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Monday, August 19, 2013

Special teams standout Ford aims for KU’s starting WR job

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Kansas special teams coach Clint Bowen looks to hug receiver Josh Ford after Ford's blocked punt by South Dakota State in the second quarter, Saturday, September 1, 2012 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas senior receiver Josh Ford is ready to be more than a special teams player.

“I’ll be a lot more tired this year,” Ford said with a laugh, “but I’m up for the challenge.”

After spending most of last season third at X receiver on the depth chart, Ford’s strong camp has put him in position to compete for a starting job.

The 6-foot-3, 207-pound second-year Jayhawk said he was running with the No. 1s at the X receiver position Monday, at least temporarily ahead of friend Justin McCay.

“We’re still competing,” Ford said. “I’m not locked down at the 1. He’s still trying to get the 1s back, and I’m trying to not go back down.”

Ford and McCay shared a class together last year and have spent many hours after workouts playing the video game “Call of Duty.”

“It’s crazy, because me and him are like best friends, but at the same time, we’re trying to see who is going to be on the field more,” Ford said. “It’s emotional when one of us is in the front and one of us is in the back. But it’s friendly competition.”

Ford, a juco transfer who made one start at receiver last year against Baylor, said his strengths at the position were being able to go up to get the ball with his size and also having the ability to avoid getting jammed at the line of scrimmage.

The Landover, Md., native made a name for himself a year ago as a special teams specialist. He racked up nine special teams tackles to go with a blocked punt and a forced fumble and said he would keep all the same special teams duties this year.

Comments

Keith Hummel 1 year ago

Josh Ford has the potential to be that breakout receiver we've been waiting for. He has the size (6-3, 207), the speed (runs a 4-4 40), and the toughness (watch any highlight of his special teams play from last year). He just seemed to be swimming last year, trying to learn all the plays and formations, and adjusting to the speed of Big-12 ball. I expect this year to be very different, however, especially now that I know he has been pushing McCay for that #1 spot.

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Rivethead 1 year ago

It sounds to me like the other way around.....McCay has been pushing Ford for that #1 sport.

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qringer 1 year ago

Wasn't the biggest issue with Josh last year actually catching the ball? I am rooting for him. We need a impact player at receiver in a BIG way.

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Robert Brock 1 year ago

Yep. Like all our receivers, he simply could not catch the durn thang.

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David Leathers 1 year ago

Actually I don't remember ever hearing that he had a hard time catching the ball. I may be wrong , but I think the biggest knock on him last year be was his inability to learn the complex offense that Weis runs. His ability, however, was shown more than once as a special teams standout.

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Keith Hummel 1 year ago

That's my recollection as well.

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Saguaro_Jayhawk 1 year ago

No, his hands are fine. As somebody else wrote, the offensive sets were more sophisticated than expected.

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Andy Tweedy 1 year ago

So speaking of defense. Bowen was the special teams coach in 2007 correct? Can't recall if he had that role or if he was already working more with the defense. Just curious, I was thinking about that Orange Bowl win and how big a part our special teams played.

In regards to Ford, not sure if he'll help on O or not, but he was really good on special teams last year, so he's important regardless.

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Jason Keller 1 year ago

Just think of whatever unit was KU's weakest unit, that is the one Bowen was in charge of. I mean seriously, follow his KU career. Every season, whatever unit he was in charge of, was our worst unit. Look at last year. The man can't coach but has good ties to KU and the kids trust him.

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Keith Hummel 1 year ago

Again with the Bowen Bashing? What exactly did he do to you? Shoot your dog? Steal your girlfriend?

Look, I'm not related to Bowen, don't know the guy, don't have any agenda except the truth. Here is the truth as I have been able to ascertain it. Please correct me where I'm wrong.

From 2001 to 2005 Bowen was head of Special Teams. Virtually every year of that time KU was in the top 50, if not the top 35 in most special teams categories. In 2003 KU ranked 9th Nationally in Punt Returns. In 2005 they ranked 6th Nationally in Kickoff Return Yardage defense. Perhaps it didn't measure up to what K-State was doing during that same period, but it wasn't awful either.

Bowen was promoted to co-defensive coordinator in 2007. That unit was one of the best defensive teams in KU history. It held its opponents to just 94.8 rushing yards per game and held six opponents to less than 200 yards passing. They ranked fourth in the nation in scoring defense and ranked in the top 10 nationally in both passing defense and rushing defense. You could argue that Bowen had nothing to do with that success, and that it was all due to Bill Young, but then how would you explain 2008?

In January of 2008 Bowen replaced Bill Young as KU's Defensive Coordinator. That defense forced 25 turnovers and recorded 29 sacks as nine different players recorded interceptions and 14 different Jayhawks registered sacks. Five players on the defensive side of the ball earned All-Big 12 recognition at the end of the year, including first-team selection Darrell Stuckey, one of Bowen's safeties. Kansas also ranked third in the Big 12 in pass efficiency defense and fourth in rushing defense. The Jayhawks ranked 28th nationally against the run, allowing just 123 yards per game on the ground.

The 2009 Bowen-coached defense did not fare as well, partly because the offense was struggling, and partly because of all the stuff that got stirred up about Mangino. That unit ranked 76th in the country in total defense (which is still WAY better than what they've done recently). You can blame Bowen for that year if you want, but then you'd have to blame a bunch of other coaches who also stunk.

In 2010 Bowen took a job as the defensive coordinator for Western Kentucky University. He took over a Hilltopper defense that finished the 2009 season as the worst (statistically) in FBS. That same defense finished the 2010 season ranked 68th in the country, and third overall in the Sun Belt, giving up an average of 380 yards per game. Not too shabby for one year of work. The improvement was so impressive, in fact, that WKU tried desperately to keep him from leaving.

He spent one year at North Texas in 2011 where he neither had a great year or a bad year, then signed on with Coach Weis in 2012. No, KU did not do well in 2012 but you can't seriously blame that all on Bowen.

Considering all that, I don't think history backs up your assertion that he "can't coach".

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Andy Tweedy 1 year ago

Damn, got my answer about what his role was in 2007 and an unofficial bio! NICE!!!

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Dave Roberts 1 year ago

Very well researched AtLarge. You've convinced me, at least, that Clint Bowen is a standout coach and that we're lucky to have him at KU. Thanks for putting in the work and effort to contradict what appears to have been a malicious anti-Bowen post.

Dave

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Max Ledom 1 year ago

Why does this always happen. I get really excited for a big name player who is supposed to be dominant Justin McCay, and he's arguably not going to be the starter by Week 1! By all means, awesome job Josh! If you are the better receiver you are the better receiver! But man this always seems to happen! This must mean Justin isn't quite as good as we thought.

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Keith Hummel 1 year ago

...or maybe Josh Ford is better than we thought, or maybe Weis isn't happy with McCay's effort and put Ford in front of him as motivation, or perhaps they are both really good. It doesn't have to necessarily be bad news (I know we KU Football fans are conditioned to assume it always is). I, for one, think it's been established already that McCay is the real deal. So when I hear Ford may be just as good, or better, that sounds like GREAT news for KU Football. Throw Coleman, Pierson, Mathews , and Mundine into that mix and it suddenly looks like we have a nice group of receivers.

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David A. Smith 1 year ago

Well said. The mindset of KU football followers of both fans and bashers is one of the toughest obstacles to overcome for a new culture to ensue.

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bville_hawk 1 year ago

I think it means we have more options at WR than we thought. Justin McCay is the real deal and will have a great year and hopefully Josh will as well.

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Dirk Medema 1 year ago

McCay and Ford are on the same side. Matthews is on the other side. Bourbon is already out of the backfield and into the slot. Miller is more likely to end up backing up Sims as he did by the end of his Frosh year.

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bigtex 1 year ago

Ford was physical last year on specially teams. Looking forward to watching him. McCay was released by Oklahoma with no restrictions from Bobby Stoops, Stoops was willing to let McCay go to any Big 12 school. That said it does not surprise me to see other receivers pass McCay on the depth chart.

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wsumsz28 1 year ago

Stars for players, sometimes over-rated, sometimes under. I think McKay saw the hand-writing on the wall at OU and decided to transfer. They always have a lot of WR talent and are stacked up. New WR's have to work hard to learn their system and rise to playing time, but Stoops plays the best regardless of their age and Coach Weis is no different. Highschool ratings don't mean much when they arrive at a D1 program like KU or OU. McKay has incredible talent, but never has had the best work ethic. Yes, I can see Ford passing him up, especially as he is willing to work hard every day.

I hope Ford pushes McKay to the top or himself to starting, and I hope McKay learns to give his best every day. Nuff said!

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wsumsz28 1 year ago

Sorry, spelling, McCay.

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