Monday, September 1, 2008

Kansas football won, but couldn’t run

In Saturday's season opener, the Kansas offense ran 128 total plays. 52 of those began with Todd Reesing throwing the ball. That left only 36 plays for the three different running backs...


KU opens 2008 season in front of record crowd

Orange Bowl Champions - A top 10 ranking - and plenty of BCS praise. All of that was then...and this is now. On Saturday, the 2008 Kansas football team hit the field with Florida International trying to improve upon a historic 2007 season.

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Going Deep

Learning about La. Tech

In Week 2 of Going Deep, Matt Tait and Eric Sorrentino welcome Jimmy Watson, of the Shreveport Times, and the trio discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the Louisiana Tech squad the Jayhawks will face on Sept. 6. In addition to sizing up the Bulldogs, Watson talks about the southern ...

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Typically, it is difficult to find glaring fault in a college football team's 30-point victory.

It is even harder to do so when the team's quarterback threw for over 250 yards and three touchdowns and its biggest cause for concern entering the season - special-teams play - proved, for a day at least, to be a strong suit.

If there was an issue worth examining following Kansas University's 40-10 victory over visiting Florida International on Saturday night, however, it was this: The team's running game got off to a walking start.

The Jayhawks totaled just 128 yards on the ground, only the second time in the past 18 regular-season games that they've failed to rush for 160 yards or more.

As it happened, third-string back Angus Quigley was the team's leading rusher against FIU, carrying the ball six times for 47 yards, while starter Jake Sharp and junior transfer Jocques Crawford - who last week said he intended to rush for 2,000 yards in his first season with the Jayhawks - each struggled to get going offensively, combining for just 61 yards on 20 carries.

The team's final rushing line: 36 carries, 128 yards, for a 3.6 yards-per-carry average.

There were a number of factors that could've played into the team's lack of an established ground game against the Golden Panthers: an offensive line attempting to replace two tackles, including all-American Anthony Collins, for one thing; the loss of 1,000-yard rusher Brandon McAnderson, for another.

But the biggest reason, coaches insisted afterward, was an FIU blitz package that forced the Jayhawks to nickel-and-dime their way through Saturday's game.

Following a quick start - the Jayhawks rushed for 25 yards in four carries during their first offensive series - the Golden Panthers responded by positioning extra players in the box in an effort to push the team away from its run game.

The decision resulted in what proved to be a pass-happy offensive attack, as quarterback Todd Reesing finished with career highs in both completions (37) and pass attempts (52) in throwing for 256 yards, three touchdowns and an interception.

"We're a take-what-they-give-you type of offense," offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said, "and that seemed to be the thing that they wanted to give us."

While some would argue that the 14th-ranked Jayhawks should take whatever it is they feel like taking against a team that finished 1-11 a year ago and was outscored by an average of 24 points per game, it's hard to fault a team for throwing the ball when it features one of the conference's top quarterbacks, as well as a host of play-making receivers.

It's also tough to argue with a 30-point victory.

And in the aftermath of the season-opening victory, KU coach Mark Mangino acknowledged as much before heading off to begin preparations for Saturday's game against Louisiana Tech, a team coming off a 22-14 victory over Mississippi State.

"When (they) do that, it's hard to rush with all that pressure," he said. "I think we rushed over 100 yards. That's not what we want, but given how they were playing defense, we did the things and executed the things we needed to be effective on offense."

Fields misses practice: Kansas receiver Dexton Fields was held out of practice Sunday, a day after the senior standout left the field following a first-half leg injury against Florida International.

Fields, who made one catch for minus-three yards Saturday, had to be helped off the field after colliding with a defender with 1:51 remaining in the first quarter.

"I don't know if we have a feel for that situation," Mangino said Sunday. "We held him today. We'll see about what he can do on Tuesday, and I'll be able to tell you much more about that after Tuesday's practice. We'll just take a wait-and-see attitude."

Special-teams changes imminent: If the high point for the Kansas special-teams unit Saturday was true freshman Daymond Patterson's 75-yard punt return for a touchdown, the low point came two drives later.

FIU punt returner T.Y. Hilton broke free for a 74-yard punt-return touchdown with just under three minutes left in the first half to make the score 24-7 with what turned out to be the only touchdown the Jayhawks gave up in the game.

Sunday night, Mangino said he'd identified the problem on the play, and that personnel changes to the team's punt and kickoff coverage units would be made before next week's game against Louisiana Tech.

"We had two people on our coverage team that did not keep outside leverage and keep pushing up field," Mangino said of the FIU touchdown return. "They slowed down and tried to turn into the ball, and consequently, they lost leverage and got blocked. You should never do that; it should never happen."


KU 9 years, 7 months ago

Regarding kick coverage: Rojas did a great job punting. He did a great job with field goals. Hopefully, he will improve his distance on the kickoffs. He had a couple kicks that went to the 5 yard line, but most were around the 10. The extra split-second it takes for the ball to carry to the goal line makes a big difference in the return team's ability to contain a kick returner. Add an average of 24 yards per return and the opponent has pretty good field position. It sounds like Rojas just started concentrating on kicking off 10 days ago, so there should be room for improvement there.

GoBadgers 9 years, 7 months ago

Those chickenhawks always really f*cked me over when they didn't cover the spread on Saturday. Cost me a lot of money...

Dirk Medema 9 years, 7 months ago

All the more reason to like the 30 pt victory Badger :-)

bmcmich1 9 years, 7 months ago

As is the case after the first game for every team, it appears there is room for improvement in some areas.One explanation - one I haven't really seen - for the troubles the 'hawks had on Saturday could be that FIU is a much better football team this year. Only time will tell if that is true or not, but it seems like they had it much more together this time around than they did a year ago.The most important thing is that the squad shows improvement this week -- tangible improvement that we will be able to see on Saturday. It's early, folks -- and I'll take 40-10 with some room for improvement after week one any day!

Mangino_Maniac 9 years, 7 months ago

Ah, I love it that people's expectations are so high for KU football!A 30-point victory on opening day with two new tackles on the offensive line, a new running back, etc. makes me happy. Plus the defense looked great. This is another good football team, and will only get better throughout the year!

Kevin Long 9 years, 7 months ago

KU didn't show very much of their offense at all. They didn't need to. Mangino doesn't want to give people anymore to look at than he has too. I think they will be fine.

OutlawJHawk 9 years, 7 months ago

We need more balance, which means more yards running, or Reesing will start getting nailed. The lack of rush yards has to be one of the following: lack of run plays called, lack of production by the backs, the offensive line not opening things up, or a great defensive effort by the opponent. I don't buy the blitz excuse. I blame the is early and they have not jelled. Reesing got hurried and pressured quite a bit, too. And there ARE run plays that work awesome against the blitz...and usually for big yards as there should be few defensive players in the mid-field. The line will get better but it has to happen before South Florida...Special teams punt/kick-off coverage left much to be desired. Their returns were ridiculous. Against a Big 12 team, it will be worse if we don't get this coverage issue fixed. I hope and believe Mangino will fix this...

100 9 years, 7 months ago

Give some credit to FIU and be done with it. Good game by those guys -- great game plan. And great game by KU, offensively and defensively, a squad that is still getting all the pieces put together, and a Coach who is wise enough to not show his entire deck in the first game of a 30 pt. victory. The only thing we, as a team (and fans), need to worry/ think about now is the next game. The team simply needs prepare, prepare, prepare -- for the next game -- don't get them worried about the last one, heck, KU played great considering the circumstances of losing TWO tackles and being blitzed up and down... Study the game film of LTU, practice your tails off, and play the best we can -- next week. In short -- No other games to worry about until next week is over. This is the same way we did it last year -- Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

Seth Nesmith 9 years, 7 months ago

I hope everyone isn't looking past LA Tech! They will be a good test next week, we'd better be careful.

jyhwk1187 9 years, 7 months ago

The line looked a little shaky, but FIU came into the game knowing that Mangino would not open up the playbook or throw any deep balls to risk anyone being able to get our routes on film. They had no reason to worry about the bomb and as a result, they brought alot of people into the box. The scary thing is that S. Florida has a lot of speed on d. See: George Selvie. Mangino will counter with a ton of screens and short plays. What we need to do in order to get more balance is to start off the game with a successfull deep ball. Spread em out. Otherwise, our recievers and backs are sitting ducks.

thiknthinhawk 9 years, 7 months ago

I guess it will be a while before we stop playing fear factor with our football team. People are still, despite mangino's proven coaching and recruiting, living in " what if it all goes to pot against a good team" mentality. Over and over, we see top 5 teams play poorly in one aspect of a game, and the coach at the end of the game will say " well, we didn't play well, but it's a win- we'll take it". KU should be afforded that same luxury. Most of the improvement occurs between game one and game two.FIU is D1, and even poorer D1 clubs can have a few good players and some good strategies.

Sparko 9 years, 7 months ago

FIU was loading up and punishing the ball carriers too. I was impressed by Quigley. He has the size needed to break free of loaded defense formations. I am sure Coach knows that . . .

railer1122 9 years, 7 months ago

KU's offense was very vanilla. No need to expand anything. And FIU did blitz nearly every play which didn't help with a few new linemen. And njjayhawk, those games are still a long ways to go before OU and Texas and Tech. I like Crawford, big guy who can run.And I don't see why we're complaining about a 30 point win. 2 years ago that would of been something huge. We have come a long way, but also need to realize even though we won the Orange Bowl, we will not win these games by 50. Ask Georiga, number one team in land, beat Georgia Southern, a I-AA team by 24.

troutsee 9 years, 7 months ago

I don't think Mangino was satisfied with his offense. If he were, he would not have left the first teamers in on the final drive, and he would not have tried to score right up to the final play. I hope you are right JBurtin, but things just did not seem to be clicking on the offensive line. Hopefully, FIU is better than anticipated. We'll find out this Saturday when they play Iowa in Iowa City and we play La Tech.

JBurtin 9 years, 7 months ago

I've already made my opinions clear on how KU was playing vanilla due to the blitz packages and no need to do anything whacky with our defense stuffing them even better than last year. I take the coach at face value on that because I was watching the same game that he was. Apparently some of you weren't.On another note. Couldn't you easily call this a 47 to ten victory. Quigley ran it all the way down to the one before the end of the game. We easily could have called a time out and scored another TD if we wanted to.I just can't find any good reason to panic.P.S. Since 5Decade hasn't given his normal thumbs up or thumbs down. Dugan, you're a horrible person for questioning our running game, your article isn't well researched, and Missouri is just a bad place.There, I knew you would miss it if somebody with absolutely no expertise didn't give you bad advice today.

Hawkish4bigM 9 years, 7 months ago

Is there anywhere online on West Coast that I can hear KU without having to pay a subscription to a service?

JBurtin 9 years, 7 months ago

Quigley isn't a first teamer and neither is Ben Lueken.Mangino did exactly what we did in games last year. Give some depth guys experience, but don't try too hard for the touchdowns. He wanted to give Quigley some time and was actually probably relieved that he didn't get to the endzone as it would have looked kind of bad.I don't think that running plays instead of taking a knee, and leaving some of the first team out there necessarily means that he was unhappy. I think he just felt that Quigley deserved his fair shot.

lulurocks 9 years, 7 months ago

Quigley went in only after Crawford hurt his ankle. He ran against the 2nd team with a few minutes left in the game. Big difference!!! Crawford made some awesome blocks for Reesing. Crawford also got blasted by his own lineman. Pretty hard to score when your OL tackles their own. It is work in progress and will only improove.

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 7 months ago

Hawkish,you can tune into the game for free at lazer.comjust log on plenty early as the server won't let you on when it is too busy.

bringheatwavewheat 9 years, 7 months ago

Take it easy and enjoy the ride people. There will be ups and downs. The program isn't too far removed from being horrible. We expect the basketball team to do well every year with good reason. I ain't saying we shouldn't do the same with futbol, but be realistic.

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