Friday, September 20, 2013

KU football notebook: Jayhawks new, old look to bounce back vs. LA Tech

Kansas receiver Christian Matthews takes the snap in the wildcat formation deep in South Dakota territory during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas receiver Christian Matthews takes the snap in the wildcat formation deep in South Dakota territory during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.


WR Matthews still in the mix

After a solid offseason that encouraged Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis to call him by far the Jayhawks' best wide receiver, senior Christian Matthews has fallen off the depth chart.

That's not to say, however, that Matthews is not still in the mix. Although the senior, who also has been used as the team's Wildcat quarterback, does not have a reception, Weis said he's far from a forgotten man.

“He's right in that top five,” said Weis, grouping Matthews with starters Rodriguez Coleman and Tre' Parmalee and second-stringers Justin McCay and Josh Ford. “He's involved in some packages. He's much more comfortable in the slot than he is outside. That's his niche. The only problem most of the time in the slot is Tony and Tony's just significantly faster than him. He's right in the mix. He's not been exiled. He's right there.”

Matthews, of course, also figures to remain a part of the offense as the team's Wildcat quarterback. During the Week 1 victory against South Dakota, Matthews ran four times for six yards out of the set but did not catch a pass. Last week, in a 23-14 loss at Rice, Matthews did not run the Wildcat or catch a pass.

Podcast episode


Breaking down KU's all-important bounce-back game vs. Louisiana Tech football beat writer Matt Tait and Journal-World sports editor Tom Keegan examine just how big Saturday's game against Louisiana Tech is for the 1-1 Jayhawks, who are coming off a tough road loss to Rice.

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Smiley gets his shot

Thanks in large part to junior Jimmay Mundine's troubles catching the football, fellow-junior Trent Smiley has been elevated to first string at tight end.

Weis said it did not take a genius to figure out why he made the move on the depth chart and added that Mundine remained in KU's gameplan.

“Jimmay's not eighth team here now,” Weis said. “There will be packages where he's on the field. But, you have to go with what you see and I see the same things you see. But, I see them a lot worse than you do. As bad as you see them I see them a lot worse than that because I'm watching each and every player, studying on tape every single player on every single play. I think right now we need to give Trent an opportunity to see if we can get any better there."

Asked if what Smiley — known mostly as a blocking tight end — brought to the position that Mundine may not, Weis pointed to the 6-4, 245-pounder's ability to mix it up.

"He's more physical,” Weis said, noting that adding toughness was one of the themes of the week. “Jimmay is much more athletic than Trent. Trent's more physical than Jimmay.”

LA Tech game huge

Despite last week's tough loss to Rice, KU linebacker Ben Heeney said it would be the wrong move to count the Jayhawks out. On top of that, Heeney made no secret of the fact that Saturday's 11 a.m. kickoff against Louisiana Tech had become the biggest game on KU's schedule.

“Yeah,” he said. “It's our next game. I've been reading a bunch of stuff. People just, you know how it is. But I'm not worried about it. Our team's fine. We're gonna be fine.”

Heeney said he's been told by a few people throughout the years that he should not spend time reading too much of the feedback about the teams for which he plays, but the junior said he's always been interested to see and hear what's being said.

“Just because I'm curious, man,” he said. “I'm curious to see what the fans are talking about. And it's motivating. Some of it's encouraging, some of it's, what?”

Jayhawks favored

For the second time this season, the Jayhawks (1-1) will take the field as the favorites, according to oddsmakers.

KU, which plays host to Louisiana Tech (1-2) at 11 a.m. Saturday, opened the week as a nine-point favorite over the Bulldogs. Since then, the line has climbed to as high as KU -11 in some spots, which reflects that many believe the Jayhawks should win this weekend at Memorial Stadium.


Mark Lindrud 8 years, 4 months ago

What kind of tree is that limb from? As long as we show improvement and look solid in a quality win ill be happy.

namohcan_99 8 years, 4 months ago

I expect KU will try to go for that, but they have to come out a lot sharper than they did these past two weeks. I think Weis mixing up the lineup sends the right message that these positions are based on performance, something Gill would never do (among many.)

KURiggins 8 years, 4 months ago

Thank God Mundaine cost us that game. Lets hope Smiley is better. Start a new OL too I hope. We let Rice push us around on OL. That should never happen. Good job Def Coach Campo for keeping us in it as long as you could.

Micky Baker 8 years, 4 months ago

Did you ever read the articles before you respond to them?

Dale Stringer 8 years, 4 months ago

Jimmay will be in... for two tight end plays close to the goal line.

KJD 8 years, 4 months ago

This article contains the same significant, unholy error, three times ;-) Matthews plays the Jayhawk Quarterback position! (If there is one team in the world that can call it something else, we are that team.)

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 4 months ago

I'd love to have seen Nolan Cromwell, but if that's the argument, don't you call it the Reesing?

Saguaro_Jayhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

No, technically it is correct.

btw, that formation has NOTHING whatsoever to do with Kentucky, Arizona, KSU, Northwestern, or any other of the multitudes of college mascots. It refers to a high school program in Washington state.

Chris Gilbertson 8 years, 4 months ago

KU is favored to win for the second time this year?! Wow, how many times could they say that last year. Things are getting better in Lawrence.

Dirk Medema 8 years, 4 months ago

We weren't favored against Rice last year?

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 4 months ago

We knew players and whomever else will read our comments, but I've coached and I know how talk goes. It is what it is and support comes from everywhere and in a variety of ways. When you are part of a program you know the fans will be all over the place with their opinions and I've scene lots of positive support here and some that's been not so positive. It's the nature of the beast. If all of us weren't so passionate about our love for our Jayhawks we wouldn't be saying what's on our minds. I'm as positive as anyone every week hoping and praying we are going to come out like gang busters and beat down our opponent. Like anyone, I have my opinions and I know some players, coaches and supporters may not like them and some will. I believe like all of you my support is unwavering and I will always with the bottom of my heart back Kansas always and forever. Rock Chalk

Micky Baker 8 years, 4 months ago

Some of these comments are completely out of line. What happened to considering who is going to read the comments and the you-attitude? Criticizing the coaching staff is one thing and these players know they should have won last week and didn't get it done because they were pressing. Just go out there and relax a little and be confident in your abilities.

Ifs are usually something the negative fans don't want to hear, but let's talk about the ifs for a moment. If Pierson had ran the route where he ran it in practice, he would have had at least one more big play and maybe a touchdown. The big drop by Mundine in the first half would have went for at least 30 yards, and he might have broke that if he caught the ball. There was another play by Sims that if he had caught it, he was going down the sideline for a big gain. These would have changed the entire game.

On the other hand, Pierson gave a great effort late in the game to make that catch, and he didn't make it but I'm not going to fault him for it. He gave a great effort and it was going to be tough.

Those other two plays were checked to because Rice was stacking the Box, and the linebacker was just out of position if Pierson ran on to the Linebacker's backside, but instead, Pierson pulled up. If he would have been hit there, it would have been PI and we get the first ground. The ball wasn't quite there yet. He could have ran in front of the linebacker too, and that would have also been PI if he didn't catch the ball, but the defender was in a very bad position to make the tackle either way. The same thing happened on the pass to Mundine. That defender was not going to tackle him if he caught the ball and there wasn't another player withing 20 yards of Mundine. I just want them to catch those passes they should catch.

I also think Weis needs to step up and admit he made some bad play calls when we didn't need them. The most obvious was the backwards pass that appeared to be setting up some sort of fake run and a jump pass similar to what NIU did to us last year on the go ahead TD. It was first down, we were driving in their territory right after we took the lead, and we had the momentum until then. That blew up in Weis's face. I hope he understands that was his fault.

Andy Tweedy 8 years, 4 months ago

Optimism is great, but when you highlight all the IFs from your teams effort, you also need to highlight all the opponents IFs. I'm quite sure IF Rice had a few more things go their way, they think they could have won by three touchdowns. IFs didn't happen. Still, I do like your enthusiasm, and one thing I will say about comments on boards like this is that you have to be careful. When it comes to NFL guys, they get paid to endure the ire of fans, these are 18 to 22 year old kids, and it's pretty lame when attacks become personal or over the top.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 4 months ago

I still hate the fact they changed it from D1 to FCS. Guess the NCAA needed a reason to confuse and irritate fans some more.

Bryce Landon 8 years, 4 months ago

Rice is not an FCS team. Rice is an FBS team in C-USA which is an FBS conference.

hawkdds 8 years, 4 months ago

We will win tomorrow and I hope Smiley and Parmalee have breakout games, same for Bourbon.

Mark Lindrud 8 years, 4 months ago

Prediction. Pain! Lol as far as quoting Clubber Lang, but ill say 38-17. Heaps has a big day.

Phil Leister 8 years, 4 months ago

Other than the empty seats (but that's the visitor's section), I love the picture leading this article. Despite the track, I think we have one of the coolest college football atmospheres/venues there is. The hill, the historic and iconic buildings in the background, the setting in the midst of the Oread neighborhood with tailgates in every front yard, it's awesome. The product on the field leaves a bit to be desired, but I always loved KU football gamedays. Need to make it back sometime soon.

Al Martin 8 years, 4 months ago

I just showed that picture to my wife and we both agreed that, whatever is done to get a better stadium, it needs to be in that exact spot.

John Fitzgerald 8 years, 4 months ago

One positive to last game against Rice: We gave up less points and yardage than the Texas A&M did against Rice. And we played Rice on their field. I think we're going to have a strong defense this year, it's our offense that needs the work. Our biggest concerns lie in two areas, that's the offensive line and our WR core. I personally think we should involve our RB's more, as they have natural talent. As for the offensive line, it's just going to take time. I think we have the right guys, they just need to communicate better and understand their jobs a little more. I would also like to see better play calling. Maybe it was the players not executing the plays, but there were a handful of calls that I wouldn't have thought Weis would call in that situation. I would eventually like to see us run to pass, not pass to run. Either way, I hope and feel confident that we will have a better showing this game. Coming home is always a comforting thing after a disappointing loss. Rock Chalk and let's stick behind our guys! Hopefully we have another decent crowd this game.

NebraskaJayhawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Hard to say about the defense being good. You have to remember that Texas A&M had 8 of their starting defensive players on the sideline because of discipline issues. You can make the arguement that their second string is better than our first string, but nobody really knows, do they? Let's give it a few more games and see where we stack up against the Big XII defensively. I definitely think we are improved though.

Bryce Landon 8 years, 4 months ago

I'm not going to be able to see the game as I have to work today, but I definitely hope Kansas can get this victory. Exceeding our win total from last year would be a sign that we are moving in the right direction.

hotrodm 8 years, 4 months ago

Ben Heeney is a stud. Keep up the good work Ben.

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