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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Keegan

Kansas’ James Sims special

Kansas running back James Sims looks to make a move against New Mexico State defensive back Jonte Green during the fourth quarter Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas running back James Sims looks to make a move against New Mexico State defensive back Jonte Green during the fourth quarter Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

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KU football highlights: NMSU

Highlights from the Jayhawks' game against New Mexico State University on September 25, 2010.

Turner Gill postgame: NMSU

Turner Gill addresses the media after the Jayhawks' game against New Mexico State University on September 25, 2010.

It seemed such a strange move when first-year Kansas University football coach Turner Gill took his most productive returning offensive player and sent him to the other side of the line of scrimmage to play linebacker.

The only way to spin it into a positive was to think that maybe Gill knew he had someone special in true freshman running back James Sims and wanted to find a way to get Toben Opurum on the field. That seemed like a stretch when neither Sims nor Opurum played in the season-opening loss against North Dakota State.

Opurum played so well as a freshman running back a year ago, but the undeniable truth is this: Sims is a better running back than Opurum. He’s faster, he makes better cuts, he gains more yards per carry.

Three games into his college career, Sims already has two 100-yard rushing games. He cut, powered and sprinted his way to 115 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries for an average of 7.2 yards per carry in Saturday night’s 42-16 victory against a New Mexico State team that would finish a distant 13th in the Big 12. Sims added 49 yards on two receptions.

His first 100-yard rushing effort came in his first college game, a victory against Georgia Tech in Week 2.

A shifty, 6-foot, 206-pound back from Irving, Texas, Sims doesn’t have it all figured out yet, but he’ll get there in a hurry. He found his way to the end zone, but couldn’t find his way to the interview room after the game, and with nobody there to escort him, he never did share his thoughts with the KU fan base, through the media, about how things are going for him so far.

Now that Big 12 play has arrived, Sims won’t look quite as fast as he did against the Aggies, but he’s no plodder.

“I would say he probably has a little above-average speed,” Gill said. “I wouldn’t say that he’s a burner as far as flat-out outrun a lot of people from that standpoint, but he has good speed. Probably more a combination of the power and then also with the quick feet, making cuts.”

Sims has gained 290 yards in three games and has averaged 5.5 yards per carry, an impressive figure considering how little room he was given to run against Southern Miss.

“He’s been able to get better vision, finding the creases, finding the hole and hitting it, not hesitating as much, from that standpoint,” Gill said. “It’s great to be able to see him do that. But again, the offensive line did a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage. They’ve got to do that to give him a chance to find a crease and make his cuts and make his moves.”

Sims looks like a natural carrying the football. Opurum will take more time to pick up the subtleties of his new position. On some plays, Opurum played with his hand on the ground, moving up to defensive end, the way James Holt used to in passing situations.

“He has some skills,” Gill said of Opurum. “... I think every game I can see Toben continue to improve as a defensive player, and as we go along, he’s going to be an impact guy. Whether it’s going to be this year, I don’t know, but I would definitely say in the next couple of years he should be somebody who will be a very good football player.”

Sims already is.

Comments

rastameta 4 years ago

Hmm, didn't you and a lot of other people say that Gill was an idiot for moving Opurum to defense? Looks like a pretty smart move now, doesn't it?

Dirk Medema 4 years ago

And maybe Gill has said all along that the freshmen (Sims and Bourbon) were learning the O, but that at least one of them would likely play this year.

TrueJayAlltheWay 4 years ago

We'll see, I was surprised by the decision, but sims has performed way better than expected.

waywardJay 4 years ago

Infairness, So has sands and beshears.... just not to the level Sims has taken it up..... Jake Who ?

TrueJayAlltheWay 4 years ago

Yea I think all of our backs that have seen significant playing time for the first time, have done better than expected, But I still think Opurum showed promise on short yardage situations, but he is pretty young, and obviously is going to have some opportunities.

LAJayhawk 4 years ago

James Sims is an excellent football player. Could not be more excited that this kid will have a Kansas jersey over his shoulder pads for the next few years.

The Bold Prediction of the Night: As long as he stays healthy, Sims will pass June Henley and become KU's all-time leading rusher.

champs528808 4 years ago

Just another example of Keegan making statements and then doubling back within the season - 'Gill is making a mistake by moving Opurum to defense.' Now, it's that there's actually someone better than TO at RB. And he's the sports editor?!? Matt Tait gave better insight when discussing the brilliant play of Breshers and wondering if we would have even seen his talent with Mangino still coaching. Here's the difference: Tait is giving an opinion based on facts, while Keegan gives an opinion based on his disapproval of Perkins removing Mangino and replacing him with Gill.

tis4tim 4 years ago

And which writer, Tait or Keegan, gets more comments after his articles?

Kevin Studer 4 years ago

Jump for joy at the move all you want, but if you recall, Keegan made a good point in that article: in games that they can't gain yards because they are actually playing a team with a defense (unlike last night. get it?) they need someone who can blast short yardage plays. Like it or not, the best guy on the team for that is STILL T.O. Beating up on teams with no front 7 won't change that. I suppose when we can't move the ball on the ground in conference play in some games, that will be more evident.

Ashwin Rao 4 years ago

I feel that you are jumping the gun here... We have a young group of kids who are learning to play at a higher level with each game. Let us not count them out even before the games begin!

I was initially concerned with the TO move, but Sims' performance has cleared all my misconceptions. I do see where Coach is taking the team, and I am very impressed with the re-arrangements so far! Unlike last year, when we we were so inconsistent, this year I can see the consistency within the inconsistency due to newness of key positions (did I confuse you enough?). Way to go Coach!

Rivethead 4 years ago

I'm going to disagree. Sims showed in the GT game that he could gain the tough yards up the gut. And like TO, Sims falls FORWARD on contact and gains the extra yard or two.

OCJHAWK 4 years ago

It is plain to see that Sims is a special runner that we desparately needed. On the other hand if our line cannot block against good defenses, you can have Adrian Peterson in the backfield and not get production. Lets hope our line can get healthy and stop making the mental errors that show up way too many times.

waywardJay 4 years ago

Cusack, to suggest that one would have to assume he's not gaining yards against all the teams he is playing.

17 for 101, 1 td..... 20 for 74, 1 for 2..... 16 for 115 2 for 49 and 2 td's......

His statline hums along like clockwork, unless you are arguing that all the teams so far we have played are bad defensively..... He had more yards yesterday, and yes they were not very good, but a slightly higher YPR and a significant higher YPC was not the reason we beat NMSU. Nor was it the reason we lost to SMU.

There's a reason I expect the trend to continue.

57 for 93 for 625. 5 td's to 1 interception. And Jordan Webb's rushing numbers have improved every game.

Our offense is getting better with every game ( yes even from Georgia Tech to SMU... Total yards 320 v. Ga Tech, 358 v. Southern MIss. )

We are improving, even in losses.

tical523 4 years ago

This move is was a great one for all parties involved. If Toben can really hone his skills at defense this season and following off-season he will be an absolute stud. I don't think he would have played in the NFL as a running back, but as a big and fast linebacker he has a chance. With that frame, by the time he is 23-24 years old he could be built like Ray Lewis, and if he could get that killer/defensive mindset in the near future he is going to be awesome for us. And I don't think anything needs to be said for Sims, Beshears, Sands, Quigley, Bourbon. . . . . . good call coach.

hawk316 4 years ago

I'll say it if no one else will...good call, Maxhawk!

slowplay 4 years ago

LOL,. "Opurum is Gill’s ticket to hope. Punch it." Keegan on why Opurum should be the starting running back.

Dan Harris 4 years ago

Sims is going to be special IF he stays healthy(I know stating the obvious)

waywardJay 4 years ago

We stopped running the football against SMU or we would have had 3 straight. 20 for 73.... give him 5-7 more carries and he's got 100

KURiggins 4 years ago

Both Webb and Sims are/will be awesome players. Gill knows what he is doing. By the way, does anyone have an injury update on Kale Pick? Since he was limping noticeably during the 4th Q last night

4everahawk 4 years ago

Good win Jayhawks! But, from that standpoint, it was only one game per se, and I hope they take the experience, and things of that nature, and apply it to the next game.

waywardJay 4 years ago

Lord willing, we can take some of that game experience we received, as a combined staff of 275 seasons of football played.... and it is our hope that we can have this feeling again from that standpoint

flyingfinn 4 years ago

I said it last week and will say it again, Joirdan Webb will be as good or better than Todd Reesing. This kid is still learning but has untapped natual ability. If both he and Sims can stay healthy along with bringing in better O linemen, KU's offense will be awesome in the years to come. Also I still think Pick has a Kerry Meier look and capability...the kid can run with the football...we need to see if he can catch a pass.

waywardJay 4 years ago

Are you suggesting we try and turn 6 foot 1 208 pound running quarterback.... and turn him into a wide receiver...... Where do you get such INSANE ideas...... Oh right. Carry On.

newjayhawk 4 years ago

One magazine stated that he was the best pass catching RB in the Lone Star state last year! I say he was the best RB in the state period. James is special! I still remember the first time I saw him play in 7th grade[playing for the Irving City Championship]....I think he had probably 275 on maybe 16 carries/I believe two of the opposing teams[Lamar] top defenders left in an ambulance{that was while he was on offense}! The even scarier part was that he was better on defense! he called me last night and he said "Coach we're gonna shock the world next year....um starting to feel it" and he just laughed.

waywardJay 4 years ago

Would be awesome because James Sims has been impressive, I'm trying to hold out hope and think, not this year. Not this year.

But, it could just as easily be this year.

We should be able to move the ball like on Baylor on Saturday. Then we got a week and 4 days to figure out how to stop Daniel Thomas.

newjayhawk 4 years ago

Well , he is keenly aware of the possibilities by signing to play football in the BIG12. It was "only" Georgia Tech in his first collegiate action and he ran for 100....It was "only" USM when he ran for 80 {two pretty decent teams}. I am positive that his attitude toward this would be "BRING IT ON"! He knows that it is going to get a bit harder and more challenging. This kid won't let you down. His way of thinking is ___There's a million ways to die, but like a coward is NOT one of them! He is not scared of the possibilities.

yovoy 4 years ago

I see the NMSU game like this: we should beat a team like that every time. I didn't realize we were that much better than they were until Beshears went off. That and I noticed that Webb had time to actually be a QB. He had time to set if he wanted to, then to look left before throwing right. I hadn't seen that from him previously, and I'm not sure they haven't worked that more in practice, but I'm sure having time to actually set it up help tremendously. His footwork looked lots better as well.

I agree that NMSU isn't as good as NDSU.

We've lost 1 game that we should've won. We've won 1 game that we should've lost. We've won 1 game we should've won. And we've lost a game that we could've won.

actorman 4 years ago

Is anyone else sick of all the references to Jordan Webb having thrown only one interception? (I'm talking about references from the broadcasters and from posts here.) Don't get me wrong, I think he's played pretty well and will only get better. But in case anyone has forgotten, he threw two passes in the SMU game that would have been caught by most high school defensive players, and he was just lucky that they weren't intercepted. He got lucky at least once in the NMSU game too. So just because the stats say that he's only thrown one interception doesn't mean that he's played THAT well.

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