1 - Pooka Williams: Has become great weapon in passing game. Caught seven passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 33 yards on 11 carries and had 41 yards on two kick returns.
2 - Peyton Bender: Had a terrific second half, scrambling to extend a play that resulted in a touchdown pass and running for 12 yards on third and 11. Completed 19 of 29 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns.
3 - Joe Dineen: Had nine solo tackles, assisted on four others and was in on a tackle for a loss.
4 - J.J. Holmes: Made huge fourth-down stop on the goal-line stand and on another play exploded for a tackle for a 4-yard loss. Personal foul penalty marred his day.
5 - Stephon Robinson: Laid out for one spectacular 31-yard catch and had three others to finish day with 59 yards in receptions.
6 - Keith Loneker: Became the 11th player on the team to pick up an interception and one of his two tackles was behind the line of scrimmage.
7 - KeyShaun Simmons: Recovered a fumble at the Kansas 7-yard line with 1:11 remaining to end a TCU drive and keep KU’s lead at 27-24.
8 - Jeremiah Booker: Had three receptions for 49 yards, one of them a 34-yard reception. Having his healthiest, most productive season as a senior.
9 - Daniel Wise: Occupied two blockers all day and had two solo tackles and two assists. Personal foul penalty came on a highly questionable call.
10 - Steven Sims: Had two catches for 27 yards and returned a kick 31 yards.
Once college basketball emerges from its current embarrassing scandal a couple of years from now, bright minds will figure out how to make it an even bigger, more profitable industry and by then it might be so big that polling companies will release weekly data on approval ratings of coaches with the fan bases of their schools.
When that time comes and a coach's popularity spikes upward rapidly, call it a Bruce Weber. Taking a team with modest expectations deep into March will do that for a college basketball coach.
K-State was picked eighth in the 2017-18 Big 12 preseason poll, finished fourth with a 10-8 record and made it all the way to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, knocking off Creighton, UMBC and Kentucky before losing to Loyola.
"I don't worry about it as much as you guys do, probably," Weber said of his popularity with K-State fans. "I just worry about our kids and being prepared and ready to play. There are always people who don't like you. Jud (Heathcote, former Michigan State coach) told me many times when you get a job, 90 percent of the people like you and 10 percent don't and each year it's going to go down and it's going to get tougher and tougher. As a coach, if you worry about every negative fan and every media person you're not going to be able to coach."
He spends more time studying X's and O's than expletives on message boards after tough losses.
"Everybody says, 'How do you deal with it?' Very rarely does somebody come up to me in the grocery store and say, 'God, you suck as a coach.' No one does," Weber said. "Those people are the faceless opinion guys that, you know, continually say stuff but they don't ever do it to somebody's face."
He sounded as if he didn't know he had a popularity problem.
"I've thought it's always been positive for me at Manhattan," Weber said. "We've got great fans. Obviously they're excited about our team. We've got an older group that made a nice run. It's always fun when people like you. It's human nature. But at the same time I just worry about helping the players do their best."
Kansas State was picked to finish second to Kansas in this year's preseason poll.
(Still) Kansas head football coach David Beaty said he will see how things go in practice this week before selecting a starting quarterback. Maybe he just wants to keep TCU guessing or maybe he really does put more emphasis on how quarterbacks perform in practice than in games, although that's hard to believe.
The statistics clearly show that Stanley is a better quarterback vs. Big 12 competition than Bender.
In Big 12 play only, Bender has completed 107 of 210 passes for 1,096 yards, which translates to him completing 51 percent of his passes and averaging 5.2 yards per attempt. He has thrown nine touchdown passes and seven interceptions.
Again in Big 12 play only, Stanley has completed 224 of 383 passes for 2,310 yards, which translates to him completing 58.4 percent of his passes and averaging 6.0 yards per attempt. He has thrown 12 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions.
Stanley's the more mobile quarterback and is a good enough runner to call designed quarterback runs.
Also, Beaty said Miles Kendrick, battling a shoulder surgery, is available, so TCU will take a look at the limited game action available on Kendrick as well.
All athletic directors constantly update lists of names of coaching candidates in case they happen to be in the market for a new one. Obviously, KU athletic director Jeff Long isn't going to share his list, so I thought I would check out his Twitter account to see what college football coaches he follows.
It proved a worthwhile exercise. Maybe it doesn't mean anything, but if you were a month or so away from hiring a new head football coach, wouldn't you be curious as to how candidates use social media?
It's an interesting list, including one terrific prospect I had not considered, another up-and-comer, and then others I already have examined here.
Head coaches Long follows: Wake Forest's Dave Clawson, North Carolina State's Dave Doeren, Michigan's Jim Harbaugh, Florida Atlantic's Lane Kiffin, Seth Littrell of North Texas. Doeren, of course, was the best recruiter at Kansas under Mark Mangino and is a proven head coach, having won at Northern Illinois and in his current job, where he is 5-1, even though the team lost seven players, including four defensive linemen, in the most recent NFL draft. Doeren is from Johnson County and in the past aggressively pursued the job. He has a $4.5 million buyout and there is no guarantee he would leave a place where he has it rolling.
UNT's Littrell worked as a graduate assistant under Mangino, but is believed to be more interested in making a jump to a school that has a better recruiting footprint and a more successful football history.
The potential candidate followed by Long on Twitter I had not thought of has a terrific history for upgrading football programs in distress: Jeff Tedford of Fresno State.
The Bulldogs went 1-11 the year before Tedford, 56, became head coach. He is midway through his second season and is 16-5 with a bowl victory. Incredible turnaround. Not impressed because Fresno State isn't a Power Five school? OK, let's look at how California did before, during and after Tedford.
Cal was 82-57 overall and 50-45 in conference play in 11 seasons under Tedford. In the 11 previous seasons, the Golden Bears went 52-73 overall and 29-59 in Pac-10 play. In the five-and-a-half seasons since Tedford was fired, Cal is 28-40 with a 13-36 conference mark. Clearly, Tedford knows how to kill losing cultures and kill them quickly.
Long also follows the Twitter accounts of two assistant coaches of note: Oregon defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt, whose name often surfaces in discussions about a successor to Bill Snyder, provided Snyder ever leaves the post. Leavitt started the USF program from scratch and won big.
Also, Long follows Chip Long, 35. He is in his second season as offensive coordinator at Notre Dame after one year at Memphis. His name soon will become a hot one on lists of assistant coaches ready to take over programs. Chip Long was a graduate assistant at Arkansas for two years, the first two years of Jeff Long's 10-year run at Arkansas.
"Not Gonna Fool Me Nellie," as he likes to call himself, has the most elaborate twitch I've ever seen, and the simplest approach to sports betting.
First, the twitch: He looks left, then straight ahead, then right, then behind. He repeats this constantly throughout the day, so he seldom looks at you when he's talking. All day. Never stops.
His wagering system: If it looks too good to be true, that means it's too good to be true. Stay away. If all the factors point to one team, go the other way, insists "Not Gonna Fool Me Nellie." He plays what are known as reverse locks and he plays nothing else. He insists it works, and so far I have resisted the temptation to ask him why he never spends any of his winnings on updating his 50-year-old wardrobe, why he drives a jalopy and why he every day makes the same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner: mac and cheese out of the box.
A look at a few Saturday games with point spreads from Vegasinsider.com as of Friday night:
1 - (Best bet) Utah State -15 at Wyoming: If you’re in the camp that adheres to never betting against streaks, well, there’s a beauty on the board for you this week. Utah State is having a season that has restored Matt Wells’ status as a hot, young coach. It had been fading, thanks to a three-season run of 15-23, after he went 19-9 in his first two seasons.
When that sort of dip happens, the mind naturally goes to, “He can win with somebody else’s recruits, but he can’t recruit.”
The seventh-year coach is winning and winning big with his own recruits this season.
The Aggies rank second in the nation with 51.7 points per game and 48th with 23.8 points allowed.
A native of Sallisaw, Okla., Wells employs his brother Luke as an assistant coach in charge of tight ends and inside receivers.
The Aggies’ lone loss this season came in the opener to Michigan State, and they are unbeaten vs. the spread, often winning on that front by a landslide.
Michigan State was favored by 29 points and won by seven. The Aggies were favored by 21.5 vs. New Mexico State and won 60-13.
The Aggies were 47-point favorites vs. Tennessee Tech and hammered the Golden Eagles, 73-12. Utah State traveled to Provo for a Pick’Em game and blasted the Cougars, 45-20.
Meanwhile, Wyoming’s offense is gasping for air in Laramie and it can’t be the altitude. The Cowboys must be used to that by now. They have gone six consecutive games without scoring as many as 20 points, which is why they’ve lost six in a row against the spread.
This one’s sitting right there for the plucking.
Predicted score: Utah State 38, Wyoming 17. Pick vs. spread: Utah State.
2 — North Texas +1.5 at UAB: Losing star running back Loren Easly to a season-ending knee injury after five games was a big hit for UNT, but DeAndre Torrey has softened the blow. He ran for 95 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 30-7 slaughter of Southern Miss, which was a 7-point underdog.
UAB is 5-1 overall, 5-1 vs. the spread and has won its past three games by a combined score of 98-14. The Blazers were underdogs at Louisiana Tech and won the game, 28-7. This matchup pits two hot Power Five coaching prospects, UNT’s Seth Littrell, 40, and UAB’s Bill Clark, 50.
Predicted score: North Texas 28, UAB 24.
Pick vs. spread: North Texas.
3 — Oklahoma -8 at TCU: Oklahoma is coming off a loss to Texas and has had two weeks to prepare for the Horned Frogs. Those are not the circumstances under which you want to play the Sooners, even if you did last play on a Thursday and suffered an upset loss yourself. Predicted score: Oklahoma 35, TCU 24.
Pick vs. spread: Oklahoma.
Overall record: 4-8.
Best-bet record: 1-3.
It’s been so long since Kansas has led the nation in a positive football statistic I find myself visiting cfbstats.com to click turnover margin on an almost daily basis. Never know when it might happen again, so why not? You should try it. It's good therapy.
Remarkably, the Jayhawks still lead the nation in that category with a weekly average of +2.17. They have 18 turnovers gained and five lost, six weeks into the season.
Head coach David Beaty’s first three teams finished 105th of 128, 123rd of 128 and 128th of 130.
Beaty's first game as offensive coordinator since 2016 is Saturday in Lubbock, Texas.
As always, Beaty is stressing “being a smarter team. We’re right around the middle of the pack in the Big 12 right now, and we need to be in the top three, if not better than that.” In conference play, KU has five takeaways and four turnovers.
When Beaty was at the helm of the Kansas offense in 2016, the Jayhawks led the nation with 36 turnovers. KU runs the ball far more now than then, so reducing that number significantly shouldn't be a problem.
The defense is doing its part in the turnover department.
KU had four interceptions all last season and has 11 so far this season, tied for fifth in the nation. Hasan Defense has two picks, both against West Virginia, and 10 players have one apiece: Joe Dineen, Davon Ferguson, Corione Harris, Elmore Hempstead, Mike Lee, Jeremiah McCullough, Shakial Taylor, Ricky Thomas and Bryce Torneden.
If I were an agent for assistant college football coaches I would insist that they all are paid moving expenses with a set amount of cash and then can make arrangements on their own.
And then I would insist that each one of them buy a truck big enough to pack all of their belongings. They would pay off the truck by their third or fourth move and make money off of the next 10 moves.
Texas Tech defensive coordinator David Gibbs is just one of many whose background illustrates the itinerant nature of life as an assistant football coach.
A senior defensive back on Colorado’s team that won the national title under Bill McCartney in 1990, Gibbs is in his fourth season at Texas Tech, which struggled on that side of the ball until improving vastly this season.
Consider Gibbs’ many moves.
He was a graduate assistant at Oklahoma (1991-92) and at Colorado (1993-94). His first full-duties coaching job came at Kansas (1995-96), where he was defensive backs coach under Glen Mason. Gibbs would tell you going to Kansas was the best move of his life because it was there that he met his wife, Debbie, a Lawrence High graduate. The couple has two children.
Gibbs went with Mason to Minnesota (1997-2000), where he was the youngest defensive coordinator in the nation at the age of 29 in 1997.
He coached defensive backs for the Denver Broncos (2001-04) and was defensive coordinator at Auburn in 2005.
Next, Gibbs coached defensive backs for the Kansas City Chiefs (2006-08) and then the Houston Texans (2009-10). In 2012, Gibbs coached defensive backs for the Virginia Destroyers of the UFL. He then returned to the college game as defensive coordinator for Houston (2013-14), where his Cougars defense led the nation in turnovers gained with 43 in 2013 and tied for 11th with 30 in 2014.
As Houston’s interim head coach for the Armed Forces Bowl played Jan. 2, 2015, Gibbs coached his team to a 35-34 victory over Pittsburgh with the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in bowl history.
Houston fell behind 34-13 with 4:21 left on a 29-yard field goal from Chris Blewitt (how about that name for a team that blew a 21-point lead so late in the game).
The Cougars scored 22 points in a span of 90 seconds of game clock. Gibbs wasn’t able to spin that into a head coaching job, but here’s guessing his name will surface regularly in postseason job searches.
One of the many enjoyable aspects of covering Hall of Fame Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, the greatest motivator in the history of baseball, centered on witnessing him lose his cool in his office.
Most of the time, anyway. I could have done without the flying chicken spittle, but hey, chalk that up to an occupational hazard of a very interesting occupation. Beat writers enjoyed Tommy's blowups so much that sometimes we, I mean they, tried to goad him into them.
Sometimes it worked. Other times he saw through the attempt and laughed.
I'll never forget the time Barry Bloom, a really smart man blessed with a terrific sense of humor, covered the Padres and could bait the manager with the best of them. Lasorda's day started with reading the newspaper and seeing all the play his restaurant had been cited for multiple health-code violations. His day ended with a tough loss to the Padres.
"What hurts worse, Tommy," Barry asked, "knowing you have rats in your restaurant or losing to the Padres?"
Much to our disappointment, Lasorda couldn't stop laughing at Bloom's question and finally got around to answering it: "Oh, no question, losing to the Padres."
Better at managing baseball than restaurants, Lasorda also could have gone either way with his answer to another question I witnessed him being asked: "Tommy, you are the all-time leader in wins for International League pitchers. Is that an indication of how good a pitcher you were or how bad?"
He laughed and reeled off the names of great Brooklyn Dodgers pitchers who blocked his path to the major leagues. Lasorda appeared in eight games with the Dodgers in 1954-55 and seven with the 1956 Kansas City A's. He retired with 0-4 record and 6.48 ERA. He won 1,599 games as a manager.
I recall one question that elicited the opposite response of a laugh from Lasorda. A little background: TV announcers loved it when Lasorda took over third-base coaching duties to break a losing streak and it usually worked, to the delight of the broadcasters who loved the peppy, colorful way he coached third base.
The question: "It seems every time you decide to coach third base to break losing streak the game is on national TV and the opposing starting pitcher is either a struggling rookie or an over-the-hill guy hanging on by a thread. Is that just a coincidence?"
Run for cover. More than chicken spittle flew that day. A stream of words that made those used by the father fixing the furnace in a "A Christmas Story" seem fit for church by comparison, bounced off the walls of his office.
So what does this have to do with Kansas football? Good question. Think David Beaty's decision to fire offensive coordinator Doug Meacham and appoint himself as the OC/quarterbacks coach. Is it just a coincidence that it happens to come when Kansas faces Texas Tech, a traditionally horrible defensive team? Well, yes, because the Red Raiders no longer fit that description.
In three Big 12 games, Tech has allowed just 24.3 points per game, fourth-best in the Big 12 and has allowed 428.7 yards per Big 12 game, sixth in the conference without the benefit of having played Kansas yet.
So Beaty didn't time this move to make himself look good.
Freshman guards Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson, an athletic duo of McDonald’s All-Americans, are known as better scorers than pure shooters, so they might not put up great 3-point shooting numbers this season.
That doesn’t mean they won’t leave Kansas as better shooters, depending on how long they decide to stay. (Guards who project as points in the NBA generally don’t enter as quickly as big men).
“I would rather recruit a shooter than a scorer, to be honest with you,” Kansas Bill Self said last week at media day. “You can kind of teach a shooter how to score, but sometimes it's hard to teach a scorer how to shoot. I do think that my assistants do a great job with our guys in that area, as far as shooting the ball.”
Kurtis Townsend works on the technical aspects of shooting with players, getting them to stop drifting and to tuck their shooting elbows, etc.
And the way Self coaches nurtures the confidence of shooters. He talks them up and is more likely to pull them for a defensive lapse or for not keeping the ball moving, letting it “stick” as the coach likes to say, than for missing an open shot.
“I do feel like that when they play here, they have confidence to make shots because, in large part, that's not something that we emphasize,” Self said. “I firmly believe it's a good or a bad shot when it leaves your hand, not when it goes in or not. If you have that mindset, you should always be somewhat confident. We know you have to make shots to win games; certainly, to win big games, but I don't want those guys to have the pressure that you have to shoot well to play well."
Shooting percentages on 3-pointers tend to improve throughout players’ careers because they come to understand what a good shot is and because they grow stronger and because their technique is monitored by the coaching staff.
Frank Mason shot .327 from 3 as a freshman, .471 as a senior. Wayne Selden was a .328 3-point shooter as a freshman, a .392 shooter as a senior. Travis Releford’s 3-point percentage improved from .325 as a junior to .415 in his senior season.
By Self preaching sharing the ball, keeping the ball moving rapidly and making the extra pass, the coach gets the intended result: a high percentage of high-percentage shots. The purpose of moving the ball rapidly is to reach the point where the shifting defense can’t keep up and Self wants the one with the ball in his hands when the defense has failed to keep up to be the one to take the shot.
In Self’s mind, if it’s an open shot from a player who is where he is supposed to be, then it’s a good shot. If it misses, it’s still a good shot that should have been taken. It’s definitely a system that nurtures a shooter’s confidence, an underrated aspect of Self’s coaching success. Self justifiably receives a lot of credit for getting his players to play unselfishly, exert a ton of effort defensively and play with a great deal of toughness.
The 16th-year coach probably doesn’t get enough kudos for creating a good environment for growing a shooter’s confidence.
Everybody has a system for betting sports. Break Even Benny told me about his surefire method to do no worse than break even.
“If you lose the first bet, just double the wager on the next,” he said. “And if you lose again, just double the amount you lost and keep doubling until you win and you’re guaranteed to break even.”
OK, but it only works if you have enough money set aside to cover a real long losing streak. For example, after going 0-3 for the second week in a row, my losing streak stands at six.
So here’s how I would have done starting with a $110 bet to make $100 on the first game.
Game 1: Lost $110.
Game 2: Lost $121 (Total losses: $231).
Game 3: Lost $254.10 (Total losses: $485.10).
Game 4: Lost $533.61 (Total losses: $1,018.71).
Game 5: Lost $1,120.58 (Total losses: $2,139.29).
Game 6: Lost $2,139.29 (Total losses: $4,278.58).
So in order to break now, I would need to wager $4,706.44 one my first game and win. If only I had $4,706.44 I might just do that because my streak is bound to end. Just in case it doesn’t, you might want to go opposite.
1 - (Best bet) Central Florida -4.5 at Memphis: UCF is 5-0, ranked No. 10 in the nation and is 4-1 vs. the spread, the only loss coming a 38-0 victory vs. South Carolina State, a 52-point underdog.
Memphis’ Heisman Trophy candidate Darrell Henderson bounced back with a 174-yard, three-touchdown game vs. UConn last week. He averaged 12.4 yards per carry.
Still, Central Florida, which averages 574.4 yards in offense per game, didn’t lose last year and hasn’t lost this year. The Knights aren’t going to leave anything to chance.
Predicted score: Central Florida 42, Memphis 31.
Pick vs. spread: Central Florida.
2 - Nebraska +3.5 at Northwestern: The Huskers opened as 8.5-point underdogs and the line quickly dropped five points and has stayed there. Northwestern has three key starters out with injury. The Huskers put up big numbers offensively most weeks but don’t have the athletes they will after a couple of years of Scott Frost recruiting. At some point, the Frost effect will kick in even before the athletes arrive. Why not this week?
Predicted score: Nebraska 31, Northwestern 28.
Pick vs. spread: Nebraska.
3 - West Virginia -6.5 at Iowa State: Braxton Lewis, a redshirt junior safety from Overland Park, was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, another good Kansan who got away. He led the team in tackles in a 48-42 victory over Oklahoma State and had one of the Cyclones’ 16 tackles for loss, a school record.
Predicted score: West Virginia 28, Iowa State 24.
Pick vs. spread: Iowa State.
Overall record vs. spread: 2-7.
Best bet record: 1-2.