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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

KU football notebook: Winning vibe intoxicating

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For a team that finished the 2010 season at 3-9 and went more than a month without a victory, all of this winning early stuff has the juices flowing.

Few people have felt the excitement like senior linebacker Steven Johnson, a former walk-on who led the team in tackles a year ago and felt every loss hit him like a ton of bricks.

“The more wins we get, the hungrier we get,” Johnson said.

If it’s hunger Johnson’s talking about, he’s eyeballing the near future like a Thanksgiving feast.

“I know last week I said that was the ‘Who Is Kansas’ game,” Johnson said of KU’s win against Northern Illinois. “And now, if we win this game (Saturday at Georgia Tech) and then we have a bye week, I’m just kind of adding it up. I got all the way to OU (Oct. 15), and I’m like, ‘Man, if we beat this team and we beat this team and get to OU and (ESPN’s) College Gameday’s here... I’m just getting a little bit excited. But, at the same time, I’m still focusing on Georgia Tech and not looking too far down the road. We approach these games as one-game seasons, and we’re just trying to win this game and go 1-0.”

The Jayhawks (2-0) and Yellow Jackets (2-0) will square off at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Bobby Dodd Stadium in Atlanta.

Wide receivers grounded

KU coach Turner Gill said Tuesday that senior Daymond Patterson and freshman JaCorey Shepherd would miss this week’s game at Georgia Tech because of injuries.

Patterson pulled a groin in the season opener and missed most of that game and all of last week. Shepherd, who starred in the opener in Patterson’s absence, played sparingly last week and appeared to be hampered throughout the game.

Gill said he did not believe Shepherd’s injury would keep him out long term.

John Williams, a junior defensive tackle, also will miss the game. Williams tore his ACL in the victory against Northern Illinois and will miss the rest of the season.

As for the other Jayhawks who were banged up last week — most notably senior center Jeremiah Hatch and junior linebacker Tunde Bakare — both are probable for GaTech.

Life on the road

Saturday’s matchup with Georgia Tech will be the first road game of the season for the Jayhawks, who enter the game as two-touchdown underdogs.

While a trip to Southern Miss in Week 3 last season proved to be an overwhelming experience for many of KU’s young players, Gill said he did not expect playing away from home to bother this year’s bunch.

“I’ve got a lot of guys back. And then also the staff,” Gill said. “How you handle things on the road, we try to emulate that in the preseason and do some things to get them ready for that, but it’s still not the same until you actually get out of your own environment and do something different. But I anticipate we’ll handle things a lot better just because we’ve got guys who have already done it.”

KU quarterback Jordan Webb made the first road start of his career at Southern Miss a year ago. He, too, said he was in much better position to handle the hostile conditions this year. Webb said the biggest challenge of playing on the road was dealing with the opposing crowd. Getting Webb and the offense ready for that is one of those things Gill has addressed this week.

“The crowd noise that we have during practice is louder than any crowd I’ve ever been in (front of),” Webb said. “(Preparing for that) really does help and it gets you prepared for the week.”

We want the ball

For the second week in a row, KU won the game’s opening coin toss and elected to receive.

The move is a departure from the approach the Jayhawks took throughout most of 2010, when, on the occasions that they won the toss, the Jayhawks usually deferred their choice to the second half.

Tuesday, Gill explained the change of heart.

“It’s probably a feel in a sense,” Gill said. “I’m more in the offensive mind-set, as far as my background, and I always kind of feel like you want the ball first. It’s a game-by-game thing, but I would say, in most cases, we’ll probably take the football.”

Comments

johnnyhrdwd 3 years, 1 month ago

Take it to Tech, we're behind you coach.

kujayhox 3 years, 1 month ago

i really think we have the offense to take it to gt, but we need our defense to step up and help bring home the win. i know we can do it. here we go 3-0!

KU_Alumn_2000 3 years, 1 month ago

Note to KU linebackers: Take a look at last year's Ga Tech game...and watch how Justin Springer played. He was a beast against their run game and single handedly stopped their offense on several drives.

Steven Johnson - Take it easy on the "College Gameday" thoughts. LOL Not that I'm not a believer...but lets just focus on improving that defense.

jhawkrulz 3 years, 1 month ago

I wonder if they cover the track to help simulate road games?

nuleafjhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm really glad to see Coach taking the ball when we win the coin toss. It's pretty demoralizing to the other team when you can score on the first possession, or even put together a fairly long drive. Even if you don't score, it kind of gives your team a chance to settle into the game.

Robert Brock 3 years, 1 month ago

How many points do the Hawks need to win the game? Seventy?

Mangino_Maniac 3 years, 1 month ago

GT will be a tough test... being 14 point underdogs, we're not expected to win, but we certainly can! The defense has got to be hungry to prove they can stop the opposing team, and with a couple turnovers going our way, we can definitely surprise some folks!

Oh yeah, we have a killer running game... ;-)

Randy Bombardier 3 years, 1 month ago

This is the game where the secondary comes of age.

jhawkrulz 3 years, 1 month ago

This will be the game that really will define how our season goes.

I think deep down everyone knew we would beat McNeese and be highly competitve against NIU. However, this is where it just gets that much tougher. If we win this one, I think KSU, ISU, and TTU all become possible (potentially expected) wins. That would get us 6, which everyone including myself would owe HCTG an apology.

However, first things first, got to shut down the run.

nuleafjhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

No disrespect jhawkrulz, but I think most everyone owes HCTG an apology no matter what our record turns out to be. He needs 3,4,5 years to get things in place and after that we can make an informed decision as to his ability. Because our opinions are what matters most - haha.

Kevin Studer 3 years, 1 month ago

I don't owe him an apology, and I'm still not sure he can coach at this level. I'll give him time to pass final judgment. But he is making a lot of money top turn this team around. If he can remains to be seen.

nuleafjhawk 3 years, 1 month ago

I only said " most " everyone, because I knew YOU didn't owe him an apology. I'm glad you caught that.

David Lara 3 years, 1 month ago

He wouldn't hurt, but first and foremost we need to find some good juco d-tackles. Unfortunately this last year there were a couple of studs coming in around 6'2 and over 3 bills that played for coffeyville JC and Butler Co JC. I believe one went to the SEC and I can't remember the other. There is some serious JC football happening in the Jayhawk conference and we sure as hell need to go get some players that can contribute as starters from day one or at least add some fantastic depth and competition. We love our freshman class this last season, but it's ridiculous that we didn't sprinkle in some guys with more experience from JC. Would have made a big difference in filling in the gaps between a bunch of freshman with great potential and guys that can start now. D-line is exhibit A.

jhawkrulz 3 years, 1 month ago

So is it official...have we joined the Jayhawk Conference!!

Just funny.

troutsee 3 years, 1 month ago

This GT game will be most interesting. I just have that feeling that this KU team might be one of those overachieving teams. Here's hoping.

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