Monday, September 1, 2014


Column: Kansas football needs blowout


More long faces than can be seen at a horse auction colored Memorial Stadium depressed at halftime of last season’s Kansas University football opener, an unimpressive 31-14 victory against South Dakota.

At the half, Kansas held a shaky 14-7 lead, and the game felt so much like the previous year’s season-opening, 31-17 victory against South Dakota State. The name of the immobile, inaccurate, over-hyped, under-performing quarterback changed, but the slow, sad song remained the same.

For the fourth year in a row, the humble beginning to a KU football season proved an accurate indication of things to come.

The general feeling that nothing short of Kansas winning its second game, at Duke, will rekindle the interest of a fan base tuning out has some merit to it, but a season-opening blowout reminiscent of the late Mark Mangino years certainly wouldn’t hurt building momentum toward the Duke game.

Kansas needs to dominate Southeast Missouri State from the opening series and never let up until it scores its first victory by 27 or more points since Mangino’s last team opened the 2009 season winning games by margins of 46, 27 and 28 points.

The greatest illustration of how quickly and completely the Kansas football program has declined comes in comparing Mangino’s record in blowouts — defined here as games decided by margins of 27 points or greater — in his final four seasons to the record of his successors, Turner Gill for two years and Charlie Weis for two. Mangino went 14-4 in blowouts in his final four seasons. Todd Reesing started at quarterback in three of those, a huge factor. KU is 0-21 in blowouts since Mangino and Reesing departed. Gill went 0-11, Weis 0-10.

Saturday represents this season’s best chance for Kansas landing on the right side of a lopsided score.

It need not approach the 77-0 score SEMO put on the board last week in welcoming Missouri Baptist to college football, but something along the lines of 42-7 might make the average football fan consider the possibility that it’s not the same old story.

Tom Matukewicz, in his first year as SEMO head coach after serving as defensive coordinator at Toledo, inherits a team that went 3-9 last season. The Redhawks tied for seventh in the nine-team Ohio Valley Conference with a 2-6 record.

Time for a blowout during which Kansas looks fast and organized and plays with the raw nastiness of a football team eager to take out four years of frustration on an overmatched opponent.


David Kelley-Wood 3 years, 9 months ago

Couldn't agree more. If you can't manhandle Pee Wee Herman, you know you're going to be in trouble when you've got to go up against Mike Tyson.

Jim Erickson 3 years, 9 months ago

As an diehard Jayhawk Football fan, I would love to see a week 1 blow out turn into some real momentum to show us this isn't the "same old story". The problem is, and I cringe saying this, is that this team appears to be the same old story. Aside from the receivers, there are question marks all over the offense. If Cozart's arm isn't "night-and-day better" (definite possibility as he was a true freshman last year), receivers won't matter all that much. Defensively, it looks fairly solid at DB and Ben Heeney is a stud.

Jim Erickson 3 years, 9 months ago

One major issue that isn't brought up enough is our team's reliance on junior college rentals. Yes, I completely understand that Kansas State has had a lot of success with it, but they have proven to do so with success. For us, it hasn't even come close to working. They are valuable "band-aids" for a team that has an area or two of weakness, but the core of the team should be high school recruits who invest in the program for 4-5 years. It's incredibly disappointing to see the amount of turnover on our roster and the lack of a longstanding core.

Jay Beakum 3 years, 8 months ago

Personally, I’ve heard more than enough about the reliance on jucos. It’s been addressed time and time again. Weis has been here two seasons. How do you expect him to produce developed 4-5 year guys in 2 years?

Besides, many of these jucos are coming in with 3 years eligibility, and many have been more than band-aids.

Juco transfers Isaiah Johnson, Ngalu Fusimalohi, Dexter McDonald and Trevor Pardula all made the All-Conference honorable mention list in their first year. Only 4 other guys on the whole team were named to any All-Conference list.

Jim Erickson 3 years, 8 months ago

I don't think it's been stated enough! He has relied on JUCOs and transfers with no success. He hasn't recruited many HS kids, and the ones he has had, have not developed. We are a program in the tank and this approach hasn't helped.

Michael Sillman 3 years, 9 months ago

I definitely do not agree with the idea that juco guys can't turn around a program quickly. Cal lost to every single D1 team that it played last year often by blow outs.

This year with some juco recruits on defense and some new coaches, they beat Northwestern on the road.

No reason that the Jayhawks can't do the same thing.

Dirk Medema 3 years, 8 months ago

It is interesting that people generally talk negatively about the development of the team with respect to both JC's & HS's. The DB's (& WR's) are generally built around JC's (& transfers), and quite successfully at that, while the LB's have been built around HS's.

There have been some obvious misses on JC's in particular, but there are always misses on HS's as well. It's why there are 25 per year, or something like that. The good news is that after losing half of 2 or 3 recruiting classes before/as CW got here, we are finally starting to develop some quality depth on the team again - with both JC's & HS's.

Looking forward to 9/6 and beyond.

Ray Winger 3 years, 8 months ago

Yes. Diamonds are ...where you find them. Get the Best Available Player, whether from JC, CC, or HS. Bill Whittemore, Don Goode, OJ Simpson all played for community colleges before going on to D1. Players may need age, maturity, and red shirt year (Aqib Talib), before developing. I think the people in the Athletic Department that wade through the labyrinth of JC/CC paperwork should get a column and recognition. Looking at where Rivals List of Top Juco recruits go, can give one perspective (top D1 programs).

Steve Jacob 3 years, 8 months ago

Juco's are a rolling of the dice for coaches with little job security.

Jim Erickson 3 years, 8 months ago

I disagree... Relying on Juco kids (to the extent that we do) is an indictment against our coaching staff's ability to develop players. During the Mangino days, recruiting classes were predominately HS kids that would come in and develop under his coaching staff. A team should be built around HS kids that develop for several years in the program. Add Juco players where you must. K-State is the exception here, but lets be honest and point out that Weis is no Bill Snyder.

Jim Stauffer 3 years, 8 months ago

In Stillman's comment, what sometimes is overlooked is the new coaches as well as the new players.

For the last two years our offense has stunk and that has not been because of he juco players. It was because of the coaching staff.

We are hopeful that has been corrected.

Mark Lindrud 3 years, 8 months ago

Agreed. Weis had the common sense to walk away from the OC position, and saw we needed a new WR coach. Juco players are a bit of a crap shoot, but so are high school players. We seem to ignore that Darrian Miller, is gone again and Wrench left the program. You get the best players from where ever you can and hope for the best. Obviously, we do need more high school players for player development, but right now let's see how this season goes. Rock Chalk.

Bob Bailey 3 years, 8 months ago

How can anyone look at a score of 77 - 0 and predict a KU blowout?

Who knows who the team was? It might be that KU would be lucky to win its next game.

In 4 years we have NOT taught basic tackling and coverage! No matter how good the Offense may be, Defense may spend a lot of time on the field. In that event, a break-even would be lucky.

A pessimist would say we'd be having good fortune to win 2 games.

Under Gill, KU lost to Ga Tech 77 - ? or some such score. The only good shot was when the pass went thru the KU receiver's hands, bounced high off his helmet, and was run back for a TD. Better wait a week before you make any kind of prediction.

Micky Baker 3 years, 8 months ago

Here is why. SEMO's opponent wasn't division I, II, or III, but NAIA. It's not even up to par with the UAB team Kansas beat some time back 72 - 3 or something like that. Ga Tech didn't even come close to scoring in the 70's, and KU did beat GA Tech the first time under Gill. The rest of us don't have such a short memory.

Dale Rogers 3 years, 8 months ago

The final score at Georgia Tech was 66-24.

Micky Baker 3 years, 8 months ago

Okay, but Bob is still wrong. This was Missouri Baptist's first football game ever, not just this year, but for all time.

Aaron Paisley 3 years, 8 months ago

Missouri Baptist is 3 levels of competition below SEMO and playing in their first ever football game.

Richard Duran 3 years, 8 months ago

They beat a team that was playing its first game EVER 77-0. One would hope you would blow out a brand new program.

Jay Beakum 3 years, 8 months ago

I somewhat disagree. This team could get off to a rocky start with a true soph QB running a new offense, using two new running backs and a tossed o-line, and then get it rolling in the second half for a comfortable win. Maybe something along the lines of last year's score. I simply don't expect these guys to come out of the gate looking like a well oiled machine.

That doesn't mean they won't have a good season.

Kevin Randell 3 years, 8 months ago

Usually, a game like this would be considered a "pre-season" game. But, with the stage of the program, I agree that it is important to release the dogs and not let up until we hit the upper 40's or 50's in this game.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 8 months ago

I think that the proper approach to this problem is simple. Stop the constant "what if" stuff, and go out on opening day and play football. All this pre-season knashing of teeth, pondering "what if" and Monday morning quarterbacking is pointless. Nothing is on the board, no footballs have been thrown and the season awaits. I think pre-season ratings are incredibly stupid, they reflect nothing but the notions of the so-called "experts.

Stop the constant drumbeat of what may happen, you have your team, you have trained them to the best of your ability, and they will rise or fall on the level of their training and skill.

Unfortunately, the level of this skill has been problematic at Kansas for years, and I honestly do not know why this school cannot have the level of success in football that you see K-state, Oklahoma, Baylor, or Oklahoma State. Baylor and Kansas State used to be the conference doormats, and now have successful programs. Why not KU??

Jim Erickson 3 years, 8 months ago

You pose a great question at the end. The crap of it all is that we DID have a great program and Perkins ran it away. Now we have several years of losing, a below average current group, and a stadium that runs off recruits. It was there and all the hard work had been done. Perkins ran it away.

Richard Duran 3 years, 8 months ago

Mason and Mangino were building winners. They were jerks, but they could recruit and they won. We replaced them with "nice guys" Terry Gil and Turner Allen, or whoever, who had no business being Division I coaches and couldn't recruit. When guys called HawkTalk and told Mason he sucked he'd say "F#$%k you." and Allen would say "We deserve that." That was the difference. Look at the assistants M&M had, Golden Ruel, Ed Warriner, Young, Reagan. Wiess' staff did a lousy job coaching. Gil's recruiting classes were awful, he never got a QB to develop, didn't get stud Dlinemen. At least Wiess was smart enough to know he needed better assistants. Give him some solid recruiting classes for the D line he may get a winner yet. I hate to say this, but the basketball needs to suck for us to ever be any good at football. and that ain't gonna happen. I live in Albuquerque, and watch UNM and NMSU struggle because the fans here think they're both "basketball schools". The guy at NMSU has the most hopeless job in Div. I, NOBODY wanted them in their conference. So its challenging at KU, but it could be worse. Reagan looks like he could be a great HC some day.

Austin Lopez 3 years, 8 months ago

I don't not see Kansas blowing anyone out soon! Kansas needs better players, and JuCo players aren't Charlie strong point, out of all the JuCo players we got the last 2 years how many of them have lived up to expectations? 2 or 3? Kansas needs to recruit High School players and have a plan in place to developing them, I think the coaching staff can easily recruit JuCo because all you have to do is offer playing time! When you recruiting high school players majority of them care about winning and playing later, Kansas needs to hit the high schools hard and put a system in place and then I could see KU blowing someone out! Look at how Kentucky got all them great 5/4/3 star recruits there coach promised them they can win, not playing time. Same with Baylor.

Micky Baker 3 years, 8 months ago

Except for one thing about Kentucky, they don't win.

Mark Lindrud 3 years, 8 months ago

Forget about who we recruited or what has happened. In a few days they put on the uniforms, and play. Nothing else matters. Football is back. What's done is done. We know what time we play Saturday. If you're going to the game, cheer loud. If you're watching at home, cheer. It's time to get it on!

Micky Baker 3 years, 8 months ago

I know a lot of people don't like the JUCO approach, but what was worse was the transfers who didn't come from Jucos Crist and Heaps? Anyone remember them? They're not here any more, and we do have a kid recruited out of high school who is named the starter like Reesing was. We do have one guy who is proven in Harwell and another guy that transferred from Maryland named Nigel King.
It does take more than two years to develop depth with a mix of JUCO Players, and KU has had some success, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. Cassius Sendish, Isaiah Johnson, Dexter McDonald. On the offensive side of the ball, we have Rodriquez Coleman, and it seems that maybe the dropsies was due to poor coaching, or the lack of actual teaching the guys how to catch the ball. We also had the wrong offense and Charlie Weis sucked at calling the plays while also being head coach. There is a new WR Coach, a new Offensive Line Coach/OC.

There were some guys that just didn't make it because of their personal choices like Chris Martin, whom we all know was arrested and charged with armed Robbery. He had a bad influence on the team. I'm glad he was kicked off the team. It is probably also better that the transfer from UCLA sat out a year and might redshirt this year. He learned an offense last year, and that changed again, so it's his third system in two years.

Personally, I think something like a 49 or 56 to 10 or 14 score on Saturday will not silence the critics. I think some people have unrealistic expectations while claiming to be realistic and accusing those with patience of "wanting to lose every year".

One of KU's best seasons, by the way was in 1995. I don't remember who stated it, but the offense was ran by a JUCO transfer. Kansas tied for 2nd in the Big 8 but due to tie breakers was placed fourth which landed them in the Aloha Bowl. They should have gotten a better bowl than that, but that's how the bowl system worked at the time. That Juco Transfer led KU to wins against #2 Colorado in Boulder and #16 Oklahoma is Norman.

We'll see how this works, but what we had with Gill was horrendous and took as back to the years just before Glen Mason was hired. It was that bad with Gill. We'll see how this goes down and who the leaders are on Saturday, because it is that leadership that led to the great seasons that Kansas has had. Whose gonna do it? That's what I really want to see the first game, and if there is that leadership, KU will win in a blowout on Saturday.

Bob Bailey 3 years, 8 months ago

By the way, KU did not beat GT 66-24, they beat us. Likely had 2nd or 3rd team in when wecored.

Micky Baker 3 years, 8 months ago

Bob, I understand what you said. I get it. KU did beat Georgia Tech the year before that in Lawrence. Do you even read the comments?

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