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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Streak of suffering: KU football mindful of conference losing skid with CU next

Kansas University receiver Johnathan Wilson, left, is turned on his head by Colorado cornerback Jalil Brown in this Oct. 17, 2009, file photo in Boulder, Colo. The Jayhawks lost the game, the first of an 11-game conference losing streak that stands today. Kansas will try to end the streak on Saturday against Colorado in Lawrence.

Kansas University receiver Johnathan Wilson, left, is turned on his head by Colorado cornerback Jalil Brown in this Oct. 17, 2009, file photo in Boulder, Colo. The Jayhawks lost the game, the first of an 11-game conference losing streak that stands today. Kansas will try to end the streak on Saturday against Colorado in Lawrence.

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After rattling off five victories in a row to open the 2009 season, the Kansas University football team suffered its first hiccup in Game No. 6 at Colorado.

When it comes to Big 12 play, the Jayhawks have been holding their breath ever since.

As the Jayhawks (2-6 overall and 0-4 in Big 12 play) welcome Colorado (3-5, 0-4) to town for a 1 p.m. kickoff Saturday, at least part of the focus will be on snapping the program’s 11-game conference losing skid.

Senior offensive lineman Brad Thorson said after practice Wednesday that revenge would play only a small part in KU’s efforts this week. Ending the streak is the idea. And it doesn’t really matter who they’re playing when they snap it.

“Yes, exactly,” Thorson said. “You get into these situations and every game becomes its own issue. I think we’re confident in the fact that we’re gonna go out there and it’s just gonna be a battle all day. And it’d be great to end this. We’re gonna say that every week.”

Thorson was not alone in thinking back to last year’s loss to Colorado this week.

“Of course I’ve thought about it,” senior running back Angus Quigley said. “I was like, ‘Man, we were 5-0 when we went in (there), and they beat us. It’s been pretty much a rough go in the conference since then.”

Like Quigley, senior defensive lineman Jake Laptad said the memories — good and bad — of last year’s game were not relevant this weekend.

“We’re not looking at it as they beat us last year,” Laptad said. “We’re looking at it as this is this year and we gotta go out there and get a win for this year’s team.”

The only thing that is relevant is that the Jayhawks believe they can win this weekend. While KU is hoping to break its 11-game Big 12 losing streak, Colorado is treating Saturday’s game against the struggling Jayhawks as a prime opportunity to snap its own 15-game road losing streak, which includes 11 straight road losses in conference play.

“It’s a big opportunity, and I’m sure they’re thinking the same thing,” Quigley said. “They’re coming in here, and they’ve watched film, and we haven’t looked so good ourselves. It’s just one of the things where they’re going to come out to play, and we have to come out to play, too, because they’re going to be hungry for a win the same way we are.”

Still no starter at QB

Kansas University football coach Turner Gill said after Wednesday’s practice that the Jayhawks still had not identified their starting quarterback for Saturday’s game and that the team may not know the answer until as late as Friday.

Gill’s options include junior Quinn Mecham, who started last week against Iowa State and was named KU’s offensive player of the week; red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb, the team’s No. 1 quarterback when healthy; and sophomore Kale Pick, the Week 1 starter turned second-stringer, who missed last week with a concussion.

Gill said all three had practiced on and off throughout the week.

“We’re still evaluating,” Gill said. “We’ll probably make a decision here Thursday or Friday. All three guys are in the mix.”

Though many Jayhawks believe they would benefit from knowing who their quarterback will be, none of them seemed worried about the delay.

“We always work with them in practice, and we get a feel for all of them by the end of the week,” wide receiver Erick McGriff said.

Added senior running back Angus Quigley: “It doesn’t matter now, because they’ve all started.”

Thorson takes year in stride

After playing all 12 games of the 2009 season as an offensive guard — eight at left guard and four at right — KU senior Brad Thorson has spent most of 2010 on the outside, starting all eight games at right tackle.

In addition to playing a new position, Thorson spent the early part of the season recovering from a foot injury that forced him to miss the final few weeks of preseason practice.

Despite the uphill climb, Thorson has not made any excuses and said he has enjoyed each challenge.

“It hasn’t been easy,” he said. “But football is about adversity and responding to it. I didn’t play healthy last year so it’s not something I’m not accustomed to. If this game’s taught me anything it’s that there’s no time to cry because the next play is coming.”

Though he seems to be a more natural fit at guard, Thorson said adjusting to the new position has made for some memorable moments.

“It’s been fun playing tackle,” he said. “Because I’ve got to see a lot of great (defensive) ends. If I can be proud of one thing about my senior season it’s that I’m playing against the best that the Big 12’s got to offer.”

Thorson said he owed his positive attitude to his ability to live for the moment.

“When I look back, I don’t want to have regrets about my season,” he said. “So I’m not gonna look at anything I’m doing with, ‘I wish I was here,’ ‘I wish this had changed.’ Nothing we can do.

“Among the negatives that are going on, and they’re easy to cover, easy to talk about, inside the building we like to look at what’s going well, what are we doing right. We acknowledge the negatives. We acknowledge that we’re thin on the offensive line, that guys may not be playing their natural position. But that’s college football; you figure those things out and you go with it.”

Thorson, 6-foot-5, 310 pounds, said he’d take the same approach even if the coaches asked him to line up in KU’s backfield.

“That’d be interesting,” he said. “I’ve always thought it would be fun to run the ball, but some of the hits those guys take, when they’re, like, head down and going through the line, some of that stuff I don’t know if I could handle. But coach (Reggie) Mitchell could get me ready to run the ball. Just give me a week.”

Last hurrah with Colorado

Saturday’s game against Colorado will mark the final game between the Jayhawks and Buffs as members of the Big 12 Conference.

Colorado announced this summer that it would leave the Big 12 next season to join the Pac-10. Colorado will be joined by Nebraska — which is headed for the Big Ten — in departing the Big 12 next season.

Since Nebraska is the next game on the Jayhawks’ schedule — KU and NU will hook up Nov. 13 in Lincoln, Neb. — the Jayhawks will face the conference’s two turncoats in back-to-back weeks.

Despite the matchup with the Huskers looming, Thorson said KU’s emphasis this week was on upending Colorado, not looking ahead to Nebraska.

“You can’t,” Thorson said. “Not where we are right now. We gotta (focus) with everything we’ve got on Colorado. We need to start with one win this week and carry it over. We’re gonna try and do as many positive things in a row as we can.”

Colorado leads the all-time series between the Buffs and Jayhawks, 42-24-3. That mark includes a 24-9 record in Boulder, Colo., a 17-15-3 clip in Lawrence and a 1-0 record in Denver.

Comments

KSA_21_3503 3 years, 11 months ago

Over/under on attendance @ Memorial Stadium?

jhox 3 years, 11 months ago

I'm guessing not that bad...maybe 40,000. It's a 1:00 pm kick off, and the afternoon games are the most popular. The weather should be nice. The bigger question is how many will be there at the end of the third quarter.

ahpersecoachingexperience 3 years, 11 months ago

40000 wow I'll take the under. I bet ku will give an "estimated" (wink-wink) attendance to reporters late in the game. My facebook page is full of friends trying to sell their tickets.

Michael Leiker 3 years, 11 months ago

The old Al Bohl method of attendance estimating...ah, got a hundred over here, couple hundred over in 42, 35 looks full...let's call it 45k.

Ted Toulouse 3 years, 11 months ago

At the beginning of the game or at halftime?

Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

"After playing all 12 games of the 2009 season as an offensive guard"

I thought Thorsen and Spikes switched places against NU in particular last year. Wasn't it the entire end of 2009 that they switched?

number1jayhawker 3 years, 11 months ago

That would be correct. Spikes moved into the RG position for that game and between him and Hatch they pretty much shut Suh down.

KSseahawk 3 years, 11 months ago

Amazingly, you get another chance Turner. Please prove us all wrong, pull out all the stops and win this game!!! Likely the last realistic chance of logging a win this season, unless of course, you're saving it all for NU!

Go get 'em!

sava12 3 years, 11 months ago

Here is a quick stat comparison about CU / KU. It compares CU's Big 12 road game stats and KU's Big 12 home game stats. I know CU played Mizzou and OU while KU played KSU and TAM but it's the best comparison I could think of for this evaluation.

Scoring by quarter CU scored 0 pts in 1Q: 3 pts in 2Q: 7 in 3Q: 0 in 4Q.
Opponents scored 8 in 1Q: 40 in 2Q: 14 in 3Q, 7 in 4Q.

KU scored 3 pts in 1Q: 7 pts in 2Q: 0 pts in 3Q: 7 pts in 4Q Opponents scored 17 pts in 1Q: 45 pts in 2Q: 28 pts in 3Q: 14 pts in 4Q

CU averaged 4.1 yds/play Opponents averaged 6.1 yds/play KU averaged 4.1 yds/play Opponents averaged 7.3 yds / play

CU had 102 penalized yards Opponents had 32 penalized yards KU had 132 penalized yards Opponents 177 penalized yards

CU averaged 219 yds passing Opponents averaged 357 yds passing KU averaged 179 yds passing Opponents averaged 239 yds passing

CU averaged 69 yds rushing Opponents averaged 133 yds rushing KU averaged 152 yds rushing Opponents averaged 252 yds rushing

CU has 13 sacks year to date (4 of those came from road games) KU has 7 sacks year to date (4 of those came from home games)

CU has 8 defensive INT year to date (2 were during road games) KU has 2 defensive INT year to date (1 was from home game)

Key takeaway - I would expect both teams to come out passing. Whichever team has the most efficient QB wins?

KU_FanSince75 3 years, 11 months ago

Jayhawk Nation----If you all remember, Todd Resing threw the go-ahead touchdown to put the Jayhawks ahead in last year's game in Boulder, only to have it called back by the head official. If it wasn't for that stupid offensive interference call, Jayhawks would have won that game.

As far as Colorado leaving the Big 12----"don't let the door hit you on the back side when you leave----no tears from me!"

Scott Smetana 3 years, 11 months ago

I was there and couldn't agree more. We got hosed by that call. Briscoe also dropped one in the endzone that would have won the game at the end. What an awesome comeback by Reesing and night in Boulder with Jayhawks there in force. Too bad for Boulder not having us there anymore to fill the stands and spend our $$ at local businesses. They are screwed moving to the Pac10 trying to fill the stands, afford the Big 12 and lame-coach buyouts. It might help if they were decent at any sport.

bmcmich1 3 years, 11 months ago

I was also there. What an absolute abomination of a call; the definition of B.S. I just can't help it, I still get irate thinking about it. Offensive PI should never be called unless blatant, and that was absolutely NOT blatant. It effectively took away the players' ability to control the outcome of the game. Absolute crap.

jhawkrulz 3 years, 11 months ago

It looks like with Baylor turning the corner, this will be the fight for last place.

I hope that we can send Colorado out as the laughing stock of the Big XII.

This game might be actually close. I hope that KU can do the little things to win. Force a sack or two, force some turnovers, and rush the ball.

jaymar74 3 years, 11 months ago

Eventually you will be the fool regarding Gill. You will have some miserable years ahead as you slowly show up on this site less and less as Gill begins to win more and more. You may think it is a joke now, fear it for it will happen.

100 3 years, 11 months ago

"If you build it, they will come."

Ryan Shelton 3 years, 11 months ago

I agree. Let's be honest: how often do we have great or even good rebuilding years in football? There may be a few exceptions, but expectations for this year were way overblown (myself included in that statement- I had starry-eyed dreams of a holiday visit to Yankee Stadium to watch them in the Pinstripe Bowl.)

When there's a coaching change, success will be slowed. Add that to a rebuilding year, and I'm not sure Mangino would have even had much success this year.

Give the boys time to mature and learn the system and give Coach Gill a chance to prove his worth as a recruiter. They will be good in the years to come.

KSseahawk 3 years, 11 months ago

Gill is to blame for the silly mistakes, lack of preparation, lack of focus, questionable use of Times Out, suspect / predictable play calling, and inability to make in-game adjustments that has lead to each conference game (save the ISU game) this season to have been virtually over before halftime. And the ISU game was lost in the second half for the aforementioned reasons. Other than that, he's been great.

Obviously, I'm rooting like heck for a Jayhawks win this weekend, but it will be bad for ole Gill if they come out flat, again, at home. Did we all see something last week to think this team won't come out flat? Just sayin...

hawk316 3 years, 11 months ago

Brad demonstrates a good attitude that I appreciate. He could be whining and complaining about not being able to play his best due to injuries or change of position (I agree that he is probably better suited to play guard), but instead he's chosen to see the positive side of things.

Thanks for giving such a good effort, Brad, and for being willing to make the sacrifices necessary to help the team however you could.

grandpa 3 years, 11 months ago

It will be a close game Sat. Gill will run the ball some but he will mix it up with some passing and KU will be the winner!!!

100 3 years, 11 months ago

"Do your best.... That is success."

----- The late Coach John Wooden, concrete pourer of Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas, & ten time NCAA champion.

100 3 years, 11 months ago

Looks like KU fans are turning on you Nebraska KU fan. People are realizing it's KU.

Good try.

We'll talk to you in five years, that's about the time Gill will be replacing the 6'6" 330 pound (average) line with another massive line.

Well at least you tried, your facade is gone now, the KU fanbase is awaking...

blackhawkjayhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

And now for something completely different....Been wanting to fly this idea out for discussion......If a student athlete completes a degree in four years, in good standing, why not allow that student to continue on to graduate school and remain as a scholarship athlete?

If the focus of college sports is to thoroughly develop student athletes, why not let a good student continue to play?

The impact, especially in football, would be to dramatically even the field for the have's and have nots. Imagine getting one of those lineman that carry 3.9 GPA's, sing opera, play the piano and knock you on your rear, to stay for 6 years? Or better yet, how about a fesity, scrambling quarterback who is a master at the spread offense, carries a 3.9 GPA and wears No. 5? Would KU be a better team this year if Mr. Reesing was guiding the ship?

Really, the benefits for all involved are enormous. Scholarship limits don't have to be expanded to make this change. Less recruiting, more focus on getting good students, more stability in programs, a better bond between players, fans and schools.....the list really goes on and on.

100 3 years, 11 months ago

What an original thought!

Do you have $8 million?

Or is that money in your Swiss account being spent on tickets to watch the Cornhuskers next year travel all over the frozen tundra of the Big 10?

JayhawkBigXII 3 years, 11 months ago

Who cares if we beat CU or not. It makes no difference. The NU game is what matters. NU isn't playing well at home. Maybe Gill's mojo will disrupt the Football Gods, thus causing 8 turn-overs by NU, 6 of which turns into 42 points by the Jayhawk defense... stunning the college football world!!!

90,000 Cornhusker fans slowly filing out of the stadium, wondering WTF happened...

Nice dream, eh?

Geekinout 3 years, 11 months ago

Hopefully, win or lose, this is the game that gets people interested for the KU football future. We need "CHANGE!"

Geekinout 3 years, 11 months ago

"CHANGE!" in regards to attitudes, mindsets, and seeing things to build upon.

Chris Bailey 3 years, 11 months ago

Gill isn't going anywhere. I wish everyone would give that a rest. Lets see what the guy does next year. We suck! And we suck really bad! But funny the guy that kicked off this article is a big reason for why we suck! The O-line is horrible! Again, I point to all the talk this summer that the O-line would dominate and be our strongest link! They are by far the worst group of touted players I've ever seen! If you can't block the skilled position players can't do their jobs. The QB's stand in the pocket and fear for their lives. I can't wait to see what this new crop of O-Lineman coming in next year will do! They are big! I sure hope they are what I'm hearing. Big, strong, physical, and all gifted atheletes. We need the recruits all we can get. BTW does anyone know why Bubba Starling is going to Nebraska? I mean Martinez is gonna be the starter for 3 more seasons and even then he has no assurance he will start. Seems like he needs to stay home in Kansas and play in the Big-12! Come on Starling! Your state needs you! Come play for the Jayhawks! Your fans will love you and you WILL play here!

steamboat 3 years, 11 months ago

MY THOUGHTS EXACTLY!!!!!! GIVE IT A REST

Larry Smith 3 years, 11 months ago

11 game conference losing streak. How is that possible if Gill has only coached 4 conference games? Wait, you mean we lost conference games last year as well? We were terrible last year as well? We lost every playmaker from that terrible team as well? Why the hell are we not winning this year. This is unacceptable.

KSseahawk 3 years, 11 months ago

Again, we're not asking for wins...we're asking to be competitive and we're still looking for that game where we are. At least in those losses last year, the games were competitive. I don't think our expectations are too lofty for Mr. Gill.

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