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Monday, October 2, 2017

Out of bye week, Jayhawks preparing for talented Texas Tech offense

Kansas linebacker Mike Lee (11) can't hang on as Texas Tech receiver Keke Coutee (20) slips away on a touchdown run during the third quarter on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas linebacker Mike Lee (11) can't hang on as Texas Tech receiver Keke Coutee (20) slips away on a touchdown run during the third quarter on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.

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Even before the Kansas football team went into its bye week, there was plenty of familiarity with Texas Tech quarterback Nic Shimonek.

When the two schools met last season, Shimonek threw four second-half touchdown passes in relief of the injured Patrick Mahomes. Now the team’s starter, Shimonek has completed 70 percent of his passes for 1,578 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions in four games.

Shimonek leads the Big 12 with 394.5 passing yards per game and will present another tough challenge for KU’s secondary at 11 a.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

“He’s interesting because he escapes, he scrambles, he does some kind of chaotic things, but he always finds a receiver and he can get the ball thrown in some odd positions,” Kansas coach David Beaty said of the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Shimonek. “Man, he’s a handful.”

The Red Raiders (3-1, 0-1 Big 12) could be without Shimonek’s favorite target, star receiver Keke Coutee, because of a leg injury. Coutee, who leads the team with 31 catches for 499 yards and four touchdowns, left Saturday’s 41-34 loss against Oklahoma State with a left leg injury.

Even if Coutee is forced to sit out against KU, Beaty said there’s still quite a few big-play threats with the rest of Tech’s receivers. That includes Dylan Cantrell, 6-3, 220, whom Beaty said is a “very difficult” matchup because his size makes him similar to a tight end.

“It doesn’t matter who is on the field, we’re going to have to be aware of all of them,” said Beaty, who noted he is familiar with Coutee and fellow receiver Cameron Batson because he tried to recruit both of them during his time as a receivers coach at Texas A & M.

Beyond Tech’s explosive offense, the Jayhawks (1-3, 0-1) are coming out of their bye week prepared to face an improved, opportunistic defense.

The Red Raiders have already created a league-leading 10 turnovers this season. Beaty credited Tech’s defensive coordinator David Gibbs with their improvement.

“You can tell those guys have put a lot of emphasis on taking the ball away,” Beaty said. “They just look like they’ve grown a little bit. They were a little bit of a young team last year."

Bye week adjustments

During the team’s bye week, Beaty estimated that the Jayhawks conducted three or four practices.

One of the main areas of focus was turnovers on both sides of the ball. Kansas ranks 119th in the country with a negative-five turnover margin, only ahead of 10 teams. The Jayhawks have committed nine turnovers, including seven interceptions.

“We feel like one of the things that we need to do a lot better job of is turnover margin,” Beaty said. “Not only taking caring of it offensively, but we’re not creating a bunch of turnovers defensively. We’ve got to be better there.”

Without any game preparation last week, Beaty said the Jayhawks had an opportunity to spend extra time working on their fundamentals, special team units and “self scout.”

“There’s so many things that go into making sure that you’re playing complimentary football,” Beaty said, “and that bye week allows you to go back to maybe some fundamentals to be able to kind of shore those up when you may not have time to do as much of that during the regular season.”

Another early start

For the third straight Big 12 game, the Jayhawks will have an 11 a.m. kickoff.

The conference announced Monday the late morning time slot for KU’s road game against Iowa State on Oct. 14, which will be televised on the Fox Sports Network.

Comments

Andy Godwin 1 year, 7 months ago

Different year same problems, e.g., "One of the main areas of focus was turnovers on both sides of the ball. Kansas ranks 119th in the country with a negative-five turnover margin, only ahead of 10". "We feel like one of the things that we need to do a lot better job of is turnover margin,” Beaty said." One can only hope that eventually some of his "coach speak" turns into reality on the field.

John Strayer 1 year, 7 months ago

So....how the hell does a program get better with only 3 or 4 practices during a bye week? Seems like the thing this team needs most is experience and reps. Why not take advantage of the time to really get some work done?

Phil Leister 1 year, 7 months ago

Wait, Beaty "estimated" that KU practiced 3 or 4 times last week? How does a coach not know exactly how many times the team practiced?

On a different note, our defense is going to get clobbered on Saturday.

John Fitzgerald 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm not judging Beaty by any means, but is only practicing 3 or 4 times during a bye week normal? Do all teams do this? And I'm confused by the 3 or 4 times. It's either 3 or 4, I don't see how he wouldn't know for sure. Also, if I were coaching, they'd be practicing 6 times during the bye week. They may not all be tough, physicall practices, but they're showing up and they're going through the plays until they can't think of anything other than those plays. Even if the season is shot, this is not the time to give up. This is the time to push harder than ever, especially if you want continued support for the program.

Gunnar Hays 1 year, 7 months ago

I do believe there are restrictions on practices that are full contact. Maybe 3 or 4 was the number of all pads contact practices? Either way, I agree, how exactly is number of practices an estimate? I'm assuming that for other days there were things going on like lifting, film, non-contact drills, etc. Its hard to imagine a team taking more than 1 day off in a bye week but who knows.

Titus Canby 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm going to give Beaty the benefit of the doubt on that "3 or 4" line. My guess is that he was asked, "did the team practice during the bye week?" And he probably answered, "yeah we practiced 3 or 4 times," without any thought of giving a precise number.

But I'm with you. This team needs reps and lots of them. I'm concerned about the lack of fundamentals. I wonder if there's an NCAA limit on the number of practices teams are allowed to have.

Bobby Nightengale 1 year, 7 months ago

Here's the quote from Beaty's HawkTalk radio show: "We practiced about three-and-a-half, four times basically throughout that week, which is about a normal load for most teams. We had lots of video and lots of lifting that we did that week." Obviously the team wanted to get some guys healthy and coaches spent plenty of time recruiting.

Phil Leister 1 year, 7 months ago

Ah, that explains it. The old half practice.

Titus Canby 1 year, 7 months ago

Thanks Bobby.

I do like that old half practice. Kind of like the way I half listen to my wife.

John Brazelton 1 year, 7 months ago

The main thing that KU needs to avoid is putting themselves in the hole by 3 or 4 scores and then warming up and start playing. Our offensive is competitive, especially catching up and then either the defense breaks down or the offense runs out of energy.

Jack Hoff 1 year, 7 months ago

Next time ask Peyton bender and Carter Stanley why they are at the Bull getting drunk on the weekend during the season with a 1-3 record. Maybe watch some film late at night instead of partying during the season. Doesn't sound like "letting our bodies recover" to me. I doubt Mason Rudolph is out getting messed up on a Saturday night. But whatever.

John Fitzgerald 1 year, 7 months ago

There's a lot of ways you can go with this, some agreeing with you, some disagreeing with you. Either way, these guys are young. It would behoove them to go out and enjoy the college life a little bit.

Titus Canby 1 year, 7 months ago

Yeah, I stay home every Friday and Saturday night working. Go to bars? Have fun? That's for slackers.

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