Wednesday, August 10, 2011


KU can, must run first


Nobody knows better than Kansas University offensive coordinator Chuck Long that shifting from a pass-first to run-first football team doesn’t always require a long, arduous process.

Then working for Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, Long was approached by the running-backs coach and told it was imperative to put some I-formation in for that day’s practice. Naturally, Long, the coordinator of a shotgun offense, asked why.

“Adrian Peterson’s here today watching practice,” Long was told. “We’ve got to give him some ‘I.’ So we put in some I-formation in spring ball just that day to show we had I-formation. Long story short, we ended up getting him.”

Once Peterson arrived, Long said it took the coaching staff all of one practice to realize the Sooners had themselves a truly great back. After that practice, the coaches huddled again and this time put in the I-formation for real.

Nineteen years after Iowa’s Long finished second to Auburn running back Bo Jackson in the Heisman Trophy voting, the freshman Peterson was runner-up to USC quarterback Matt Leinart.

KU doesn’t have a Peterson clone, but it has added exciting talent at the position. Plus, wide receivers coach David Beaty will demand better downfield blocking. Transfer Nick Sizemore is a battering-ram blocker of a fullback. A healthier, slimmer center, senior Jeremiah Hatch, leads an improved offensive line.

That all doesn’t amount to much without a consistent commitment to run first, pass second. Turner Gill talked about doing that in advance of his first season at Kansas, but deep early deficits and shallow running-back depth got in the way.

“What you saw in the Colorado game was probably ideal,” Long said of his preference. “We had some nice balance in that game, and you know what? We stuck to our guns. We got down fast. We got down in other games, and we had to try to throw to come back, and that alters your game plan. But in that game, we just stayed with it, we just said, ‘Let’s just get better at what we’re doing,’ and lo and behold, we’re in the game, and all of a sudden we win it.”

Long said he envisions running 60 percent of the time.

James Sims, a strong between-the-tackles runner, didn’t have as much backup or competition a year ago as now. Red-shirt freshman Brandon Bourbon and true freshman Darrian Miller offer more break-away speed, and Sizemore will help in short-yardage situations and as a pass-blocker.

Long’s appreciation of a relentless running game grew during his first coaching assignment, when he was in charge of the secondary at Iowa.

“When somebody can run the ball and you can’t stop it, that is the most helpless feeling in the world,” Long said. “When they throw the ball around on you, you always feel like, ‘We’re going to pick one off,’ or, ‘He’s going to get cold. He’s going to be erratic. He’s going to miss one every once in a while.’ When they have a running game, they’re running it down your throat, that’s just helpless. You’re trying everything in the world to stop it, and you can’t do it. So that’s what we’re trying to get to.”

That approach could enable KU to stay in games against more experienced, talented foes.


100 9 years, 3 months ago

Follow your big boy blockers.....



Dodge.... And


And run with....


Jayhawk Nation is behind you!!!!!!!

Brad Avery 9 years, 3 months ago

Running the ball effectively also controls the clock and keeps the ball away from the other offense. Using a controlled offense is also another reason to move Toben Opurum back to running back. He is a much better running back than he is a d/end.

Dirk Medema 9 years, 3 months ago

Toben is the best DE/DL on the team, and we now have a LOT of good (great?) young RB's. And he still doesn''t have the speed that they want (have) at RB, but does have good speed for a DE/LB.

Brad Avery 9 years, 3 months ago

KU doesn't have another running back who, because of his size and strength, can run over defenders and get extra contested yards. He and Sims would make a nice tandem in an option-style, controlled passing offense. A running back like Opurum can make the defense better by keeping them off the field and moving the chains.

Jeff Coffman 9 years, 3 months ago

I understand the control the clock and the grind it out type of game. However, a lot of the Big XII has gone to spread offenses and use short passes to extend their running game (e.g. OU). I know that we don't have the depth that they have, but why are we moving away from the spread? I must also say it is an exciting offense to see in action. And indirectly it creates wider line gaps when you do run the football.

I guess I just have questions in the direction that we are headed with our football team.

And yes I am one that expects HCTG to win more than 3 games this year or be on the hot seat. The pressure should be on from game one...if he loses that, I think it is time to cut ties.

KGphoto 9 years, 3 months ago

Spread offenses are dying. Like anything else, offense and defense are cyclical. The defenses started catching up with the spread, and most are built to stop it. Now is the time to take advantage and run between the tackles.

And to say that TG should be on the hot seat for not winning 4 games in his second season, against this schedule, is absurd. It's obvious he is building something. Patience grasshopper.

Brad Avery 9 years, 3 months ago

It is difficult to run the spread effectively without a topfight passing quarterback. Those we have are adequate but not great. The wide receivers last season also did not block well, limiting the effectiveness of the short passing game. Kerry Meier was an incredible weapon in the slot both because of his hands and blocking ability. He has not been replaced. In additon, when the spread is effective you score quickly and expose your own defense to extra time on the field. KU's defense is very young and not likely to create the turnovers necessary to get them off the field.

huskercarpenter 9 years, 3 months ago

Being able to run the ball will also wear the other team down, for a fan there is nothing more enjoyable than getting to the 4th quarter and seeing the other team sucking air on the verge of tossing their cookies on the field. Once you get to that point you can do anything you want offesively and that is a great feeling. Show trust these guys know what they are talking about.

squawkhawk 9 years, 3 months ago

You mean sucking air and tossing cookies like this team did last year. I doubt much has changed since then.

huskercarpenter 9 years, 3 months ago

I think you have that same crush on Turner that ahperse has. You guys shouldn't be so jealous its not healthy.

squawkhawk 9 years, 3 months ago

Yeah, we'll see how much you support TG midway through the season with maybe one or two wins and no hope of any others. I just hope KU can keep the average spread to 30 points (losses). I'd consider that a success.

huskercarpenter 9 years, 3 months ago

He will always have my support he always has. People like you will never change that. You may not support him but you will probably not be posting because how well KU will be doing. You will be at a loss for words. Is that possible? :-)

Dennis Mahorney 9 years, 3 months ago

Thanks Keegan, keep the positive articles coming as often as you can. Running back should be a bright spot for us

blackhawkjayhawk 9 years, 3 months ago

Conditioning, smchmissioning. Teams don't "get in shape" in August and let it ride all year. Once the season starts conditioning is done primarily through game play. This may be the most overrated issue for KU and college sports, in general.

I agree with the above that the spread is dying a fast (not fast enough) death. Last year, college football got to the most boring point I've seen it in 30 years. Turn on any game last year, and it looked identical to the next. I actually long for the days of the bone and the I.

The best way to beat a defense built for the spread is to run the ball down its throat. And then do it again.

Andy Tweedy 9 years, 3 months ago

As someone who grew up watching Turner Gill, Steve Taylor and Gerry Gdowski run the ball like the forward pass hadn't been invented yet, was there really any other way Turner would go about this thing? The spread can be fun to watch, but I'm of the opinion that ANY offense that works is fun to watch. Nebraska used to just maul people for 4 quarters, and I'm quite sure that's what Turner is hoping for. The roster is starting to look like that might happen in the next few years.

fromthatstandpoint 9 years, 3 months ago

There will still be plenty spread. At Buffalo, they ran it a fair amount as they did two back sets as well. Run pass was about 60-40. Gill tends to shift heavier to the run when ahead.

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 3 months ago

Can't wait. It is a great direction to go. Coach is exactly right about the helplessness aspect. I'd wager that a running game is also more attractive when recruiting O-linemen, and D players. They would like to rest 6 to 8 minutes, not 1 to 2 minutes. The spread puts a terrible strain on defenses. Our defense will look a lot more energized when we are putting long, ball-control drives together.

troutsee 9 years, 3 months ago

There is one other "must". We must beat McNeese State. At this point that is the biggest game of the year.

haydenhawkco 9 years, 3 months ago

I laugh looking at your comment but I cannot disagree. Game 1 is important.

justanotherfan 9 years, 3 months ago

We have to run the ball because right now our best offensive players are our running backs. Sims, Bourbon and Miller are probably our three most talented offensive players. So yeah, we should run the ball a ton because our best players need to all get plenty of touches.

If our best player offensively was the QB, I would be wanting them to open it up. I don't know if Webb is that guy yet (or Berglund, or Cummings, or Mecham, or whoever), but we know we have lots of talent AND depth at RB. So why not run the ball and use that talent.

After all, we can have Sims pound the D, then make them chase Miller around, then have Bourbon use his size and speed, then pound them more with Sims, incorporate some more speed and just wear the defense down. Multiple RBs against a defense is really tiring, and we have that ability, so we should use it.

Andy Tweedy 9 years, 3 months ago

Don't forget Peirson. Granted, I'm not a recruiting junky, so I haven't seen him play...but if he is as fast as advertised, he had to find the field somewhere and soon!

justanotherfan 9 years, 3 months ago

I don't know if Pierson will ultimately be an RB, a DB or a WR. He will see the field on special teams at least, but I don't know if he will ever actually play RB in the traditional sense.

I'm figuring him more as a WR, punt returner, kick returner, DB type.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.