 month ago

It was funny that the broadcasters commented on how Mangino has always been about defense, given that KU had the worst pass defense in the country last year. It's also funny considering that Mangino comes from an offensive background and that in Bill Whittemore's senior year the offense was great and the defense horrible. A really poor job by the broadcasters of looking at the history of KU under Mangino. Of course since they did a poor job in pretty much every other aspect of the game as well, that should be no surprise.

seattlehawk_78 14 years, 1 month ago

Forgive me for my hindsight but every time I reflect on last season and all those close losses I can't help but think how different things would have been if Charles Gordon had played his senior year at KU. Even though Mangino wanted him to play on offense I think he would have been forced to move him into the secondary.

sevenyearhawk 14 years, 1 month ago

Gordon and Talib would have made a difference, in at least one if not two games ...

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