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Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino wanted to make one thing abundantly clear following his team's 52-21 victory over visiting rival Kansas State on Saturday: Not once this season has he questioned the abilities of first-year KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen.
Not when the Jayhawks' defense gave up 674 total yards in a 45-31 loss to Oklahoma. And not the next week, when Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell burned the Jayhawks for 386 yards and five touchdowns in an even more lopsided loss.
"(Bowen) has done everything that I have asked him to do," Mangino said. "He has met every expectation that was put forth this year for him. I know. I know our players, I know our personnel, I know our schedule. And I understand what the challenges are. I have never doubted Clint Bowen for a day and never well."
There was certainly nothing to doubt Saturday, as Bowen's defense forced five Wildcats turnovers and held the Big 12 rival to just 21 points - seven of which came on a last-minute touchdown run while many of Kansas' backups were on the field.
But in the wake of a two-game losing streak in which the Jayhawks gave up 1,230 yards and 108 points to Oklahoma and Texas Tech combined, whispers about the assistant coach's job security had begun circulating throughout Lawrence.
"Clint's never had a burden on his shoulders," Mangino assured. "He is an outstanding football coach, and he's even a better person. My office gets mail and stuff (suggesting) who should be doing what. Just relax. Clint Bowen knows what he's doing.
"He's a heck of a football coach."
Springer's season over
Justin Springer, a backup linebacker expected to see significant playing time Saturday, suffered a season-ending injury during the first quarter of Kansas' victory over the Wildcats.
Following a Kansas kickoff in which he was playing on the special-teams unit, Springer had to be helped off the field due to what appeared to be an injury to his right leg. Mangino, who doesn't disclose player injuries, said Springer will spend the offseason rehabbing and will be ready to play next season, when the Jayhawks lose all three of their starting linebackers to graduation.
"It's sad because he's one of the most improved guys we have," Mangino said. "We had planned to play him a significant amount of snaps today to help (fellow linebacker) Joe Mortensen. He would have played more snaps today than he has in his career here."
Reesing gets feisty
Perhaps inspired by the play of his much-improved offensive line - or maybe just steaming from being on the receiving end of a personal-foul penalty - Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing decided to get in on the action in the trenches Saturday afternoon.
After handing off to running back Jocques Crawford early in the fourth quarter, Reesing took off toward the defensive line and brazenly threw himself into a defender - although the end result was Reesing being knocked backward with considerable force.
The (kind of) block came a play after Kansas State defensive back Rashad Harrell was flagged for a 15-yard personal-foul penalty for a late hit on Reesing that didn't sit well with the 5-foot-11, 200-pound signal-caller.
"I was a little upset about getting cheap-shotted, but I wasn't trying to do it to anybody else," Reesing said of his block, which drew applause from the FSN television crew calling the game, if not from fans who weren't thrilled with the idea of the team's star hurling himself at a defensive lineman during the fourth quarter of a blowout.
"Didn't turn out too well," Reesing added of his foray into run-blocking. "But I gave it my best shot."