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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Off on the right foot

KU counting on freshman WR/returner

Kansas freshman Daymond Patterson will make his anticipated college debut today against Florida International.

Kansas freshman Daymond Patterson will make his anticipated college debut today against Florida International.

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Kansas freshman Daymond Patterson will make his anticipated college debut today against Florida International.

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Going Deep

Get familiar with FIU

In the first edition of "Going Deep," a weekly spodcast that puts KU fans in touch with the opposing team, Journal-World sports writers Matt Tait and Eric Sorrentino talk with Miami Herald beat writer Pete Pelegrin about KU's opener against Florida International. Pelegrin shares the ins and outs of FIU's ...

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A few weeks back, during the Kansas University football team's annual media day, Daymond Patterson was not sure what his immediate future would entail.

A true freshman competing in his first college training camp, Patterson was in the process of making the sometimes-smooth, sometimes-bumpy transition from high school to Div. I football, and despite whispers that he stood the best chance to forgo a red-shirt season, he stopped short of saying he'd prefer to play right away.

"I'll be ready for whatever they have in store for me," he said at the time.

Turns out, it's quite a lot.

Earlier this week, Kansas coach Mark Mangino announced that Patterson will be taking over as the team's starting punt returner, while also working as a reserve receiver on a corps that has the potential to be the team's offensive strong suit this season.

Thanks to an impressive showing in the team's summer workouts - and the kind of speed that has coaches raving - Patterson enters today's 6 p.m. home opener against Florida International as one of the team's most anticipated newcomers.

"I've never recruited a guy who I thought would come in and play as a true freshman, because the transition from high school to Div. I is a great leap, no matter what anybody tells you," Mangino said. "If somebody can do that, then that's a bonus. And Daymond has proved that he can play right now at this level."

While Patterson potentially could see time at receiver tonight, the more urgent matter will center on his performance as a punt returner. Despite finishing 12-1 and winning an Orange Bowl during their most successful season in school history, the Jayhawks struggled mightily in that department in 2007.

Over the final 11 games of the season, the team's punt returners combined for just a 1.7 yards-per-return average and managed to return a punt more than 10 yards on just two occasions.

Considering that, during last year's Kansas-FIU game, the Golden Panthers punted eight times, tonight's game should provide plenty of opportunity to evaluate Patterson's performance at the position.

And if the sly suggestions of teammates are any indication, fans should brace themselves for a noteworthy premiere.

"All I have to say about Daymond Patterson," said punter Alonso Rojas, "is keep an eye out for the kid. Watch out."

If nothing else, the punt-return game should provide a noteworthy story line in a game that will pit one of the nation's best teams a season ago against one of the worst.

The Golden Panthers finished just 1-11 in 2007 and carried a 23-game losing streak - the longest in the nation - into their season finale against North Texas, which they won, 38-19.

While FIU has undergone a massive overhaul since second-year coach Mario Cristobal arrived last season (changes in recruiting, training methods and personnel are all evident), the challenge facing the team tonight has not gone unnoticed by the team's coaching staff.

Last season, the Jayhawks had one of their biggest offensive outpourings of the season against the Golden Panthers, rolling to a 55-3 victory and putting together 615 yards of total offense in the process.

"They're a machine," Cristobal said. "You'll be hard-pressed to find a better offense in the entire country. And that's taking nothing away from their defense, because they can be equally as good, and they show it more times than not."

Offensively, it is still unclear whether FIU will start Wayne Younger or Paul McCall at quarterback. Despite their differences in styles - Younger is more of a dual-threat type; McCall is a pocket passer - Cristobal feels both will be able to contribute in a revamped offense spawned by new offensive coordinator Bill Legg, formerly of Purdue.

Among the other questions facing Kansas on the eve of its most anticipated season in school history - How will red-shirt freshmen Jeff Spikes and Jeremiah Hatch fare at the two offensive tackle positions? Who will handle kicking duties in place of the graduated Scott Webb? - they should be answered, at least in part, by 10 tonight.

"It's a new season," Mangino said. "I think each team develops its own personality, its own chemistry. I contend that we have a confident team right now. But they're smart kids. They know that there's a lot of areas that we must improve in order to be the type of team that we have to be."

Comments

Dan Harris 11 years, 3 months ago

gobadgers - enjoy the next 6 hours because your season is about to be ruined by the Illini! Mizzou= over hyped over ranked

thiknthinhawk 11 years, 3 months ago

The MU game was an abberation. It didn't have to do with poor competetion in the non conference season. They had lots of competition in the Big 12 prior to the MU game. The non conference competition is a non issue in terms of being in a position to win the Big 12 and go on to a national title. The Big 12 is salty enough that, if you win it, win the games you should, go undefeated, you will be in a great postion to play in the national title game.

KGphoto 11 years, 3 months ago

Uh, yeeeaaah. Not sure I'm following your logic there, "easy".We kind of already play Texas and K-State this year, and took care of OkState last year. And since we ARE the top basketball team, who exactly are you gonna schedule again?It doesn't bother me that Kansas schedules this way. Besides, it's a natural step in building a winning program, and a shot in the arm for small programs trying to improve. South Florida used to be a crappy football school before teams like Kansas started putting them on the schedule. Miami wasn't always a football power either. Somebody has to play these guys. If you think a team can just jump out there and start beating the LSUs, USCs, and Ohio States for 10 of 12 games, you're crazy. Baby steps.Kansas isn't much different than FIU except that we started in a power conference and already had plenty of tough games. It's just reversed. We needed wins, FIU needs some exposure. It all works out nicely.

easyfive 11 years, 3 months ago

I hope alot of 2's and 3's gets to play today. This is more of a soap game then anything else. Bills S. theme of weak non-conf. really shot himself in the foot with that ideal. Lawrece is in a great location to make football history, unlike KSU and NU, Lawrence is a fun place... I wish Mark would get better teams to play in the future! Maybe he could get the schools that beat the basketball team, or the top basketball schools. So,that people would stop raging us about the subject.

Dan Harris 11 years, 3 months ago

chuckberry- although that would be cool, I like you will be rooting for the Illini tonight(and watching booger eater!)Muck Fizzou

easyfive 11 years, 3 months ago

Well I did not say play good teams. Just some teams that are more in the middle, not 119th. Plus, you really don't get much out of beating up small teams anyway. You may pick up a win but, wait. When i played back in the day, I would learn from the other teams best players too. They wanted to win just as bad as anyone else. What i am saying is you would learn more from good players, than playing the little sisters of the blind.The muz game, first of all Mark did not have is sun glasses on. And the team did not settle down until the 3th quarter and just lost by 8. Because, we were just a step slower at first. I think we are there already a big time football school!!! Mark is a master... What takes other schools 2 or 3 years to fix, Mark fixes in the off season.

kranny 11 years, 3 months ago

Why does today's KUsports look like every other day. Where's the GAME DAY VERSION. There's only two football stories and those are marginally interesting at best. Even the schedule icon still says "Next Game" and the friggin' game is TODAY. My home town covers the high school team better on game day than this. C'mon LJW! This is Game Day. Give us some info.

Kyle Cornish 11 years, 3 months ago

kranny- I count six stories... Plenty of info... Just open those eyes.

Rivethead 11 years, 3 months ago

easyfive:1) Don't post drunk.2) Who is going to be "in the middle" of the 119 five years from now? Schedules are arranged that far in advance so you have to answer that question correctly to get your wish.

thiknthinhawk 11 years, 3 months ago

I remember very well the dominant Nebraska teams that traditionally played weaker sister teams much of the time in the non conference- and had ridiculous scores. No one ever said anything about it because they beat the tough teams when they needed to. All KU has to do is beat the tough teams on their schedule and they'll be fine. Worked for many teams-will work for KU, too. Mangino is smart- he knows this.

jmsuther 11 years, 3 months ago

I think no matter how good you are it makes no sence to schedule a good team for non-confernce, we proved last year that you dont need to do it to be able to make the championship beacuse we were going to go if we beat mizzu and the oklahoma, i dont eve know if i like playing south florida, like KG said, we have enough teams to play in conference. I am pumped to watch patterson tonight, crawford is going to dominate as well, he sould just start tonight because he is going to by the end of the year anyway, sharp is a change of speed and long distance down back, crawford is our every down back.

Ben Kane 11 years, 3 months ago

man wouldn't it be great if the Misery and KU went undefeated into the final game... Nah, go Illini!

lance1jhawk 11 years, 3 months ago

Game Day!!!!!! Lets not take it easy on 'em today, I would like to hang 70 plus on them.

Dirk Medema 11 years, 3 months ago

Look across the board at the schedules of the top teams. Rarely do they play more than one tough opponent in NC. There was room for others to whine last year only because:1. OU, UT, TT weren't on our schedule, like we had some control over that.2. We actually were undefeated late in the season. The schedule wasn't much different than the year before, but went unnoticed in '06 because we were a middle of the pack team then. (Remember the four games where we blew late leads? Would it have been nice to have held on to those and finished 10-2? Oh how the little things can make such a huge difference.)Scheduling SFU is appropriate for a program, and the schedule should be a complete non-issue this year and in the future. At least I hope Coach Mangino doesn't pull a Snyder and only schedule weak non-con.

Robert Brock 11 years, 3 months ago

From the videos I've seen of Patterson in high school on Scout, he sure has some serious highlight reels. Even though you can't take much away from those videos, it is evident the guy just has great speed, which is something KU has to improve on in order to hang with the elite of the elite.

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