Dugan Arnett’s KU football notebook

Monday, September 14, 2009

As the swine flu has begun wreaking havoc on the locker rooms of various Div. I football teams in recent days, Kansas University coach Mark Mangino and his staff are taking precautions to limit the chances of a team-wide outbreak.

“(Director of sports medicine) Murphy Grant … I think he’s really on top of things,” Mangino said Sunday night. “He makes sure the locker room is kept clean, (and) we had a firm come in here about a week ago — they kind of smoked the whole room out and killed germs and things of that sort.”

Several prominent football programs have suffered recent flu outbreaks that have resulted in significantly depleted rosters. Nearly 30 Ole Miss players were forced to miss practice last week as a result of the flu, including starting quarterback Jevan Snead, and 40 Wisconsin players suffered flulike symptoms leading up to Saturday’s double-overtime victory over Fresno State.

The Kansas team would seem to be at a particularly high risk, due to the high number of H1N1 cases on campus. As of late August, 32 confirmed cases of the illness had been reported at KU, and, at one point, more than 300 students were exhibiting flulike symptoms.

So far, however, the Jayhawks have managed to dodge the bullet.

Kansas center Jeremiah Hatch was forced to leave Saturday’s victory over UTEP due to flulike symptoms (and subsequent snapping problems), but the coach said that with the exception of a small flu issue during training camp, the Jayhawks have avoided a significant outbreak so far this season.

“(Grant) was on the cutting edge of getting flu shots for our players a couple weeks ago,” Mangino said. “He was staying on top of when flu shots were coming out and how quickly he could get them for our players.

“But you can’t fight every strain of flu,” he added. “You just can’t.”

Branstetter, Hawkinson OK

Junior kicker Jacob Branstetter, who was hit on a roughing-the-kicker penalty in the first quarter of Saturday’s game at UTEP and later missed two field goals, has been evaluated by the team’s medical staff and is expected to be ready for Saturday’s game against Duke, Mangino said Sunday.

The coach also indicated that left tackle Tanner Hawkinson, who was injured on the final play of the game and spent a couple minutes laying on the field before being helped up, practiced Sunday with no issues and would also be ready to play this weekend.

“It was scary for a moment,” Mangino said. “But he’s OK.”

Switches please Mangino

Mangino lauded the play of the secondary against UTEP.

Featuring a starting lineup that had a few faces in new places — Justin Thornton played nickelback; usual nickelback Chris Harris was at cornerback in place of struggling sophomore Anthony Davis; and Phillip Strozier made his first start this season at safety — the Jayhawks held the Miners to just 204 passing yards and seven total points in the victory.

“I think some of our sacks in the game came from real good coverage and the quarterback not able to find people open,” the coach said. “We were really good at running seams and getting read progression, attacking the ball in the air, attacking the receiver right after a catch on the short game stuff, which you like.

“So I was really pleased.”

Jayhawks improve in polls

Kansas improved its position in both major polls Sunday, jumping two spots to No. 22 in the Associated Press poll and up one spot to No. 23 in the USA Today Coaches poll.