Monday, September 14, 2009

Sharp, Kansas have hit ground running

Kansas running back Jake Sharp (1) puts the moves on UTEP defensive back Clarence Ward. Sharp rushed for 104 yards Saturday against UTEP in El Paso, Texas.

Kansas running back Jake Sharp (1) puts the moves on UTEP defensive back Clarence Ward. Sharp rushed for 104 yards Saturday against UTEP in El Paso, Texas.


After being named the preseason starter at running back for the first time in his four-year Kansas University career, senior Jake Sharp has wasted little time proving the honor was deserved.

After two games, Sharp is the Big 12’s second-leading rusher, having racked up 227 yards on 37 carries for a 6.1 yards-per-carry average as the Jayhawks have emerged as the Big 12’s early-season leader in rush offense.

“Jake Sharp has run the ball real well,” KU coach Mark Mangino said Sunday night. “I mentioned to our coaches (that) he looks a little quicker than he did last year. His footwork is quicker and faster, and his ability to accelerate seems to be faster.”

The result is a Kansas ground game that has improbably surpassed a passing attack — 270 yards per game — led by standout quarterback Todd Reesing and a stable of talented receivers.

Through two games this season, the Jayhawks have rushed for 583 yards (last season, it took the team five games to reach that total) and averaged 291.5 yards per game. And while Sharp has highlighted the emerging ground attack — he also leads the conference in scoring touchdowns with five — he is one of three Kansas players currently listed among in the conference’s top 10 rushers.

Backup running back Toben Opurum, a true freshman, is ninth with 141 yards on 24 carries, and backup quarterback Kale Pick, oddly enough, is 10th with 134 yards and a 26.8-yards-per-carry average that was aided by his 55-yard scramble in the final moments Saturday at UTEP.

“The O-line, for the second week in a row, did very well,” said Sharp, who finished with 104 yards and three total touchdowns in Saturday’s 34-7 victory. “I’m real happy with those guys. I’m real happy to be running behind those guys.”

Heading into the season, the offensive line figured to be a question mark following the loss of three starters and the introduction of a left tackle, Tanner Hawkinson, who was playing the position for the first time.

To this point, however, the unit has left little to be desired in paving the way for an offense that’s averaging 41.5 points per game.

“That group is getting better,” Mangino said following Saturday’s victory. “They’re a little bit young, but they’re talented, and they’re tough. We’ve got two of the three things — we don’t have experience, but we’ll make it on those two.”


100 12 years, 1 month ago

Great article -- this definitely opens up huge possibilities down the road for the "big" teams who were planning on scheming against our passing attack.

For now, let's start getting ready for Duke!

Dirk Medema 12 years, 1 month ago

At least they get some more nice tune-ups before things heat up. Southern Miss could be tough, but ISU & CU are looking sadder than even pessimistist envisioned.

Tribehawk 12 years, 1 month ago

This team is beginning to look more and more like the Orange Bowl team in terms of offensive balance and D-line play. Let's see if it keeps up.

Taylor Mermis 12 years, 1 month ago

Man, this o-line is very fundamentally sound. I love Tanner's swim move on the ref in the picture above ;)

BCRavenJHawkfan 12 years, 1 month ago

Embarrassingly I have to admit that I don't know how we stack up against Duke on the football field (I follow basketball). But please tell me KU will thump 'em.

Christopher Hauser 12 years, 1 month ago

BCRavenJHawkfan- no reason to think we won't win big.

JBurtin 12 years, 1 month ago

BTW BCRaven, you are correct to feel embarrassed.

Welcome to 2003 when this wacky thing called KU football first emerged from the shadows.

For God's sake man, you're missing a ton of fun if you're a basketball only fan.

gardenjay 12 years, 1 month ago

Thank you JBurtin for saying what needs to be said.

BCRaven, we appreciate your desire to see Duke fall as a basketball fan, even if your efforts find you crossing over to unfamiliar sports such as football, and perhaps tennis, ping pong, water polo, and cross country skiing. The Blue Devils drive me nuts too.

I think it shows your passion for basketball, and given that you are an ardent fan of KU basketball, perhaps there is a memorial football stadium design that would make you feel as if you were at a basketball game? Enough so that you would attend football games? For example, does football need to be held in a field house for you to attend? I think the football fan base would like the AD to hear from you (they read these posts).

I was thinking a sort of dome open towards the hill would be a good compromise.

KuKain 12 years, 1 month ago

Wow, some of you guys need to chill. He could be like me. I just don't enjoy football as a sport as much as basketball. Could careless about the NFL. The game just runs a little slow for my taste. I try to catch a KU game whenever I can, but it just doesn't get me as pumped as basketball does.

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