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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Jayhawks recall painful memories of loss to NDSU

Kansas University tight end Tim Biere (86) attempts to make a catch as he's covered by North Dakota State defenders Chad Wilson (45) and Cyrus Lemon in this Sept. 4, 2010 file photo at Memorial Stadium. The Jayhawks lost the infamous game, 6-3, in their season opener last season. The stunning defeat is still fresh on the minds of many current KU players.

Kansas University tight end Tim Biere (86) attempts to make a catch as he's covered by North Dakota State defenders Chad Wilson (45) and Cyrus Lemon in this Sept. 4, 2010 file photo at Memorial Stadium. The Jayhawks lost the infamous game, 6-3, in their season opener last season. The stunning defeat is still fresh on the minds of many current KU players.

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Toben Opurum takes pride in leadership duties

Junior Toben Opurum was selected among his teammates as captain along with three seniors.

KU football receivers, offensive linemen go through pre-practice drills

Kansas football receivers and offensive linemen go through pre-practice drills on Tuesday, Aug. 30, four days before the team's season-opener against McNeese State.

At least six freshmen could play vs. McNeese State

Kansas head football coach Turner Gill said anywhere from six to 10 freshmen could get playing time against McNeese State in KU's 2011 season opener.

It’s been 361 days since the Kansas University football team opened the Turner Gill era with a loss to North Dakota State in front of a stunned Memorial Stadium crowd.

To many, the memory of the 6-3 setback remains fresh.

To the players who were there that night — in uniform, on the field — just talking about the game is tough to do in specific terms. Senior tight end Tim Biere, who played what he called one of the worst games of his life in the loss, refers to it only vaguely.

“I had a heck of a game that game,” said Biere, never mentioning the name of the opponent. “We’ll be sure to remember that game from last year. It’s kind of the same situation to an extent.”

The it, in this case, is KU’s season opener against McNeese State, slated for 6 p.m. Saturday at the same stadium where the Jayhawks were the victims of one of the worst losses in program history. The reason Biere referenced North Dakota State when looking ahead to Saturday’s matchup with McNeese State was because, like the Bison, the Cowboys come to Lawrence wearing the label of FCS opponent, one of the most dangerous tags any FBS program can see early in the season.

It’s not that the Jayhawks, or any other BCS conference squad, should be worried that they can’t compete with teams from the division formerly known as I-AA. It’s that playing those teams presents a lose-lose scenario just about every time. Win and it’s no big deal. You did what you were supposed to. But lose? Well, then people will be talking about that game for years to come.

In the days since the loss to NDSU, Gill and the Jayhawks have talked very little about it. The key, Gill has said all along, is that the team learned from the deflating feeling and pressed on, determined not to let it take place again.

“They know what has happened in the past,” Gill said Tuesday at his first weekly news conference of the season. “We talk about what you can learn from last year and how you are going to change that. More importantly, we’re talking about how we already have changed it.”

The approach appears to have worked.

“I don’t think we’ve paid too much attention to it,” said junior wide receiver Kale Pick, the starting QB in the NDSU game. “It’s obviously in our players’ heads. I think the best thing is we used it as motivation in the offseason. I think that’s the best thing that came from it, and it may have helped us out in the long run.”

Added this year’s starting quarterback, sophomore Jordan Webb: “I think we learned that we don’t have a suit of armor that’s gonna protect us from a I-AA team. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, at this level you gotta come out ready to play. You can’t wait until it’s the second or third game to get things kick-started.”

While it’s obvious that those who played in the loss felt the sting, those who didn’t were equally affected. That includes junior Toben Opurum, a former running back who suited up but did not play in last year’s opener.

“That loss, I kind of took it to heart more than anybody else because I didn’t get a chance to step on the field and play,” said Opurum, who revealed Tuesday that he considered transferring after being moved to defense. “They were back and forth on whether to red-shirt me.”

Darius Willis, a transfer from Buffalo who sat out all of 2010 in accordance with NCAA transfer rules but was able to practice, remembers well the feeling the Jayhawks had heading into the North Dakota State game. He said the vibe is completely different this season.

“You can tell there’s more focus,” he said. “Everybody is driving to be where they need to be and doing the right things at the right time. No one is letting distractions come into play.”

By all accounts, McNeese State has more talent, speed and big-game experience than North Dakota State brought to Lawrence a year ago.

“I can’t speak for their defense,” said KU defensive coordinator Vic Shealy. “But their offense looks more like a Div. I, major conference athletic talent.”

Combine the painful memories of last year’s devastation with the utmost respect for a quality opponent and it’s easy to see why the Jayhawks have put so much emphasis on this year’s opener.

“Nobody wants a repeat of the failures we had last season,” Opurum said. “We want to go out there aggressive and with confidence. We gotta hit ’em first.”

Added senior cornerback Isiah Barfield: “(Falling to NDSU) was a huge setback on our season, losing the first game of the year and we gotta come out more focused and ready to play so we can get the first ‘W’ right away.”

Comments

squawkhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Mark Mangino was just a stepping stone to Turner Gill who will surpass Mangino's record at KU and become a legend in his own mind.

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

What's up with the dude with the "flashlight" eyes, behind # 81? That's kinda freaking me out.

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JHWKDW 2 years, 7 months ago

Great post and presenting of facts by Texashawk!!I think we will win this game this week!

After we win I plead CAN WE PLEASE MOVE ON IM SICK OF TALKING ABOUT THIS GAME!IT WAS A BAD LOSS AND WE CANNOT FORGET TO TAKE ALL GAMES SERIOUSLY!!BUT PLEASE LETS MOVE ON OK!

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HAWKTOPIA 2 years, 7 months ago

I was at the orange bowl, oh what a blast! i feel so lucky to have been at that game. During my tailgate years at KU, i thought we went undefeated a few times, i was well medicated. Turner Gill is the real deal. i do not know if we will win 3 or 4 games, but i feel we will upset a team or two. Can't wait, because i'm a Jayhawk!

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Ethan Berger 2 years, 7 months ago

You know who lost to a d2 (or 1aa or fcs) school last year? Va Tech, they had twice the talent. Lets calm down and the turner doesn't know how to coach. Remember he is a d1 coach, you don't just sneeze that.

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nuleafjhawk 2 years, 7 months ago

texashawk10 - there are going to be about 10 logical, reasonable adults on here ( you already know who they are ) that are going to read your post and say " Right on texashawk10, you hit that nail right on the head. "

The rest of them are going to read it, think for about one millisecond and say " Fire Gill "

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texashawk10 2 years, 7 months ago

Here are the stone cold facts about Mark Mangino. He was 50-48 (.510) in 8 seasons as the head coach at KU. He was 23-41 in Big 12 games (.359). He was 19-21 against the Big 12 north (.475). He was 4-20 (.167) against the Big 12 south. He was 3-16 (.157) against ranked opponents. Mark Mangino was 43-48 (.473) against FBS opponents. In scheduled non-conference games (meaning not the bowl games) Mangino was 24-6 (.800) Against all BCS conference opponents, Mangino was 27-45 (.375).

Here's what those numbers say to me. Mangino took advantage of some very weak non-conference schedules to reach some bowl games and got very lucky in one season that was a perfect storm scenario for KU because of how the schedule fell. Mangino's average record in his 8 years was 6-6 (3-5). If that's what some of you desire KU football to be, then raise your standards. I don't know if Gill will is good enough to get KU to a level where they are averaging 8+ wins a season, I just know he deserves a fair amount of time to get his players into his program and see what he can do and 5 years is a fair enough time frame.

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Randy Bombardier 2 years, 7 months ago

Good Grief, folks. Chill. Way too much negativity. MM was 2-10 his first year. Gill was 3-9. You think MM's year-one team would have jumped Georgia Tech like we did last year. No way. You think that same team could have come back against CU like we did last year. No way. We couldn't even come back in games under Mangino when we were only down 7 points. Right now that is all that you can compare. Period. Gill knows how to motivate. That should be obvious. Gill is a better recruiter. That should be obvious. Now it is time to let his coaching speak for itself as the season plays out!!!!! If this man pulls off 5 or more wins you should get off his case and get onto his bandwagon.

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Larry Smith 2 years, 7 months ago

Ahh, the old Mangino savior arguments come to the forefront. As Kirk mentions above, It all relative. It's all about how you want to look at it.

Some will point to the fact that Mangino, despite coaching 3 more games (48 total) in his first 4 years, he improved KU's win total by a grand total of 3. That's right folks......Mangino 19-29 during his first 4 years, Terry Allen 16-29 during his 4 years.

Some will look at Gill and his record at Buffalo and say he only won 20 games ( he has a losing record remember) during his 4 years there. He increased the Buffalo win total by 15 because.........Thats right folks, Buffalo won only 5 games total in the 4 years preceding Gill.

Mangino 3 more wins Gill 15 more wins

Now, I don't know if Gill is the Savior, But I do know that he has done well and succeeded at every level in every position in his life. That should mean something, and I will be supportive of what he is trying to do here. Again I will say that I am appreciative of what Mangino did here, but it was simply time to move on. It is not Gill's fault that Mangino lost games he should have won, he could never beat the teams from the South (worse than Scary Smart even), and his behavior was less than desirable. That is why he is no longer coaching. It is time for more people to support the Coach that is now on the sideline.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 7 months ago

Thanks, yates33333..I was just trying to lighten the mood. We all want the football team to succeed, it's just with our history you walk up to the edge of an emotional precipice, not really knowing what's going to happen.

There is a chance that this team could actually go anywhere from 1-11 to 6-5

With Kansas basketball it's not a question of good or bad..it's a question of good or really good. We do have not as of yet have that luxury in football.

I am hopeful someday we will.

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yates33333 2 years, 7 months ago

OakvilleJHawk. You are absolutely correct. Several of the BB posters are genuises when discussing BB. No offense to the football posters, but they don't have anyone like Jaybate. BTW, you aren't a lightweight either.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 7 months ago

Interesting observation:

The postings for Kansas football pale in comparision to the postings for Kansas basketball. In a way, they reflect the status of the two programs at KU.

I do feel, however, that the postings are showing improvement with quicker wit, weightier topics and more hard hitting opinions. We need to show patience as the football postings begin to catch up with the elite basketball postings.

This year, the postings may be improved, even though losing ground to basketball. This bodes well for next season and I have every confidence that the football postings will ascend to post posting season excellence sooner than later.

[Expressed with no malice and not one wit of seriousness intended :) ]

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justanotherfan 2 years, 7 months ago

Hopefully this is the LAST time I have to do this.

Mark Mangino was NOT a program savior.

Mangino record by season (conference)

2002 - 2-10 (0-8) 2003 - 6-7 (3-5) 2004 - 4-7 (2-6) 2005 - 7-5 (3-5) 2006 - 6-6 (3-5) 2007 - 12-1 (7-1) 2008 - 8-5 (4-4) 2009 - 5-7 (1-7) Overall 50-48 (23-41)

Finished ranked exactly 1 time (2007). Finished with a winning overall record three times. Finished with a winning conference record ONCE.

Went 19-21 vs. the North. Went 4-20 vs. the South. Most importantly the ONLY team IN CONFERENCE that he has a winning record against was IOWA STATE. .500 against Baylor, Mizzou and KSU. Losing records against EVERYBODY ELSE.

Mangino DID NOT make KU nationally relevant beyond the 2007 season because he could not repeat that success against the stronger teams in the Big XII. During the '07 season, nationally everyone wondered if KU could have that success against Oklahoma, Texas and Tech. The next two years, KU lost to those three teams. In '08 by a combined 143-59 and in '09 by a combined 128-54. KU was not ranked at any time after the loss to Texas Tech in '08. Following the loss to OU in '09, KU was unranked.

Mangino did nothing more than tread water at KU, which would have been fine had he done that without controversy or incident, but that WAS NOT THE CASE.

Hopefully, it gets through your heads this time. Mangino DID NOT SAVE KU FOOTBALL!

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jayhawkinnebr 2 years, 7 months ago

Like I have said before gill took over and all year last year, gill is not a coach and will never be a coach. Osborne put the screws to KU with gill, and its going to be bad, just wait and see.

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stanleys 2 years, 7 months ago

Gee I wonder what the Longhorn fans are saying about last season in regards to there upcoming season. They can get practically any player they want year end year out and only won 2 more games than KU did. HCTG is trying to get KU to being maybe an average team at best with mostly 2-3 stars players. Granted he has his work cut out for him but I think he'll get it done. On the other hand take a look at Texas and all they DID NOT accomplish with all the players they have. Take a look at Miami and the mess they're or LSU or USC or North Carolina??? If any schools' fans have reason to be down on there team or coaches it would have to be these. All coach Gill is trying to do is take a team that's been on the bottom and build it up THE RIGHT WAY!!! The fans need to give him a chance. Rock Chaik KU fans, let's show him 110% support.

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Larry Smith 2 years, 7 months ago

It still bewilders me that a coach loses 2 more games than the previous regime and he has "run the program into the ground" in 1 season. That is laughable.

If Mangino had not lost very winnable games his final season as well as throwing the game against misery, he may still have a job. Personally, I think 7 losses in a row is running a program into the ground.

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Mike Kendall 2 years, 7 months ago

Atlanta---I kind of agree with you. McNeese State will be receiving a lot of frustration from the Jayhawks from a year ago. Thing is, I was all over the website when the Hawks lost to North Dakota State. It is over and past history now. However, if KU loses to McNeese State this Saturday, oh my gosh. Have you ever seen something blown up by nitroglycerin? That will be the situation on this website, if it happens.

I am sure when HCTG and the team puts away the Cowboys, there will be a huge gorilla lifted off their shoulders. Rock Chalk Jayhawk, go KU!

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Robert Brock 2 years, 7 months ago

I am more optimistic. I have us winning two games...but looking better and setting up a good third season under Turner Gill.

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Keith Hummel 2 years, 7 months ago

No way we lose this game. If anything I feel sorry for McNeese State, as they are about to be the recipient of an entire year of frustration and anger.

My concern is that we might be putting too much significance on this game. I don't want to see some wild celebration Saturday night just because we stomped an FCS opponent. In the big picture this is a non-con warm-up for what promises to be one of the most difficult schedules in a long, long time.

There is also no way we go 1-11 this year. This team is hugely improved. More depth, more speed, more size, more strength, more skill, more experience, and more passion at every single position. We aren't where we need to be yet, but we are going to make allot of so-called experts eat their words, and hopefully put the "Fire Gill" nonsense to rest once and for all. Saturday can't get here fast enough.

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phog1004 2 years, 7 months ago

yeah, 1-11 is pretty harsh....we were way worse last year and eeked out 3. Yeah yeah, I know the schedule is much tougher this year. Illinois State is very winnable, even though they are a good team. We beat GT last year, when they had a better offense (lost Nesbitt to the NFL), and we had a worse Defense (we are much more suited to play agaist a triple option this year with our improved speed)...so even though it is away this year, I would say it is winnable too.

ISU should be winnable, as they also are replacing 3 year starting QB Austen Arnaud, and we were winning that game until we had a 3rd Q let down (up at half time and their only TD in the first half was a punt return).

KSU and MU should always be winnable from year to year, regardless of what happened the previous year, simply because they are rivalry games. KSU killed us last year, but that was a lot of Senior RB Daniel Thomas running all over us. MU killed us last year, but they also lost their leader and best player in QB Blain Gabbert (not to mention their leader and best player on D, in Aldon Smith).

The south is a different story, but Tech isn't great and Texas showed they can be beat last year (didn't go bowling for the first time in a long time).

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Bill Kackley 2 years, 7 months ago

jhawkfan 162515 I don't know how you can call yourself a fan. KSU or MU maybe.

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jhwkfan162515 2 years, 7 months ago

This is the only game on the schedule I can see us winning.

1-11 this season.

Fire Turner Gill!

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Fortesque Beagleton 2 years, 7 months ago

Count me in with the "give him time" camp. But if we were to lose to McNeese I think I would switch firmly to the "he's gotta go" camp. That said, I think it will be a non-issue this time around.

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jhawkrulz 2 years, 7 months ago

I've said it before and I still think it.

If HCTG loses again to a DII (FCS or whatever), he needs to walk away.

Yep it is a lose-lose situation for him. This is the one game this year that can not be a loss.

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