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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Keegan

Keegan: Reesing great equalizer

It's been two seasons since the Kansas football team faced off against South Florida. Back in 2006, the Bulls made the trip to Memorial Stadium.

KU football vs. South Florida

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KU football - Sept. 10 interviews

Much of the hype for Friday night's Kansas-South Florida game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa centers on a matchup that pits proven performance against potential. South Florida's George Selvie, second in the nation in sacks with 20 and an All-American as a sophomore last season, faces redshirt freshman Jeff Spikes, making his third career start.

The mismatch of experience plays a part in South Florida being favored by a field goal. It's a legitimate concern. It also is overplayed because it doesn't take into account the equalizer. That would be quarterback Todd Reesing's pocket presence.

Some athletes are blessed with the ability to go places and fit into spaces that circumstances suggest they shouldn't be able to go. How did Larry Bird get so many rebounds against seemingly quicker, springier players? What enabled Wayne Gretzky to get into position to score so many goals when faster skaters didn't get there? Why didn't Brandon McAnderson's lack of speed prevent him from rushing for 1,125 yards last season?

Instincts, vision, and a general presence enabled all those athletes to perform at levels greater than the sum of their physical parts.

Reesing's similar magic enables him to avoid sacks with a step or two in whatever direction he needs to go. He can't always see the opposing rusher, but it seems as if he does by knowing just how to avoid him. He can't possibly hear, feel, touch or taste the rush, so it can only be a sixth sense. Whatever it is, he has it.

Sometimes, such as in the Orange Bowl, it's not enough. He was sacked five times. In that game, he needed another intangible: toughness. He took some vicious hits and one body slam. And he kept getting back up, pulling the sod out of his helmet, and holding his head up high.

Reesing never has been better than he was Saturday in a 29-0 victory against Louisiana Tech, when he completed 32 of 38 passes for 412 yards and three touchdowns.

"He worked at his game hard in the offseason, in the summer," KU coach Mark Mangino said of Reesing. "I think he is getting rid of the ball quicker than he was a year ago. He is doing a better job of keeping his eyes down field when he leaves the pocket. He is even more confident than he was a year ago because he experienced an entire season and he knows what to expect."

Reesing makes blockers look better by side-stepping the rush. He makes receivers push themselves to improve by forever scanning the field for open receivers while scrambling. He never gives up on a play. Quarterbacks who tend to tuck and run can sometimes leave receivers uncommitted, asking themselves: "Should I go block somebody or should I keep trying to get open?"

Rewarded so many times late in plays by Reesing's relentless creativity, KU's receivers know what to do. They keep hustling, keep trying to get open. Like their quarterback and leader, they never quit on plays.

If Reesing can limit turnovers and the defense comes up solid again, Friday could be a good night for the Jayhawks, even if they continue to stall in the red zone.

Reesing's been an underdog before and come out on top. Kansas 20, South Florida 17.

Comments

Dirk Medema 14 years, 2 months ago

Scoring on 9 of 11 red zone trips seemed pretty reasonable at first. A deeper look reveals an average of 4.3 pts per trip, which is last in the Big XII. That explains the lower scores (relative to last year) in the first two games.

justanotherfan 14 years, 2 months ago

dagger108,I think that statistic reflects our inability to run the ball effectively right now. In the red zone, it's much tougher to spread the defense out and find open seems for our receivers, just because there is so much less field, the safeties don't have to worry about getting beat over the top, etc. I think if we correct the issues in the running game, that 4.3 points per trip will go up immediately. We are kicking way too many field goals to remain competitive against high scoring teams. It puts too much pressure on our defense to pitch a shutout. It's doubtful that we will be able to hold teams like OU, Texas, Texas Tech and Missouri to only 10 points. If we do, I guarantee we will be playing for a national title, deservedly so. But since that is unlikely, our offense needs to put the ball in the end zone when it gets down that deep, otherwise we are basically giving away four points.

justanotherfan 14 years, 2 months ago

Selvie has 20 career sacks, 14.5 of which were last year in his breakout season.

justanotherfan 14 years, 2 months ago

I meant four as compared to scoring a TD vs. a FG, not comparing what we are averaging now to what we could be getting. In our big games this year (Tech, OU, UT, MU) those offenses are probably going to score three touchdowns minimum. If we aren't scoring TD's on our long drives, we are depending on Patterson breaking a kick, or Briscoe making a bunch of people miss on a short pass, or a blown defensive assignment for a long TD. Basically, we are dependent on the opposition making a big mistake, rather than depending on us playing solid football and capitalizing on our own success. As my father always told me growing up, FGs in big games will get you beat. It got us beat last year against MU (not because we missed, but because we couldn't convert and score TDs in the first place). I have nothing against kickers, but relying on them will open you up to losing because you can't score enough points fast enough kicking field goals.

chezlog 14 years, 2 months ago

good comment fan.Not to be nit picky but don't you mean giving away 3 pionts ( we're already averaging 4.)

James Horton 14 years, 2 months ago

No he meant four because we are getting FGs not TDs.

bud49 14 years, 2 months ago

What are the true facts about Selvie. Keegan wrote he had 20 sacks as a sophomore last year; Arnett wrote he had 14.5 sacks as a junior in '07. Does the LJW have editors? Perhaps in November the LJW will report McCain and Obama have been elected.

bmcmich1 14 years, 2 months ago

Good points justanother, the 'hawks had better find a way to pound it into the end zone when inside the 20 or it's going to be a long year. Running the ball well in the red zone is extremely important, because it opens up the play-action as a viable pass option. Much smaller chance of scoring in the red zone if the opponent knows you're no run threat -- can't spread the field like usual in compressed space.Always bad news when you have to settle for 3...

JayCeph 14 years, 2 months ago

Both McCain and Obama HAVE been elected... at one point or another in their respective careers. So, if the LJW does report it, they won't be wrong.

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