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Monday, November 9, 2009

Suddenly, Kansas vexed by run

K-State’s Thomas latest to run roughshod over KU

Kansas State quarterback Grant Gregory scrambles against the Jayhawk defense in Manhattan Saturday, November 7, 2009.

Kansas State quarterback Grant Gregory scrambles against the Jayhawk defense in Manhattan Saturday, November 7, 2009.

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Jayhawk football loses again

The Jayhawks seem to have lost their way, dropping their fourth straight game this weekend to Kansas State. The Jayhawks will have to turn the season around in the last few games if they want to play in a bowl.

Well, the Kansas University football team’s defense seems finally to have figured out how to stop the pass.

Problem is, now it’s having all kinds of problems against the run.

This was evident during Saturday’s 17-10 loss to Kansas State, when the Jayhawks gave up a season-worst 266 rushing yards while making Wildcats running back Daniel Thomas — a guy who was playing quarterback at Northwest Mississippi Community College a year ago — look like the second coming of Jim Brown.

A week after giving up 123 yards and three fourth-quarter touchdowns to Texas Tech tailback Baron Batch, the Jayhawks’ normally stout rush defense again faltered down the stretch, as Thomas finished with 24 carries for 185 yards — 130 of which came in the second half.

“He broke a lot of tackles. He runs hard. He can make you miss. He has good cutting ability,” KU coach Mark Mangino said of Thomas, who entered the game as the Big 12’s second-leading rusher. “He’s a big guy. You’ve got to wrap him up to get him on the ground, and we didn’t always do a good job of putting him on the ground, that’s for sure.”

Nowhere was this more evident than on the game’s final drive.

When Kansas kicked off with 5:20 to go — following a Jacob Branstetter field goal that pulled the Jayhawks within a touchdown — the team’s only hope was a quick defensive stop and a chance to get the ball back with a couple minutes left on the clock.

Didn’t quite work out that way.

Thanks in no small part to Thomas’ ability to keep the chains moving — Thomas and K-State quarterback Grant Gregory combined for 40 yards on eight carries during the final series, converting on two third-down situations — the Wildcats were able to bleed the clock to death and return the Governor’s Cup to Manhattan for the first time since 2005.

“Daniel is a beast,” said Gregory, who finished with just 66 passing yards while attempting only three second-half passes. “It’s his first year playing running back, and I think he’s the best running back in the conference.”

It was hard to argue otherwise. Thomas on Saturday became the Big 12’s first 1,000-yard rusher this season, scoring his conference-best 11th rushing touchdown and leaving Kansas to address what appears to be a deteriorating rush defense.

“Every day, I’m sending mass texts to everybody, (safety Darrell Stuckey) is sending mass texts to everybody, that we’ve just got to continue to improve and come watch film together as a unit,” KU defensive back Chris Harris said. “I feel like we’ve jelled together, and we’ve gotten better together. We’ve just got to keep improving, and hopefully we’ll get a win.”

With Saturday’s game against Nebraska on tap and the team’s postseason fate growing grimmer by the week, however, time is running out for Kansas.

But like they have all season, the Jayhawks will keep plowing forward, Mangino assured reporters.

“Certainly, we don’t have a sense that we’re in control of things when you lose four in a row,” the coach said. “But I’m in the locker room with the players, I know our kids pretty well, and quickly their attention shifted to next week’s game. It’s the last game for our seniors at home, and our players unanimously agreed that they want to get a win for the seniors in our last game at Memorial Stadium.”

Comments

Robert Brock 11 years, 10 months ago

The lack of speed on the KU squad is noticeable.

Steve Brown 11 years, 10 months ago

Defense held State to 17pts. in face of multiple turnovers. That is normally enough to win with our 'high powered' offense.

for those of you who call constructive criticsm 'fair weather' so be it, yet I'm tired of singing in the rain with this team. The players are there, those not injured are good enough to win. treat the O like you did the D bench those that are ineffective no matter how great they were 2 years ago.

FSUJHAWK 11 years, 10 months ago

Believe it or not we still have the capability to win two of the three remaining games. The third, we can make very respectable. We have the tools to make this a reality. What's absent this year is the discipline and confidence both on the sidelines/booth and on the field.

Todd: play within your means and protect the ball. We believe in you and I'm still putting my money on you.

Coaching staff: bring back the running game (ie more than 10% of the total plays) and don't ruin Todd and the senior's legacy.

RCJHGKU!!!

FlaHawk 11 years, 10 months ago

Since when did the KU defense shut down the KSU passing attach. KSU has to be about last i the Big XII in passing pct, if not yards. Take a few of those long run after atches by Bnaks over season out and you have a very pedistrian passing game.

QB Gregory is a horrible QB, but he plays to Synder's system and makes him much more effective than his talet level.He never p;ayed QB at Indian and was a back up at USF whenhis Dad ws Offensive Coordinator.

KU defense is slow and unathletic and the stupid 4-2-5 allows much more yardage on the ground than a 4-3-4 would. Probablem is that KU has no outstanding to above averagge LBs to make a 4.2.5 work!

GO HAWKS!

sdoyel 11 years, 10 months ago

We need to go back to a traditional 4-3. The 4-2-5 essentially takes 1 more guy out of the box to stop the run, that is unless you want a 180 pound corner to try and tackle a 220 pound RB....

yates33333 11 years, 10 months ago

FSUJHawks says: "Believe it or not we still have the capability to win two of the three remaining games." I don't believe it, but I hope you are correct.

NebraskaJayhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

We haven't been able to stop anyone what they're good at. This isn't a surprise.

Kenneth Hillman 11 years, 10 months ago

This article is about a bad rushing defense but we HAVE to put up more than 10 points. Our defense has improved, they're not great, but they have improved. The losses are stemming from an offense that has lost its' chemistry and turnovers. Poor passes, dropped passes, weak running game, inexperience O line, terrible play calling, and questionable personnel usage. What has happened to our offensive play calling???

number1jayhawker 11 years, 10 months ago

Should have went with the Blue pants!

Also, like someone said earlier, if a player is not getting the job done on offense, why not try other players like they did with the defense.

Kenneth Hillman 11 years, 10 months ago

It has been a disappointing season so far but the season is not over. Finish strong Hawks, we're still supporting you!

Rock Chalk!

mondhawk 11 years, 10 months ago

my problem is with the coaching staff two years in a row that they made overall changes to the personal starting in mid season i fill they need to have this resolved before the season it is time to find a better more decisive coach

jkanev 11 years, 10 months ago

Thomas is definitely NOT better than OU's DeMarco Murray...not a chance.

crimsongirl87 11 years, 10 months ago

I really can't believe what all you people are saying about Mark Mangino. He has done wonderful things for the Kansas Football program. Some of the plays that he called may have been a little less than perfect, but I don't think that's in any way grounds to fire him, and for all of the fans to just turn on him. He's a wonderful man, and a great coach and the fact that everyone seems to be pinning the losing streak on Coach is just unfair. It was Todd Reesing who fumbled the ball, and not because of a play called by Mangino, because he couldn't hold on to the ball. Personally, I think that most of the seniors are suffering from a case of "senioritis" They have been working so hard, some since elementary school, and they are tired and burnt out and are not giving a 110% attitude any longer. Whether or not anyone wants to agree, that's where I stand. Yes it is Mark Mangino's job to coach the team, give them guidance, and lead them to a big 'W' but the fact of the matter is, when that ball is snapped, it is no longer in his control what happens. It's in the control of Todd Reesing, who is now suffering from a case of jelly hands, to throw to Jake Sharp, Kerry Meier, Toban Opurum or whomever he sees open. Whether or not that ball is caught, or stays in the hands of that individual is up to Reesing himself because he has to find the open man, he has to find that hole to barrel through at full speed ahead. I think you're all a little to quick to jump on Mangino's case and want to send him to the unemployment line. I'm not quite sure that is what "Jayhawk Nation" stands for.

troutsee 11 years, 10 months ago

I guess other teams' seniors don't burn out. Sorry, this team is not together like the 07 team. I have to put that on the coaches. You adjust your offenses and defenses based on your personnel. In 07, they did it well. In 09, not so well. I'll be there on Saturday yelling my head off as usual but for the first time, I am not optimistic.

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