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Kansas defeats South Dakota State, 31-17

  • 6 p.m., Sept. 1, 2012
  • Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, KS

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Changing their tune: Jayhawks run past Jackrabbits

The Kansas Jayhawks come together to sing the Alma Mater following their 31-17 win over South Dakota State, Saturday, September 1, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

The Kansas Jayhawks come together to sing the Alma Mater following their 31-17 win over South Dakota State, Saturday, September 1, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Charlie Weis

Kansas coach Charlie Weis talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 31-17 victory over South Dakota State on Sept. 1, 2012.

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Podcast episode

Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU players talk following win over SDSU

KU players talk following their 31-17 win over SDSU on Sept. 1, 2012.

Download podcast

Box score

KU 31, SDSU 17

It has been a long time since a football team at Kansas University did something that deserved to be compared to the magical 2007 squad, which finished 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl.

But it was that kind of effort in Memorial Stadium on Saturday night that led the Jayhawks to a 31-17 season-opening victory against South Dakota State.

The new quarterback might have entered the game with all of the hype, but it was a pair of KU running backs who led the Jayhawks.

Sophomore Tony Pierson, who likes to refer to himself as a “speed back,” utilized his wheels and rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries. When Pierson wasn’t torching the SDSU defense with his speed, newcomer Taylor Cox picked up the slack, rushing for 121 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries. It marked the first time two KU running backs topped the 100-yard mark in the same game since Brandon McAnderson and Jake Sharp did it against Central Michigan in 2007.

“All the running backs, in conjunction with the offensive line, really carried the day,” senior quarterback Dayne Crist said. “They got us through some lulls, and (Cox and Pierson) both run incredibly hard, and we expect that out of them each week.”

It might not have been the statement victory or the massive blowout many had hoped for and even expected. But it was a victory. And around here, that means quite a lot. KU now is 6-26 in its last 32 games.

“Would I have liked to win by more, you betcha I would’ve,” KU coach Charlie Weis said. “But the way it played out, it gave us a lot of opportunity to grow. It was far from a thing of beauty, but I think it was a good start.”

The game itself was anything but a good start for the Jayhawks (1-0). Not only did Kansas miss a 35-yard field goal and struggle to score despite starting with field position that almost was too good to be true throughout the first half, but the Jackrabbits (0-1) actually landed the first blow.

After a KU punt was downed at the SDSU one-yard line, Weis was huddled with his offense trying to figure out how it was going to take advantage of the next batch of good field position that was sure to come. It never did. Instead, SDSU’s Zach Zenner broke through the line untouched and then outran the KU secondary for a 99-yard touchdown that gave the Jacks a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter.

Asked where the defensive breakdown occurred, Weis admitted to being in the dark at first.

“I asked the same question,” he said. “We had two guys both flow to the outside, and one of them was supposed to be on the inside.”

That was not the only time the Jayhawks were out of sync Saturday. Crist said after that game he was disappointed in his play, as he completed just 17 of 36 pass attempts and threw one interception. For some, Crist was to blame. For others, his receivers. Weis even divulged that, on one occasion — a screen pass — the running-back target ran a completely different play.

“They sound alike,” Weis said. “But he told me he was running a different play.”

Thanks to KU’s rushing attack, along with five takeaways by a defense that seemed to be allergic to turnovers during the past couple of seasons, the opening-night miscues hardly mattered.

Pierson quickly got the Jayhawks back on track with a three-yard TD run on the final offensive play of the first quarter. He followed that — and a Ron Doherty field goal — with a 47-yard TD run to open the third, and those plays put the Jayhawks firmly in control.

“He never ceases to amaze me,” Crist said.

Not to be outdone, Cox made sure to deliver as well. After coughing up a fumble at the SDSU 20 midway through the second quarter, Cox was nothing but solid from that point. He had multiple double-digit gains, including a powerful 39-yard bruising rumble that set up his three-yard TD in the fourth.

“I definitely came back more motivated after that,” Cox said of the fumble.

Not all of the highlights came on the ground. The KU defense blocked two punts (Josh Ford and Chris Omigie), recovered a fumble (Josh Williams) and picked off four passes (two for Bradley McDougald and one each for Tyler Patmon and Corrigan Powell).

And then there was the opening play of the game, when Crist connected with senior Kale Pick for a 43-yard bomb that brought the 46,601 fans to their feet.

“I was throwing it deep on the first play for months,” Weis said. “I was trying to score.”

Rust, mental lapses, a lack of energy; all were responsible for those moments of growth that Weis talked about after the victory. And while a few of those might make him cringe when he watches the game film today, most will produce that sly, New Jersey smile for which he’s become known.

“As a coach, this is utopia,” Weis said. “The guys are gonna go out and enjoy themselves, and it’s been a while. You want them to be with their families and friends and kind of have fun. But, on the flip side, there’ll be so many things on the tape where you’ll look and say, ‘What are we doing?’ And that’ll be true across the board. As a coach, there’s no better environment than to be able to constructively criticize your players than after a win.”

Comments

Phil Leister 4 years, 11 months ago

What's your beef with these? I think they're pretty cool.

Lonnie Ross Dillon 4 years, 11 months ago

He's Mr Negativity...don't respond, maybe he'll go away.

shelleysue 4 years, 11 months ago

I really liked the Jayhawk on the helmet and would love to see that. Maybe black trim on the unis and a black helmet with the Jayhawk. I'm having trouble getting on board with that font. My opinion.

Mark Lindrud 4 years, 11 months ago

This should be ammo for Weiss to motivate the boys to keep getting better. So, what would you do to the unis?

Bangkok_Jayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Thank you Coach Grunhard... The line and the two RBs did a great job. I wonder how Sims plays into it when he returns? I also wonder if Bourbon will be playing any sort of a role?

ccarp 4 years, 11 months ago

I see Bourbon punishing defenses late in the game. Love the depth at RB!

waywardJay 4 years, 11 months ago

It's nice to see that we have 4 backs capable of really hurting the other team ( and that's without Darrian Miller... who might have been our best last year.

They mentioned his play as a speed bump... calling it a powerful running play, but to me the important part were the eyes it took. Cox DIRECTED Zlatnik exactly where he wanted him to go on that 39 yard running play. That, is not something that comes by accident on the field, that's the sign of a running back who sees the whole. Very few Running backs can run the football like that. Very encouraging sign.

John Mueller 4 years, 11 months ago

The line was actually subpar. We had very little push upfront all night.

We had a possession that started on the 7 yd line after a blocked punt and settled for 3.

Pierson's numbers mislead you re: the o-line.

The kid just has amazing speed and great instincts. Fun to watch!

But, in terms of a power running game between the tackles, honestly a C is a generous assessment

p 4 years, 11 months ago

Unis are great but they really need the jayhawk on the helmet. AD, MAKE THIS HAPPEN.

LAJayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

Any use of blue needs to be "Jayhawk Blue." That color was finally decided upon, it's a good color, and it needs to be consistent. No going back to 50 shades of blue.... (sorry, couldn't help it).

Ben Kliewer 4 years, 11 months ago

I agree that the uniforms need some improvements. Bring back the helmet stripe for one thing. And the numbers we switched to last year look like they were drawn on with sharpie. If they have to be Trajan at least bring back the thicker Trajan numbers. Can't read them on the screen.

Chayse Patrick 4 years, 11 months ago

I really don't believe at this point upgrading the uniforms is a priority for Weis or his staff. Theydefinitely have more important issues to fix. After we get back to winning I really don't care how the uniforms look as long as we get wins!!! Just sayin;

Ben Kliewer 4 years, 11 months ago

Well yeah, I'm not saying that the uniforms are a priority. I was just commenting on it. We're all already talking and reading about the actual priorities that need fixing. We can talk about other things too. The numbers still look awful.

shelleysue 4 years, 11 months ago

I like this idea too. I get all the arguments about winning is more important etc. but you have to admit that a bad a** uniform ads a certain swagger to the players. It's the little things that make a big difference.

shelleysue 4 years, 11 months ago

Agreed. These kids need an upgrade. Someone needs to make this happen.

captku 4 years, 11 months ago

yes, my opinion also is that they need to be upgraded.

kerbyd 4 years, 11 months ago

Maybe they got them in China like the U.S. Olympic team.

Mike Barnhart 4 years, 11 months ago

Way to go Ahperse, thanks for the uniform discussion!

99yard_run 4 years, 11 months ago

Huh? Were we watching the same game? It is going to be a loooong season. Rice smacks us 34-27.

bradh 4 years, 11 months ago

"The KU defense blocked two punts (Josh Ford and Chris Omigie), recovered a fumble (Josh Williams) and picked off four passes (two for Bradley McDougald and one each for Tyler Patmon and Corrigan Powell)."

With all that, we only beat SDSU by two touchdowns? I like the win, but I agree with 99, it sounds like it could be another long season. I do think we're on the right track and maybe we just needed a game to get used to playing together as a team.

1timbob 4 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, I thought the same thing with that many turnovers and special teams play....... the final score should have been at least 50 points.

Ben Kliewer 4 years, 11 months ago

It will not be as long of a season as one where we start off with a loss to an FCS school...

Doug Cramer 4 years, 11 months ago

Thoughts on the game:

1: O-line...nice job run blocking. 2: Pierson and Cox...nice job running the ball. 3: Weis...decent job adjusting game plan in 2nd half. 4: Secondary...way to create turnovers ! 5: Kale Pick...nice job of receiving. I trust his hands more than any other receiver. 6: Linebackers didn't look too bad.

A few negatives: 7: D-line Is only SLIGHTLY better than last year...and doesn't have much room to improve. 8: Crist was very rusty 9: I feel bad for Bourbon...he's good but his minutes are numbered.

Ultimately the D-line just doesn't have the talent to compete with Big 12 O-lines. Once SDSU's starting QB came in and they started passing...once again...the QB had all day to throw.

I'm sticking with my original prediction of 3 wins this season.

Rivethead 4 years, 11 months ago

Table_Rock you must have watched a different game than me. You know those 5 interceptions the secondary had? The ones your excited about? They were ALL the result of the the SDSU QB throwing before he was ready because he was being pressured by KU D linemen. This D Line is light years ahead of last seasons. Tavai was double and tripled teamed and STILL was able to shed the blockers and make tackles. We haven't had an impact player like that since....well probalby McClinton. The only issue I see if finding the right combination of linemen and being consistent. Looked like Campo was purposely trying all the combination available to him to see which unit gelled the best. Oh, and then there's that McKinney kid arriving next week. You haven't even seen him play and you're already saying the D-line doesn't have much room to grow?

John Mueller 4 years, 11 months ago

Disagree. Their qb had plenty of time. Given the opponent our performance on the line of scrimmage was a C on offense and a D on defense. Without significant improvement on the line of scrimmage, this is a 3-4 win team

troutsee 4 years, 11 months ago

I share your concerns. However, overall the team is better than a year ago. Still, we were poor in the red zone against a team from an inferior league. We were unable to sustain drives except for our last drive. Yes, we had two guys run for over 100 yards but our play inside their 10 was weak. The play of Christ was disappointing. I hope that improves or we are in for another long season

Tricky Gnosis 4 years, 11 months ago

That game was tough to watch, because if this is any indication of what the season holds, we are going to get embarrassed by the top tier teams this year.

That defense was horrrrrrible. . Saw some attempted arm tackles, saw some guys just getting flat out-muscled, saw some bad footwork. The only improvement I saw from last season is that I didn't see 7 guys abandoning their positions to try and chase the ball.

april28 4 years, 11 months ago

Wrong. Defense was actually solid. 99-yard run and some junk yards at the end of the game accounted for 40 percent of the total. Pass rush was weak, that needs to be fixed.

Steve Gantz 4 years, 11 months ago

I didn't get to see the game, but the first two paragraphs of this article seem to be quite a stretch when you consider the team on the east sideline was from South Dakota St.

99yard_run 4 years, 11 months ago

Agree, when the glue high wears off they'll be jolted to the reality that this team has a looong way to go to be able to compete at a Big 12 level.

Kevin Crook 4 years, 11 months ago

It wasn't a bad first game. The opportunities were definitely there for us to have won by 28 or 35-points if not more. This gives us a nice place to start as we head into the season. We need to shake off the nerves and the rust. If there is not a significant improvement next week in our chemistry and timing it might bode really badly for us. That wasn't a terrible team we played last night. I don't think anyone really believed we weren't going to get throttled by the elite teams regardless if we had beaten these guys by 35. We may be VASTLY better than last year and only be 3-9.

LSHawk 4 years, 11 months ago

It wasnt a great game for our guys but it was a win. Nobody thought we would challenge for the Big 12 title, this team is a work in progress. Still have a chance to win 4 to 5 games.

99yard_run 4 years, 11 months ago

Agree, but there are a lot of 8-4 predictions on this message board.

KansasRedLegger 4 years, 11 months ago

Hmm, screen name 99 yard run who registered on Sept. 2, 2012, and knows about the "predictions on this message board." tmcats - you are an idiot.

texashawk10 4 years, 11 months ago

Prove it, 6-6 with a couple of 7-5 predictions is the best that's been posted on here.

kranny 4 years, 11 months ago

We still need speed and a lot of it. We were very vanilla. No blitz packages and ran what looked like a cover 3 the whole night. Didn't want to give away too much I guess against this team.

Kevin Crook 4 years, 11 months ago

We didn't take advantage of some opportunities we had to really build a big lead, and after we put the wood to them in the third quarter our play calling got too conservative. Tavai is a beast on the d-line and it was great to see guys IN POSITION to make the interceptions they made. We aren't Alabama, mercy sakes who is, but we are so much better than last year already.

Randy Bombardier 4 years, 11 months ago

I don't know why you are bothering us. Your wildcats didn't seem so hot for most of their game.

machinegun 4 years, 11 months ago

On a night when Dayne Crist was off target, the team showed the kind of effort that was lacking all of last year especially in the second half. That is the difference between Coach Weis and the Preacher. You keep playing as hard as you can until the game is over.

Could you tell what Charlie Weis was saying on the sideline. Ha Ha! No place for choir boys.

Do you really want to focus on uniforms? Why not talk about the positive changes that are taking place right in front of your eyes.

KGphoto 4 years, 11 months ago

Definitely didn't open up the playbook other than the first play. I expected to see a few more play action passes to break it up, especially in the red zone. I think Weis is holding back a little for bigger games.

Love that Diamond Dixon called the pass on 4th down and one, at the two yard line. Bob Davis asked if it would be a run or pass, she said pass. I laughed out loud and then they did it. Nice.

I think my wife had the closest pick. She had 27-17, with KU starting slow and being out of sync because of all the new players and position changes, then coming on late to put it away. Not bad.

Don't know if Crist is game-rusty or what, but he had a few stinkers including a couple sure TDs to wide open Ragone and Patterson in the end zone. Then the fumble by Cox in the red zone. This game could've easily been 28-7 at the half.

The defense definitely played well outside of the 99 yarder, and at the end when they started playing a little prevent and allowing all the 5-10 yard out patterns underneath.

Honestly I have to agree with Weis. I think they showed what they are capable of, and the mistakes that kept this one close are very fixable. Several teams in college football, with less turnover than KU, came out a little cold yesterday, including Oklahoma and Wisconsin.

Would like to have seen a flawless game, but I'll take what we got so far.

Randy Bombardier 4 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, we scored 14 points in the short time she (Diamond Dixon) was in the booth. I'm thinkin, we need a new mascot.

Patrick Leiker 4 years, 11 months ago

Overall I was ok with the defensive performance. Our offense had a lot of short possessions and kept putting the d back on the field (many due to Crist missing wide open receivers), and the defense held up. One thing I'm disappointed in is Opurum. I keep waiting for him to become a playmaker for the defense and it doesn't happen. He is a liability on the end when teams run at him.

Fototherapist 4 years, 11 months ago

I agree about Toben. I don't know what all the hype is about. I still feel he was a far better running back than DE/LB.

Ethan Berger 4 years, 11 months ago

Not impressed at all. Lets start on offense QB- Crist had a poor game. Didn't help that he was getting more pressure then he should agagainst an fcs school. Innacurate most game. Needs to step it up. RB- made the o line look better then they did. Created runs with quick jukes and giod vision. Needs to break more tackles WR- Welcome back patterson we missed you. Pick caught everything thrown his way but one pass. DJ was pathetic the first half. Alligatored armed two passes. Big disapoitment. OL- Very average show. 5ypc is good against fbs schools, average against fcs. While christ wasnt running for his life, should still have been afforaded more time.
Te/fb soild play didnt see much to judge DL- looked good. Really got good push off the edge. Reynolds needs more pt he makes play. Outside that 99 yrd run, didnt allow much run room. LBS- Did good. Once again outside the 99 yrd run made good plays and hits. DBs- really impressed. Alot of coverage pressure because of these guys. Once they started running the no huddle they struggled some. But only twice were they badly out of place. ST- punt teams looked good kick off looked bad. Josh ford was a playmaker. Great block and crackrack block on the return.

Overall C- grade. Gotta beat fcs teams better then 14 points and cant get outgained (more because of the offense not poor play by the d)

shelleysue 4 years, 11 months ago

Dear KU Athletics. Please. NEVER stop showing the Reesing to Meier clip from the BEST GAME EVER. Makes me happy. EVERY time. Thanks!

Randy Bombardier 4 years, 11 months ago

Crist needs to play like a college quarterback, not an NFL wannabe. If he wants a shot at that he has to be here and now, not wondering if his passes look tight enough. If he is not being accurate that's why. He is not trying to be accurate as much as look like he's got "the arm".
He can do much better.

Bee Bee 4 years, 11 months ago

I amazed at fans of a team that won 2 games last year are worried about the uniforms! KU can wear burlap sacks and leather helmets for all I care, JUST WIN GAMES! Bama, SC, Notre Dame etc have had basically the same uniform for decades, they ve done okay I think. C mon people, priorities.

Nice win last night!

Micky Baker 4 years, 11 months ago

If we're talking about a guy that has played a down in a real game for nearly a full year, the passing game was a little off. Crist will be fine. That was the worst part of the game last night.

A really experienced QB for the 4th ranked team in the nation didn't do so well last night either. 24-7 for OU at UTEP and UTEP missed 3 Field Goals, not blocked, just missed. Penn State lost to Ohio. Florida defeat Bowling Green 27-13.

I'm okay with this. Remember Gill? 6-3 loss in his debut.

Robert Brown 4 years, 11 months ago

Nice to get a win even if was against a team projected to finish sixth on the Missouri Valley. Given the NDSU debacle two years ago, I guess this is progress. From a coaching standpoint this was not a bad thing. There are a lot of things to work on. Rice will be tough offensively and will be a good test. Remember last year, K-State rallied to beat Eastern Kentucky. No one would have projected a ten win season. I still holding out for four wins. At NIU will be tough meaning we may need two conference wins to get to four.

Brak 4 years, 11 months ago

My take from being at the game yesterday: first of all the atmosphere was off the hook to start the game but I noticed by the 3rd quarter a lot of the students and other fans left even though the game was fairly close. It was very cool to see the players, band, and students come together the sing at the end, you could tell they were all really into it.

While it was nice to come away with a win, like Coach Weis said they didn't play that great and there will be a lot to learn and tweak for next week. It's how the whole team responds to the critiques going into next week will really show a lot about their character. I would have loved to have seen more pressure on the QB, I think we only had one sack and most plays it seemed like their QB had forever in the pocket. Also as someone else pointed out that the O line was struggling to get that push on many of the run plays because besides a few big runs Tony Pierson was held to only a few yards on most of his carries. There is reason to celebrate and at times they showed flashes of brilliance but it's going to be a long season and I have faith this team will continue to improve.

Ron Prichard 4 years, 11 months ago

I can't believe all the people jumping off the bandwagon already. I guess everyone is ready to say, "I told you so." Did KU look sharp? Not really. Did we improve from last year? Definitely. Will we improve from week one to week two? Absolutely.

For everyone who thinks KU sucks because we didn't win by 40 points, consider this: Wisconsin (ranked 12) beat UNI by 5; South Carolina (ranked 9) beat Vandy by 4; Stanford (ranked 21) beat San Jose State by 3; OU (ranked 4) beat UTEP by 17, but was only up 3 going into the fourth quarter; Florida (ranked 23) beat Bowling Green by 13 but was only up 3going into the fourth quarter; and last but certainly not least, KSU (ranked 22) won big, but was only up by 7 in the fourth quarter. And those are just teams in the top 25 that had tight games against decidedly lesser opponents.

This team is not great, but it is getting better, and in a few weeks could actually be pretty good. I saw lots of room for improvement but also saw lots of good things and things to be excited about. I said this team would finish anywhere from 4-8 to 6-6 and I'm going to stick with that.

texashawk10 4 years, 11 months ago

This was far from a clean game for KU, but there are plenty of encouraging signs going forward. The offense definitely left plenty of points out on the field, but they at least had the opportunities to score those points which was rarely the cast last year. The OLine does need to work on their short yardage blocking because that's where the biggest problem running the ball was. Dayne Crist was rusty, but he wasn't making bad decisions as he only 3 ill advised throws all night. The biggest issue this team had last night was when KU was kicking off with both that kickoff itself and with the coverage. Those are correctable issues (except maybe the kickoff itself unless KU has a kicker with a stronger leg) and now that the coaching the staff has actually game film of this team, they know the issues now and what they need to do to fix them. The biggest improvement a makes is generally between games 1 and 2 so I'll wait until after the Rice before I start guessing how many wins this team can realistically get this year.

Brad Miller 4 years, 11 months ago

Great article Matt Tait, very fine write-up. I was on the edge of my chair the whole game, which, miraculously, was on TV! This team is going to get better I have no doubt.

jayhawkboogeyman 4 years, 11 months ago

"It has been a long time since a football team at Kansas University did something that deserved to be compared to the magical 2007 squad, which finished 12-1 and won the Orange Bowl."

Beating a lower division team by two scores in a game that was mainly close throughout is nothing to compare to anything that happened in 07. I hope this season goes that well, but let's be honest: that opening paragraph is a hell of a hyperbole.

Matt Tait 4 years, 11 months ago

The comparison was because of the 2 running backs rushing for 100 yards in the same game... Last time that happened, as indicated in the story, was in 2007. Hence the comparison.

Thanks for checking out the coverage. Have a great week!

Setherick 4 years, 11 months ago

No one has specifically said this yet although a lot of people have talked around it. KU played last night like a team that no one - coaches, fans, or media - had expected anything out of for the past two-and-a-half years. They lacked confidence. They missed opportunities because they got over excited (Patmon's dropped pick-six). And several times they were out-hustled and out-powered (out-hearted?) by a team that no one expected to win anyway. But I think a lot of this is to be expected, even welcomed, because they buckled down when they had to and won the game.

As Matt and everyone else on the site have written about, Weis and co have done a good job changing the off season mentality of the program. What we saw last night is how much Weis and co have to do to change the gameday mentality of the program. Toben made a similar point in the postgame interviews when he mentioned how the team showed more mental toughness than they have had in the past after they allowed that 99 yard run.

We can talk all about the talent and lack of talent that the team has, but until they gain some confidence on the field, it won't matter anyway. The good thing about last night, though, is that few players were out of position and there were few real costly mistakes (1 int, 1 fumble, 1 low block that negated a big play).

wildjayhawk 4 years, 11 months ago

What a difference a coach makes. Wonder how stupid gill is doing with his high school team?

Randy Bombardier 4 years, 11 months ago

Well overall my opinion about how well we did is a lot of deduction. For instance I would say one reason we had four picks is because we had pressure up front. So, to say our front underperformed and did not get enough sacks does not tell the whole picture. Since I did not see the game, but was listening, take this for what it is worth. I liked the first call, but then I would have got immediately to the ground game and some play action, but mostly work through the jitters on the ground where Cox was a delightful surprise (to me). I watched the youtube highlight of Cox's long run and he stiff arms for 30 yards against three guys. Very impressive. Since I did not see the game I don't know what we were doing with Pierson but I would emphasize running north and south with him, especially on the left side, maybe some trap plays. I also would have liked to see Crist throwing to some of our bigger guys down the field and the shifty guys on the short routes with Pierson out of the backfield in space. If we were not doing these things I would think it is because we are holding back. This was largely an exercise to see what we have. I don't see this game as too telling. Next week will be a bit more telling, yet my optimism has probably been dampened and now I am hoping we get six wins.

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