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Quarterback controversy brewing in Waco too

Kansas linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. (47) eyes Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer (12) during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas linebacker Keith Loneker Jr. (47) eyes Baylor quarterback Charlie Brewer (12) during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

As a freshman last season, Charlie Brewer lit up Kansas for 315 yards and three touchdowns in his first start, leading Baylor to its first and only victory of the 2017 season.

But Brewer hasn't won the job outright. Bears coach Matt Rhule has been using North Carolina State graduate transfer Jalan McClendon a lot as well.

Their statistics are quite similar. Brewer has completed 46 of 76 and thrown for 641 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He has a 60.5 completion percentage and averages 8.4 yards per throw. McClendon, 4 inches taller at 6-foot-5, is 23 of 25 for 307 yards, three touchdowns and one interception and is averaging 8.7 yards per throw.

Rhule shared a glimpse of how he evaluates his decisions.

"I do it all from numbers. Charlie has played 138 snaps and completed 60 percent of his passes and he has led us to eight touchdowns, four field goals, and seven punts," Rhule said. "Jalan has played 78 total snaps and has led us to six touchdowns and is converting third downs at 58 percent. Those are good numbers for both. To try and make the decision off a gut feeling is hard when both guys are producing. I wish both guys could take back their picks, but when you play quarterback that's just what happens. Both guys made good plays and both guys have some plays they wish they could take back."

Rhule didn't tip his hand.

"We feel good about both guys. Both guys made big plays in the game the other day, so it’s not an easy decision to say, 'Hey let’s settle on one guy,' just because of the different skills each guy brings," Rhule said. "I think that’s sort of day by day process for us as we go through this week putting the game plan together to get ready for Kansas. We’ll see if we’re going to eliminate it and get down to one guy each day as we go through the week. ... If we were to play today I think we’d probably play both.”

Given how successful he was last season vs. Kansas and that he has played more to this point, Brewer likely will get the nod if Rhule decides to go with just one quarterback. Kansas? Best guess: Miles Kendrick makes his first start, but it's just a guess.

Reply 6 comments from Micky Baker Joe Ross Eeakins1 Bryson  Stricker

Kansas football ranked high in defensive, rushing statistical categories

University of Kansas running back Khalil Herbert

University of Kansas running back Khalil Herbert by Carter Gaskins

In the past two weeks, Kansas did what good teams do to weak competition, dominating Central Michigan and Rutgers by a combined score of 86-21.

In so doing, KU worked its way high up the national rankings in several statistical categories. KU leads with a turnover margin of plus 12 and no other team has higher than eight.

KU is tied for the national lead with — brace yourself — Alabama with three interceptions returned for a touchdown. The Jayhawks are tied for second with four others in interceptions (seven), ranking behind only North Texas (nine). KU had four interceptions for the entire 2017 season.

Even though Pooka Williams missed the opener, he ranks 27th in the nation with 283 rushing yards, most of anyone in the Big 12.

Williams has not played in 75 percent of his team’s games so he’s not eligible for rushing yards per game, but only five players in the nation who are eligible have rushed for more than his 141.5-yard average. Just 14 backs eligible to be ranked have averaged more than his 8.84 yards per carry. Khalil Herbert ranks 56th with 6.7 yards per rush.

Those are impressive numbers for Pooka and Herbert, but no running back in the nation comes even close to Memphis junior Darrell Henderson. He leads the nation with 521 rushing yards, and 14.47 yards per attempt, and is tied for second (trailing Florida Atlantic’s Devin Singletary by one) with six touchdowns.

KU is tied for second with three rushing plays of 50 yards or greater, all on TD runs vs. Rutgers: Herbert (59), Deron Thompson (55), Pooka (52). Memphis leads with six 50-plus rushes, three of them in the 70-plus category. KU also ranks tied for second, behind Georgia Tech, with 11 rushing plays of 20 yards or longer and tied for second, behind Memphis, with four rushing plays of 40 yards or longer.

Reply 10 comments from Jhawki78 Dannyboy4hawks Daddioku Dane Pratt Dirk Medema Jerry Ryan Bryson  Stricker

Rutgers right opponent at right time for Kansas

In this Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, file photo, Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Columbus, Ohio. Kansas will be trying for back-to-back wins for the first time since 2011 when the Jayhawks face Rutgers on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights will be trying for a bounce-back win after getting trounced by fourth-ranked Ohio State last week. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

In this Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018, file photo, Rutgers quarterback Artur Sitkowski drops back to pass against Ohio State during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Columbus, Ohio. Kansas will be trying for back-to-back wins for the first time since 2011 when the Jayhawks face Rutgers on Saturday. The Scarlet Knights will be trying for a bounce-back win after getting trounced by fourth-ranked Ohio State last week. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File) by Jay LaPrete, File (AP Photo)

The same sort of logic that made so many prognosticators overrate Texas coming into this season made a few of them paint way too optimistic a picture for Rutgers’ 2018 fortunes.

Second-year Texas coach Tom Herman received kudos for landing the nation’s third-ranked recruiting class. That’s nice, but what does that have to do with 2018? This isn’t basketball where a few McDonald’s All-Americans can carry the team to great heights. Rare is the true freshman (Pooka Williams) who can make a major impact, which brings us to Rutgers.

Pro-style quarterback Artur Sitkowski played his first three years of high school football at Old Bridge Academy in New Jersey and then transferred to IMG Academy in Florida for his senior season. He enrolled at Rutgers at the semester and participated in spring football. Sitkowski, now listed at 6-foot-5, 224 pounds, originally had committed to Miami (Fla.), but changed his mind and decided to play closer to home. Landing him was a big deal for Rutgers, which won three Big Ten games last season without strong quarterback play.

In time, Sitkowski very well could justify the excitement his recruitment generated, but that time isn’t likely to be any time soon. He has played three halves of college football. Sitkowski suffered a shoulder injury on a sack late in the first half of last week’s loss to Ohio State and didn’t play in the second half. Sitkowski completed 6 of 18 passes for 38 yards and threw an interception in a 52-3 road loss to the Buckeyes.

Obviously, Ohio State’s talent is so superior to that of either Rutgers or Kansas that drawing conclusions from those numbers doesn’t necessarily make for an accurate projection for how he’ll do for Saturday’s 11 a.m. kickoff at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.

OK, but Kansas has better athletes on its experienced defense than does Texas State of the FCS, which Rutgers defeated, 35-7, in Week 1. Sitkowski completed 20 of 30 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown. Not bad, until considering he also threw three interceptions.

Third-year Rutgers coach Chris Ash said he expects Sitkowski will be available Saturday. Ash also could turn to redshirt junior Giovanni Rescigno has thrown seven touchdowns and seven interceptions during his career and has averaged 4.6 yards per attempt, completing 50.2 percent of his passes.

It’s a little premature to assume that because Rutgers landed a significant quarterback recruit it has a better offense than a year ago, when the Scarlet Knights finished 121st in scoring with an 18-point average (Kansas was 120th with 18.7).

Also, the Rutgers defense was weakened by multiple dismissals relating to eight players, some with remaining eligibility, others past players, being charged in a credit card fraud scam.

Kansas is favored vs. a Power Five opponent for the first time since 2009 for good reason. If KU doesn’t pick up its first two-game winning streak since the beginning of the 2011 season and snap a seven-game home losing streak, that won’t bode well for its chances of competing very often, even in a weakened Big 12.

Prediction: Kansas 24, Rutgers 13.

Reply 13 comments from Dane Pratt Texashawk10_2 John  Kelley Daddioku Joe Ross Len Shaffer Eeakins1 Ray Winger Realisthawk

Where 11 former David Beaty assistants are now

Kansas University assistant football coach Rob Likens watches over practice as the players get stretched out on Tuesday, April 5, 2016.

Kansas University assistant football coach Rob Likens watches over practice as the players get stretched out on Tuesday, April 5, 2016. by Nick Krug

Rob Likens, David Beaty's first offensive coordinator, came to Kansas with a reputation for being one of the more well liked assistant coaches among peers, and did nothing to change that in his two seasons in Lawrence, even though things didn't go well for him.

Likens lasted one year in that job and was demoted to Walk Around Guy in his second season, when Beaty appointed himself OC for a year. It was tough watching Likens, well, walk around at practice. At times he looked like a coach without anybody to coach.

No need to fell sorry for Likens anymore. He has a reported base salary of $700,000 as offensive coordinator for first-year Arizona State coach Herman Edwards. It's twice the salary he made last season as receivers coach for Todd Graham.

Likens' offense is averaging 309 passing yards per game and has five touchdown passes and one interception. The Sun Devils (2-0) are coming off a 16-13 victory against Michigan State.

Things also are going well for Beaty's first linebackers coach, former Kansas linebacker Kevin Kane. He left Beaty's staff after one season to become defensive coordinator for Northern Illinois for two seasons and then was recruited to SMU as DC by first-year coach Sonny Dykes.

Calvin Thibodeaux, defensive line coach at KU in 2015 and instrumental in the recruitment of Dorance Armstrong, left after one season to coach at Oklahoma, his alma mater. He's in charge of defensive ends for the Sooners.

Klint Kubiak, receivers coach in 2015, left for the Denver Broncos after one season and remains there, now coaching quarterbacks.

Reggie Mitchell, Beaty's first running backs coach, left after a season and spent two years in the same role at Arkansas. He's now doing the same job for head coach Dana Dimel at UTEP.

Special teams coach Gary Hyman was let go by Kansas after the 2015 season and was not retained after 2016 by Indiana State. He has resurfaced this season at UT San Atonio on Frank Wilson's staff.

In review, after an 0-12 2015 season, 4 of 9 assistant coaches left for what they considered to be better opportunities, and one was fired.

After a 2-10 2016 season, Likens was tired of walking around and wanted to get back to coaching, so he headed to Arizona State. Wide receivers coach Jason Phillips was told he would not be retained and was hired by Oregon State to fill the same role. Defensive line coach Michael Slater was not retained and is coaching the same position for Texas Southern head coach Michael Haywood. Turnover dropped from five assistants in Beaty's first season to three in his second.

In the wake of a 1-11 2017 season, the turnover number again was three. Offensive line coach Zach Yenser and special teams coach Joe DeForest, who spent two seasons at Kansas, were fired. Yenser was hired in May as offensive line coach for Enterprise High, a 7A school in southeast Alabama. Yenser left that job to take a position as offensive quality control assistant at SMU, where he is reunited with Dykes. Yenser worked for Dykes at Louisiana Tech and California. Southern California head coach Clay Helton hired DeForest as a defensive quality control coach. Todd Bradford, KU's linebackers coach for two seasons, accepted a lucrative offer to return to the oil industry.

Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen and Kenny Perry, who moved from cornerbacks to special teams, where things are going well, are the lone remaining assistant coaches from Beaty's original staff.

Reply 14 comments from Bryson  Stricker Ronfranklin Jerry Ryan Tom Keegan Travisbetz Glen Eeakins1 Forever2008 Table_rock_jayhawk Jaylark and 1 others

Rutgers coach Chris Ash calls Pooka Williams ‘a good little player’

Kansas freshman running back Pooka Williams eyes a running lane against Central Michigan, during the Jayhawks’ 31-7 road win Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Kansas freshman running back Pooka Williams eyes a running lane against Central Michigan, during the Jayhawks’ 31-7 road win Saturday at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in Mount Pleasant, Mich.

Pooka Williams has jolted a slumbering Kansas football fan base awake and it took him all of one game, his first in college.

How did he look on film to the coach who has to prepare his team to face a KU offense rejuvenated by the freshman running back who ran for 125 yards on 14 carries and in the second half gained 85 yards on six carries with touchdown bursts of 20 and 41 yards?

“He's a good little player,” third-year Rutgers coach Chris Ash said at his Monday press conference. “He was productive. He had a couple of explosive runs against Central Michigan.”

A good little player. Interesting choice of words. Williams appears shorter than his listed height of 5-foot-10 and packs a lot of muscle onto his 170 pounds.

“Kansas has some good skill players. They’ve got a couple of running backs that are good,” Ash said. “I think they've got several receivers who can run and make some plays. I think they've got a good scheme. But he did bring a different element to their offense in terms of the running game, and he's got the ability to take it to the house if you're not sound and you don't tackle well because he's really quick. He's got good speed.”

Ash didn’t mention the receivers by name, but the three best for the Jayhawks so far have been Kerr Johnson (seven catches, 122 yards, two touchdowns), Steven Sims (eight receptions, 59 yards, one touchdown), Stephon Robinson (four receptions, 43 yards).

Reply 4 comments from Bryson  Stricker Owlcheese Ronfranklin

KU football aims for first winning streak since 2011

Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb motions to the Memorial Stadium crowd after connecting with receiver D.J. Beshears for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas quarterback Jordan Webb motions to the Memorial Stadium crowd after connecting with receiver D.J. Beshears for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

Kansas wide receiver D.J. Beshears caught a 6-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Webb with nine seconds remaining to give KU a 45-42 victory against Northern Illinois with 48,084 on hand at Memorial Stadium on Sept. 10, 2011.

That dramatic ending made KU's record 2-0 and stands as the most recent two-game winning streak for the program. Las Vegas oddsmakers expect that streak of no winning streaks to end Saturday when Rutgers visits David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium for an 11 a.m. kickoff. Kansas opened as a three-point favorite.

KU hasn't come very close very often in trying for a second consecutive victory in recent years.

After opening Charlie Weis' first season on the job with a 31-17 victory over South Dakota State, KU lost to Rice, 24-25, in Lawrence with 44,683 in attendance. In Weis' second season, after opening with a 31-14 triumph over South Dakota, KU lost at Rice, 23-14. The Jayhawks bounced back with a 13-10 win over Louisiana Tech on a Matthew Wyman field goal, but then were drubbed by Texas Tech, 54-16. Later in the season, KU defeated West Virginia in Lawrence, 31-19, but then slipped all over the place in icy Ames, Iowa, and took a 34-0 beating.

Weis opened his third season by holding on to defeat SEMO, 34-28, then took a 41-3 beating at Duke. After a 24-10 victory against Central Michigan, KU was shut out by Texas, 23-0, spelling the end of Weis' tenure.

Interim head coach Clint Bowen defeated Iowa State, 34-14, then lost to TCU, 34-30, the closest Kansas has come to a two-game winning streak since 2011. It started a 15-game losing streak for the program.

David Beaty's first victory as head coach came in the 2016 opener, a 55-6 domination of Rhode Island, but Ohio came into Lawrence and prevented a KU winning streak with a 37-21 victory. KU played pretty well the week after defeating Texas, 24-21 in overtime, but lost in Manhattan to Kansas State, 34-19.

The Jayhawks opened the 2017 season with a 38-16 victory over SEMO, but couldn’t stop Central Michigan quarterback Shane Morris from shredding them, 37-21.

Reply 2 comments from Ray Winger Bryson  Stricker Maxhawk

KU football interim HC countdown: No. 6, Tony Hull

Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong, left, listens to associate head coach Tony Hull during preseason practice on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017.

Kansas defensive end Dorance Armstrong, left, listens to associate head coach Tony Hull during preseason practice on Monday, Aug. 7, 2017. by Mike Yoder

A former engineer for NASA and then a high school football coach in New Orleans, his hometown, Kansas associate head coach/running backs Tony Hull does more than instruct ball carriers for David Beaty's football program. He heads up The Boot Experiment, Beaty's plan to develop a Louisiana pipeline of recruits who choose Kansas as a place to continue their educations and football careers.

That enormous task requires more than convincing recruits to sign national letters of intent. It also involves making sure the players don't grow homesick and make as smoothly as can be expected a significant cultural transition. To that end, Hull even arranges Cajun team barbecues. He also stays in close contact with the Louisiana players' families and high school coaches. Players share with potential recruits all that Hull does for them and that leads to more recruits from The Boot choosing Kansas as a destination.

It's possible Hull could be the choice as the interim head coach, should Beaty be relieved of his duties and given the $3 million parachute stipulated in his contract. But why put more on Hull's plate when heading The Boot Experiment, one that very well could extend into the next head coach's reign, is a responsibility that requires so much time and energy?

Reply 17 comments from Chriss Joe Ross Table_rock_jayhawk Jasontodd West_virginia_hawk Texashawk10_2 Jeff Coffman Blogthis Daddioku Jay Hawkinson and 1 others

KU football interim HC countdown: No. 7, Kenny Perry

Kansas cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry works with his position players during practice on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark.

Kansas cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry works with his position players during practice on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark. by Nick Krug

David Beaty’s right-hand man, Kenny Perry, moved from coaching cornerbacks, which he did his first three seasons at Kansas, to coordinating special teams. So far, good move. Kansas had a strong special teams play in the opener, a 26-23 overtime loss to Nicholls State.

Stephon Robinson blocked a punt. Kyron Johnson recovered a muffed punt. Gabriel Rui made field goals of 54 and 41 yards. Kyle Thompson averaged 47 yards on his eight punts.

Perry also is KU’s recruiting coordinator, a position for which he seemed well suited given all of his connections with high school coaches in the Dallas area. Perry was a head high school football coach for 13 seasons at three different schools and in 2007 was named Dallas Morning News Coach of the Year.

As it turned out, though, Kansas hasn’t been able to turn the program around and even connections can’t overcome that. He recruited well in a brief stint at TCU, but recruiting Texas players to a perennial winner at a Texas university and enticing them to come to Kansas is a completely different challenge.

It’s easy to envision Perry giving a motivational pregame speech. He has the right personality for it and his background as a successful high school coach means he is experienced at it. But Perry’s so closely tied to Beaty that if the head coach is replaced during the season, Perry likely will not be where Kansas turns for an interim leader.

Reply 3 comments from Jerry Ryan Blogthis Mike Hart

KU football interim HC countdown: No. 8, Jesse Williams

Kansas defensive line coach Jesse Williams flashes a smile during spring football practice on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

Kansas defensive line coach Jesse Williams flashes a smile during spring football practice on Thursday, March 30, 2017. by Nick Krug

In the event Kansas decides to turn to an interim head coach at some point this season, I'm doing a series of blogs counting down to the most assistant coach on David Beaty's who would make the most sense to take on interim duties, should it come to that.

So you think you want to make a career of coaching college football, do you? Well, take a look at the work background of Kansas defensive line coach Jesse Williams and then think about the stress involved every time you have changed addresses.

Williams has coached in nine different states: California, Oregon, Washington, Massachusetts, Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico, Ohio, Kansas at nine different schools: Sonoma State, Portland State, Eastern Washington, Holy Cross, San Jose State, Colorado State, Nebraska Kearney, New Mexico State, Ohio, Kansas.

His longest stay was at Colorado State (1999-2006), his next-longest at Ohio (2012-16), which he left to join David Beaty's staff.

It's a hard life, but Williams has made it work and has built a strong reputation as a solid recruiter and defensive line coach and witnessed how a terrific head coach, Ohio's Frank Solich, does the job.

Yet, if Kansas hires an interim head coach from Beaty's staff, Williams isn't likely to be the selection.

Reply 6 comments from Mike Hart Dane Pratt Joe Ross Spk15 Jasontodd Hawkfan9675

KU football interim HC countdown: No. 9, Justin Johnson

Kansas wide receiver Chase Harrell (3) celebrates with teammates and offensive analyst Justin Johnson after his touchdown catch during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio.

Kansas wide receiver Chase Harrell (3) celebrates with teammates and offensive analyst Justin Johnson after his touchdown catch during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio. by Nick Krug

In the event Kansas decides to turn to an interim head coach at some point this season, I'm doing a series of blogs counting down to the most assistant coach on David Beaty's who would make the most sense to take on interim duties, should it come to that.

Receivers coach Justin “Juice” Johnson is in his first season as an on-field, recruiting assistant coach after spending a total of four years in office jobs at the football programs of Houston, Texas A&M and Kansas.

Johnson played for Kevin Sumlin at Houston and as a senior led the 13-1 Cougars with 87 receptions, 1,229 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns. He earned first-team All-Conference USA honors.

A native of Richardson, Texas, Johnson graduated from Houston in December of 2011 kinesiology/sports administration.

A Reggie Jackson doppelganger, Johnson is the program’s sixth wide receivers coach in six seasons: 2013: Rob Ianello; 2014: Eric Kiesau; 2015: Klint Kubiak; 2016: Jason Phillips; 2017: Doug Meacham.

As a rookie assistant coach, Johnson lacks the experience to be considered for interim head coach, should Kansas need one.

Reply 16 comments from Brad  Watson Jeff Coffman Hawkfan9675 Mike Hart Ronfranklin Len Shaffer Jhawki78 Bryson  Stricker Pius Waldman Jmfitz85 and 1 others

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