Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dugan Arnett’s KU football notebook


Jayhawks still struggling in first half

Whatever the reason for the Kansas University football team’s early-game struggles this season — unfamiliar defensive looks, turnovers, nerves — things need to improve.

And quickly.

That was the message coach Mark Mangino issued during his meeting with the media Tuesday afternoon, three days after the Jayhawks were held to a season-low six first-half points in a 35-13 loss to then-No. 25 Oklahoma.

“We’re doing everything we can to prevent it,” said Mangino, whose team will take on Texas Tech at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Lubbock, Texas. “We’ve studied this thing inside and out. We’ve just got to make plays early in the game. There’s no reason for making as many mistakes early as we have early in the last couple ballgames.”

Despite featuring what is currently the nation’s 10th-ranked scoring offense, Kansas has managed just nine first-quarter points in three Big 12 Conference games this season.

A good deal of the trouble has been the offense’s struggle with turnovers. The Jayhawks have turned the ball over a combined five times in the first half of their last two games, including three against the Sooners that led to two OU touchdowns.

“We just have to avoid early mistakes that put our defense in tough situations,” offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said. “And that’s what’s really happened the past couple weeks, is some early mistakes that put us in tough situations defensively.”

At the same time, Mangino assured that Kansas wouldn’t significantly alter its approach going forward.

“I’m not going to make any drastic changes in anything that we do, because our offense has proven for the last few years that they can play well, they can put up numbers, win a lot of games,” Mangino said. “We’ve hit a couple rough spots here, that’s the way I see it."

Veteran players taking on lesser roles

In an attempt to correct some of the Jayhawks’ recent defensive woes, Kansas coaches have been forced to utilize players a little earlier than they might have liked.

Freshmen Lubbock Smith and D.J. Beshears have figured prominently into the team’s secondary rotation in recent weeks, and the result has been diminished roles for some of the program’s proven veterans, at least two of whom — defensive backs Justin Thornton and Daymond Patterson — have lost starting roles during the midseason reshuffling.

“We had some upperclassmen that we had counted on to be full-time players, and what we’re finding is maybe some of those upper-classmen are more effective as part-time players,” Mangino said. “And that’s what we’re seeing. Less reps, and it’s less thinking, more playing, not putting them in tough spots, not making it too difficult for them.”

Branstetter enjoying recent hot streak

Though the 57-yard field goal booted by KU placekicker Jacob Branstetter in Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma might have raised Mangino’s eyebrows a bit, the coach has no intentions of making 60-yard attempts a regular occurrence.

“I’ve always had confidence in him, but I’m not going to budge that his range, when there’s no wind factor involved, is around 48, 49 yards,” he said. “But when you have a 15 mile-an-hour gust of wind behind you, I’ll give him another 10 (yards). He proved that he can do that.”

At the same time, the junior from Lawton, Okla., is currently locked into the best stretch of his college career. In the team’s past two games, he has connected on all five of his field-goal attempts, including kicks of 42, 43 and 57 yards — the last of which tied for the fourth-longest kick in school history.


Rivethead 10 years, 7 months ago

Bite your tongue Max. I brought up the idea of just getting Pick a couple series a game (like what Pinkle did with Gabbert last year). And the bandwagoners roasted me for it.

Ben Kane 10 years, 7 months ago

This is Reesing's team, he's earned that right.

okjhok 10 years, 7 months ago

So what Mangino is saying is that Thornton and Patterson are too stupid to be every down players. Either that, or our defensive schemes are extremely complex. Pretty sad.

I routinely see a lack of awareness and anticipation on the defensive side of the ball. Over and over it seems players are taking the wrong angle or shooting the wrong gap. I don't think it's necessarily as much athletic ability as it is lack of football I.Q.

Bob Zielinski 10 years, 7 months ago

Honestly the offense is still very good and capable but we have run too many plays out of obvious formations. It became very apparent against Colorado and OU that defenses have studied our formations and plays and they are jumping our passing routes. We are telegraphing our plays and making it too easy for defenses. Perhaps we can start running new plays from these formations or mix in some immediate QB roll outs instead of waiting for the D to flush Reesing from the pocket.

Whatever happened to the quick-hitter slant play over the middle which KU used to bust for big yards? I don't see that play often if ever.

The defensive players are skilled and capable, I think it is a question of the way Bowen is teaching them and scheming. I hate to call out a young coach but it looks like KU is suffering from what the Huskers had been suffering from defensively for several years, stay off the receivers, watch the receiver and try to take him down once he has the ball. Nobody seems to attack or look for the ball like they should. I rarely see a KU defender jumping in lanes or trying to cut off a receiver to get the ball. They sometimes jump up with the receiver but they don't seem to know where the ball is and are too concerned with what the receiver is doing.

mdfraz 10 years, 7 months ago


Just a couple questions.........who is Desmond, and why is he a malcontent? I assume you are referring to Dezmon Briscoe, who, to my knowledge, has actually cleaned up his act from this spring. I've heard nothing official that he has had any problems on the team or academically.

Also, the only "Justin" I can think of that sees much playing time is Thornton, and he's on defense. What does he have to do with Todd being on or off his game? I'm very confused by your statements.

And what has Todd preoccupied? Do you know him personally? Is he worried about classes? Grad school? Family problems? Or is your post simply a rant about nothing in particular?

Phoggin_Loud 10 years, 7 months ago

nschmi04, Glad to see that you are a "glass half full" guy.

Phoggin_Loud 10 years, 7 months ago

Let's all step back and take a deep breath. The sky is not falling. KU is 5-2 overall in a wide-open North division. It seems to me that the season is still full of opportunity. Find a way to beat Tech, then we're right back in the driver's seat.

In case anyone has forgotten what it is like to win a "big" game, check out the ISU celebration after beating NU.

I'm looking forward to seeing a similar celebration after winning the North.

RCJH Go get one this weekend!!

Eliott Reeder 10 years, 7 months ago

We don't even need to beat Tech to win the North.

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 7 months ago

the defense performing poorly, or however you think they are performing, is not because we have an idiot for a defensive coordinator. Clint knows what he's doing...he's learned from Bill Young, one of the best. does anyone remember how bad our defense was in 2006? now that D was bad....and Bill Young was our D coord.

actually our D has played pretty well the last couple of weeks. could we have made a few more plays? of course, but that goes for the offense more than well. it takes great players, to have a great defense (see Aqib Talib and James McClinton two years ago, plus our LBs.) and we don't have great players right now....some good ones...but not great. and more inexperience in key areas.

that being said, it's all still there. TTech, good grief, i thought before the season we can beat them...and obviously now, that is the case. but we need to start playing better football all the way around. if we play better this week, eliminate the mistakes, and we still lose, that's still encouraging.

on offense, it's all about the running game. if we could run the ball better...then our short routes wouldn't get jumped so quickly. the defense would actually have to respect the run...and therefore ALL the pass routes would be more open...downfield and the wide screens. it all goes hand in hand.

and that's where Sharp comes in. if he hadn't have gotten hurt, there's no doubt we would have beaten CU. i know he played in that game, but he's not the same. his burst isn't there. that's why it was so frustrating to not see him out there vs. USM and ISU....he would have made a difference in those games, and we won, but we would have won bigger.

this season will still be successful. we WILL start playing better. and it will start this weekend. Go Jayhawks!

Dirk Medema 10 years, 7 months ago

mdfraz - Well said. Personnally, nschmi04 sounded like the malcontent to me.

tdub 10 years, 7 months ago

Todd is staring down his receivers, plain and simple. Just watch the pick 6 from Saturday. He used to go through his progressions well and move his eyes before locking on to a target. Now, he's taking a step back and firing at pretty much the first receiver he sees. Some of this might have to do with his comfort in the pocket. Despite being heralded for being above expectations, maybe the O-line isn't giving him enough pocket time.

He will never be sacked a whole lot because he moves well, but when he is flushed he tends to throw on the run rather than setting his feet. Don't get me wrong, Todd can throw on the run better than I ever could flat-footed. It has significantly affected his accuracy, particularly the number of wide open receivers he has completely missed recently. I don't think anybody here will dispute that these things are happening, so why haven't Mangino and Co. addressed this?

P.S. The shovel pass, for whatever reason, really only worked when Meier was QB. Enough already.

number1jayhawker 10 years, 7 months ago

"on offense, it's all about the running game. if we could run the ball better...then our short routes wouldn't get jumped so quickly. the defense would actually have to respect the run...and therefore ALL the pass routes would be more open...downfield and the wide screens. it all goes hand in hand."

mvjay, I agreed with almost everything you had to say except for this clip of yours above. If we were running the ball better and they had to respect us for that, then that would mean they would have 8 or 9 guys "in the box". If they were up close and in the box, that would take away the quick slants, not open them up. What opens up the quick slants is the threat of the "deep ball", where the dbs are playing way off the line of scrimmage.


Christopher Hauser 10 years, 7 months ago

Maxhawk- WTF? I am glad you are not our coach.

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 7 months ago

number 1,

i concede your point. i just wish we would throw deep a lot earlier in the game....and see what would happen there. it appears that we don't throw a deep ball until late first half, or even the 2nd half.

dang, that pass to Briscoe on Satuday was wide open, just before the half...and that wasn't even that deep! bless their hearts, if that play would have clicked...could have changed the game!

grandpa 10 years, 7 months ago

I recently got blasted for being critical of Reesing but I was trying to be constructive in my criticism. Todd Reesing can play a good game but anyone who has ever played football or been to tons of games knows he is way off. A good KU fan does not have to say:"Oh that is great"Mangino knows what is going on and he has admitterd it in his interviews. I want to compliment bobsarobot in both of his comments, also nachmi04 and Maxhawk. Good knowledgeable comments, also tdub. Chuckberry 32 says:"This is Reesing's team, he's earned that right. Chuckberry must be Todd's father?

troutsee 10 years, 7 months ago

If we had 50 Branstetters, we would win the B-12 North going away. He's a combination of guts, dedication, and enthusiasm. You gotta love the guy.

troutsee 10 years, 7 months ago

We can still go 9-3. It is very doable.

jayhawkboogeyman 10 years, 7 months ago

This is Mangino's team and he needs to make his players prove they have the right to be out there. Reesing has given up as many points as our defense the last two weeks, and what he did the last two years means nothing for this year. That said, our play-calling has been terrible this year as well. We run the WR screen for a 3-yard loss about 6 times every game, so it was no shock that a talented defense finally took it for a pick 6. Reesing, though, seems to be trying to get the pocket to break down so he can make a wild, scrambling play rather than hitting the open man when he can. And the plays that made us successful the last two years have vanished this year. And we spend way too much time standing around at the line. We need to get the play in, line up, and go. All the set-stand back up-gawk around-point-set-gawk around-set-stand up-set-snap routine does is give the defense an extra 20 seconds every play to adjust to our formation. It is terrible coaching. At least change the formation during all that mulling around if we have to do it every snap.

grandpa 10 years, 7 months ago

jwliddell: Thanks for your dig at me for the compliments I gave the other fellows. I imagine it was frusterating for you to be second string on your little league team. Put your earing on and go smoke your pot.!

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