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Posts tagged with De'andre Mann

Running backs Avery and Mann capable of carrying offensive load

KU's final touchdown came from freshman running back Corey Avery (6) on Saturday September 20, 2014, at Memorial Stadium, as the Hawks came home the winner 24-10.

KU's final touchdown came from freshman running back Corey Avery (6) on Saturday September 20, 2014, at Memorial Stadium, as the Hawks came home the winner 24-10. by Richard Gwin

Few would question Kansas University’s offensive ideology for its third game of the season, against Central Michigan.

The Jayhawks — and sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart in particular — labored unsuccessfully to sustain drives and score touchdowns a week earlier at Duke. So coaches devised a game plan to get the young offensive leader back on track versus CMU, with short passes.

The strategy allowed Cozart to complete 23 of 33 throws for 226 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and KU won, 24-10.

But there was a downside to that approach. Kansas running backs Corey Avery and De’Andre Mann, who had each rushed for at least 65 yards in both of KU’s previous games, combined for just 61 against the Chippewas.

Corey Avery (Fr.) De'Andre Mann (Jr.-JC)
vs. SEMO 19 carries, 91 yards, TD, long of 15 15 carries, 121 yards, long of 15
at Duke 16 carries, 87 yards, long of 17 12 carries, 65 yards, long of 11
vs. CMU 11 carries, 35 yards, long of 10 8 carries, 26 yards, long of 14
SEASON 46 carries, 213 yards, TD (4.5 yards/carry) 35 carries, 212 yards (6.1 yards/carry)

While the game opened in explosive fashion with a 74-yard rushing TD by running-back-turned-receiver Tony Pierson, Avery and Mann only had two carries apiece in the first half, as KU coach Charlie Weis and offensive coordinator John Reagan focused on high-percentage passes that would help Cozart’s confidence.

When the Jayhawks open Big 12 play Saturday against Texas, even those quick-and-easy pass plays could get complicated.

So what better place than here/time than now to get the running backs involved? Cozart might not be perfect, but he knows healthy doses of Avery and Mann will help KU’s offense against the Longhorns (1-2).

“We get those guys going and then you get the defense starting to come up,” the second-year QB said. “And that’s when you hit ‘em with a play-action, go right over the top.”

Cozart said the Jayhawks (2-1) would love to exploit the UT defense and its physical front seven one way or another, and the team has confidence Avery, a true freshman, and Mann, a junior college transfer in his first season, can help make that happen. Both of them have produced at least one 10-plus yard carry each of the previous three games.

Kansas running back De'Andre Mann tries to stiff arm Southeast Missouri State safety Ron Davis during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. At right is Redhawks linebacker Wisler Ymonice.

Kansas running back De'Andre Mann tries to stiff arm Southeast Missouri State safety Ron Davis during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. At right is Redhawks linebacker Wisler Ymonice. by Nick Krug

The QB compared Mann, a junior, to former Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk, who ran for 1,177 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

“They’re real high-knee type of guys.”

Avery, Cozart added, is swift and shifty with the ball in his hands.

“They’re definitely gonna get two different styles of running backs,” he said of KU’s upcoming conference foes.

Both Avery and Mann are about to make their Big 12 debuts. Kansas senior tight end Jimmay Mundine said the new running backs won’t be able to out-athlete any of the Longhorns, so executing the game plan will be critical. But he also trusts their skills.

“Just because they’re young doesn’t mean they can’t make a guy miss or run over him or do their job,” Mundine said. “Obviously, we don’t expect them to be like (James) Sims was for us last year and things of that nature, but they’ll be solid players for us and ones that we can count on, regardless of how old they are.”

What’s more, Mundine said both Avery and Mann have the ability to run for power or speed.

“I think they kind of pick and choose. It just depends on the situation,” the tight end shared. “They’re both pretty smart running backs. If it’s third and one, they need to lower their head and get the first down, they’ll do that. If it’s second and four and they’ve got an opportunity to make somebody miss, they’ll go on about their business.”

Senior Kansas receiver Justin McCay takes a lot of pride in blocking on the perimeter. He said Avery and Mann are hard-working backs that probably get underestimated outside of the KU locker room.

“We know what they can do,” McCay said. “We expect a lot out of ’em, but people haven’t seen it yet.”

So what will the Big 12 find out about KU’s one-two punch?

“They’ve got a rude awakening,” McCay said, grinning.

Reply 1 comment from Kingfisher

Five things we would’ve liked to learn about KU football this weekend

By the time Week 1 of the 2014 college football season wraps up Monday night, 85 games featuring FBS teams will be in the books.

Kansas University, of course, won’t be playing in any of those.

The Jayhawks are idle this week, which means we’ll have to wait another seven days to get a look at them, and find out just what they might be capable of on the field.

Kansas head coach Charlies Weis watches warmups from a golf cart during Fan Appreciation Day, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach Charlies Weis watches warmups from a golf cart during Fan Appreciation Day, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Charlie Weis and his staff have spent the past two weeks, since KU’s last open practice and Fan Appreciation Day, hunkered down, preparing for the Sept. 6 opener against Southeast Missouri State — and beyond. The Jayhawks have only emerged (to the media at least) to announce seniors Ben Heeney, Nick Harwell and Cassius Sendish as team captains and rally the downtrodden KU football fan base.

Because we won’t get to see this Kansas football team today, here are five things we would’ve liked to learn if the Jayhawks actually began their season Labor Day weekend.

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon runs through drills during a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Brandon Bourbon runs through drills during a KU football practice Saturday, April 5, 2014, at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

1. Who has emerged as KU’s primary running back?

Since the news of season-ending injuries to both Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox, it became clear either juco newcomer De’Andre Mann or true freshman Corey Avery would have the role thrusted upon them.

But we don’t yet know which of the two is more explosive, a better pass-blocker, more instinctive and so on. Perhaps KU will choose to split carries evenly between Mann and Avery. Maybe they sprinkle in true freshman Joe Dineen, who recently converted from playing safety.

It seems KU has some options, despite the potentially devastating injuries.

Kansas University offensive coordinator John Reagan, works with offensive lineman Ngalu Fusimalohi (63) at KU football practice on Thursday August 14, 2014.

Kansas University offensive coordinator John Reagan, works with offensive lineman Ngalu Fusimalohi (63) at KU football practice on Thursday August 14, 2014. by Richard Gwin

2. Does Reagan have five guys he trusts on the offensive line?

The first depth chart of the preseason listed KU’s first-string O-line as: senior LT Pat Lewandowski, senior LG Ngalu Fusimalohi, junior C Keyon Haughton, senior RG Mike Smithburg and junior RT Damon Martin.

Their backups, as of Aug. 7, were junior LT Larry Mayzck, junior LG Bryan Peters, red-shirt freshman C Joe Gibson, sophomore RG Brain Beckmann and junior RT Devon Williams.

Since then, sophomore tight end Jordan Shelley-Smith also moved to tackle.

A lot can change in three weeks, especially with a unit that could be the biggest mystery on the team. Don't be surprised if the depth chart looks a little different when KU releases it. Weis made it known a couple weeks ago it might take the entire preseason practice schedule to determine a starting five. Smithburg said in an interview the O-linemen might not know who will start until game day.

http://youtu.be/K49PNoSeqHQ?t=1m42s

Offensive coordinator and O-line coach John Reagan has a reputation for getting the most out of the big guys. It will be interesting to see which five he can rely on for the opener. And how much the go-to five changes in the weeks to come.

Kansas defender Ben Goodman (93) pumps his arms in the air to get the crowd into the game during the first-half of the Jayhawks game against KSU Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas defender Ben Goodman (93) pumps his arms in the air to get the crowd into the game during the first-half of the Jayhawks game against KSU Saturday at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

3. Can the defensive line catch up with the linebackers and defensive backs?

Between Captain Heeney at linebacker and a skilled secondary featuring senior corners Dexter McDonald and JaCorey Shepherd, senior free safety Cassius Sendish and junior strong safety Isaiah Johnson (the Big 12’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year in 2013), KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen has plenty of experience behind the defensive line.

But what about those guys in the trenches? Will senior nose tackle Keon Stowers, junior tackle Andrew Bolton and junior end Ben Goodman cause enough havoc to disrupt offensive plays before they get started? How big of an impact will senior “buck” Michael Reynolds make as an edge rusher?

If the defensive line isn’t big enough to bust through opposing lines, it will have to be fast enough to go around them. KU’s linebackers and secondary will be far more effective with a consistent push at the point of attack.

Blue Team quarterback Montell Cozart throws against the White Team during the first half of the Kansas Spring Game on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo

Blue Team quarterback Montell Cozart throws against the White Team during the first half of the Kansas Spring Game on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at Memorial Stadium. Nick Krug/Journal-World Photo by Nick Krug

4. Is Cozart becoming an accurate passer?

Thrown to the wolves as a true freshman in 2013, quarterback Montell Cozart completed 23 of his 63 passes, threw two interceptions and overthrew targets regularly. His next touchdown pass will be his first in a KU uniform.

Weis and Reagan like the sophomore starter’s mobility, because that will allow him to keep more plays alive for KU this fall. But for Kansas to actually turn out offensive production, Cozart needs to connect with senior receivers Nick Harwell, Tony Pierson and Justin McCay, as well as junior Nigel King and senior tight end Jimmay Mundine.

Plays are bound to break down. When they do, it will be up to Cozart to make something happen, and he can’t just rely on his quick feet. Busted plays need to turn into down-the-field gains for KU to put more points on the scoreboard.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson leaves Rice cornerback Phillip Gaines in his wake as he races up the sideline for a touchdown during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson leaves Rice cornerback Phillip Gaines in his wake as he races up the sideline for a touchdown during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. by Nick Krug

5. What will Reagan’s playbook look like?

KU’s offense should look a lot different than it did when Weis was in charge.

Goodbye, pro-style and complex verbiage. Hello, spread and simplicity. Those are the words out of the mouths of KU’s offensive players since Reagan’s arrival.

The Jayhawks figure to have a dual-threat QB in Cozart. Will Reagan prefer to use the 6-foot-2, 200-pound sophomore as a pass-first weapon? Or will Cozart end up carrying the ball on designed runs just as much as a running back?

Who will most passing plays be designed to free up? Harwell? Pierson? Mundine? Are Mann and Avery able to contribute with receptions of their own?

How much passing will KU even attempt? Just because it’s a spread offense doesn’t mean it can’t rely on the running game. Would Reagan prefer to run the ball 60 percent of the time, with Cozart and Pierson supplementing the Mann and Avery’s workload.

So many questions. And another week of waiting before we start discovering some answers.

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