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Monday, September 17, 2007

Is KU looking for new returner?

Mangino: Position might be up for grabs

The discipline instilled by coach Mark Mangino, right, has played a huge role in the Jayhawks' 10-0 start. Just ask Raimond Pendleton, left, who received a tongue-lashing after leaping into the end zone on Sept. 1. Mangino's tirade made its way to YouTube.

The discipline instilled by coach Mark Mangino, right, has played a huge role in the Jayhawks' 10-0 start. Just ask Raimond Pendleton, left, who received a tongue-lashing after leaping into the end zone on Sept. 1. Mangino's tirade made its way to YouTube.

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No double OT this year

When the Jayhawks locked up with Toledo last season, it was a double overtime thriller with the Rockets eventually clinching the win.

Raimond Pendleton's struggles as Kansas University's punt-return specialist Saturday don't necessarily mean he's going to lose his job.

But they might.

After stellar play in his first two games, Pendleton struggled in KU's 45-13 victory over Toledo, fumbling two punts and losing one that eventually led to the Rockets' first score.

Pendleton remained KU's return man for a couple of punts after the two muffs, but the Jayhawks' other option, freshman Dezmon Briscoe, came in later in the game and fair-caught a boot by Toledo's Brett Kern.

Briscoe and Pendleton were battling for the job through much of August. Now, they might be battling again.

"I think there's a chance that would happen," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "We're not going to make a quick decision."

Mangino did dish credit to Kern, an NFL prospect who booted one ball 58 yards and pinned Kansas inside the 10-yard line four times Saturday.

"He's the best punter I've seen in the last couple of years," Mangino said. "I think the fact that he got the ball so high created some problems."

Still, KU's coaches long have stressed the No. 1 priority for a punt-return specialist in their program - the ability to retain possession. Getting a return for any yards whatsoever is a distant second.

Last year's personnel at the position clearly illustrated that. Brian Murph returned two punts for a touchdown, but he had only nine career returns because of concerns about holding onto the ball.

Sure-handed Jonathan Lamb returned 15 punts last season.

With both gone, the Kansas coaches tried a number of players at the position in the offseason, including Pendleton, Briscoe, Tertavian Ingram and Anthony Webb.

Pendleton, who returned a punt 77 yards for a touchdown in the season opener, won the job initially.

But like many positions, it's subject to change as the season progresses.

"We'll continue to work with Raimond and Dezmon," Mangino said. "We'll keep at it, and I think we'll be OK."

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Harper back?: KU is hopeful that cornerback Kendrick Harper is able to return this week.

Harper suffered an undisclosed injury on Aug. 3 and just recently returned to the practice field.

"I'll know more about that probably (today)," Mangino said. "He's going to visit with the doctor."

If Harper isn't back Saturday, he'll almost surely be ready to go for the Oct. 6 game at Kansas State.

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Panthers struggling: Florida International - KU's foe Saturday - will come to Lawrence carrying the luggage of the longest active losing streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

The Panthers (0-3) have lost 15 games in a row. It wasn't the longest drought in the FBS until Saturday, when Duke's 22-game slump ended with a 20-14 victory over Northwestern.

Florida International, located in Miami, lost to Miami University, 23-9, on Saturday and also has losses to Penn State and Maryland this season.

Kansas opened Sunday night as a 30-point favorite.

Comments

William James 13 years, 7 months ago

I believe we have a better team than K-State. The only way we lose the game is if we fumble and drop passes. Still a lot of work to do over the next 3 weeks.

DerekR25 13 years, 7 months ago

I agree that we can't turn the ball over and be sloppy, but we also have to be able to run the ball well against them. That's how we did it last year. Cornish was huge in that game. The guys have to spring Sharp and B-Mac early and often. Thier D will be much improved, and we have to be tougher in the trenches to create holes and seams for the backs to run through.

justanotherfan 13 years, 7 months ago

I still don't have a good feel for how good KU's line will be at opening holes against a better opponent. Clearly we have dominated smaller, weaker linemen, but it remains to be seen if that will happen against Big XII competition.

That said, 3-0 feels great. In years past we would have let one of these first three slip away based on sheer sloppiness. It's a credit to the coaching staff and the focus of the players that they have dispatched of inferior opponents without much trouble.

Oct. 6 gets bigger and bigger every day. I'd hate to say its a must win, but for all the success we've had so far, many people around the country will write us off if we go 4-0 against a very soft non-con schedule, then get handled in Manhattan.

troutsee 13 years, 7 months ago

FIU gave both Maryland and Miami a tussle. This game won't be as easy as the first three.

I'm still predicting 9-3 or better for us.

Certainly Auburn's poor performances downgrades KSU's close game down there. Auburn's offense stinks with a capital S. After we beat the Cats, we will start to be noticed nationally.

Nebraska is the great pretender. The only reason they are ranked is because of their history. I look for them to loose to MU and KU and possibly to KSU and Colorado. The Black shirts look like they can be run against and passed against. Heck, Wake almost beat them with a second string QB who stunk.

Drew Alan 13 years, 7 months ago

9-3 is a stretch... I'm seeing 8-4. Remember how good we can look at home is only equalled by how bad we look on the road! I won't buy into us winning more than 1 road game until we can prove it!

Also, I'm not worried about our run blocking at all, especially when we have two equally talented running backs who will have fresh legs. I AM worried about us pass blocking against better defensive lines, we could get ourselves in trouble on 3rd and long situations against teams that can put immediate pressure on the quarterback. Reesing is a good scrambler, but you can only scramble so far when the pocket implodes on you.

bmcmich1 13 years, 7 months ago

I'll have to respectfully disagree with Troutsee and say that we saw our toughest non-con opponent on Saturday. Toledo was a lot more physical in the trenches, something we will see Oct.6-on.

FIU is awful, awful, awful...just trust me on this one. I saw them in person last year, and they virtually have the same team this year. Maryland totally overlooked them and played that entire game on cruise control, and Miami 1)isn't that good this year and 2)that was a pretty emotional game as the majority of both teams' rosters are made up of Miami area kids who played each other in HS--all bets are off in that context as evidenced by last years' debacle. The only way the game next Saturday is even close is if we come out completely overconfident and play like absolute dog poo. I don't think Mangino will let that happen.

loudog 13 years, 7 months ago

I would have to respectfully disagree with Troutsee as well pertaining to the comments about Nebraska. Sure, they looked fairly inept on Saturday; but it was against a USC team that could probably finish first in the AFC West or NFC North divisions. I think that until somebody steps up to prove otherwise, they are probably still the favorite to win the north. Not saying the 'hawks can't beat them, especially since we've got them in Larry this year, but they're still a ways from being pretenders.

seattlehawk_78 13 years, 7 months ago

I don't think the trojans could win the AFC West but they could give the raiders a good game.

Seriously loudog, I saw the game and I don't think this usc team is as good as the ones led by Leinart. They handled the huskers with relative ease in their own backyard. I'm sure nu will be a tough opponent but they have not shown me anything thus far to indicate that they are the team to beat. If they are the favorite it can't be by much.

mizwho is scoring a lot of points against weak opponents but they are also giving up lots of points. The mildcats moral victory over auburn is looking less impressive each week. Even cu and isu have at times shown they can play and are probably not as weak as predicted. The north may not be very strong but they have balance.

bmcmich1 13 years, 7 months ago

The North really is w-i-d-e open as far as I'm concerned. Neither of the teams favored to win it (NU and MU) have looked particularly impressive. K-Suck is mediocre at best, and we look impressive but you can argue we haven't played anyone yet. ISU and CU are both a long ways off, but could knock off anyone at any time. Now you tell me who the favorite is.

My thoughs on Nebraska: Granted, they were going up against a good USC team on Saturday, but if they were truly 'back' as some would lead us to believe, they would have given the Trojans a much better game than that. They were 2-0, playing at home in front of a crazed crowd, and had a QB who supposedly had an edge because he had faced USC before. They. Got. Throttled. USC or not, they looked VERY beatable.

13 years, 7 months ago

Does anyone know when we were last favored by 30+ to beat someone in football? Even though the opponent is Florida International, I would say we are beginning to earn some serious respect. It is certainly a nice testament as to how far we have come since the dog days of the late 80's.

chezlog 13 years, 7 months ago

I would like to predict right now that - we pick up a WIN in College Station. Noboby ignores teams better than the Aggies. It's an awesome place to watch a football game but I think we are going to surprise 'em. The great thing for them is that if they can come back and beat the Longhorns they won't care about losing to us or anybody else.

troutsee 13 years, 7 months ago

Didn't you guys see Nebraska play Wake? NU looked real bad on defense. I'm telling you, they are overrated, especially their defense. I agree that USC is beatable.

carllundeen 13 years, 7 months ago

OMG he is so fat! The picture of Mangino on the header for this article is embarrassing! I'm a casual KU fan (I went to K-State, but I lived in Lawrence long enough to enjoy KU sports.) The fat man (henceforth referred to as Peter Griffin) is beyond out of control. I'm not going to question his ability to do his job. I will however question his character. A man that works for a national level college athletic program like the KU football team and is that morbidly obese is like the head of the American Lung Association being a 2 pack per day smoker! I think that his physical presence is an insult to all of the student athletes that sacrifice body and soul for the program. Peter Griffin shows his level of commitment to his ATHLETIC team every time he waddles his way to the buffet line... I mean field.

GET ON THE TREADMILL FAT MAN!

justanotherfan 13 years, 7 months ago

That's bold to say that we will win at A&M. They do overlook opponents but their running back (Lane) can really punish people. We won't see someone like him all year. He's the only reason they beat Fresno because at the end of the game Fresno was too worn out to tackle anyone anymore. Plus their QB has underachieved this year. If he gets going then A&M is a tough opponent.

The north is still wide open. NU isn't a national contender, but I don't think that makes them a bad football team. Colorado and Iowa State both won their big instate rivalry games, but neither of them is good. Right now its a four team race. The big things for the Hawks is to not slip up against the lesser teams (CU, ISU, Baylor, OSU) and get wins against at least two of the other four. That will lock up a bowl and give them a shot at the north title.

CougIsLJW 13 years, 7 months ago

"Sure, they looked fairly inept on Saturday; but it was against a USC team that could probably finish first in the AFC West or NFC North divisions."

First in what? Points, yards and turnovers allowed?

loudog 13 years, 7 months ago

Hey carllundeen, the "Mangino is overweight" story played out about 6 months after he was hired... get over it.

As far as KU getting some national respect, rxrockchalk, I would agree that it is nice. Does anyone happen to know where our 1 vote in the AP poll is coming from? Does someone on the LJW have a vote this year?

troutsee 13 years, 7 months ago

It is coming from a writer on the KC Star who covers MU. He's probably scared to death we are going to beat them.

13 years, 7 months ago

loudog,

I agree with troutsee. I think I read somewhere that vote was previously coming from Mike DeArmond, the MU beat writer at the Kansas City Star. I don't know if that is still his vote or if it is someone else's now.

p.s. good point on Mangino

seattlehawk_78 13 years, 7 months ago

Looks like we'll have to go 5-0 to get any recognition. I don't know how mizwho broke into the rankings since they are giving up more than three touchdowns a game against weak opponents. Were it not for an illinois fumble on the goal line the puddy cats would have lost that game.

Michael Leiker 13 years, 7 months ago

Carllundeen.....i think if you are going to come on here and tell someone to get on the treadmill you should have to put a link to a picture of yourself....of course, I'm assuming that if you start your post with OMG that you must be a hot 20 year old chick (do you have to be 21 now?) that hangs out at the 'hawk....if you're some dude, forget about it....if I'm right, I'll be the old dude in the 3 jersey that looks like he hasn't shaved in 3 days standing by the dart board all night preaching about how everybody should make the 2 hour trek down I-70 to see these boys (and their fat ass head coach) send the 'cats scurrying home with their power towels between their legs.....

bmcmich1 13 years, 7 months ago

To my knowledge its still DeArmond voting--I think you can check it out at the AP website or something. The mizzou thing is probably because they were hyped up at the beginning of the year to contend for the north, they have a recognized QB in the booger eater, they finished strong last year, they haven't royally blown anything YET, etc...

In our case, we have more to prove nationally because of our less than stellar year last year and our relatively weak non con schedule in the national pundits' eyes. Like Seattlehawk said, we go 5-0 we will get some attention. It doesn't seem fair because we are playing some pretty good ball, but it's the hand we were dealt. We prove we can win a big game ON THE ROAD on Oct.6 and it'll come.

And on the whole Mangino thing, consider the source of the comment:

"I'm a casual KU fan (I went to K-State, but I lived in Lawrence long enough to enjoy KU sports.)"

Enough said. I saw that, I immediately discredited the entire post. End of discussion.

carllundeen 13 years, 7 months ago

Here's what I find so odd about the posts that are negative regarding my comments: I like the school, and I have respect for a program that is trying to build itself into a national powerhouse. My issue is that I think a coach neglecting to take some measure care and pride in his own health is a poor example by which to set a standard.

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