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Sunday, September 16, 2012

KU tied for turnover lead

John Young/Journal-World Photo
Kansas players scramble to recover a fumble during their game against Rice Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

John Young/Journal-World Photo Kansas players scramble to recover a fumble during their game against Rice Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

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John Young/Journal-World Photo Kansas players scramble to recover a fumble during their game against Rice Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Anyone needing proof that the Kansas University football team’s defense has taken a step forward from the woeful performances that were common during the past couple of seasons need look no further than the company the Jayhawks keep in total turnovers.

The Jayhawks (1-2 overall, 0-1 Big 12) lead the nation with 12 turnovers gained through three games and sit in a first-place tie with top-ranked Alabama and 23rd-ranked Mississippi State — both 3-0.

“That was the second thing I talked about with the team today,” KU coach Charlie Weis said Sunday night. “The first thing was playing hard for 60 minutes. After how hard they played, the turnovers were, by far, the next greatest positive.”

During Saturday’s 20-6 loss to No. 16 TCU, the Jayhawks forced four turnovers — all fumbles — and, for the third straight game, finished even or ahead in the turnover battle. The Jayhawks, however, are just 1-1 this season in games in which they have finished with more takeaways.

“It’s very unusual to win the turnover ratio 4-to-2 and lose the game, which is what we did (Saturday),” Weis said.

Forget for a second that KU’s turnovers have not spelled success in the win column. Weis said the early surge was a very positive sign of the progress the KU defense had made.

Ten Jayhawks have contributed to a takeaway, proof, Weis said, that creating turnovers can be contagious.

“Every defense in the country works on stripping the ball,” he said. “But when the ball actually starts coming out and good things end up happening, usually more people want a part of the action.”

Four Jayhawks have forced fumbles, led by two apiece from seniors Toben Opurum and Bradley McDougald. Four Jayhawks also have recorded interceptions, with McDougald leading the team with two and Greg Brown, Tyler Patmon and Corrigan Powell recording one each.

While spreading the wealth has made it possible for the Jayhawks to hope for and even expect a defensive play to be made at any point on the field, Weis said the early success has elevated KU’s confidence.

“Not only do more people try to create turnovers,” he said. “But, the other thing that happens is, instead of waiting for something bad to happen when you get down in the red zone, they expect to turn the ball over, which is a very, very, very strong positive.”

The Jayhawks travel to Northern Illinois on Saturday for a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.

Pick progressing

It’s no secret that KU’s offense, particularly the passing game, has struggled during the first few games. But the Jayhawks may have received a little good news Sunday regarding senior wide receiver Kale Pick, who missed the TCU game because of injury.

“I specifically watched him (during Sunday’s practice),” Weis said. “And he looked like, if we played today, he’d have been a lot closer to 100 percent. He didn’t look as sore as he did a couple days ago.”

In two starts to open the season, Pick caught seven passes for 103 yards, including an average of 14.7 yards per reception.

In Pick’s absence, sophomore Andrew Turzilli and junior Chris Omigie received extended playing time, and Weis said their performances might have been the start of productive seasons.

“With both of them going out there and making plays, it makes it easier to give them real reps,” he said. “We’re starting to believe that we can put ’em in the game and not worry about whether they can make a play.”

Other than freshman offensive lineman Sean Connolly and junior linebacker Prinz Kande, both of whom missed Saturday’s game, Weis said no other Jayhawks were listed as out or doubtful for this weekend.

NIU favored

Northern Illinois, which defeated Army, 41-40, Saturday and moved to 2-1 overall, opened as a 10-point favorite against the Jayhawks this weekend.

Weis was not surprised.

“First, this isn’t a question about whether or not they could beat a BCS-level team,” he said. “This team has done it. Number 2, we’ve lost 13 games in a row on the road. Every week you have to have that one thing to play off of with your team. Well, it’s our first game on the road, and we’ve lost 13 in a row on the road. You don’t need too many things to play off of. You keep harping on the positives and then find the message for the week, and that’ll be the message.”

Comments

JHWKDW 1 year, 7 months ago

Hey any stat like the one we have with getting turnovers is a welcome stat to see.It is going to take 2-3 years to see big improvement, but this is one small step for KU. Hey lets face it we need some encouragement that Weis and his staff are better than the previous guys. No one will mistake our defense for an Alabama, LSU, or even the NFL San Francisco 49er defense, which is a awesome defense to watch, Coach Weis should have his defense watch the Niners play defense especially that Pat Willis play, but what KU is doing in turnovers is great. Keep it up.

Man NIU almost pulled off a upset of Iowa. Anyone see that couple weeks back? They are for real. And hey Iowa and their coach is no easy win. Hey we need to lick our wounds, and get ready for a tough NIU.

Im with you KU Win or lose! Rock Chalk!

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 1 year, 7 months ago

People praise Mangino, and don't get me wrong...so do I. But he was incredibly guilty of this on multiple occasions.

Extremely conservative at the end of games.

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AirCapJay 1 year, 7 months ago

I think the reason we lost to Rice after we had an 11 point lead was Weis wanted to get Crist more experience and build his confidence. Weis abandoned the running game which was working and no doubt would have allowed us to win the game. But Weis needed Crist to gain confidence for future games. I think Weis thought we had the game won, but Crist's interception turned it around for Rice.

Crist looked very good for one drive against TCU. If he can look more like he did on the one drive, we will win a couple against the Big 12. I say we win 3 more games including this weekend against NIU.

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phogphan2000 1 year, 7 months ago

So far the blame is squarely on Weis' shoulders to me. Defense took care of business, but if the offense is going to continue to flake the D eventually will fold under all the undue pressure. You can't keep failing on 4th down plays, can't keep giving up field position, can't keep coming up empty on offense. Offense is his specialty, and we need to see a lot of improvement against NIU. It has to give fans a little hope to see the defense come up with some big plays and big stops, but unless the offense gets it together it won't make any difference and eventually teams will be putting up 50+pts against the D. Get it together coach, this teams needs some consistent offensive output. I don't mind the losses, but I expect to see the offense make big strides this year under Weis.

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Ralster Jayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

LOVE what Campo is doing. OMG, just give him some more speed and size and talent thru recruiting. We could be a top10 team by Weis's 3rd season. But LOTS of work to do to get to that dream...

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Randy Bombardier 1 year, 7 months ago

I think the team is headed in the right direction and the Weiss Gamble was a good bet. It is just going to take longer than many of us thought, me first. I give too much credit to scheming and not enough to player development.

But, if its any consolation to any of you I think K-State is going to get smoked in Norman this weekend. I've always enjoyed our sister school and have always just kinda laughed off the rivalry but I know for some of you its Mizzu Lite. You should enjoy that game. OU is going to stack the box and make Klein prove he can pass it. Only he'll have like 1 second to do it. It is going to be ugly for the Cats. They will probably drop out of the polls.

Give Charlie Weiss six years or so and he will have us at K-States level only I don't believe we will ever get blown out again (unlike K-State on Saturday).

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Tony Bandle 1 year, 7 months ago

It will take patience and good football sense, for us KU football fans to discern improvement in the team because the quality of our opposition will be improving almost exponentially.

  • Four league games against Top 15 teams
  • Four league games with teams who got Top 25 votes
  • Ten point underdog away at last non-league opponent

We may be a better team and still finish 2-10. In fact, every team in the Big Twelve either got votes or got ranked this week except us. This could be a long, ardurous journey indeed.

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jaymar74 1 year, 7 months ago

Crist stands tall in the pocket and does not panic. He has trouble making a quick decision but his ability to stand in the pocket and stay composed will help us against the Big 12 teams we will face. I believe his decision making will improve as he gets more starts and more of the rust comes off and his confidence improves. The best games for Crist are all still ahead.

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Keith Hummel 1 year, 7 months ago

It seems the comments for every article are degrading into a Dayne Crist critique these days. Unfortunate, as there is plenty of blame to go around, but understandable I suppose given the circumstances. I guess I am in the camp that believes Crist played a much better game Saturday, and that the receivers did him no favors. But there is still plenty left to critisize. For one, he continued to make some really poor decisions, most notably the interception he threw into double coverage immediately after the second turnover. Really Dumb! In addition he often still lacks the necessary "touch" on the ball, still seems to have some timing issues with certain receivers, and has shown little mobility in the pocket.

But perhaps the one thing that troubles me the most is his seeming inability to make rapid decisions and to quickly get rid of the ball. In last week's football chat Matt indicated he thought the single biggest issue in our passing game was for Crist to get the ball out quicker. An article by former 49's coach Bill Walsh (see http://www.sportsxchange.com/DS97/walsh/walsh2qb.htm) talks a lot about the importance of this, and says the following:

"The single trait that separates great quarterbacks from good quarterbacks is the ability to make the great, spontaneous decision, especially at a crucial time."

I think this is especially true in the red zone where everything is compressed, and the play develops much, much faster. So far Crist seems to lack the instinct or intuition required in these situations, and I think that's the biggest reason we can't finish a drive. We often say in basketball that the game slows down for the truly great athletes. Seems paradoxical to say that the game needs to slow down for a QB who can't make quick decisions, but I really think that's Dayne's biggest issue right now. According to Bill Walsh, this is a trait you either have or you don't, and you can't do much to coach it. Let's hope Dayne "has" it, and displays it more often in the coming weeks. I'm hopeful he will.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Hate to say it but thus far we seem to be wrong on one of our major off season expectations... The defensive line, the strength/conditioning, the coaching, and most other areas seem to be improved as we expected. We were wrong about Crist.

I'm pretty moderate and level headed in my views and am usually slow to put blame on one or two guys. That being said, this is different. For us to be good this year, Crist HAD TO/HAS TO be a stud. Webb was an average Big 12 QB but that doesn't work when the rest of your roster is sub par by Big 12 standards. You need your most important position to compensate and thus far Crist has fallen short. Rice was a huge loss and a better than average QB could probably have made the difference.

For those saying he needs a lot of time and patience are missing the point. He is a 5th year mercenary that is being asked to perform immediately. In the eyes of recruits, winning 4-5 games would have been a big sign of things to come and the chances of that fell dramatically when we lost to rice.

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Jeff Suther 1 year, 7 months ago

Im pissed when I was a kid I decided to be a KU football fan.

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ttoulouse 1 year, 7 months ago

The "emergence" of the TALL wide receivers will hopefully spell the end of Beshears. So tired of the lack of decent targets for Crist to throw to, not that he isn't to blame as well.

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Danny Hernandez 1 year, 7 months ago

douche alert....just don't get your point ahperse! is it to be a dik

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