Old teammates to collide Saturday
In case Oklahoma University safety Lendy Holmes was under the impression that he could guard Kansas receiver Dexton Fields, the latter Wednesday was more than happy to set his friend and former teammate straight.
"He may think he knows how to guard me," Fields said, smiling, "but he can't guard me."
The former middle school and high school teammates will take the field against each other for the first time as college starters Saturday and very well could find themselves matched up against each other on numerous occasions.
After graduating from South Oak Cliff High in Dallas in 2004, the two friends since have worked their way into starting roles on two of the country's top teams. And on the eve of their nationally televised reunion at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Norman, Okla., Fields couldn't resist a little good-natured ribbing.
"I just told him that I was going to take his draft stock down a little bit," said Fields of his pal, the 20th-ranked cornerback in the 2009 NFL draft class by Scout.com.
Special teams up in air
For the majority of coach Mark Mangino's career at Kansas, special teams have been an area of great pride for the Jayhawks - with the coach going so far as to say recently that his teams occasionally have beaten teams with more talent because of their strong special-teams play.
Lately, however, special teams have become a hindrance, and nobody's quite sure why.
"It's hard to say," defensive end Russell Brorsen said. "Last year when we were at meetings, they'd be like, 'If we would have blocked this one guy, we would have scored a touchdown.' This year, we look at it and it's like, 'If we would have blocked these three guys, we might could have got a little farther.'"
Entering Saturday's game, the Jayhawks' hope to turn things around for good - although, as of Wednesday, there remained a number of unknowns.
Some starters may or may not see increased playing time on the units. Daymond Patterson or Fields might be fielding punts - both did it against Colorado last week. All-Big 12 preseason selection Marcus Herford may or may not be taking kickoffs.
"The difference this year, its hard to pin it down," Brorsen said. "But we've just got to get it together."
Stoops and Mangino face off
The coaching ties between Mangino and Oklahoma's Bob Stoops run deep. Both were members of Bill Snyder's staff at Kansas State, and Mangino served under Stoops for three years as an offensive coordinator and offensive-line coach at Oklahoma.
Saturday, the two will line up across from each other for the first time since 2005, with Mangino hoping to get the better of his former boss for the first time in three chances.
"It's a great relationship," Mangino said. "We've played against each other before, and it's going to happen again. I don't want to stand here and talk about my relationship with him. He's a very close friend of mine, and he's a guy that I can count on, and he can count on me in life. But we're both competitive. It has absolutely no effect on the competition that takes place on Owen Field on Saturday."
Hawkinson switches to DE
True freshman Tanner Hawkinson, one of three tight ends in the Class of 2008 to sign with Kansas, has switched to defensive end, Mangino said Wednesday.
Hawkinson, a 6-foot-6, 245-pounder from McPherson, was also named last week's scout-team defensive player of the week by Mangino.