Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Jayhawks focusing on fourth-quarter play

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.


On the heels of a four-game stretch in which his team has reserved some of its worst play for the fourth quarter, Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino said Monday that the focus going forward will be making sure the Jayhawks figure out a way to buck their recent trend.

“One of the things that we need to focus on is being able to make stops in the fourth quarter and being able to score some more points in the fourth quarter,” Mangino said during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “Because that’s been an issue.”

And a serious one, at that.

In the past four weeks, the Jayhawks have given up 53 points in the fourth quarter — while scoring just 17 — and wasted a number of promising opportunities in the process.

With the exception of their Oct. 24 loss to Oklahoma, for instance, the Jayhawks have held a lead or been within a touchdown heading into the final quarter in each of their past five games.

What they haven’t done, however, is manage to win a game during that stretch.

“I think there’s fundamental reasons why it happens,” Mangino said. “I think there’s some young guys out there that don’t understand the sense of urgency of fourth-quarter play. But it’s our job to teach them, to get them better. And that’s what will be our focus.”

Bowl eligibility now goal: At 5-5 with two games remaining, Kansas needs one more victory to become bowl-eligible for the fourth straight season, a feat the program has never before accomplished.

And with a number of preseason goals having fallen by the wayside, earning that sixth victory will likely be the only way to salvage a season that hasn’t gone as planned for a team that entered the year as a trendy pick to win the Big 12’s North Division.

“Our kids have a lot of pride,” said Mangino, whose team will play Texas on Saturday followed by Missouri on Nov. 28. “They work very hard, they’ve taken ownership of the program, they’re invested in it. And although it’s painful, we are still going to scratch and claw and try to find a way to get a win here to get bowl eligible. That’s how we do it. That’s who we are.”

UT’s Brown not fearing letdown: With just two regular-season games remaining in what to this point has been an unblemished season, Texas coach Mack Brown has seen enough of his team to know this: A late-season letdown is not imminent.

“I don’t think at all,” Brown said Monday. “This team has played well every week. Usually you get a pattern of teams through the year. Our 2007 team was a team that played up and down.

“Our 2005 team played pretty good every week. Last year, our team played pretty hard and pretty good every week, and this year is just an extension of last year’s team.”

What’s more, Brown added, is that there no lack of motivational factors heading into this weekend’s matchup with the Jayhawks.

For Texas, it will be the senior’s final home game, and with a victory, the Longhorns would lock up their second Big 12 South title in the past five seasons.

“There’s a lot of things on the line for us,” Brown said. “You never know, but in viewing them yesterday in the team meeting, I think they’re really excited about the challenge of Kansas coming in here and our seniors playing their last game at home.”

KU football lands Turzilli: Andrew Turzilli, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound receiver out of Butler, N.J., has committed to play for the Jayhawks, according to

Turzilli, who has caught 39 passes for 750 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior this season, represents Kansas’ 15th known commitment in the Class of 2010.


FlaHawk 12 years ago

KU has lacked a clutch performer this year. The defense has never had someone who could come up with a turnover (at any time this year). The offense used to rely on Reesing/Meier/Briscoe but not this year.

Who will step up rather than the whole team stepping back again??

rastameta 12 years ago

You simply cannot compare college football today of college football of previous years. The scholarship situation, the ability to recruit and get on TV and the fact there are more and better athletes coming out of high school now mean it is much easier to compete and win games than any other time in the history of college football. There is much more parity now.

IMHO, if you took Mangino back to the '60s - '80s he would not even be close to a .500 record. He is a product of parity as much as anything.

We really need to stop comparing apples and oranges.

While he has been better than what we have had, we should still strive for better.

It is like saying someone who robs you at gunpoint is better than someone that kills you and then robs you. They are both f'ing bad and neither should be tolerated.

And we should not tolerate a football program that cannot compete for a Big 12 championship. Hell, even K-State has been able to do that better than we have.

Steve Brown 12 years ago

"but it's our job to teach them" wow, you finally took responsibility for poor performance. THANK YOU. and this is first post that is not tongue in cheek from me, seriously THANK YOU for taking coaching ownership of poor play.

As for 4th quarter play, perhaps rotate players in the first 3 qtrs. to keep some fresh players for the last. furtheromore, limit the turnovers, fumbles and interceptions to also keep the D fresh. Three and out, doesn't sustain a fresh D end of game.

Dyrk Dugan 12 years ago

85 scholarships has been the limit since 1994. so the above argument about the 60s and 70s, is totally irrelevant.

KU was terrible in the late 90s and the early 2000s...and why was that? everybody had 85 schollies then. Do you think it had something to do with school commitment and coaching?

it's about support, organization, development and recruiting. KU has had better football players and better coaching and better support over the last 8 years than we've had previously.....that's why we're more successful. period.

KU 12 years ago

Bottom line: in order to be more than average in the era of 85 scholarships, you have to have a top notch coaching staff. Until this year, I thought Mangino fit that category. Now I'm not so sure......the jury is out until after next season. If we are this bad next year, heads will and Lew are neighbors........maybe heads won't roll.

Blake Post 12 years ago

It is disappointing to look at our record now, needing to beat missouri to become bowl eligible, instead of just the pure desire to punk them. However, rastameta, whatever that is, can go south. Doesn't sound like a Jayhawk. Despite what this year has brought, this punk ignores the Orange Bowl and many other great victories we were not having before. Your comments are rude and stupid.
Some of us are very happy with the Orange Bowl victory, something we dared not hope for during the last 40 years, and never thought would happen. These guys have earned their place. You are nothing but a tiger. And lighthawk is lightheaded. Only ksu and mu people ever say that MM does not take responsibility. He always has. Don't listen to these pretenders. They love to get on our boards.

WilburNether 12 years ago

"On the heels of a four-game stretch in which his team has reserved some of its worst play for the fourth quarter..."

There is a one-word description of that phenomenon: choked.

William Cormode 12 years ago

You people need to shut up! Typical turncoats. Crazy about the team when it is winning and eager to complain when it is bad. After all of the great who have come through this University through the years neve before has it been better than the previous three years. You are idiotic if you think anyone would be able to sustain that year after year. No one is able to. USC is down, Oklahoma is down, FSU and Miami have been down. And they are powerhouse schools.

What you all are are a bunch of people who feel a sense of power sitting behind you computer so you find anything and everything to complain about. You ridicule the articles when it isn't about topics that you feel should be on here. When there is one period our of place you personally attack the writer. A basketball article in July gets torched the same as a Football article will get torched if it occurs in March.

You all wanted to give Mangino a 50 year extention in January of 2008 and now you make it sound like he should be taking out the trash. But just keep selling your tickets to the enemies during home games and pretend to be a Jayhawk because you are safe behind your computer.

Kenneth Hillman 12 years ago

Well, I wouldn't classify the critical posters here as "turncoats". When you have an underachieving team, people are going to be disappointed and they are going to speak their mind if they care about how their team performs. There are actually Jayhawk football fans and that is a good thing. People who's expectations were high going into this season and now have been let down. I'm personally pi$$ed and I am a HUGE Jayhawk fan. I've expressed my disappointment in the team after losses and that is BECAUSE I am a huge Jayhawk fan. If I weren't a fan, then I wouldn't even care to make a post here. I'm not ready to fire Mangino but we need to see improvement in our last 2 (maybe 3) games. Yes, going to and winning the Orange Bowl was incredible. I've been a Jayhawk fan since '94, when I went to school there, and these are definitely better times as a football program but we can't settle. We have to keep on improving and build on top of our success, not take steps backward. The other teams in the North are down and we should be capitalizing on this. NOW is our time to be getting better, winning the North, getting better facilities, putting more into our football program, getting better recruits, and becoming a regular in the Top 25 or better!

KU 12 years ago

Hawkman......Get off rastameta's back. He's a valuable contributor to this site and is a huge KU fan. We are KU fans and we don't want to settle for second-class. No second-class coaching; no second-class players; no second-class FANS.

Our fan base--if you can call it that--is a polite baseball crowd in its mentality. Very little passion. I get the sense half of the crowd is at the game just because it's become the "in" thing to do. Most don't cheer when KU's on defense to disrupt the opponent's communication. Heck, Saturday the KU fans I was sitting around started cheering when they heard the NU fans trying to make noise to disrupt KU's offense! Very low football IQ in the stands and very little passion. (I'm not saying everybody on this board is clueless about football; this seems to be where the hardcore fans come.)

Steve Brown 12 years ago

Comode' we need to shut up. you really want less folks letting off steam on the FB site? The fact that some are here to read and share is valuable. Or would you rather have just the 'happy' & in MM words 'comfortable fans'?

Yes, it has been outstanding the last few years, and yes, all programs have ups and downs. Did you think this was going to be a rebuilding year? Some of us, including the "History Awaits Marketing Dept" did not.

If we are going to be average, some years hot, and then some like this in the CELLAR, then fine. So be it. We'll lower our expectations to yours. On other hand, some of us bought into the hype and program that this year would culminate not destroy what has been up to now.

Read Peanuts? I'll hold the ball and you come and kick it.

don't call me Lucy either. you've already called us benedict arnold.

unlike you I welcome and encourage all viewpoints, including yours, so thanks for caring and sharing.

KU 12 years ago

While they are at it, they might want to focus on 1st quarter play, too.

Bob Zielinski 12 years ago

Mangino is the right coach for us. We sure as hell won't get anyone better if he is let go. The coaching staff can't make the players perform during games. Sure, Bowen might need to be replaced but Mangino is trying to win with a team which is very young and inexperienced on the offensive line. That right there is a recipe for struggles. Yet they coaches managed to get that O-line together enough to stand up very nicely to a tough Nebraska defensive front four. That is coaching. Can Mangino help that Reesing is throwing the most wobbly and errant passes of his career? Can Mangino block for Reesing and lessen the defensive pressure coming right down his throat on many pass plays? Can Mangino make the O-line run block better? No, the coaches can only coach up the young players and get them in positions to win and improve.

Next year the line will be better, Opurum will be running hard, we will find receivers to make plays and hopefully the defense will be improved. This is actually a fairly young and inexperienced team at many critical spots. It is understandable that a lesser team or two had great games and grabbed some wins and that the more dominant teams (OU, Nebraska, Texas Tech) had some real success against our defense and stymied our offense.

Mangino is the right coach, perhaps some of you should back away from the torches and slingshots and let him develop the players.

WilburNether 12 years ago

No, wcormode, if anyone should shut up, it is people like you who seem to think that it is out of line ever to speak a word critical of KU athletics and its jocks. These are not innocent kids out on the playground; they are, in fact, semi-pros who are receiving benefits worth tens of thousands of dollars. And KU and its genuine fans have a right to expect that they perform well. To suggest that they should never be criticized, and held accountable for poor performance, is simply ludicrous. There can be absolutely no question whatsoever that this year's football team has drastically underperformed.

"History Awaits?" Yes, could be. I'm not sure that any other KU team started 5-0 and finished 0-7, which is a distinct possibility this year.

Darn right I'm a KU fan. I'm a graduate, a long-time season ticket holder, and major donor, and I have a right to expect performance from a KU athletic team in return for my performance in support of KU. Got it?

No, I didn't think so.

And in view of today's news, the Mangino lapdogs just might want to put a lid on it.

tcco007 12 years ago

How many people who started the year on offense are playing on defense? How many people play part of the game on offense and then play on defense in the 4th quarter? If anything, football in the late 20th and 21st centuries is about situational play not "ironman".

Where are all of the 3 and 4 star players that Mangino recruited after winning the Orange Bowl? Where is the deep talent pool that KU could/should have built up with the "doors being opened to us" after winning the Orange Bowl. I don't think that they are all being redshirted this year.

Between that and relying on a passing game, to the detriment of a strong running game which would keep the defense fresh for the 4th quarter, as the means to move the ball (and hence run down the clock) no wonder the players are not making and missing plays in the 4th quarter.

Looking things up from prior seasons (2006-2008) KU had a 60/40 pass to run yardage ratio. This year, it is closer to 70/30. This is mostly due to lack of attempts and being ineffective when they run (blocking?) and that has killed our defense. When KU rushes for 150+ yards they win; when they don't they lose.

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