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Monday, November 16, 2009

Mangino likes new-look offensive line

Kansas coach Mark Mangino and the Jayhawks take to the field before the Kansas and Kansas State game on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009 in Manhattan.

Kansas coach Mark Mangino and the Jayhawks take to the field before the Kansas and Kansas State game on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2009 in Manhattan.

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Seniors fall in final home game

Todd Reesing and the rest of the senior football Jayhawks couldn't hold on to a fourth quarter lead Saturday and lost their final home game. The Jayhawks have now dropped five straight.

It’s not exactly an earth-shattering breakthrough, but the coach of a team mired in a five-game losing streak takes positive developments where he can get them.

Kansas University coach Mark Mangino indicated Sunday that he has found an offensive-line alignment he’s happy with —Tanner Hawkinson at left tackle, Sal Capra at left guard, Jeremiah Hatch at center, Jeff Spikes at right guard and Brad Thorson at right tackle — after plenty of mid-season tinkering.

“It’s the most comfortable I’ve been all year,” Mangino said. “I think (offensive line coach) John Reagan’s comfortable with that, and I think the kids are comfortable, collectively, with that set-up.”

In the weeks leading up to Saturday’s 31-17 loss to Nebraska, the team’s offensive-line play had been a glaring weakness for an offense that had hit its first extended rough patch in three years. The unit, which doesn’t include a senior starter, had given up 16 sacks in the previous four games, while failing to facilitate a single 100-yard rushing performance.

Against a Huskers defensive front widely regarded as one of the nation’s best, however, the line turned in its best performance in a month.

Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing was sacked just once, and while the running game still wasn’t overly effective, the Jayhawks’ 99 rushing yards were their most since a 109-yard outing Oct. 10 against Iowa State.

Mangino seemed pleased with Saturday’s switches — Spikes, who has played both tackle positions over the past two years, made his first career start at right guard Saturday, while Thorson, who has also played multiple positions, started at right tackle — and the way the current group meshed.

“I like the idea of having Jeff Spikes at guard — he looks a lot more comfortable there — and Brad Thorson played very well outside at tackle,” he said. “... Across the board, it was a pretty good performance, top to bottom, by all five guys. I thought they did a very, very good job against an excellent defensive line, prevented the defensive tackles, their inside players, from being a major factor in the game. And that’s not easy to do.”

The coach also spoke highly of the promise of a unit that will return all five starters next season.

“I think when you look to the future, I think this is going to be — which I thought awhile back — a pretty good offensive line here for the future,” he said. “In fact, it’s going to be really good.”

Opurum steadily improving: For the first time in four games, true freshman running back Toben Opurum led the Jayhawks in carries Saturday, rushing 15 times for 43 yards — 22-yard of which came on a second-quarter drive that paved the way for the team’s first touchdown of the game.

“I think he’s starting to see the lanes, the leverage of the blocks, and (he’s) reading those blocks better now than he has at any time,” Mangino said of Opurum, who’s averaging 4.1 yards-per-carry and has rushed for a team-high 541 yards and nine touchdowns this season. “... He always runs hard and he runs with his pads down, he can get tough yardage. But I think his vision of finding creases has improved, and that comes with experience.”

KU-Texas set for 7 p.m. kickoff: The Kansas University football team’s road game against No. 3 Texas on Saturday has been slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff and will be part of a split national feed along with the Oregon-Arizona game, the Big 12 Conference announced Sunday.

The game will be broadcast on ABC, which will also air the Jayhawks’ Nov. 28 Border War matchup with Missouri.

In all, Kansas (5-5, 1-5 in the Big 12) will have appeared on ABC in five of the final six weeks of the season.

Comments

sdoyel 12 years ago

"But I think his vision of finding creases has improved, and that comes with experience.”

THEN GIVE HIM MORE CARRIES!!!! :)

100 12 years ago

Coach is right -- I thought his line finally looked like they had grown up last game. Also helped that he finally called a bunch of quick hitters to boot, whether it was passing or running. No more asking them to hold a pocket for 5 minutes -- let's just call the play, make 5 yards, line up & do it again -- no more sluggish play, it gives the opposing D time to get ready & get their breath!!!!

FlaHawk 12 years ago

The O-line was very productive against NU. Got to work on run blocking, if KU is ever to get another 100 yard (eam) game!

GO HAWKS!

HawkDigestCom 12 years ago

I agree, Opurum is seeing the creases better now than when he was on the sideline.

jahawkdave 12 years ago

They're trying to make lemons out of lemonade, and look to start building the hype for the 2010 team. I would hope we would have figured out the best possible lineups and depth chart by the start of the season or at least after the first few games of the season. This constant tinkering with OL DB's DL... seems to be working (too little too late) but why can't we figure out who the best players are at which positions before the frickin season or conf schedule starts. Sure injuries and poor play is a factor, but this entire season has been trying to figure out who should play where.

Why can't we try the two major changes that have been really struggling, QB and RB, it is plain as day to the arm chair quarterbacks of JH nation that QB play has been terrible and Opurum is our most productive running back! Any other position doesn't produce and they are quick to make a change, but the two key positions on the team Mangino does not seem very willing. He gave Pick a small chance at Tech, but didn't like the ridicule he took from the media and anonymous posters? I thought he should some signs of putting the team before a player in making that move.

However, I have lost and have been losing confidence in his ability to make decisions and give KU the best chance to win. This whole Opurum riding the pine not getting carries and not getting into the NU game till a 4th and short half way into the second quarter. It does not make any sense to me why he has not been giving Opurum a majority of the carries.

Just as last year at OU Sharp was providing consistent production and was key on a couple scoring drives, then he sat for two offensive series in a row. I do not get what he is thinking. Whose decisions are thes HCMM or OCEW??

Either thus team was extremely over hyped or extremely under coached. I'd like to see what Briscoe and Meier could do if they were thrown a spiral in stride. I'm ready to say Todd and Mark thanks for the tremendous strides you have provided KU football, now let's tinker with the HC and QB positions and keep moving the program forward, a 1 win conference season ishould be unacceptable.

I do believe the injuries to Reesing and Sharp are the main cause of their poor production of late. I'm just not sure what Mangino's injury is? Either Opurum is a terrible practice player or Mangino needs to get his eyes checked??? I hope Pick is being as poorly evaluated as Opurum, cause if he can not play QB better than Reesing has of late, we are in trouble. However, he must run the ball better than Opurum, since he is getting carries before Toben. WTF????

jhokfan 12 years ago

If there is a bright spot in defeat it would be the performance of the O-line last week. They totally handled Suh. The other bright spot was the absence of turnovers by Todd.

Rivethead 12 years ago

Jayhawk Dave:

Against our noncon schedule, Opurum had one fumble a game. You think maybe that's why Coach is hesistant to throw him to the wolves?

Opurum rarely got more than 15 carries a game in high school....his offense was a pass-first offense. He's definitely not ready or used to the constant pounding of the Big 12. You think maybe that's why Coach is hesitant to throw him to the wolves?

Opurum is just now learning how to pick up a block in pass protection. When you bring the kid in, everyone in the world (including opposing Ds) knows we're going to run the ball. Makes it really tough for the kid to run the ball. You think maybe that's why Coach is hesitant to throw him to the wolves?

IMHO, Coach is doing everything he can to set up the kid for long-term success. Not just throw him to the wolves and let him get ground down by Big 12 defenses. The kid is a true freshman who just seven months ago was more concerned about who he was taking to prom than how to pick up a blitzing LB.

Steve Brown 12 years ago

"it.s the most comfortable I've been all year."

Really, lose two more games and then see how comfortable you are. If you are looking for ray of light, glimmer of hope, light at end of tunnel after 5 straight losses then you are ignoring the destruction of the team. You play almost enough, and hardly get blown out, have senior leadership in key positions and still LOSE!

If you are comfortable about anything in a 7 game losing streak with this talent, then add more nails and tacks to your mattress and get out of your comfort zone.

here;s the good news, you won't be practicing for a bowl game so you will have time to recruit in december, get some assistants coaches, and/or interview in Bowling Green, as WKY has this brand of ball.

jahawkdave 12 years ago

Too early, got the lemons and lemonade mixed up, but I guess this season has turned to lemons.

Rivethead: Makes sense, but if Mangino is not playing guys because of turnovers, what about Reesing. Yes Reesing is a proven senior and TO a freshman, but did that Freshman give us rushing yards we have not seen in weeks?

vmwskywalk 12 years ago

Great a new look to the "O" line. Now we need a new look to the coaching staff.

Bill Kackley 12 years ago

I know a lot of people thought I was crazy in stating that Bo Pellini ran the score up. I still do. My definition of running the score up is scoring when it is not needed. We could get beat by 40 and I wouldn't complain because I realize that the players have to keep playing and if during the course of the game they stomp you, too bad. But when the game is won with 29 secounds left and you can take a knee to run out the clock but instead you run a play to score, that is running up the score. Our coach would not have tried to score, he would have taken a kneee as would have Bob Stoops. Our basketball team and most basketball teams generally do it when leading by an insurmountable amount in the last few secounds pull the ball out and hold it. So to those who thought I am crazy, bunk.

AZJHWK 12 years ago

I've said it before, if we have too much money invested in the HC for him to exit then at least force him to get a new OC and DC. I feel bad for the Sr. core of skill players that have seen the team go down hill since the Orange Bowl. Remember we had 3 stud linbackers after the Orange Bowl, they disappeared last season, one even got benched! Now 2 of them are playing pro ball nfl/ufl. We don't have the speed at end for the 4-2-5 and based on the shuffling of dbacks we don't have the dbacks either. Last year after extra bowl game practice and after spring ball this year and over half the season the HC and staff didn't know who the playmakers are? Then as leaders they don't have a clue.

grandpa 12 years ago

I am thinking positive towards next year. We must remember that this year we are not loaded up with seniors in either our offensive or defensive line. We have been using a lot of Freshmen and Sophs. Next year, they will be one year older, bigger and more mature. One year makes a lot of difference. Our secondary is the same way, Freshmen and Sophs. Sometimes they made some good plays and sometimes poor. They will have one more year under their belts. We will have some good receivers back but of upmost concern is developing a good quarterback. It will be ragged the first year for him also. I was pleased with some of our defensive players against Nebraske. If the fat boy can solidify our defense we will be in good shape. Reesing, Meier, and Sharp have had their day. They are going to be entering a whole new world out there which will be trying to make a living like the rest of us and it will not be in the NFL.

Phoggin_Loud 12 years ago

This season has sucked, but this Senior Class did bring us an Orange Bowl win. I never would have believed it, but KU won the freakin' Orange Bowl. It seems obvious now that it is the exception and not the rule. Believe me, I am as disappointed in this season as anyone, but most of that is due to my unrealistic expectations.
HCMM is a .500 coach. But, that is pretty special when it is at a school that historically has been horrible. HCMM has changed the expectations, that's why we're upset. Some changes do need to be made, but not at Head Coach. HCMM has earned the right to see this through. RCJH. Beat Texas!!

troutsee 12 years ago

We have the talent to play Texas close and even beat them. Unfortunately, the game might very well be decided by special teams. TU's special teams are very good. Our special teams are horrible....the result of poor coaching. My prediction....Rojas will get a punt blocked. Furthermore, our KO coverage has been horrible for two years, but is especially horrendous this year....same goes for KO returns. I've thought Rojas would have a punt blocked all year. I hope this is not the game that it happens in. To beat TU, we will have to play a "clean" game.

Yes, we have a chance, but it is a slim one. We will probably get blown out, as much as I hate to say that. According to recruiting gurus, we have the talent. We have been close in every game. Bad breaks and subpar coaching have cost us this year. MM appears to be the type of coach that destroys the confidence of his players. I would not want to play for him.

Incidently, I do not want TU in the BCS championship game. Somebody said it would be a shame if we beat them as it would knock them out of the championship game. Are you serious?!!!!!

shelleysue 12 years ago

I don't want these seniors to be sad about of what could have been. I want the to be proud of and feel good about everything that was:

• Bringing this program to a new level and making KU football fun again.

• A 12-1 season.

• An Orange Bowl championship.

• The 2008 win over Missouri. I know I've said this before, but that was one of the best football games ever. Not KU football game - ANY football game. Still makes me smile.

• Consecutive bowl games and wins.

• Consecutive wins over KSU.

• Setting records, receiving accolades...

Pretty good four years if you ask me!! I also want to add that these seniors fulfilled a dream that most boys have, but few get to experience. That in itself is reason to be thankful and proud.

Steve Brown 12 years ago

When the Big 12 wins more rather than less national championships it will help us all.

Likewise the more conf. teams in the march tourney, helps us all.

Goal # 1: Beat Texas Goal #2: get Big 12 into the championship game every year if possible.

Bud Stagg 12 years ago

While there were some bad plays, dropped passes, fumbles, etc. There were equally bad plays called.

What was with the reverse on the kickoff?
The pooch kick that cost us the game?
Bringing Pick in on strange plays that have yet to work?

I don't understand why we kept trotting Jake out there, when Opurum was running pretty well. I like Jake's attitude and fire, but he has been pretty uneffective this year. We didn't stick to anything that was actually working. We would run for 4, run for 3 then pass make the first down and then pass pass pass punt we never went back to running. The running wasn't great but it did help the passing game. It was like if we didn't make 15 yards on a play it was unsuccessfull.

I blame this loss on coaching. The previous three were mostly on Reesing. He just was trying to do more than he was capable of and made mistakes. He still is not throwing the ball very well, lot's of wobbily balls that were high, low, behind. Yes there were drops but on most of them the ball was not where it should have been.

mondhawk 12 years ago

i agree with you jayhawk dave on your first post NOT RIVETHEAD opurm would have helped much more than a injured sharp as far as I am concerned MM threw this season away with his questionable decision making he lost my trust fire him

shelleysue 12 years ago

I assumed the kick you talk about was done to keep them from returning it 40 or 50 yards. ?? Or are we talking about the same one?

I questioned a few of the coaching decisions. But sometimes you have to try and catch the opponent off guard so I don't argue with the strange plays necessarily.

I blame the coaching a little also, however you can't really blame fumbles, dropped passes that definitely should have been caught, and stupid penalties on the coaching.

theprogram 12 years ago

jake sharp would have won the heisman had he been healthy. history awaits!

Steve Brown 12 years ago

I think when you look to the future, this is going to be a pretty good O line.

Coach do you mean future as in Austin and Arrowhead or next year when we don't play Texas or OU?

KState & Neb are getting better fast, with new coaches, we are sinking, something needs revised.

Really proud of you for feeling better and more comfortable now with two games left in the season.

What the CR#$%^&P did you do during spring ball, preseason, non conf. and up to now?

whoever is coaching next year, could we pls. not wait until thanksgiving to sort out who should be playing what positions?

Steve Brown 12 years ago

ShellySue: I agree the coaches shouldn't be blamed for poor performance. It's those darn dropped passes. Just like Custer caught the blame for those darn 7th Calvary guys that didn't shoot straight. It's not the nice coaches fault we are 1-7 in the league and not their fault we don't execute. really?

Steve Brown 12 years ago

I know I know I know I know we aren't 1-7 yet.

jhokfan 12 years ago

I’m as disappointed as anyone but after the season is over and the knee-jerk reactions have subsided I hope the sky is falling crowd will come to their senses. Mangino’s tenure is still the best era of KU football. Don’t believe me, look up our record over the last 4 decades.

Benjamin Piehler 12 years ago

yeah they did better but is this really the time to talk about what is going right for the hawks? we still lost and will continue to do so until many aspects get tightened up.

Tony Bandle 12 years ago

shelleysue - the pooch kick was the kickoff right after we took the 17-16 lead. The problem was that instead of catching on the 10 and returning it 30 yards, Nebraske caught it on the 40 and returned it 30 yards. That was one of three "victory killer" plays.

The others were Meier's fumble on the 5 yard line and the 15 yard penalty on the third and down in the 4th quarter when we stopped them and were going to get the ball back with the lead.

As far as Mangino's comments about positive aspects, the only positive aspect he should be concerned about is WINNING!! I will apolgize ahead of time to all of who will be offended but I feel that he should be kicked out of here right now and someone brought in who finds losing in any form repulsive, if Mark can't show more anger and fire than this!!!!

Do you think HCBS looks for "positives" if the Hawks lose. You can bet your friggin butt he doesn't!!!! HCMM needs to kick start everyone starting with his staff and working his way right down the roster.

Bo Pelini with Nebraska is a total a33hole but he gets it down. Positive aspects should go with evaluating the marching band, not the football team!!!

jayhawkboogeyman 12 years ago

Who cares if Mangino has a marginally better record than the previous sucky coaches here? He had the talent to win at minimum 8, as many as 10, games this season and go to the Big 12 title game for the first time, and he has made moronic decision after moronic decision. Failures over the past decades have nothing to do with the team's performance this year. The players are uninspired and often look completely lost on the field when they should be getting in position for the next play. Sharp has been completely useless 3/4 of the season yet continues to start over Opurum, who was dominant for the games Sharp was out. Reesing gave away 4 games, and the coach made no effort to remedy the problem. If he had an injury, then another QB should have been in. Otherwise, the coach failed to make adjustments for the best of the team. The defense came into the season utterly unprepared for the second straight year, and it has taken, yet again, until the season was hopeless to fix the problems that a competent coach addresses in spring ball. He has no trust at all in the abilities of any of his players, especially Branstetter, and he makes asinine decisions throughout the game (running the clock out at KSU while down 2 scores, inserting Pick at QB for no apparent reason vs. OU, putting Pick at HB instead of Opurum?) If he is trying to protect Opurum by giving him 2-5 carries per game lately, why in the lord is he putting the QB of the future at RB? It is just stupid. You evaluate the season independent of past results based on what the season tried to achieve vs. what it actually accomplished. We came into the season expecting to win the Big XII north, make the Big XII title game, and go to a prominent bowl game. This team is going to fail and fail miserably on all 3 counts. That 5-7 would have been a good season in the 1980s is completely irrelevant to the 2009 season. This year has been a complete and total failure, and a huge chunk of the blame falls on the head coach for failure to prepare his players to succeed and meet the program's goals.

Steve Brown 12 years ago

ditto what VMWSKYWALK said: plus boogeyman.

troutsee 12 years ago

Right on boogyman and oakville. Hays has been right also on previous posts. MM has lost this team. Again, recruiting has been top 40 but our play has not. Our QB was apparently not coached to slide or throw the ball away until the NU game. Many things point to poor coaching....penalties, special teams play, the defensive merry-go-round and on and on. If we don't win the MU game, Lew will have a decision to make. We either tolerate mediocrity or we don't.

Nolen Cromwell get ready.

jhokfan 12 years ago

I looked back at the records over the last four decades going back to Pepper Rodgers, the last KU coach to win a conference title. It’s not pretty. Mangino is the 8th head coach during that time span (9th if you count both times Fambrough was hired). The first seven coaches were a combined 62 games under .500 and managed 10 winning seasons. We appeared in six bowl games and won two of them. Not one of them ended their tenure with a winning record. Four were fired and the other three left for another head coaching job.

Mangino is the only one with a winning record (50-46) and has had three winning seasons and four bowl appearances. Granted it is easier to make a bowl today but he has won three including the Orange. He ended the Nebraska losing streak which started when Rodgers was the head coach and also ended the K-State losing streak.

I can’t argue that Mangino is a great coach but I think his record shows he has been a good coach. Given our history, I’m not sure if a higher level of expectation is warranted. If the last four decades has shown us anything, KU has served to be the final resting place for college coaches who fail and a stepping stone for those who achieve a modest degree of success. If the solution is as simple as hiring a great coach then what has kept us from doing just that?

troutsee 12 years ago

Hays, agree with most of what you said. However, if Texas blows us out and we lose to MU, I think Lew will take a hard look at the situation. I'll agree that he has done a good job in bringing us from awful to mediocre. Whether or not that is good enough remains to be seen. His future may hang on the team's performance in the next two games.

jhokfan 12 years ago

I don’t have the time to research the numbers over the past 4 decades but my suspicion is that while Mark has lost more than his share of close games, his predecessors lost even more games that they were never in. That has certainly been the case with Nebraska. Before he arrived we were losing by 6 or 7 touchdowns. It may not be the level of progress you are looking for but it is progress nonetheless.

If Rodriguez, Richt and Stoops can’t make it happen at schools with tradition and recruiting I don’t see how they can win at KU. I’m all for hiring a great coach but the next Urban Meyer will not be using their current employer as a stepping stone to coach in Lawrence. We are more likely to be that stepping stone.

Bud Stagg 12 years ago

MM has done a good job up until this year getting the most out of his players. It just seems this team is too cocky and not as focused. I question a number of decisions this year. We have spent too time on defense and the offense has been a complete disaster. It seems we just let Reesing stand in the pocket and get balls knocked down or he holds it until he's sacked. If he can't move like he has to, then put Pick in at QB.

I say give MM another year. But if we don't have a winning record in the big 12, he's done.

Nolan Crowmell would be an excellent coach. I bet he is a good recruiter.

Steve Brown 12 years ago

I agree it's too early to terminate HCMM, rather we should wait two more games.

Get the TCU or Houston coach both must have deep ties into Texas recruiting. One of them may be willing to step down from a 8-1 season to a bottom dwelling Big 12 team.

Not a chance.

don't you folks get it, neither of them would come here, we aren't good enough place to capture a good mid major school coach, so that in itself is reason to make coach upgrade this year.

give HCMM a great awards banquet, announce his retirement, he lifted us up from terrible to mediocre. then move on. If you announce this a week prior to MU game, we'll beat them by 40 if not, it will be a long next couple years, This team no longer plays for him and slightly hard to detect but not that hard, they haven't since conf. play began. We'll play inspired and great against Texas and I predict only lose by 12 and he will say he is comfortable with our performance.

we quit sawing wood weeks ago.

rastameta 12 years ago

Richt and Stoops are having bad seasons this year but they have competed for championships in other years. They have been consistently good more than they have been mediocre or bad.

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