Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dugan Arnett’s KU football notebook


Sharp not necessarily good to go against Iowa State

Even after a bye week, KU running back Jake Sharp might not be back for this weekend's game against Iowa State.

Sharp setback

As recently as Monday, Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino seemed confident that injured running back Jake Sharp, the Big 12’s second-leading rusher before the setback, would be ready to go in the 16th-ranked Jayhawks’ matchup with visiting Iowa State on Saturday.

A day later, however, the coach altered his initial prognosis.

“I’ll be real honest with you in the assessment of Jake’s injury,” Mangino said during Tuesday’s meeting with the media. “I think we all thought that he was going to get on the practice field today, and we were going to cut him loose. But it hasn’t developed that way, unfortunately.”

The undisclosed injury, which was suffered during a practice before the team’s Sept. 19 victory over Duke, severely limited Sharp against the Blue Devils (he rushed five times for 13 yards before being shut down in the first half) and kept him out of the following week’s game against Southern Mississippi completely.

On Tuesday, Mangino insisted he’d err on the side of caution when determining the player’s status heading into Saturday’s conference opener.

“By Thursday’s practice, if he’ll go out and execute everything full speed, 100 percent, we’ll play him,” Mangino said. “If there’s any sign that he’s not 100 percent, that he cannot play to the best of his abilities, then we will not use him.”

If Sharp is unable to play, the large majority of the team’s ground game again will fall upon the shoulders of true freshman Toben Opurum, who is coming off a 28-carry, 109-yard performance against Southern Miss. The team’s leading rusher this season with 320 yards and six touchdowns, Opurum has proven to be one of the program’s most pleasant surprises — particularly when considering his production during Sharp’s absence.

And Mangino appears more than willing to ride the true freshman one more week if necessary.

“I want (Jake) to be 100-percent functional, because he is a guy whose speed and quickness are his asset,” he said. “And if he doesn’t bring those to the field — he’s not a 240-pound running back. So we’ve got to have him feeling really good.”

Woods coming along

When Kansas signed defensive end transfer Quintin Woods last spring, it was largely viewed as a move that immediately could bolster a KU pass-rush that struggled during the 2008 season.

Instead, the Flint, Mich., native and former Michigan signee has gone largely unused this year as veteran defensive ends Maxwell Onyegbule, Jake Laptad and Jeff Wheeler have helped the Jayhawks to 15 total sacks — on pace to easily surpass last year’s season total of 29.

“I think he’s realized there’s a certain standard here for effort and work ethic that you must meet to get on the field,” Mangino said. “Not that he’s lazy, (it’s) just making that transition from junior college to here has been a little bit difficult for him.”

Following a productive past few weeks, however, which included a strong showing during the team’s bye week, Mangino said an increased workload isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

“This past week, where he had a chance to work fundamentals and not worry about a game plan and worry about who we’re playing, I thought he made some big strides,” he said. “He has a ways to go. He’s a talented young guy, he’s a likable young guy. ... But I look for him to contribute before it’s all said and done this year.”

Mangino confident in Branstetter’s ability

Although kicker Jacob Branstetter’s opportunities have been minimal this season — the Jayhawks have attempted field goals in just two of their first four games — Mangino said Tuesday that he’s comfortable sending his kicker in to attempt field goals from as far out as 48 yards if the situation calls for it.

So far this season, Branstetter is 3-for-5 on field-goal attempts — his two misses coming after suffering a roughing-the-kicker penalty against UTEP — but hasn’t attempted a kick longer than 38 yards as Mangino has routinely opted to keep the offense on the field in fourth-down situations.

“He can make it. He has the strength to do it,” Mangino said of a long field goal. “... I’m comfortable where he is. He works hard, he’s very dedicated to his craft, and I have great faith in him.”


suttonku 10 years, 6 months ago

We need to sit Sharp until we really need him against OU! Sit him out, we can beat ISU and CU without him...Opurum is more than capable, especially against CU, they have a terrible run defense...And ultimately this will help Opurum mature and that could help KU out down the road the rest of this season and for next season.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 6 months ago

Let's see Rell Lewis. There are 130 yds (Spring Game) that say he's capable.

gardenjay 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree dagger - they should give some reps to Rell. History shows it, Rell will gel.

Rivethead 10 years, 6 months ago

suttonku: having Jake wait until the OU game to shake off the cobwebs from sitting on the sidelines for a month (against the OU defense) is NOT a recipe for success.

RBs have a rhythm. Jake needs to get on the field now.

I do agree that Opurum is capable. He's also capable of fumbling the ball at the worst time. We do that in Boulder and we could be in trouble.....all CU needs is a KU mistake to feed on.

KU 10 years, 6 months ago

Good point about the danger of waiting til OU to play Sharp, Rivethead. If he can't play a few snaps this week, let's hope he can get at least 10 reps in Boulder to knock the rust off.

Can't wait for Saturday! Perfect football weather.

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 6 months ago

"Let's see Rell Lewis. There are 130 yds (Spring Game) that say he's capable."

a spring game performance is not even a measuring stick now. it's how you do things in practice, when you get a chance in games, and your own physical conditioning.

and with a week off, Toben should be ready for the bulk of the load. he's only going to get better with more experience.

GridironHawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Rivethead.... easy on Opurum. He has 60+ carries and one fumble and you are going to rag on him about being "capable of fumbling at the worst time." I seem to remember Reesing fumbling the ball after Opurum in that game and at an even worse time and place (own 15 or so but KU recovered it) yet I don't here anyone ripping him. I don't know if you meant it as a dig towards Toben but I feel more than comfortable with him running the ball no matter what the situation may be.

gardenjay 10 years, 6 months ago

What if Sharp is being held off the field, completely healthy, to keep him out of game film so that he can be a surprise package for an unspecified game in the future?

Although that may be more like material for Art Bell, it made me think this morning, wow, what if we had THAT kind of depth....

number1jayhawker 10 years, 6 months ago

Let's also remember that ALL true freshmen hit the proverbial wall at some point in the season. It will be reassuring to know Jake is caple of carrying the load, when and if this happens to Toben.

suttonku 10 years, 6 months ago

Wow 130 yards in a SPRING game...Rell Lewis should be in the HOF...Give me a break if the spring games meant anything then Zac Lee would be the best QB in the big 12, as he definitely is not.

Look, all it takes is one blow to that injured leg and we could lose Sharp for the season. Hey you think Sharp will lose his "Rhythm" when he is out for the season? LOL You have to rest Sharp until he gets healthy, it could be the Colorado game but playing Sharp in games where we are going to win or at least should win with Opurum is stupid. I think Sharp should dress just in case but Opurum should get the carries unless he is having major troubles. Maybe playing Sharp against CU might be good to get his "Rhythm" back because CU is terrible against the run but Im for sitting him until the game against OU because we will for sure need Sharp in that game. Why would you risk big injury to a big time player against teams that suck? That just seems stupid to me.

mr_jhawk4477 10 years, 6 months ago

how could we not benefit from getting Rell Lewis extra playing time??? Not only would he be able to spell Opurum but he would provide a different running style. ISU and CU are starting to really scare me with everyone talking about OU. Thats a long way away at this point we have 2 tough conference opponents to beat first including a road environment at CU thats gonna be a lot tougher than our trip to UTEP earlier this year. One game at a time hawks

NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 6 months ago


Dez Bryant out for the season...inelligible. Don't know specifics other than he was involved with a former NFL player somehow...don't know if it was finances or what, but he's done for the season. Bad deal for the Cowboys.

suttonku 10 years, 6 months ago

Rell Lewis will get some carries but I want most of the load to be on Opurum becuase Lewis does not hit holes quick enough...Yeah it's a different running style that Sharp, its slower.

rasta_meta 10 years, 6 months ago

Rell may be a good runner, but there is so much more to playing the running back position. Blocking is a big part of it. Personally, I think some of the sacks against Southern Miss were do to miss protection by the running back, but I don't know that for sure. My guess is that part of the reason some of these other guys aren't playing is because they aren't as good as some of the other things that a back needs to do.

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