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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Keegan

Upset NIU? You bet

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Upsets happen when a football team feels disrespected. They happen when an underdog realizes what it does well and has the confidence to do it repeatedly, stubbornly believing it will work.

No reason Kansas University should not pull off the upset Saturday in DeKalb, Ill., against a Northern Illinois squad favored by 10 points. A Mid-American Conference team isn’t supposed to be favored by a touchdown and field goal against a Big 12 squad, but that’s where the betting line opened, the oddsmakers not-so gently slapping the Jayhawks across the face.

The Huskies, coached by former Mark Mangino assistant Dave Doeren, whose desire for the KU job after Turner Gill’s firing was unrequited, are coming off a 41-40 victory against Army in West Point, N.Y.

Army pretty much blows off the forward pass, attempting just three against NIU. The Black Knights, pummeled 42-7 by San Diego State in the opening week of the season, didn’t need the forward pass to score six touchdowns. The Northern Illinois defense allowed 486 rushing yards in that one.

In leading Iowa to a Week 1, 18-17 victory against Northern Illinois, Damon Bullock rushed for 150 yards.

The KU offensive line has the strength to get the better of the NIU defense and consistently open rushing lanes for big-play back Tony Pierson, relentless Taylor Cox and returning James Sims, the team’s leading rusher the past two seasons.

Running the football is what Kansas does best offensively, and creating turnovers is the strength of the defense. KU, Alabama and Mississippi State all have a national-best 12 turnovers gained. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs are a combined 6-0. KU is 1-2 because its offense hasn’t clicked, particularly in the red zone.

Look for that to change Saturday and look for never-shy Charlie Weis to throw some different twists into the running game. He calls his Wildcat offense the Jayhawk, for obvious reasons, and hasn’t shown much of it yet. Nobody should be surprised if Pierson and Sims take direct snaps now and then, with quarterback Dayne Crist watching some plays from the sideline.

Army dared Northern Illinois to stop the run, and Kansas can do the same. The difference: KU can build toward a play-action pass home run or two with Crist finding Daymond Patterson or Andrew Turzilli open down the field.

The Huskies’ rush defense ranks 115th out of 124 Football Bowl Subdivision teams, allowing 229.3 yards per game.

Pounding Cox, Sims and Pierson all day also keeps NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch off the field. Lynch ranks 19th in the nation with 304.7 yards in total offense, a third of it coming on the ground, the rest through the air.

The Huskies make for a tough opponent, but there is no reason to believe Kansas can’t be tougher.

Comments

wats211 1 year, 7 months ago

NIU by 10.....are you serious.....all we have to do is run Sims...Sims....SIMS....and then Dayne with some play action..KU wins outright...so you want to pay for Christmas...this is a gift..KU wins 31-20

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niueric 1 year, 7 months ago

C'mon you guys. I am an NIU fan through-and-through, but it's not like you are playing either one of our state's Big Ten teams. We may be better than either one of those teams, but alas, we are only a MAC team. You guys should be lookin at this game as an automatic "W." I am really surprised that you are 10-pt underdogs. I am also really surprised that you are coming to a stadium that only seats 24,000. Face it...We have everything to gain---and you have everything to lose in this game.

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Jason Keller 1 year, 7 months ago

KU has the worst kicker I have ever seen in any college game ever in my life. I have seen several NAIA games (Ottawa) and several JUCO games (Butler, Garden) and both of their kickers would put this Dougherty kid or however you spell it to shame. I'm not one to blast a kid but as an adult, if you know you can't kick it past the 15 yard line, you need to understand what you are doing to your team and tell the coaches to find someone else.

Bottom line: KU's kicker, until he is replaced, will cost KU around 10 points every game. Thats obviously a rough estimate but starting at the 40 every drive is hard on a defense. For me, kickoffs have been by far the most embarassing part of this season.

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DocPossum 1 year, 7 months ago

Crist is a big reason you see improvement in the offense. He still has work to do! KU squeaks out a win in Dekalb.

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danmoore 1 year, 7 months ago

Oh how the mighty have fallen. It's hard to believe how much we've regressed since the Orange Bowl. 10 point underdogs to a MAC team!

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741hawk 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm advocating recruiting a kicker from small college ranks. I watched the KU game from our tailgate in Gunnison, Colorado, then went to the Western State vs Adams State game. The Adams State kicker kicked it out of the end zone EVERY time. Granted, it was at 7,771 feet elevation, but the Western St. kicker was awful, so I know it wasn't just the altitude.

A proven small college kicker wouldn't have to sit out a year . . . and would be proven. Surely there are a bunch of 'em that would welcome a full-ride at a Division 1 school.

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Steve Jacob 1 year, 7 months ago

Hard game to predict, BCS schools don't go to non-BCS schools that often. And this is the year bottom BCS schools have been beaten regularly by lower tier schools.

Than you have to throw out that Army game stats, you have five days to prepare for 1930's era football.

I say NIU by 7. I will take Jordan Lynch over Crist any day.

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gdkadjayhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Just because we have some good runners doesn't mean we can run on NIU the way Army did. Army may not be a top-tier team, but they do run the option, which is tough to defend. Most defenses have to do a crash course for just 1 week to prepare for it. Obviously NIU had trouble defending it.

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Micky Baker 1 year, 7 months ago

If NIU gave up 487 yards to Army, and we force just two TOs and hold onto the ball, KU by 21 or more Saturday.

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97jhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Did anyone else feel like the officiating for the game wasn't all that stellar? I fee like if I had a quarter for every no-call for holding on TCU I'd be able to do a few loads of laundry over at Duds 'N Suds.

Just watch the 4th quarter around the 6:25 mark. There was clearly holding on TCU which was a huge play for them because it gave them a 1st down on a 4th down play. You could totally see the TCU lineman grabbing the KU defesemen's shoulder pads. This is so cear because you can totally see it over TCU's QB's shoulder when they show the play in slow motion. Also, the goal line play for KU near the end of the 4th quarter when Crist fumbled at the goal line, the TCU left side was clearly off sides. TCU jumped before the ball was hiked.

Probably shouldn't nit pick or blame the game on the refs, but it'd be nice to call it even.

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justinryman 1 year, 7 months ago

I was thinking 3 to 5 wins this year, on coaches nad transfers.

Im not sure if KU gets 2 at this point. Love the way the D plays especially after the past two years when they didn't tackle anyone or go for a pick.

this offense is fine in the run game, but if good D's load the box and we have to rely on Charlies boy I'm not sure that KU gets a second hash mark in the win column.

I hope I'm wrong but what has been happening the past three years plus this one on the field at KU, I odn't think I am.

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hucking_fawks_rock 1 year, 7 months ago

"Pounding Cox................... all day also keeps NIU quarterback Jordan Lynch off the field"

I hope other people found the humor in this.... Well done Keegan. Taking notes from your own playbook eh? YOU BET!

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97jhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

"Pounding Cox..."? Hmmm, seems like a better choice of words could've been picked there with that sentence.

Do they sell Crimson & Blue Kool-Aid at Dillion's? They must be sold out cause Keegan has all of it in his cupboard. Usually Keegs is first to be devil's advocate with all things KU Athletics. Oh wait, maybe he's using reverse psychology devil's advocacy. Very interesting. Now we're cooking with butter!

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Mike Barnhart 1 year, 7 months ago

KU should win this game. Our arrow is pointing up, NIU's arrow pointing down. Big 12 vs. Mid-America. Hopefully turned a corner last Saturday. This will be a good measuring stick for the program.

FYI: Less then 3 years ago KU stood at 3-0, outscoring opponents 127-26! LESS - THEN - 36- MONTHS - ago! Wow!!

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gardenjay 1 year, 7 months ago

As a true blue KU football fan, I have to believe. It's a difficult sport, but I'm thinking KU by 3 points against NIU. Also, I am very upbeat about the season ahead, you can't just change a program overnight. Mangino sure didn't. How did he get his players, anyway? That was a separate topic.

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KGphoto 1 year, 7 months ago

Riding our stable full of horses to a victory sounds great, it looks possible on paper, and I'm sure it would work. I just don't see Weis doing it.

Charlie knows something about our passing game that we don't. He was moving the ball on the ground last week, only to totally abandon the run in the second half. He want's to get the passing game on track. For Charlie, it's TIME to get the pass on track. It seems very calculated, which is no surprise. In retrospect, last weeks offense looked more like a scripted game plan, than adjusting on the fly, playing to our strengths, and giving us the best chance to win.

I'm okay with this if he's right about Crist and the talent on hand. Remember it's a chess match for Charlie. He might be willing to lose that game if it meant Crist finally got tracked in the process, giving KU a better chance down the road.

I think he IS looking down the road, which is really good for KU. He has a way he wants to play football and, to some degree, he views all games as practices until they are playing football the way he wants. This Saturday will be no different. Don't expect him to sell out for the win. He'll make frustrating decisions in the name of becoming a better team heading into the following week.

Worst case scenario: Crist has maxed out. We don't improve on Saturday. Weis continues to push the pass in order to get Dayne tracked, even though it isn't working, and we get our a$$ handed to us by our former coach.

Best case scenario: KU actually DID turn the corner last week because of all the reps. Crist and his receivers have stirred together enough chemistry, and scraped off enough rust, to start playing Charlie ball and scoring touchdowns. No more practice necessary, and it's time to start using what we've built, and selling out for wins in the Big 12.

Most likely scenario: Just what you think. Right down the middle. We run effectively but don't stick with it, like most of us will want. Crist gets plenty of chances and increases his chemistry and production with the receivers. We score more points, but fail to make a statement. Pulling out a win, while getting closer to Charlie's goal. Being competitive in the Big 12.

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kugrad93 1 year, 7 months ago

Having seen KU lose on the road against powerhouses like UNLV, Northwestern and Baylor (before RG3), I'm not going to get overly optimistic. The Hawks have been terrible on the road dating back (at least) to Terry Allen.

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jimjones 1 year, 7 months ago

Doeren reloaded at QB this year Jordan Lynch has done a nice job in his first year. NIU came close with Iowa and outscored Army. Both of these teams are better than KU right now. Yeah, KU could pull this one off, but I watched the NIU/Iowa game and I'd have to go with the oddsmakers. I'd say a 7-10pt difference in favor of NIU.

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clevelandjayhawker 1 year, 7 months ago

I hope we are actively recruiting a kicker

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Jim Jackson 1 year, 7 months ago

We should beat these guys.

Crist showed improvement against a more talented TCU team albeit he is very immobile.

Addtionally, I like our Oline. Dayne had plenty of time and I also think we have some pretty good backs.

Would like to see more of Anthony Mcdonald out there, hopefully he can stay healthy.

I thought Heeney was solid but he's clearly not in the upper echelon of Big 12 LBs, there were numerous occasions to where he was in place to make a tackle but could not execute.

I love the progress. Rock Chalk!

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Andy Tweedy 1 year, 7 months ago

I was at the game Saturday, and it wasn't as bad as it could have been. But Crist just isn't very good IMHO. He made a couple really nice passes, but that shouldn't be such a pleasant surprise from a guy with his size and experience. He was under 50% and I still think he's too indecisive to be effective. There was a play, in the second quarter I think, where I could see Patterson come open in the endzone from all the way in the south end of the stadium, but for some reason Crist could not. I just don't see this ending well for him. Hope I'm wrong!

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ccarp 1 year, 7 months ago

I like our run game and am excited about the turnovers, but the countdown started after the national championship game. 26 days to go.

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rtwngr 1 year, 7 months ago

Running the ball will be the only way they win. If they have to depend on Crist's accuracy, they'll come home 1-3.

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Danny Hernandez 1 year, 7 months ago

I have our Jayhawks winning by 21

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Dirk Medema 1 year, 7 months ago

My recollection from the NIU-Army gamecast was that the Huskies didn't have much of anything in the way of sustained drives.It was feast on a big play or bust. Limit the big plays, and this is quite doable. NIU isn't as good as the road opponents the last 3 yrs.

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79ictjhawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Not only a good shot at winning this one, but probably the last & best shot at winning another game this year. Lose this one & it's start the countdown for Late Night in the Phog. .

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pepper_bar 1 year, 7 months ago

One more stat that Mr. Keegan left out: KU hasn't won a road football game in over three years. Let's keep the expectations at a reasonable level for now.

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