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Sunday, September 27, 2009

Opurum rises to occasion

Kansas running back Toben Opurum takes a handoff from quarterback Todd Reesing during the second quarter, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas running back Toben Opurum takes a handoff from quarterback Todd Reesing during the second quarter, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 at Kivisto Field.

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Reader poll

Who was KU's MVP against Southern Miss?

  • Todd Reesing (331 yards, 3 TDs) 14% 153 votes
  • Toben Opurum (109 rushing yards, two total TDs) 21% 226 votes
  • Kerry Meier (10 catches, 141 yards, 2 TDs) 42% 437 votes
  • Chris Harris (15 tackles, two tackles-for-loss) 8% 92 votes
  • Jake Laptad (sack at end of game) 5% 62 votes
  • Ryan Murphy (interception) 5% 53 votes
  • Other 1% 13 votes

1036 total votes.

Videos

Kansas 35, Southern Miss 28

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Kansas football used some strong defense late and high-powered offense throughout to top Southern Mississippi and finish its non-conference slate undefeated.

At 6-foot-2 and 235 pounds, Toben Opurum knows he usually has physics on his side.

“If I’m running a full head of steam at somebody, they’re not going to stop me,” the freshman running back said after Kansas University’s 35-28 victory over Southern Mississippi on Saturday. “That’s pretty much the mentality you have to have.”

Though Southern Miss. kept Opurum from breaking a long run, the Golden Eagles couldn’t keep him from getting tough yards Saturday.

Despite not having a run of more than 11 yards, Opurum finished with 28 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown, and he added a receiving TD. He became the first KU freshman to surpass 100 rushing yards in a game since Clark Green in 2002.

“There was a lot of pressure on Toben today,” KU coach Mark Mangino said. “We downplayed that with him all week. He had to go in there and start as a true freshman, and it’s a difficult duty. He did a marvelous job.”

Most of Opurum’s game, he admits, is getting the yards that often go overlooked.

Plano (Texas) East running-backs coach Jeff Jackson drilled one main theme in Opurum’s head during his time there: “Run hard, fall forward.”

That way, even if a run doesn’t seem like it has gone much of anywhere, the back usually gets an extra yard or two simply by having his momentum carry him a bit farther.

“With him, he was always telling me to keep my pads low and deliver the hit,” Opurum said. “That’s one thing: Be the hitter and not the hittee.”

Members of KU’s secondary have learned that being the hittee isn’t much fun when Opurum is involved.

KU cornerback Chris Harris admitted that he had his own strategy in practice for tackling Opurum: wrap up his legs.

“He’s just like B-Mac (former KU running back Brandon McAnderson),” Harris said. “It’s so hard to stop a guy that’s so patient and reading the holes like that, who will deliver the hit.”

Perhaps the only negative for Opurum was his fourth-quarter fumble. On KU’s next possession, the freshman made sure to focus on keeping possession.

“They tell us, ‘Two hands over the ball the entire time when you’ve got people around you,’” Opurum said. “I had to make sure I was doing that. I couldn’t make that same mistake again.”

Opurum said the 28 carries were the most he ever had in a game, as his high school team ran a pass-first offense.

“It’s definitely nice to have this week off,” Opurum said with a laugh.

Comments

Dirk Medema 5 years, 2 months ago

It would have been nice to see Rell Lewis get a few of those carries. At some point when the game is more important than this non-con game, we may need him to be productive. Seems like a missed opp for gaining PT.

gardenjay 5 years, 2 months ago

Have a good bye week Toben, get some studying in, and thanks for working hard as an athlete. I hope Sharp can be 'a back next time to spell you (that is if he is fully healed), and I agree with dagger, it would have been nice to have Rell in there more. RC!

MrPilot 5 years, 2 months ago

Opurum was phenomenal yesterday. That man is a freight train.

NebraskaJayhawk 5 years, 2 months ago

Yep. The guy is going to be one of the best backs KU has ever had when his career is done. I think getting Opurum reps early is going to be key to them being successful offensively this year. The one-two punch of Sharp and Opurum is going to be devasting. Only thing I would like to see is a two-back set. I think we could have a deadly run game. Not as exciting to watch as Reesing throwing for 500 yards a game, but running the ball keeps your defense off the field, and we really need to do that. Our defense is not that good right now. Take away the fourth quarter and, to be honest, they looked horrible. Gotta give them credit for putting the stops on in the fourth though.

MinnesotaJay 5 years, 2 months ago

Hats off to Toben. Glad he's a Jayhawk. Still, am looking forward to Jake's return. Thunder and Lightning is better than Thunder or Lightning.

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