Sunday, September 14, 2008


Keegan: KU’s 20 minutes of doom

South Florida receiver A.J. Love leaves Kansas defenders Justin Thornton and Isiah Barfield in the dust as he heads in for a touchdown during the fourth quarter Friday, Sept. 12, 2008 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

South Florida receiver A.J. Love leaves Kansas defenders Justin Thornton and Isiah Barfield in the dust as he heads in for a touchdown during the fourth quarter Friday, Sept. 12, 2008 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.


Reader poll

After KU's 37-34 loss to South Florida, which position are you most worried about?

  • Offensive Line 33% 813 votes
  • Defensive Line 32% 779 votes
  • Secondary 13% 326 votes
  • Running Backs 19% 462 votes
  • Other 1% 41 votes

2421 total votes.

— The Kansas University defense was closing in on pushing its touchdown shutout streak to 10 quarters, when the defense that to that point had bent but never broken was blown to bits for roughly 20 minutes of game clock Friday night at Raymond James Stadium.

For those 20 minutes, beginning with a few minutes left in the first half and ending a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter of a 37-34 loss to the University of South Florida, the KU defense allowed four touchdowns.

For the other 160 minutes, the defense has not allowed a single touchdown.

What possibly could have happened to a defense that returned nine starters from a 12-1 season capped by an Orange Bowl victory?

"We just didn't have the edge that we had in the first half," safety Darrell Stuckey said. "We just failed to make plays when it counted."

It looked as if the edge was missing, as well as the endurance and, strangely, the speed. The defense ... looked ... so .... slow ... during ... the ... 31-0 ... stretch .... of ... the ... game. Why?

If the game had been played in Colorado, at high altitude, many would have theorized that the thin air sapped the visitors unaccustomed to playing under such conditions and didn't bother the home team that lives in such an environment.

Tampa isn't a high-altitude city, so put that theory in the paper shredder. Wait, maybe just put it in the recycle bin and adapt the materials to fit the circumstances.

The game was played in intensely uncomfortable humidity, Florida humidity. A stretch? Maybe, which by definition also means maybe not.

(Aside: I did get sapped of strength rather quickly playing Laser Tag on Thursday night, but wasn't sure if that might have been because it was the most strenuous exercise I had done in roughly 30 years).

You don't go 12-1 by taking the Alibi Ike route, so no Kansas player or coach would ever acknowledge that humidity could have had something to do with the 20-minute slow, weak stretch that prevented KU from doing what it had hoped to do with a nation of college football fans watching.

"We were looking forward to being on the stage and playing our hearts out, showing everybody we deserve all the publicity we've gotten, or for some people to show we're better than they think we are," Stuckey said. "It just didn't go our way."

Receiver Johnathan Wilson had a huge day, catching 10 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Still, he couldn't help but feel a little empty from the experience.

"We wanted to come out and show the country we were a good team, we were supposed to be ranked," Wilson said. "We weren't just talk. We weren't just a one-year wonder because that's what everybody thinks. So we had something to prove tonight, just came up short. I think we've still got a chance. The season's not over at all."

If the Florida muggy air played a part, that correction already has been made. As for trying to find a way to put more heat on the opposing quarterback than quality foes will put on Todd Reesing, that's a considerably more iffy proposition.


Kyle Cornish 9 years, 8 months ago

We are more than deserving of a top 25 ranking. We lost to a Top 20 team ON THE ROAD BY A LAST SECOND FIELD GOAL! It's ok people... Top-5 teams find a way to win... We are a top-25 team, there is a difference. I guess we all have forgotten how two years ago we would have loved to be in the position of losing to a top-25 team by three on the road... One year and we think we are kings of college football and that we should expect perfection. This is a work in progress and we will go through ups and downs. Be happy we have a ranked team on the field and that we will be going bowling almost every year...

OutlawJHawk 9 years, 8 months ago

njjayhawk--You are right on with your post. pekka2sasha--Can you really say we deserve a top-25 ranking after THAT performance? Top-25 teams find a way to win...hold on to leads...shut people down...take crowds out of a game...etc. They do not need to come up with excused for a loss. There is no shame in us not being a top-25 team; we just aren't. We have to earn a ranking and we proved we did not deserve it Friday night.

KU 9 years, 8 months ago

Just a tangent here: We had easy chances for at LEAST 2 interceptions in that game. In neither case did USF go on to score points on their drive. BUT, Grothe is a hot-headed QB who would have let the interceptions affect him negatively. They may have completely changed the complexion of the game by the effect they had on Grothe.Previous to this game, we have dropped at least 2 OTHER chances for easy interceptions--the most memorable was Rivera's chance to walk into the endzone from about 8 yards out, remember that one?Last year, our turnover ratio was one of the best in the country. That was one of reasons we were so special. If we want to have another incredible run, we have to take the gifts the opponent gives!

funkitect 9 years, 8 months ago

i think the glaring weakness was coach bowen's inability to adjust the defense in the 2nd half. SF obviously adjusted their offense and we didn't respond. hopefully with more experience, coach bowen will be able to successfully adapt the defense as required in games like this. i have the feeling that we wouldn't have lost this game if coach young was still on the sidelines...

JHWKNMIZRY 9 years, 8 months ago

That's the kind of thing that may well be true, but you can't really use it as an excuse. I was thinking that may be the case during the game ,but it seemed like we simply let SF mentally(then physically) get back in the game.

Jason Sinclair 9 years, 8 months ago

I know that there aren't 10 teams in the country that could absorb a haymaker like that (31 straight points) on the road and still control the outcome of the game on their last possession.There are maybe 5 teams in the country that would've come out of that game (the way it went down) with a win. Just about every other team in the country would've been rolled off the field on stretchers.That game was concrete proof that Kansas is a Top 25 team and a legit contender for the Big 12 North.

frompekka2sasha 9 years, 8 months ago

We ARE a top 25 team because we lost to a ranked team on the road. There is no shame in losing this game but I certainly do hate how we lost it. I think some are overanalyzing this situation but we can thank Coach Mangino for elevating the program and changing expectations. Now many of us expect to win every game and I like that feeling even when it doesn't happen.I thought we would lose 3 games this year and that still seems reasonable. It was highly unlikely that we would match last season so we should all try and remember that this is a new team that lost a lot of a talent, a new D coordinator that is learning on the job and a brand new season with much tougher opponents.Should we have followed Coach Snyder's plan a bit more closely and not played this road game? I'm glad that we are willing to play some decent competition.

Jason Sinclair 9 years, 8 months ago

Posted by Outlaw:"Can you really say we deserve a top-25 ranking after THAT performance? Top-25 teams find a way to win..?"Uh, what happens when two Top 25 teams play? Somebody has to lose - there are no more ties.That team that we lost to will likely play in a BCS game b/c they'll most likely win the Big East.On the contrary, one could argue that if TR's pass is a couple feet higher and to the right, then Kansas beats a future BCS team on the road - then we're calling KU a Top 5 team - not this B.S. about whether they deserve to be in the Top 25.

100 9 years, 8 months ago

The Missou game last year sucked, but the same thing happened, and we almost won that game too: played poorly for one half. We learned from it,got neutral field experience, and ended up winning the Orange bowl due to channeling our energy correctly. This game will do the same for our Jayhawks -- be proud! We have a very good team, we just played poorly for a half! Next week KU coaches will force all to chug Sugar water at half time -- that's what USF did, I guarantee it. Its all about keeping the energy and hydration for 4 quarters in humid conditions. KU will learn. Rock Chalk Jayhawk!

frompekka2sasha 9 years, 8 months ago

KU is #19 in both polls so I guess that puts the debate aside regarding whether we deserve to be ranked. Coaches and writers are not fans of KU football so you can be assured that the ranking is deserving IMO.

frompekka2sasha 9 years, 8 months ago

OutlawJHawk- Are you smoking crack? J/K. Of course we are deserving of a Top 25 ranking since we lost on the road to a ranked team. That is the way rankings work... or at least they have worked that way for as many years as I can remember. Most of the voters don't want KU to be ranked so I guess we can assume that they will be ranked about 2 spots lower than they deserve. Have faith, grasshopper! It's one freaking game.

easyfive 9 years, 8 months ago

I am just now coming out of shock about the lost!!! Up 20 to 3 and thinking the i could hear the fat lady getting ready to sing. What hell... The guys started to feel sorry for the other team for some reason. Todd was great as always and Wilson was going to get the game ball. Then we get the ball back and don't even try to get points before the half!!! That was sad... slacked it all the way to the half. The best i seen was Joe M. get 6 in less than 54 secs and win the game. I like the way Mark is... But Man you got to act like a man with is hair on fire sometimes!!! Say oh God, my life depends on this. The team looked like they where sleep walking out there. The D was play that puss D. early. That D coach gots to go... Mark, fire that man!!! Mark needs to do that T-bone and peanut butter drill again.

railer1122 9 years, 8 months ago

We weren't the only top 25 team to lose. Arizona State lost at home to UNLV, and Cal lost to Maryland. Teams lose every once in a while. Ask Ohio State, who happened to lose by 32... Or what about Stanford vs USC last year. It's not the end of the world, you guys are too spoiled about the one loss season last year, Also in order for us to be a "powerhouse", we have to be good for years, and we aren't there yet. The game is too even now with the scholarship limit that happened years ago. Things happen, its how you adjust to it.

KU 9 years, 8 months ago

I don't know why everybody gets so upset about the running game. In my mind, shovel passes and running back screens and wide receiver screens ARE the running game. We came out the first play of the game and ran a shovel pass to Sharp and sent the message that USF better stay home. It seemed to slow down their rush for a while. We started to get away from that late in the 2nd quarter and the start of the third quarter and USF just pinned their ears back and came after Reesing. I want Quigley in the game from the beginning next week! I don't care how much hype Crawford had coming in. (After all, he was NOT playing in the toughest JUCO league in the country--the Jayhawk.) Reesings clutch 3rd and 20 pass to Meier and Meier's incredible leaping catch and Quigley's bruising run on the shovel pass for the TD gave me hope that this team can, and will, be special.The sky is not falling. Who can say we would have beaten USF if we played them the 3rd week of the season LAST year? They have a lot of great athletes and team speed. This game will do wonders for us down the road.

KU_Alumn_2000 9 years, 8 months ago

Quigley is our most effective back and hopefully he gets most of the carries from here on out. Crawford and Sharp go down way too easy...while Quigley's size...quickness...and ability to hit the hole hard to aquire the extra 2-3 yards is what we need.There were a couple of blown blocks by Crawford. Just not convinced that he is D-1 material. I like what Mangino said a couple weeks ago...Sharp is a complimentary back...not neccessarily the go to back.Regarding our O-line and D-line...I'm not sure if we're as talented in those positions for significant improvement. We observed our D-line's inability to put pressure on the QB all last year. They are decent with stopping the run...but awful in the pass rush department. Because of the lack of talent in the trenches...OU, MU, and Texas will be very tough for us to beat. long as Mangino is at assure we'll get to that level some day.Keep sawin wood boys.

swjhawk 9 years, 8 months ago

That cupcake baked a little too long in the oven. Oklahoma & Texas on the road? Get your oranges at the grocery store this year.

yovoy 9 years, 8 months ago

i've been saying that we might be a 7-5 team, and been wondering for 3 weeks how long it would be before we started hearing the "o-ver-rated" chant. we're "only" 4 more losses, and probably 2 weeks away from both.are we top 25? good points have been made about that by both camps. i don't know. i DO know that we let a "tough" qb get the better of us. he was NOT a good qb. nowhere near the skill of our qb - i'm amazed at the passes that sparky makes. he threw numerous balls that should've been batted, and he threw ONLY one that should've been intercepted - and it was. the return of that int killed us. i don't remember where the guy got the ball but he returned it to the 20. even usf's kicker can make that. we put the guy down at the 30 or 35, we win this in o.t., and no one questions if we are a top-25. so then, 7-5 for this season (maybe worse), and us wondering if we're top-25: do top-25 teams only get 9 yards in a QUARTER?! do sub top-25 teams only get 9 yards in a quarter and lose the way we lost in the end, when we were giving ourselves a chance to win? my answers are no and yes, respectively. i don't think the sky is falling - yet. i don't think it will, this is a group of fighting manginos, and these guys will use this as motivation. granted, motivation won't win games, but it should allow us to compete, which will be important in a year that we're apparently lacking the raw physical talent that we had last year, so 7-5 seems realistic. 2 players can seemingly make that big a difference.

KU 9 years, 8 months ago

Big D......We might have beaten USF in Tampa if we played last year. But comparing this year's non-con scores to last year doesn't make allowances for our opponents being better than last year.Personally, I thought we sleepwalked through the first two games, but I also think Florida International is better than they were last year.

TheTruth08 9 years, 8 months ago

For quarters 1,2 and 4 KU's defense was really impressive and you see why it allowed the team to go 2-0 and give up zero touchdowns in nine quarters. They tackle EXTREMELY well, the first tackler rarely misses and they're so disciplined. They know their assignments and they play defense the way it's supposed to be played. Unfortunately, they're good, but not talented. And they're kind of slow. It was interesting to see somebody point that out. Just what I was thinking while watching the game. So execution is huge and they always did a good job of keeping the ballcarrier in front of them. The problem was, over that 20-minute span, they didn't keep anybody in front of them, they were out of position and they couldn't get any help from the defensive line. And KU is not talented enough to overcome that. If the carrier is on the side---or God forbid---gets by them, it's hard for them to catch anybody, unless your name is Darrell Stuckey.

BigD 9 years, 8 months ago

sjw, we get Texas in Lawrence this year. Big difference. I still don't think we make a BCS game though. We could consider ourselves fortunate to make a middle tier bowl game but a bottom tier is more likely. KU, I think we would have beaten USF last year. We were beating the cupcakes by 50-60 points last year. We only managed 30ish points against the cupcakes so far this year. We had an experienced D-coordinator and a balanced attack.

actorman 9 years, 8 months ago

"Then we get the ball back and don't even try to get points before the half!!!"That's what Mangino always does, and it drives me crazy. Can anyone remember a time when he WAS aggressive at the end of a half? I don't know why he always plays it so conservatively.

Mr_Sandman 9 years, 8 months ago

KU lost the game at the end of the 2nd quarter by allowing USF to get the momentum with an easy TD drive. I really hate seeing a prevent type defense at any point in the game, especially when the normal D had only given up 3 points up til then.

Jason Sinclair 9 years, 8 months ago

From actorman:"That's what Mangino always does, and it drives me crazy. Can anyone remember a time when he WAS aggressive at the end of a half? I don't know why he always plays it so conservatively."Uh, the end of the second half.

actorman 9 years, 8 months ago

Thank you for being so literal, Hawksj. But I think people know what I mean. Can anyone remember a FIRST HALF situation where he didn't run out the clock?

FlaHawk 9 years, 8 months ago

The problem with the KU defense during this stretch was the toal lack of offense by KU. KU had 5 consecutive 3 and out series for a TOTAL OF 9 YARDS during the 3rd quarter. KU gave up 213 yards in the 3rd quarter alone. If you add in last USF drive of 2d quarter and first of the 4th quarter KU was outgain about 330-12 during the 31-0 out.Whether this was humidity, poor conditioning or poor coaching the defense wore out.This should not have continued into the second half. Coach Bowen has to answer to why the defense gave up during this period.Being a vast KU minority in the stands, the USF crowd had been subdued due to the KU start and 20-3 lead. This was the largest turnaround (17 points) in USF history. USF has NEVER been a come from bhind team and KU let them back in game.KU Defense, KU offense and teh KU Coaches lost the momentum and allowed the crowd backinto game. Hawks will do better, but they still are not a road team and they will need todo bettter at NU, OU and UT!

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