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Friday, September 25, 2009

Shades of Orange? KU could start 4-0 again

Kansas receiver Dezmon Briscoe crosses the goal line for a first quarter score against Duke on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas receiver Dezmon Briscoe crosses the goal line for a first quarter score against Duke on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

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Southern Miss offers KU stern challenge

The KU football team will try to put together a solid showing against Southern Mississippi, which has won its past eight contests.

The last time a Kansas University football team began the season 4-0, KU went on to win the 2008 Orange Bowl.

Sitting at 3-0 heading into their final nonconference game of the 2009 season — 11 a.m. Saturday vs. Southern Miss. — the No. 20-ranked Jayhawks are poised to jump out to a 4-0 start for just the second time in the Mark Mangino era.

In fact, Kansas enters the weekend as one of 21 Div. I teams with a 3-0 record. Seven others sit undefeated at 2-0, which leaves the Jayhawks in the upper echelon of the college football world for the time being.

Don’t try selling that to the players themselves, though. For these guys, 3-0 is little more than a means to end, a necessary block in the running play that is a 4-0 start.

“We’ve had a good week of practice, and I’ve seen a lot of guys around here who are eager to round out the nonconference schedule 4-0 and go into Big 12 play undefeated,” senior wideout Kerry Meier said.

A victory this weekend would send the Jayhawks into their bye week unbeaten for just the eighth time since the formation of the Big Eight Conference in 1957 and just the third time since the Big 12 was created in 1996.

A victory against the school that produced legendary Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre also could prompt some to begin comparing this team to the last Mangino squad that began a season 4-0.

“The common thing I see between them is that both teams worked extremely hard in the offseason, both teams worked extremely hard during the season, and they got better each week and continued to improve as the season went along,” offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said.

Added junior cornerback, Chris Harris, a starter on both teams: “We’re kind of similar to them with our poise and not panicking. That’s what we had in 2007, just that mental toughness to be able to come back.”

Although there are a few worthy comparisons between the two, Mangino himself chose not to partake in the compare-and-contrast exercise after just three games.

“I don’t know how many games this team will win,” Mangino said recently. “But this team has a completely different personality than the 2007 team. One thing both teams share is terrific work ethic. But beyond that, I can’t compare them.”

A large reason for the difficulty in measuring the two squads against each other comes from each team’s leadership. Although this year’s captains — Meier, Todd Reesing, Jake Sharp and Darrell Stuckey — have been around the block a few times, they don’t lead in quite the same manner that guys like Derek Fine, Brandon McAnderson, Aqib Talib and James McClinton did. In short, this group is not as vocal as the guys who led them in 2007.

“When you have all those guys that have played so much football, then you have several coaches that are out there on the field for you,” cornerbacks coach Je’Ney Jackson said. “Now, we have a lot of guys who have played a lot of football for us but not nearly the amount of snaps that those guys had. They’re getting better and the leadership is getting better, but, to me, that’s the big difference. On that 2007 team, we had guys who played for us for four years.”

A handful of key contributors on this year’s team can say they had similar roles during the Orange Bowl season two years ago. When asked what their take was when comparing the two squads, most shared one thought.

“It does feel similar,” Meier said. “But we’re only in the third week of the season and it’s tough to predict where this season is going to go. Every team is different in some way, but we’re going to keep working as if we’re the underdog and playing like we have something to prove each week.”

For all the similarities and differences between the two, no matter how big or small, perhaps the most telling aspect of both teams was the way they approached every Saturday.

“In 2007, we really took it one game at a time and took it one opponent at a time,” senior safety Justin Thornton said. “And this week 100 percent of our focus is on Southern Miss. They’re a good team and if we’re not on our A-game, they could come in here and beat us.”

Comments

NebraskaJayhawk 5 years ago

Let's get a win guys. Help us put this ugly week behind us and move on to bigger and better things to discuss.....such as a Big XII Championship. Let's go Hawks, step it up a notch!

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Ben Kane 5 years ago

LJW needs to move on from the orange bowl. This is a new team, and their only focus should be winning the game at hand. Everything else will take care of itself.

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OCJHAWK 5 years ago

Every game matters tremendously in trying to increase KU football tradition. Go get em Saturday, Jayhawks.

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kc_wildfire 5 years ago

A 4-0 start is only due to the cupcake scheduling.

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Phoggin_Loud 5 years ago

Wildfire, I must admit, I'm getting a little upset about the use of "cupcake" these days. Let me explain: UTEP was supposed to be a "trap game". On the road, Trevor Vittatoe is a dangerous QB, etc. Some people picked UTEP to win. KU handled the rather easily. Now, Southern Miss. has the 2nd longest win streak, Bowl Game winner, stong run-game, etc. Once again, some national pundits are picking this game as the "upset of the week".
My question: How can it be a "cupcake" schedule if 2 of the 4 games have national media picking against KU? I understand that they are not "big name" programs, but there are talented coaches and players everywhere these days. To say that this is a "cupcake" schedule is disrespectful to these programs.
I find it amazing how a team can be talented and dangerous all week, then a "cupcake" after the 'Hawks handle them. Teams must show up every week, or get beat. Just ask USC, OU, KSU, & Oklahoma St. I for one am not overlooking Southern Miss. They are a soild team and KU must play well to beat them...which I believe they will. So, if you want a cupcake, go to the bakery.

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Joe Baker 5 years ago

This should be a great game. I like oranges!! I like Tostitos too. I like bowling!

RCJHKU

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Christopher Hauser 5 years ago

kc_wildfire- So is a 4-0 start for Florida due to the cupcake scheduling? You can only play the teams that you are scheduled to play, which by the way, the schedules are made far in advance . Lets take a look at Florida's first four games of the season put together with KU's first four. Charleston Southern vs Northern Colorado? Troy vs UTEP? Tennessee vs Duke? Kentucky vs Southern Miss? KU has not played great teams, we all know that but because KU is not the traditional powerhouse team like Florida then it is not acceptable for them to schedule some "warm up" games before conference play starts? Oh, by the way Southern Miss will not be a cupcake game. Or did I just read to much into your pessimistic comment?

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kc_wildfire 5 years ago

chrishauser20...

Thank you for validating my point with your own words..."KU has not played great teams"

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Phoggin_Loud 5 years ago

Wildfire, Who has? Could you list them, please.

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adamwiz65 5 years ago

@kc_wildfire

Do you have any idea how college football scheduling is handled? Games are sometimes set as much as two year in advance. For example, the KU - Georgia Tech series is set for the next two years. Georgia Tech has had flashes of brillance and looked awesome when that was originally agreed upon. This year, they are struggling more than they have. Who knows what that team will be like the next two years. Will they be a "cupcake" or a top 10 team. No one knows.

Southern Miss should not be considered a cupcake, either. If I am not mistaken, they are one of only two D-1 (FBS) schools to have a winning record the last 15 years. 1993 was the last time they were .500 or below. I don't care who you are, that's doesn't happen any more to ANY team. Let the numbers show that this is a solid football team. If this were a cupcake, it would be one that has hardened and will be more of a challenge to eat (beat)

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Phoggin_Loud 5 years ago

It is obvious that KC_Wildfire is just here to instigate an argument. I could throw out the names of numerous college teams and accuse them of playing "cupcakes". I've already listed 4 that have lost to one.

So go back to your team's board unless you have facts to back up your accusations.

Buh Bye.

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Phoggin_Loud 5 years ago

I will be interested to see how UTEP plays against Texas this week. I know that you can't compare that way, but I'm interested none the less.

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kc_wildfire 5 years ago

Phoggin_Loud...

I didn't say anyone had played great teams. I merely stated that KU's non-conference schedule is weak.

Northern Colorado is a member of the FCS...an unranked one at that.

UTEP has went 5-7 and 4-8 over the last two seasons.

Duke hasn't won more than four games in a season since 1994.

Southern Miss, easily the toughest of the non-conference teams, went 7-6 the last two seasons. This is a legit team unlike the other three.

Although to answer your question...

OU has plays BYU and Miami in non-conference games

OSU played Georgia and Houston

Va Tech played Nebraska and Alabama

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Christopher Hauser 5 years ago

kc_wildfire- Just because they are not top twenty teams does not mean they are cupcakes, I should have clarified my statement of "not great teams" with a statement of what I consider to be great and not great. KU has played some quality opposition, not top 20 but quality. My advice to you is to maybe make your comments with your real name instead of a screen name so that you dont have that to hide behind, but to each their own. Good luck to you and your world that you live in.

Go Jayhawks

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kc_wildfire 5 years ago

Thanks for the advice Chris.

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Phoggin_Loud 5 years ago

Thanks for your response, KC_Wildfire, OU lost to a BYU team that gave up 50+ points to an average FSU team & Miami has been terrible for the last decade. OSU & Va. Tech have played solid competition.
But that's it, really. USC beats Ohio State but loses to a (historically) bad Washington team. KSU loses to a school they have no business losing to. (remember they beat Texas the last 2 years). My point is that the college landscape is to the point that this can happen. The fact remains that teams must show up every week or they will lose. I just believe that "cupcakes" don't really exist anymore. There is too much $$$ in football, and most schools are now trying to compete, which wasn't happening 10 years ago.

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Christopher Hauser 5 years ago

kc_wildfire- Don't take my comments to seriously this morning, I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. You are entitled to your opinions and I respect that.

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Jason Bailey 5 years ago

C'mon, guys. Give me a break. You're fighting over one guy's opinion on the first four teams KU has played? Are ya just looking for something to bitch about?

We have KU football in our house tomorrow morning...doesn't get much better than that.

We have had 4 top 5 teams knocked off in the last 4 weeks...doesn't get much more interesting than that.

We have one more game until conference play starts...doesn't get much more exciting than that.

You gotta keep things in perspective.

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David Robinett 5 years ago

I think we football fans should go pick a fight on the basketball boards.

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Kent Wells 5 years ago

At least you guys are causing a fracas...

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kc_wildfire 5 years ago

chrishauser20...

This is a message board and I never take anything personal. Everyone has their opinions and a right to voice them.

Phoggin_Loud...

Good point. Wins create money and excitement for the university.

Lets go back to something you said in an earlier post to try and clarify my original comment.

You said that some of the "experts" had picked UTEP to beat KU and some were picking S. Miss this week to win. Do you think that has more to do with the those programs past success in beating some higher rated opponents? Or does that have more to do with the national (and even local) media experts view of KU as not being a powerhouse program?

I'm thinking if USC, OU, Texas, Florida or Ohio St. played those teams the percentage of picking the other teams would go way down. KU doesn't have the track record built up to give a lot of people that unbridled confidence that they belong in Top 20 and are a lock to win the games they should win, week in and week out. KU does have a few big wins the last few years (Nebraska, MU and Va Tech) that have helped them garner national attention (along with winning games they should) but there is still a lot of doubt about the team.

One way to get past that is to schedule somewhat tougher non-conference games. I'm not suggesting we play USC, Penn St. or some of the other "big dogs" but I would like to see some middle of the road teams of the BCS conferences added.

Northern Colorado? It is the opener, everyone who can schedules a "gimme" to get everyone's feet wet.

I like the Southern Miss game. A win against them is a boost and something to be proud about.

The UTEP game was miss this year. I know that scheduling is done way in advance and UTEP has had some decent teams in the past, but if you want your program to keep growing on a national level you can't afford many missed opportunities.

The Duke game however was a waste in my opinion. I know from everything written about them that the program is getting more competitive than recent years but the facts still say that they haven't won more than four games since 1994. This wasn't a case like UTEP where a team has been good and then has a bad year or two. Duke has been consistently poor.

Working in the suburbs of Kansas City for a company based out of Iowa, I have to fend off Tiger and Hawkeye fans all the time who always try to bash my team. I am fortunate enough that they aren't completely over zealous about their teams and can offer debates with merit...this being one of them. I can see their point (although I come back with the fact that MU didn't play anyone that tough two years ago besides Illinois) in this instance. I think my view is a realistic one. I'm definitely not looking through crimson covered glasses...I try to call things as I see them. Like was stated earlier, everyone has their opinions and voicing them usually loods to a good debate if everyone is rational about things.

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kc_wildfire 5 years ago

In the end we all want the same thing...a KU win!

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Phoggin_Loud 5 years ago

KC_Wildfire, You make some great points. Regarding your questions: "Do you think that has more to do with the those programs past success in beating some higher rated opponents? Or does that have more to do with the national (and even local) media experts view of KU as not being a powerhouse program?" I think these pundits, and fans of rival teams, try to find the games that they can point to and assign a loss. If the "bigger" team wins, then it was a "cupcake". It just becomes a way to minimize a school's program...which is a way to increase ratings for the pundits (like Lee Corso with his "Not so fast, My friend") and rivalry for the opposing fans.
With that said, KU has not had the historic success in football as other programs, so they do have to earn it. I like HCMM's quote from 2007 when he said: "Everyone can have a bad century". But he also stated: "We beat NU, OK. State, A&M, & Va. Tech, but we haven't played anyone". (O.K., that's not his exact quote, but close). I took your first post as a shot at the Kansas program, so I was standing up for them. I'm glad to read that you are a 'Hawk fan, and that we can agree on. As you state, "In the end we all want the same thing...a KU win!" I couldn't agree more! RCJH!

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Dirk Medema 5 years ago

KC_Wildfire, Part of the problem seems to be that you are repeating the ignorant drone of your coworkers. There are plenty of stats to twist into whatever arguement you want to make.

Take for example Duke. You can use the 4 wins or less since '94 line, like any tigger would, or you can recognize that they had double digit losses for most of the years from '94 to '07 under bad coaching, but last year a new coach turned them around in his first year to a 4-8 team. That shows a tremendously improved team, which is much better than the 4 wins or less since '94 line.

UNC was a big uni helping fund a small uni being directed by a former colleague. UTEP is one of the best returning O's, and Southern Miss is a solid bowl team. All this comes in a year when we play by far the toughest cross division schedule. We'll still have a better SOS by the end of the year.

Compare this with the alternatives. Illinois is even less of a traditional power than mizzoo. They have been to the Rose Bowl twice in the last decade, but have been a complete miss otherwise. And who is mizzo replacing U of I with next year, the exceedingly inept Indiana, who have barely squeaked into one low bowl in decades.

The reality of scheduling is that there are very few teams that schedule more than one (hopefully) decent opponent per season non-con. Mizzoo pretensiously puffs their chest because '07 was one of UofI's good years (Rose Bowl good was a facade - scoreboard), but they schedule non-cupcakes at least as much as KU, especially for being a "football" school - or do they mean fotoball/soccer?

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jesusisajhawk 5 years ago

Everyone needs to go to www.voteobrien.com and vote for Todd Reesing for the Davey O'Brien award. You can return one time per day and vote. Todd is currently in 9th place behind quite a few schools that our fan base should be beating right now, Houston, Navy, West Virginia, etc. I think KUsports should post a link for people to vote!

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100 5 years ago

Just beat Southern Miss.

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kc_wildfire 5 years ago

Dagger...

Thanks. I knew I had a problem, I just never could figure it out.

I am not repeating it, I believe that KU has a weak non-conference schedule. However, if you can honestly say that, besides S. Miss., you actually feared KU might lose a non-conference game I will never mention this topic on this site again.

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David Leathers 5 years ago

Is it just me, or with a little bit of photo-shop could this picture look like Briscoe just scored a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts?

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stravinsky 5 years ago

RCCH - Briscoe actually did score against the Colts. They photoshopped the Duke logos onto the helmets in an attempt to dupe the public into thinking that Duke can actually play football (albeit badly).

UTEP and S. Miss are decent teams, and hopefully the scheduling will be more aggressive in the next ten years. I'm okay with a relatively soft non-con when we've only really been a successful BCS era program for the last two years. I mean, when we just went bowling for consecutive years for the first time ever, I can't blame them for not scheduling USC and OSU. Or even FSU, BYU, Utah, or some relatively successful but non-powerhouse.

Besides, we get to play Texas and Oklahoma... they'll get more than enough challenge with those games.

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