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Originally published October 28, 2012 at 07:02p.m., updated October 29, 2012 at 12:15a.m.

James Sims quietly becoming one of KU’s best

Kansas running back James Sims blows past the Texas defense on a long run during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back James Sims blows past the Texas defense on a long run during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

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Saturday’s career game from running back James Sims did nothing to change the all-too-familiar outcome for the 1-7 Kansas University football team.

Despite getting 176 yards from their top offensive weapon and leading visiting Texas for most of the second half, the Jayhawks dropped their seventh straight game and lost for the 17th time in a row in Big 12 play.

With numbers like those, bright spots can be tough to find. But it doesn’t take a microscope or a magnifying glass to pinpoint the best thing this improving Kansas football team has going for it.

He wears No. 29, carries the ball with a purpose on every play and, after Saturday, has topped the 100-yard mark in four straight games, vaulting him into the conversation about the Big 12’s best backs.

“I didn’t learn anything that I didn’t already know, that we haven’t already said,” KU coach Charlie Weis said Saturday. “Coming out of the spring, I said the same thing about Sims that I’m saying now, and I’ll say it again. I don’t know if there’s a better back in this league. If they exist, I have not seen them yet.”

Let’s go inside the numbers for a look at Sims’ special streak.

During his first game back from a suspension that forced him to miss the first three games of the season — and fueled his fire to run harder than ever — Sims ran for 91 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries in a loss at Northern Illinois.

Those totals merely served as the appetizer for what was to come. In three of his next four games, including Saturday’s loss to UT, Sims carried the ball 28 times for an average of 131 yards. In the one game during that stretch in which he failed to log 28 carries, Sims ran 27 times for 138 yards in a 20-14 loss to Oklahoma State.

Sims owns single-game team-bests in rushing attempts (28), yards (176) and touchdowns (2) this season, and he also is responsible for the longest reception from scrimmage (51 yards vs. Oklahoma State) and the longest run from scrimmage (64 yards Saturday vs. Texas).

That 64-yarder Sims ripped off against the Longhorns was the longest run by a KU player since 2006, when former KU great and current Canadian Football League standout Jon Cornish delivered a 69-yard run in the season opener against Northwestern State.

Asked when he realized Sims could become this type of multi-purpose back in his offense, Weis reiterated something he had been saying since April.

“I’ve known it for quite some time,” Weis said.

Sims’ big day against UT pushed him over the 2,000-yard mark for his career, making him just the 11th Jayhawk to eclipse 2,000 yards. Considering the junior from Irving, Texas, has four games remaining this season and an entire senior year ahead of him, it seems fair to start looking ahead at his pursuit of the top spot on KU’s all-time rushing list. With 2,091 yards, Sims currently sits in 11th place, 148 yards behind Jake Sharp for 10th place.

In addition, Sims already ranks sixth all-time in rushing attempts (479) and tied for sixth all-time in career 100-yard games (nine).

KU’s all-time rushing leader is June Henley, who, from 1993-96, racked up 3,841 yards on 823 carries. Tony Sands (1988-91) ranks second with 3,788 yards, and Laverne Smith (1973-76) is the only other player above 3,000 yards at 3,074.

Sims still has a ways to go before he’s mentioned in that company, but his recent stretch and breakthrough season certainly seem to indicate that getting there is possible.

“I feel more confident now than I ever have,” Sims said Saturday. “I’ve been trusting my offensive line, and they have been doing great at doing their job. I have to give those guys credit. We are an offensive unit.”

Sims is a team-first player who would trade in his personal success for more wins for his team. That trait again was on display on Saturday, as Sims refused to smile while fielding questions about his big day and instead continued to talk about another frustrating step forward for his team.

“After this game, of course we are down,” he said. “But we see the progress as a program. That’s all that really matters at this time. We have to take it week by week, practice by practice and just continue to work as hard as we can.”

Reesing spoke to team

Weis said he invited former KU quarterback Todd Reesing to speak to the team before Saturday’s game against Reesing’s hometown Longhorns.

“He’s just proud,” Weis said. “He talked about his experience, he lives in Austin (Texas), and he was kind of counting on us winning the game so he could go back to Austin and talk a lot of trash and it just didn’t work out that way.”

No injury news

Weis said defensive end Toben Opurum and linebacker Jake Love missed Sunday’s practice, but added that he did not yet know their status for this week.

Opurum and Love were both injured on the same play late in the fourth quarter Saturday.

Comments

Mike Hart 1 year, 5 months ago

Enough on the clock management already. Great job by KU team and coaching staff. KU was in position to make plays to stop Texas' game winning drive. They didn't make the plays. Would have still won the game if Bradley MacDougald hadn't botched punt returns all day long. Despite all those dubious special teams efforts... this team is notably improved. Over next year or two... we should see an influx of improved talent. It is this belief and expectation... that we have me watching with vested interest each and every game. For those of us who have been watching losing KU football for 25 years... we can be patient with Charlie Weis and not expect miracles in Year #1.

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texashawk10 1 year, 5 months ago

You can blame Weis for not making Cummings use more clock on that last drive, but at the same time, KU had 2 very good chances to end the game and didn't make enough plays. Greg Brown dropped an INT that was thrown right to him and he couldn't hang on to it. KU also couldn't stop UT on that 4th and 6. If KU makes either play, it's game over and the clock is a non-issue. Making the plays late to finish off games is something this team still hasn't learned to do and until then, we will see more games like this and the OSU game where KU is just a couple of plays away from winning but ultimately comes up short. This team is very close to that point though and I do think we'll see one or possibly two wins left this year for this team.

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Greg Ledom 1 year, 5 months ago

Not much left to offer here, but I will say this concerning the game clock. I had two conversations with my son at the game about this topic. One was earlier in the fourth quarter, and his response was, "Yeah dad, but I like the speed and flow of the offens right now..." I had to agree with him. The other was later in the fourth quarter and maybe even just later in the last drive itself. We were leaving, 9, 12, and even more on the play clock, and I said again, we need to burn more clock! We definitely could have burned at least 45 to 60 seconds more clock. Texas scored with 12 seconds to go. Granted, it may have not mattered as circumstances are always different and hindsight is always 20/20. All that said, we needed a fourth down and 6 to finish it for good, or a third and goal stop to force a field goal and OT and who knows........

This team is getting better week in and week out. That's what matters at the moment. Rock Chalk!

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JayHok 1 year, 5 months ago

Looking forward to our next game!

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Sally Presson 1 year, 5 months ago

James Sims had a wonderful game Saturday, way to go!!! Much better game this week

Rock Chalk

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rockchalker5 1 year, 5 months ago

Weis and the coaching staff has gotten this team better than the past couple years...no question.

But I would like to note that Weis and the offensive coordinator once again failed to manage the clock effecitvely at the end of the game vs Texas. We could have easily burnt another minute or so off the clock at the end of the game. Texas should have gotten the ball with around 1:00-1:30 on the clock as opposed to 2:30. Everyone in that stadium knew that we left them way too much time..and I blame that directly on coaching. Hes done this several times this year, and personally I think it cost us the TCU game.

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741hawk 1 year, 5 months ago

All of a sudden, the posts are (for the most part) positive.
It is quite a process to turn around a football program. Usually, and unfortunately, it takes 3 to 5 years.

It is a positive sign that our fan base 1) recognizes improvement, 2) recognizes that even at 1-7, the coaching staff has not "lost the team," and 3) recognizes that the players don't quit.

Weis and Campo have outstanding resumes. We must trust that, together, they give us a good chance to be successful. So, go forth and fill the stands! Rock Chalk.

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 5 months ago

There are no moral victories. This one stings.

Having said that...I'm proud of these guys. And you all should be too.

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jhox 1 year, 5 months ago

Just a week or two ago I commented that our defense was significantly better than last year and I was hit from every direction by people saying how crazy I was. Too many people have looked at the KSU and OU scores, and haven't really paid attention to the strides we're making. You take away the special teams TDs that OU scored, and the short field opportunities our offense left them with, and look at it objectively, and our defense wasn't even that bad against them. We quit the second half against KSU, I'll give the naysayers that, but lets also not forget KSU has hung 50+ on a bunch of teams this year.

As for Sims, best back in the conference. The second best back is Cox. I believe he would put up similar numbers if he got as many carries as Sims, perhaps even more. Like Sims he has great moves but can also lower his shoulder and run over people.

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Phil Leister 1 year, 5 months ago

How much are we paying Campo? Whatever it is, he is worth every cent. The upgrades we have seen on defense are nigh and day from last year, and that's with mostly the same guys.

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JayHok 1 year, 5 months ago

I like Crist. I really do. Mostly I'm getting excited about the future of KU football when I say this-- after reading the article I wonder what our record would be right now if Sims and Cummings had started the year.

So many possibilities have opened up for the Jayhawks and we should be a fun team to watch for years to come starting a couple days ago.

Control the clock and score touchdowns. Win the game.

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shufly 1 year, 5 months ago

The Verbal Fans (VF) are still behind the curve. We were 116th before this season. We have made major improvements. We were bottom 5 and playing a top 5 schedule. We aren't going to a bowl. One and seven ain't what we all want but it is what it is. Wake up idiots and enjoy the ride. Charlie promised and produced. Dave Campo must be embarrassed with your response. We have a "team". These players should have our respect, they've earned it. Shame on you SOBs for seeking personal attention for being "edgy" and finding fault. Our program was bottom 120 and we backed it up with a 150 fan base. We are better than this,

v

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PSM 1 year, 5 months ago

James Sims is much better than Marcus Lattimore. But if James had a season ending injury like Lattimore, he obviously would not get as much press. Just saying-Sims has played five games and has rushed for 622 yards, Lattimore played nine games and rushed for 662 yards. Sims is a stud. Best wishes to Lattimore, but he's not close to #29.

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CardHawkFan 1 year, 5 months ago

Not to bring up any discrepancies, but didn't Christian Matthews and Tony Pierson score our touchdowns. Beginning of the story states that Sims scored one...wish he would have, though.

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TexiCaliHawk 1 year, 5 months ago

The 'bottom line' is that KU just needs to 'learn how to WIN' -- that sounds so basic, but it really isn't as we have a knack for literally 'pulling defeat out of the jaws of victory' (e.g., Rice, N.Ill., UT this year with both TCU and OSU very 'winnable' games). For this program to turn the corner (like K-State has done . . . 'twice' under Bill Snyder's tenure), it must indeed BELIEVE it can do it -- not just some 'slogan' that HCTG concocted, but really believe it deep down in their heart that it is true. I sat in the stands and saw the Jayhawks do just that one Saturday night in Lawrence against K-State where we went out and 'took it' from them, which really started the Hawks on a roll of confidence that took them to Bowl Games. There I was on Saturday thinking a win over UT could have the same catalytic effect, but we are just not ready yet. I hope we can finish the year strong against Baylor, TTech, ISU and W.Va. and begin to build that kind of confidence heading into next year -- as well as the 'recruiting season' this year.

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Boouk 1 year, 5 months ago

If we were as good at every position as we are at RB we'd be the best team in the country.

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Pamela Shanks 1 year, 5 months ago

It is too bad that Sims was not available for the first three games. Imagine how different our season could have been. While everyone likes to say we are a few throws/catches from a dramatically different season, this article points out the obvious that perhaps we are a few big runs from one too. Sad that we will never know. On the other hand, I was excited by the game on Saturday. It is clear we are moving in the right direction! Keep up the good work and keep making good choices on and off the field! RCJH!

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Phil Leister 1 year, 5 months ago

Sims is a future pro. But let's not overlook the fact that he's only given the opportunity to put up such large numbers because we have absolutely no passing game. If we had a good QB and a good WR, Sims wouldn't be getting his incredible number of carries and yards. Obviously it takes a special player to run it like he does, but he's in that position out of necessity. Here's to hoping that next year his numbers go down, meaning we'll be able to spread the ball out a bit more. Heaps to McCay!

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90sHawk 1 year, 5 months ago

I can't wait for the next game! This team is making the progress necessary to turn a program around, and while these seniors will not be around next year to personally see it translate into wins, they shouldn't doubt for a second they were a big reason this KU ship is heading in the right direction.

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jhawkln 1 year, 5 months ago

I can't wait for next season! A lot of hard work is going to pay off! RCJHGKU Sims will get the record.

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