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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Changes solidify defense

Kansas defensive end Jeff Wheeler can't get a handle on Colorado running back Darrell Scott during the first quarter Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 at Folsom Field.

Kansas defensive end Jeff Wheeler can't get a handle on Colorado running back Darrell Scott during the first quarter Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 at Folsom Field.

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2009 KU-Colorado football

— A lackluster defensive effort in last week’s narrow victory over Iowa State led Kansas University coach Mark Mangino to say unit changes were imminent, and the coach made good on that declaration Saturday.

Red-shirt freshmen Lubbock Smith (safety) and John Williams (defensive line) both earned their first career starts for the Jayhawks, while four other players — defensive end Quintin Woods, linebacker Angus Quigley, true freshman defensive back D.J. Beshears and receiver Bradley McDougald — saw their first defensive snaps of the season in the Jayhawks’ 34-30 loss to the Buffaloes.

“I told our defense the last couple of weeks that we’re going to make changes,” said Mangino, whose team fell to 5-1 (1-1 in the Big 12) this season. “And I think they realize now we’re going to make changes.”

And in comparison to the unit’s performance against the Cyclones, when KU gave up 512 yards and 36 points to one of the Big 12’s weakest offensive teams, the new look seemed to work.

Despite a 34-point outing from the Buffaloes, the Jayhawks’ defense held Colorado to 322 yards — just 175 through the air — and gave up just one touchdown in the second half. Two first-half touchdowns, meanwhile, came following Kansas turnovers, when the Buffaloes took over at the KU three- and one-yard lines.

“I think it worked out pretty well,” Mangino said. “They had one week to practice. We moved two guys over from offense to defense, and there’s no question that the more experience they get, they’ll make our defense better.”

Sharp struggled in return: Following a two-game absence while nursing an undisclosed injury, Jake Sharp made his first start since KU’s Sept. 19 game against Duke.

Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, the senior running back’s return didn’t go quite as expected.

Sharp carried the ball 13 times for just 37 yards — a 2.8 yards-per-carry average — as Kansas finished with a horrid minus-eight total rushing yards for the day in a 34-30 loss to Colorado. He suffered at least partially from a poor performance from the offensive line, which gave up five sacks and failed to create holes for Sharp and backup Toben Opurum (two carries, three yards).

“Jake’s pretty healthy, that’s a good thing,” Mangino said. “But I don’t think we gave him the opportunity to run the ball very well today. It’s not on Jake.”

Branstetter has career day: Jacob Branstetter had a career day Saturday, taking advantage of the opportunities presented by Mangino.

Branstetter’s three field goals — on kicks of 37, 43 and 42 yards — are the three longest of his career. He connected on all three of his PAT attempts, as well, and threw in a pair of tackles, one of which might have saved a touchdown.

Reader poll

Which unit deserves the most blame for KU's 34-30 loss to Colorado?

  • Offense 45% 776 votes
  • Defense 51% 872 votes
  • Special Teams 3% 58 votes

1706 total votes.

Comments

Bill Kackley 4 years, 11 months ago

The defense will not be worth a damn until we start putting some real pressure on the q-back and stop playing the soft zone that allow receivers to catch the ball untouched. If you look at the way our receivers were being hammered compared to the buffs being allowed to catch the ball with impunity you realize the D has a long way to go.

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FlaHawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Defense improved yesterday, but CUand ISUare the worst offenses in the Big XII. SInce we gon't play BU or aTm their is no question that the defense has to continue to imporve each and every game. KSU hung up 51 yesterday and they should be the worst offense we face the rest of the year!

GO HAWKS!

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Steve Brown 4 years, 11 months ago

Of course it's not on Jake, he was out a couple weeks and not in mid season speed, timing or form...so it's on the COACHES that put him in too high a percentage of plays in place of a working solution Opurum until Jake gets his timing and speed 100% back....

they played him like he was 100% and after an injury, whether brandon rush or lance armstrong, no one comes back 100% out of the shoot...not his fault..he averaged 2.7 yards, yet it is up to the coaches to limit his time... in my view..especially with a strong reserve...ready and able..

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