Sunday, September 6, 2009

Opurum, Pick have dandy debuts

Kansas backup running back Toben Opurum breaks past Northern Colorado defenders James Schrenk, (7) and Cameron Friend (51) for a touchdown during the fourth quarter Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas backup running back Toben Opurum breaks past Northern Colorado defenders James Schrenk, (7) and Cameron Friend (51) for a touchdown during the fourth quarter Saturday, Sept. 5, 2009 at Memorial Stadium.


Podcast episode


Postgame: Northern Colorado

The guys (Jesse Newell, Tom Keegan) discuss KU's season-opening 49-3 victory over Northern Colorado. The two discuss the gameday atmosphere at Memorial, the joy of watching Todd Reesing, the impressive debut of the freshmen and Tom's earring habits. The guys also reviews their "picks to click" and select an MVP ...

Download podcast

Audio clips

KU-Northern Colorado football

Reader poll

Whose performance were you most pleased with in KU's 49-3 victory over Northern Colorado?

  • Jake Sharp 15% 383 votes
  • Todd Reesing 30% 733 votes
  • Kale Pick 10% 263 votes
  • Toben Opurum 27% 665 votes
  • Chris Harris 10% 252 votes
  • Kerry Meier 3% 86 votes
  • Other 1% 38 votes

2420 total votes.


Kansas 49, Northern Colorado 3

video thumbnail

KU defeated Northern Colorado, 49-3, to open the 2009 season.

Toben Opurum already has come up with a plan to combat his insomnia next week.

“NyQuil might work,” the freshman running back joked after KU’s 49-3 victory over Northern Colorado on Saturday night.

The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder sure didn’t look nervous Saturday in his first collegiate game, rushing eight times for 79 yards and two touchdowns.

Opurum said Friday night, though, was a different matter.

“It took me forever to go to sleep last night. All I could think about was the game — and it was a late game, too,” Opurum said. “All night I was just sitting there thinking about it.”

Opurum had running plays flash through his mind over and over. He envisioned how the holes would open up and how things would work out on the field.

It would have been hard for him to dream up a much better debut for himself.

In the final six minutes alone, Opurum had consecutive rushes of 17, 10, nine and 26 yards.

“Toben did a good job,” KU coach Mark Mangino said. “He ran a little high. He’s got to get his pads down a little bit, but you can see he’s powerful, and he’s quick and can read lanes pretty well to set up blocks.

“For his first night of college football, he did a good job.”

Opurum wasn’t the only freshman Jayhawk who impressed in the final two drives.

Quarterback Kale Pick also came in for his first collegiate play with 8:18 remaining and helped lead the Jayhawks to a pair of touchdowns.

“I really didn’t have an idea of when I was going to get in,” Pick said. “Probably 20 of my teammates were asking me on the sideline, ‘Did you get the green light to go in yet?’ That just made me more anxious.”

Finally, after receiver Willie O’Quinn asked Pick for the fifth time if he was going in, KU assistant John Reagan told the QB to get ready.

“I really didn’t know what to feel,” Pick said. “I really didn’t know what to look for (because) anything can happen.”

Though Pick was a perfect 2-of-2 passing for 11 yards, it was his speed that helped the Jayhawks most. The Dodge City native’s three rushes all went for at least 13 yards.

He finished with three carries for 47 yards, a 15.7-yard average.

“You can see he’s talented, and he’s learning, but we like him,” Mangino said. “We have high expectations, high hopes for Kale. He can throw the ball really well, but you can see he’s a tremendous athlete, and he can beat you with his legs, too.”

As for Opurum, he vowed to apply what he learned from his first gameweek experience to the eve of Saturday’s game in El Paso, Texas.

“It’s the second game now. I’m kind of getting adjusted to (the nerves),” Opurum said. “Maybe I’ll be able to fall asleep a little easier.”


NebraskaJayhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm really looking forward to watching Opurum this season. I'm hoping to see he and Sharp in the same backfield a lot this season. Pretty good opening game guys. Only thing negative (if that's what you want to call it) is that we better keep improving. Missouri looked suprisingly dominate over Illinois (who is no Northern Colorado).

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 9 months ago

we're already in the backseat in the Kansas City area, per the KC Star. the hype has exploded here via the easy win over the Illini. Gabbert and company looked good, but Illinois didn't show up, and had several front line guys, including their best receiver and possibly Big 10 player of the year, go down with injury.

but alas, we can't do anything about them. we play them on Nov. 28, so it's really no big deal. we can only worry about ourselves. and Opurum and Pick gave us a lot to like on Saturday. Toben looks like a natural out there....big and fast. Kale can move for sure....i'd love to be able to see him throw the ball some more downfield.

Our future looks promising too...but this year, we'll be fine. just tweak some CB play, and get our suspended guys back...and it looks good.

Displayhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

I distinctly remember Pick over throwing a guy, but he did well for his first game. I was also impressed with Opurum. But why no mention of McDougald in this article??? He played really well, and is going to be a stud!!! Also, say or think what you want, but those Joe College shirts are helping to turn the stadium BLUE, which I think is a good thing! Having attended Nebraska games in the past where Memorial Stadium was mostly red, it was really great to see all the blue, and all the people in the stands last night!

troutsee 10 years, 9 months ago

Tremendous turnout. Lew should be proud and happy.

Defense was not real impressive. Sloppy tackling, too many of their receivers open, pass interferences, etc. I really expected more out of our defense. I realize that QB was big and had a big arm, but still......Hopefully, UNC is better than advertised. It will be interesting to follow them through the year. Here's hoping they win the Big Sky.

Also, we threw very few quick routes. Maybe that was because they were dropping 8 most of the night but it sure seemed that Reesing had to do a lot of improvising, and this against a 1-AA team. I feel uneasy inside.

Jonathan Briles 10 years, 9 months ago

troutsee I also feel a little uneasy about our defense. We looked at some points horrible. I don't think Anthony Davis will be starting any more after all of the plays and penalties he gave up. We need to improve A LOT. It was the first game so I will not jump to much but I really hope there is substantial improvement next week. On the other hand our offense really was not that bad. Their defense was designed to stop the pass. Reesing was having to improvise not because our line was letting people just come right through but because they had so many people in coverage that it was hard to find anyone. The thing that makes me so happy is that even when it was like that we managed to show our running strength and put up over 300 yards on the ground. The other thing is that we did not have Briscoe. He is a couple big plays every game so if he had been in you know there would have been more passing yards and big plays. The defense worries me just a little but I feel very confident about the offense still.

Mandie Eutsler 10 years, 9 months ago

with only 5 defensive starters returning, and none of them linebackers, not too bad. noco has a good quarterback who didn't turn the ball over. this is the first time these guys have played together. They will start to communicate better and get to know each other and have a great season. i'm really proud of our guys and hope the crowd in the student section catches on. Please no more of the rip his head off crap. Couldn't have picked a worse movie to quote...

gardenjay 10 years, 9 months ago

Laptad, Stuckey, Harris...come on, we will pull it together.

kukid2594 10 years, 9 months ago

Pick, Opurum, McDougald... future looks bright jayhawks!

KGphoto 10 years, 9 months ago

Dudley, Wright, Springer. Undersized and inexperienced, but...

Our most effective linebacking corps in the Mangino era was Reid, Kane, Floodman. I was surprised to look them up and see that they were all 230 pounds.

Springer is a bigger guy but Dudley, Wright and Tharp are all in that range. They can get to the carrier. If they can wrap up and finish, KU should be in good shape.

shelleysue 10 years, 8 months ago

Great game. I was impressed with Pick and how much he looked like Reesing out there. Things to work on but lots of things to like too. We're going to have a great year. I am very excited that we're filling Memorial Stadium every game - even if it's No. Colorado. Now I would love to see the stadium filled with blue. Not white, gray or red - but BLUE!!

Commenting has been disabled for this item.