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Pictures from the Jayhawks' game against the Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas, on Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009.
Lubbock, Texas Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino has his reasons for keeping injuries a secret. Knowing a player is hurt can change the way the opposition prepares its game plan. Dirty players might even want to aim for the injured guy’s aching body part.
But there comes a time when the whole truth has to be told, and that time arrived after the Kansas offense performed so horrifically Saturday in a 42-21 loss to a Texas Tech team that looked oh-so-vulnerable and gift-wrapped two touchdowns for the Jayhawks.
Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing threw balls into the dirt, fumbled a snap, had passes batted at the line and, most puzzling, lost his ability to scramble. Reesing played so poorly that Mangino removed him and replaced him with unproven red-shirt freshman Kale Pick.
Without Reesing’s normal spark, which for the second week in a row was nowhere to be found, KU couldn’t do anything right offensively. The young line had its worst performance of the season. Veteran receivers Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe had a rare case of the butter fingers.
Mangino was asked if the removal of Reesing was performance-related or injury-related, the coach said Reesing wasn’t able to get anything moving so he turned to Pick. A few minutes later, when asked, “Are you healthy?” Reesing revealed he suffered a groin injury against Colorado. He also said it’s no excuse. Not coincidentally, the two worst performances of Reesing’s career came after the injury, against Oklahoma and Texas Tech.
To keep the injury a secret would leave Reesing’s teammates and the Kansas fan base wondering if he had checked out mentally, forgotten how to win, how to scramble, how to throw such accurate passes. Now that there’s an explanation, the burden shifts to teammates needing to lead Reesing, who has led them to rare heights since taking the starting quarterback job as a sophomore.
If Reesing can’t regain enough mobility during the week, the best option for the Kansas State game lies with putting Meier under center, not such a bad fall-back position. Meier’s team-first spirit made his transition to receiver a seamless one, but he still views himself as a quarterback, too, a very confident quarterback. His running ability would give Kansas State a little something extra for which to prepare. His superior experience to Pick makes him the easy choice, if Reesing can’t get loose enough at least to resemble himself.
It’s obvious how much a healthy Reesing elevates teammates by the way they never quit on plays because they know he can keep them going for so long. When he’s not right, neither are his mates.
“The last two performances we put up have just been terrible, honestly,” Briscoe said. “We’ve just got to bounce back. We’ve got a big game against K-State next week.”
Briscoe said he was “clueless” as to why Reesing was removed from the game and “very surprised” at his poor performance.
“As receivers, we didn’t help him out much with the dropped passes we had, which is something we don’t do often,” Briscoe said. “It’s part on us and part on the O-line as well.”
Largely, it’s on Reesing’s injured groin. He’s playing hurt.