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Monday, October 29, 2007

Depth charges ‘D’

Several lend hand to dominant unit

Kansas defensive end John Larson, left, pressures Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee. The Jayhawks defeated the Aggies, 19-11, Saturday in College Station, Texas. KU's depth on defense - on the line, in particular - has allowed it to soar to new defensive heights.

Kansas defensive end John Larson, left, pressures Texas A&M quarterback Stephen McGee. The Jayhawks defeated the Aggies, 19-11, Saturday in College Station, Texas. KU's depth on defense - on the line, in particular - has allowed it to soar to new defensive heights.

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Eighth place at eight-and-oh

The Fighting Manginos climbed the BCS rankings after beating Texas A&M in College Station last weekend.

KU 8-0 for first time since 1909

The KU football team is 8-0 for the first time in nearly 100 years.

Kansas University's football team has been incredibly consistent with its starting lineup on defense this season. With just two exceptions, it has been the same 11 every week of KU's remarkable 8-0 start.

But the number of key contributors on that unit, in actuality, is closer to 20 players. And that's one reason the Jayhawks have stayed fresh enough to hold off fourth-quarter rallies in their three road victories to date.

"We're using a lot of kids," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "Some of those guys, the quote-unquote 2's, are playing a lot of repetitions. They're actually becoming '1-minuses' maybe. Those guys are getting a lot of playing time and playing well."

A look up and the down the stat sheet confirms it. Freshman Jake Laptad leads the team with three sacks. Freshman Maxwell Onyegbule is right behind him with 21â2, and sophomore Jeff Wheeler is right behind them both with two. Wheeler has added two pass breakups and a fumble recovery, as well.

In addition, defensive back Justin Thornton is tied for the team lead with three interceptions and has four pass breakups. Senior safety Sadiq Muhammed has a pick and two breakups.

Those five players have something in common. They're all key parts for KU's nationally ranked defense, yet not one of them has registered a start this season.

"There are several of them doing a great job and giving our kids a break and playing in certain packages," Mangino said. "It's been a big boost. We have some depth, and we're able to rotate some guys."

Laptad, Wheeler and Onyegbule have filled up the depth chart at defensive end behind starters John Larson and Russell Brorsen. It's a position lacking a physical specimen like former Jayhawk Charlton Keith, but the rotation coupled with the sound play has prevented the ends from becoming the liability some pundits forecasted before the season.

Thornton and Muhammed, meanwhile, have provided secondary depth and boosted the nickel package. In addition, Kansas has three capable Big 12 Conference cornerbacks in Aqib Talib, Kendrick Harper and Chris Harris. Talib is putting together All-America credentials, while Harper and Harris continue a healthy battle at the other starting spot.

That depth - along with the defense staying injury-free once Harper returned for conference play - has helped Kansas soar in the national rankings.

The Jayhawks are fifth in the 120-team Bowl Subdivision in total defense, allowing just 263.9 yards per game. They're also fifth against the pass and sixth against the run. The 10.3 points allowed per game ranks second nationally.

Saturday's 19-11 road victory over Texas A&M; may have been the most impressive defensive effort yet, considering how the Aggies' lauded rushing attack was stuffed to just 74 yards on 27 carries.

Statistical comparisons to past units will work themsevles out in time. But Mangino was asked Sunday if the 2007 defense is the deepest he's had at Kansas, and the answer was a favorable one.

"I think it rivals what we had in 2005," Mangino said. "We probably have an edge on that group. So yeah, I'd say it's the best."

Comments

jayhawkinATL 14 years, 2 months ago

It was nice to see all the blue-clad fans in College Station this weekend. Pretty good turnout, I must say.

sevenyearhawk 14 years, 2 months ago

Maybe 2,000 ... maybe

there was some scattered around the place

Read my post on the message boards in The Huddle for a full report! :D

Marcia Parsons 14 years, 2 months ago

The game announcers commented on what a rotten location KU supporters were given--so far down on the end beyond the end zone that there were no stadium lights and probably no line of sight to much except the other side of the field.

14 years, 2 months ago

It was great to meet sevenyear, fabio, and J_D in person over the weekend in College Station!

oldalum, I have sat (stood) in those seats before, and the view is less than favorable to say the least. This time, I had seats two rows from the top in the north end zone, and other than being high up, you could see fine.

actorman 14 years, 2 months ago

It's so sweet to have this kind of depth on defense. One thing people always say about teams that weren't expected to be good is that they have great starters but no depth. That certainly doesn't apply in this case, at least on defense and at wide receiver.

I hope we can get a little more pressure on the QB when we get to Stillwater. I don't think it will matter too much this week, but next week it could make a big difference.

100 14 years, 2 months ago

KU coaches: study some tape on nu's replacement quarterback, ganz (new starter). He has nice accuracy and is a better than average runner. We must respect him and prepare with his skillset in mind -- he is a sparkplug! Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

scootja32 14 years, 2 months ago

I'd like to see them throw to Henry, Talib and Briscoe deep a little more (2 or 3 times a game). I don't think we tried it once on Sat. I understand that our running game is good, but if we can complete a couple deep, or even just try, then that would open a feww more holes for our 2 headed monster. I think that these guys can get it done one on one against many big 12 safeties.

Ted Toulouse 14 years, 2 months ago

Scoot - it seemed as though either the coverage was too good or the pressure came too quick for Reesing to try the deep balls against A&M. It also seemed as though their D-line was really standing our O-line up more in order to mask the 5-nothing Reesing from being able to see very well. Thank goodness he throws well on the run. On that note, Derek Fine needs some new hands for Christmas!

jmsuther 14 years, 2 months ago

with our defense vs nebraska's i dont think it is possible for Ku to lose, im predicting sharp and mcanderson both have over 100

100 14 years, 2 months ago

KU Coaching Staff: Below (copy and paste it) is an article that describes why Nebraska was so stiffling on defense for the first 3 quarters, and what Texas did (partially by luck) to dominate in the 4th quarter and win the game. Considering Nebraska's defense appears to be rejuvinated, it might be good to study what Texas did and perhaps use it to our advantage during Saturday's game...

http://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/news;_ylt=AslSZQefcJycBP8.mpXXPIgcvrYF?slug=tb-zoneread102907&prov=yhoo&type=lgns

prairie_rattler 14 years, 2 months ago

Will the goal posts be coming down this weekend?

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