McDougald playing offense, defense
A day after Kansas University wide receiver Bradley McDougald made a short cameo at defensive back in a 34-30 road loss to Colorado, KU coach Mark Mangino said the true freshman from Dublin, Ohio, will play both offense and defense for the remainder of the season in an effort to add depth to a struggling secondary.
“He understands the mechanics of how the game’s played, and that’s why we’re able to give him time on both sides of the ball,” said Mangino, whose 5-1 (1-1 in the Big 12) team will host No. 25 Oklahoma next Saturday. “But we’re not going to overdo it, we’ll be careful with that.”
McDougald, a four-star recruit in the Class of 2009 according to Rivals.com, played running back and safety as a prep. Originally signed to play at Ohio State, he switched his decision to Kansas just before last spring’s signing day, at least partially because KU provided the opportunity to play on the offensive side of the ball.
Run game a concern
While Kansas’ final rushing numbers were certainly swayed by five Colorado sacks that resulted in a loss of 50 yards, the team’s running backs never managed to find a groove as the Jayhawks finished with -8 rushing yards in their worst ground performance of the season.
“Obviously, none of us are pleased the way the run game went last night,” Mangino said. “I think more than anything, our offensive line was not sharp. I don’t feel like we blocked some movements the way we’re capable of, and there were a couple of guys on the offensive line that did not play well, for whatever reason.”
In addition to giving up a season-high five sacks, the line failed to create holes for running back Jake Sharp, who was making his first start since the team’s Sept. 19 game against Duke. Sharp carried the ball 13 times for just 37 yards and didn’t record a run longer than five yards, while backup Toben Opurum finished with just three yards on two carries, despite the fact that Kansas entered the game averaging 189.2 rushing yards per game (fourth in the Big 12) and Colorado was giving up a conference-worst 4.5 yards per carry.
“That unit has been getting better and better every week, and it took a little bit of a step back (on Saturday),” Mangino said of the offensive line. “So we’ve got to get it back on track. We’ve got to give them a lot of looks and a lot of movement and a lot of different blitzes and let them go to work on it and get better.”
Mangino sees respect
Although he is in no rush to make it a common occurrence, Mangino said Sunday he considered the reaction of the Colorado fans — who rushed the field following Saturday night’s game — as a sign of respect for the progress his program has made in recent years.
“We’ve come a long way,” the coach said. “People want to beat us. We get everybody’s best shot now. We don’t sneak up on anybody. We’re circled on everybody’s schedule, and that’s good, we aspire to be that kind of team.
“Now, we’ve just got to prove that we can play at a high level week in and week out.”