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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

Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

Rice... The fans on this board who think that wasn't a giant loss are being delusional. Even Tait (sorry Matt!) has it wrong. Getting to 4-5 wins to prove this program is on the right track was essential for fans, players confidence, and recruits. The Rice loss really diminished our chances of getting to that number. Another 2-3 win season is not going to do much for the majority of fans or recruits. Need to beat NIU and steal a couple games in Big 12.

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NebraskaJayhawk 2 years ago

No offense, but you were one saying we could be bowling this season. So if you're going to talk delusional, you might include yourself. I don't think anyone was disagreeing that it was a win that we needed (against Rice). What some people were saying, myself included, is that nobody knows how good Rice was or is. Obviously their 19 point loss makes our loss against them look worse, but nothing has happened thus far this season that is real suprising to me. Nobody knew for sure Crist was going to have a great season. I think he does have the tools to be a good QB, but his decision making thus far has not been real good. I'm pretty sure you were on board with the Crist / Heap transfers as well as Ragone and McDonald, so let's not start throwing posters on here under the bus so quickly. A win against NIU and we're 2-2 heading into the real Big XII season. I always enjoyed reading your positive posts heading into the season. Please consider remaining so at least until we give this team a chance to prove themselves as the season progresses.

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johnnyhrdwd 2 years ago

Does this mean it's safe to start a quarterback controversy? What about the juco guy or Cummings? Crist looked rocked after fumbling that goal line keeper.

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Danny Hernandez 2 years ago

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

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Ted Toulouse 2 years 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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Jeff Suther 2 years ago

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

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

Just remember the 2 and a half Reesing years... Makes me feel better.

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Cmill1221 2 years ago

I know... I live in Vegas and was watching the game in the sports book. I was so animated watching the game that at one point someone came up to me and asked "Dude... How much are you in for on this game?". I replied: "27 years". I can only think about my dad in his late 50's.

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years 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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BayPark 2 years ago

"For us to be good this year..." "Webb was an average B-12 QB..." "winning 4-5 games..."

Have you been watching the past few years? Do you realize how far behind we are and the talent gap between KU and the rest of the B-12. C'mon bro!

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Bangkok_Jayhawk 2 years ago

What part of that was unreasonable? Webb was an average Big 12 QB. Winning 4-5 games with 3 easy non conference games shouldn't have been a stretch. By "KU being good", I simply meant relevant and showing obvious signs of improvement. At my most optimistic point, I saw this as a 4-6 win team.

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Jeremy Hays 2 years ago

I like Jordan Webb but when someone on here railed on him the argument was that he didn't have anyone to throw to... So now as we worked to improve the defense and obviously bring in some QBs and TEs. McCay would have helped but we don't have a lot of superior consistent Big 12 WRs. So unless you have a better idea, how does a former 5 star (or hell a 1 star) QB throw the ball to anyone when they are blanketed?? Now I know he has missed some throws and that pick early in the game really hurt but that ball to pierson on the sideline was money; the 3 or 4 bombs to Turzulli were pin point. Yes he missed some crossers that he shouldn't have but they were like option 4. I don't think we can say this team is there IF we had a Stud QB because I think we do. Just need Everyone to continue to develop chemistry.

This was not intended as a slam if read that way just wanted to get that off my chest.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

I totally agree. It's the same problem with Matt Cassel. However, I think it can be be improved upon. Here's one reason. If he's in the red zone and needs to make that critical decision quickly, he needs a place to go with it. Right now, if there are chemistry issues, he's probably looking at threading the needle and really risking an INT at the worst time. He needs that confidence in his receivers to make that snap decision and chuck it.

Reesing had it in spades. He would thread the needle anytime without hesitation. He had so much confidence that he actually made the receivers more confident. I don't think Crist has the touch Reesing had, so we may never see Reesing confidence, but it can improve.

Who knows though. He looked much better this week. Could be that it was just a much worse chemistry situation than we all imagined, and Crist will turn into a machine once it's worked out. Hope so.

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jaymar74 2 years 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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Tony Bandle 2 years 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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Randy Bombardier 2 years 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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Jonathan Allison 2 years ago

I hope that we can keep Weis for 6 years.

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Tony Bandle 2 years ago

I agree with plastic...if Charlie even remotely turns us around he will eventually move up to a second chance with a traditional power.

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Curtis Stutz 2 years ago

When has Stoops blown out Snyder? Seems like Snyder always plays him tough and wins plenty. I mean I hope OU is a good enough team to move into the title game so we don't have to have another all-SEC title game which was a total crock, but I don't have much data to suggest KSU won't play OU tough. I'd rather see KSU be the B12 team to crash the title game party but even if they won out they probably wouldn't get the nod.

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Curtis Stutz 2 years ago

Okay, maybe OU will blow them out, did happen last season. I was disappointed in Snyder holding back Klein as a runner in the Cotton Bowl last year when the B12 had a chance to make a statement against a top SEC school.

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Randy Bombardier 2 years ago

58-17 in Manhattan, no less.

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Curtis Stutz 2 years ago

It would be great if KU can find any niche as a cfb school, be it offensive, defensive, any position in particular, just something to draw the attention of some quality recruits.

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Curtis Stutz 2 years 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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Randy Bombardier 2 years ago

Going from the spread, to whatever Gill and Long were running, to a pro-style offense is a lot of change. I am going to chalk that up to a huge learning curve for our guys. In general I think the defense is simpler and the O takes longer to execute and is much more complex. It seems to me that Crist is just having to get more acclimated to play. We are getting better and I bet K-State is not going to roll us this year.

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AirCapJay 2 years 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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Reuben_J_Cogburn 2 years ago

We lost because of the same reason we have always lost games like this...minus a couple of seasons around 2007.

We played not to lose.

You're right in that we abandoned the running game earlier in the second half, but in the fourth quarter, there was at least one pivotal possession when we decided to run the ball 3 times in a row...one a toss that went for -5.

Run the balanced attack the whole game and consistently try to pour it on. Play to win the fricken' game.

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 2 years 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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