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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Auspicious debut: James Sims fondly recalls first college foe — GaTech

Kansas freshman running back James Sims takes off on a run against the Georgia Tech defense during the first quarter, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas freshman running back James Sims takes off on a run against the Georgia Tech defense during the first quarter, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

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KU revisits 2010 win over Georgia Tech

Kansas players reflected on last year's win over Georgia Tech before taking on the Yellow Jackets once again in 2011.

KU adjusts to GTech offense

The Kansas defense will need to adjust to Georgia Tech's spread offense.

When James Sims leaves the locker room on game days, his body is consumed by nerves.

That’s how it’s always been for the Kansas University sophomore who leads the team in rushing with 214 yards and three TDs on 45 carries. And that’s how he hopes it always will be.

That’s certainly how it was last season on Sept. 11, when Sims and the Jayhawks hit the field to take on No. 15 Georgia Tech one week after losing the season opener to North Dakota State.

Sims didn’t play in that first game, an embarrassing, 6-3 loss at home. But he found out quickly he would play in the next one. The nerves came roaring to the forefront.

“I’m always nervous before games,” Sims said Tuesday. “When (Kansas coach Turner Gill) told me I was gonna get some playing time that game, it stuck with me throughout the whole week. It always sticks with me until I get the first contact. Then, after that, everything goes away.”

He didn’t look nervous. In his first game as a Jayhawk, Sims rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries and helped lead the Jayhawks to an improbable 28-25 victory over the Yellow Jackets.

That game has been on his mind a lot this week as the Jayhawks (2-0) prepare to head to Atlanta on Saturday for the rematch.

“I’m gonna always remember it,” Sims said. “My first college game. Fun experience. Fun win. I won’t ever forget it.”

Asked if he shocked even himself that day, Sims was honest.

“I was kind of surprised, but then again I wasn’t because I practiced hard throughout the week and even before the first game of the season,” he said. “Coach told me it was gonna pay off, and it did against Georgia Tech.”

In recalling Sims’ debut, Gill said it was up near the top of any he had ever seen during his time as a coach.

“I think the magnitude of the situation probably makes it a little more special,” Gill said. “Unfortunately, we lost the first ballgame, and we had a top-rated team coming into our home stadium. We made a statement early to him that he was going to be the starter that next week, so he kind of had time to prepare himself and make sure he was ready to go.”

Sims prides himself on preparation and makes sure to stay level-headed no matter what the situation. Traits such as those, along with his ability to adjust to college football faster than most, made Gill decide to give him the ball so early in his career.

“He understood our offense,” Gill said of Sims. “He understood what to do mentally. That’s the first thing you gotta have.”

Since his coming-out party, Sims has continued to use his intelligence to gain yards. At times, his patience with the football is so obvious that even the most casual fans in the stands marvel at how calm he seems while seeking out a running lane. At other times, those same people are blown away by Sims’ ability to gain tough yards and the way he always seems to fall forward.

Sims wasn’t the only young Jayhawk making his first start against GT last year. KU quarterback Jordan Webb, then just a red-shirt freshman, also was taking his first college snap as a starter. While Webb had plenty of other things on his mind that day, he said he remembered being impressed by Sims, a player who, just four months earlier, was still in high school.

“I think he kind of surprised everyone,” Webb said. “We knew he had it in him, but to come out there and do it against a Top-25 team in the first game you ever played in in your college career is pretty impressive. He definitely handled it well. I didn’t notice any nerves out of him or anything like that, which is pretty surprising with a true freshman.”

Like Sims said, once the contact came, the nerves were gone. That wasn’t the case in Sims’ Irving, Texas, living room that day, though, as his mom watched her son on TV because she was unable to make the trip to Lawrence.

“She saw it,” Sims said. “And she called me and left me a voicemail and just went crazy.”

Sims’ mom won’t be able to make the game in Atlanta this week, either. But, with this whole running-back thing figured out, the tailback who has delivered five 100-yard games in his first 13 tries has that covered, too.

“I talk to my mom and make sure she has it on the channel an hour or two before the game even starts,” Sims said.

Preparation, it would seem, runs in the Sims family.

Comments

Lance Cheney 2 years, 7 months ago

Is anyone else worried about the revenge factor this weekend, or is it just me worrying? After upsetting GT last year, I hope they don't come out and play out of their minds and destroy us by 45 this year. Also being the first road game, I'm not sure what to expect...

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Randy Bombardier 2 years, 7 months ago

KU by 24 points that puts us on the radar of a lot of people.

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Tony Bandle 2 years, 7 months ago

Hello...my name is "Jay-Rex" and I would like to be considered for the position of Kansas mascot and football icon. The current Jayhawk is a fine rep but in this day of cut throat wheeling and dealing, I think I can do a better job.

As you can see, my arms are somewhat short so catching passes is not my forte. However, when it come to running the ball, I'm pretty much unstoppable.

If you try to tackle me low, I'll crush your skull. If you try to tackle me high, I'll bite your head off. If you try to gang tackle me, my tail will sweep you into the stands.

My only weakness is I sometimes lose concentration when I see opponent mascots. In fact, I have a particularly strong taste for longhorn, wildcat and tiger.

One other thing..... our opponents will know we are coming because I can really

"RRRRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRR"

Thank you and have a nice day.

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troutsee 2 years, 7 months ago

We will give Ga. Tech fits. 14 point dogs.....I don't think so. And NIU will give Wisconsin fits as well. We have a better chance of winnning our game however.

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Ben Kane 2 years, 7 months ago

FYI: it looks like this game will be on espn3 for those of us out-of-towners!

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Littleapplehawk 2 years, 7 months ago

Funny how KU goes 2-0 & we hardly hear a peep from "ahpussyblahblah" for days , then it comes out from behind it's purple pompoms to start spewing negative crap again! If you can't say anything worthwhile, please look elsewhere for your entertainment. ROCK CHALK JAYHAWKS!!! Go get 'em guys! I for one will be supporting you & the staff all season and forever!

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Ben Kane 2 years, 7 months ago

Bring on 3-0! Doubters beware! RCJH!

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kujayhox 2 years, 7 months ago

i am hoping that this is the week that our defense breaks out and shuts down that option attack like it did last year

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johnnyhrdwd 2 years, 7 months ago

If the hawks can be patient Georgia Tech will beat themselves.

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waywardJay 2 years, 7 months ago

Ahperse..... Wisconsin's at their best when they can power run over teams... It's a safe bet if we stomped Northern Illinois on the Ground. but Wisconsin is also at their best when they can clearly dictate the offense one direction.... preferably passing... I'm not sure they can do that witth this particular offense.... I think wisconsin will win, but would like to see the line before i suggest over or under....

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gardenjay 2 years, 7 months ago

I think differently - NIU is a good football squad, and they will give the badgers fits. I feel the game is close.

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ahpersecoachingexperience 2 years, 7 months ago

Want free money?

Wisc to kill NIU this weekend.

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