Excuse me while I rub the rust off the collection of verbs sportswriters use when the football teams they cover score one-sided victories: drub, shellack, abuse, whip, dominate, annihilate, obliterate, crush, gut, destroy, school, own, bully, massacre, demolish, violate, blast, smoke, torch, fry, waste.
The words are polished and ready to go in the event Kansas University scores its first drubbing, shellacking, etc., since trouncing Duke, 44-16, Sept. 19, 2009, in Memorial Stadium.
If the Jayhawks do in fact ravage Southeast Missouri State tonight, the countdown toward bowl-eligibility can start without everybody in sight laughing. KU must double its victory total from last season to reach the required six.
For that to happen, several seniors must have career years, and the sophomore quarterback must greatly exceed expectations. That precise formula resulted in the 2007 KU football team doubling its win total from the previous season by going 12-1 with an Orange Bowl title. Mark Mangino was in his sixth year and went from six to 12 victories. Charlie Weis is in his third season and would be a candidate for Big 12 Coach of the Year honors if he could go from three to six victories.
KU put four players on the All-Big 12 first team in 2007: left tackle Anthony Collins, defensive tackle James McClinton, middle linebacker Joe Mortensen and cornerback Aqib Talib. Four players made the second team: receiver Marcus Henry, return man Marcus Herford and quarterback Todd Reesing. Five players earned honorable mention: center Ryan Cantrell, outside linebacker James Holt, right tackle Cesar Rodriguez, safety Darrell Stuckey, kicker Scott Webb.
Reesing, first-team All-Americans Talib and Collins and second-team All-American McClinton all drew so much of the opponents’ attention they made those around them better.
This year’s team isn’t without legitimate candidates for first-team All-Big 12 honors. In order of their chances of earning such distinction, middle linebacker Ben Heeney, cornerback Dexter McDonald, slot receiver Nick Harwell, defensive lineman Keon Stowers and buck Michael Reynolds all have senior urgency fueling them.
Two more senior starters on defense makes six, and six more on offense makes seven. It can’t possibly be anything but a good thing that Kansas has 13 seniors among its 22 starters.
“From Day One, we’ve been trying to go back out there to shock the world,” senior receiver Tony Pierson said.
Earning a bowl bid would accomplish that goal.