Tuesday, October 6, 2009

KU, ISU ground games look to get healthy

Jayhawks’ running back Sharp progressing; Cyclones’ Robinson expects to play

Kansas running back Jake Sharp watches the action from the bench during the fourth quarter against Duke Saturday  at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Jake Sharp watches the action from the bench during the fourth quarter against Duke Saturday at Memorial Stadium.


Sharp could return against ISU

Kansas head coach Mark Mangino said in a Monday afternoon teleconference that Jake Sharp could be ready to go against Iowa State.

Born to run, forced to sit

KU’s Jake Sharp and ISU’s Alexander Robinson hope to play Saturday.

Sharp: 42 rushes; 240 yards; 5.7 yards/carry; 3 touchdowns; 80 yards/game

Robinson: 84 rushes; 502 yards; 6.0 yards/carry; 4 touchdowns; 100.4 yards/game

Heading into the weekend, two of the Big 12’s top rushing attacks will be forced to deal with a level of uncertainty in their teams’ respective ground games.

Kansas University starting tailback Jake Sharp and Iowa State’s Alexander Robinson, both of whom have missed time recently due to injury, will be hoping to make their way back to the field Saturday when the teams meet at 11:30 a.m. in Lawrence, though it’s unclear how big a role either will have.

On Monday, KU coach Mark Mangino didn’t say whether Sharp, who suffered an undisclosed injury before the Duke game and missed most of the team’s past two contests, would return for Iowa State, though he indicated the player benefited from the team’s recent bye week.

“For Jake, we feel pretty good about his progress,” Mangino said during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. “We will see him all-out, full-speed on the practice field this week, and if he's feeling good and (has) no effects, he will play against Iowa State.”

Before his injury, Sharp had been arguably the team’s top-performing offensive player, ranking first in the Big 12 in touchdowns and second in rushing. In his place, true freshman backup Toben Opurum rushed for 70 yards against Duke and recorded his first 100-yard game in a victory over Southern Mississippi.

Robinson, meanwhile, has played an equally prominent role for the 3-2 Cyclones, ranked third in the conference in rushing offense. The junior from Minneapolis rushed for 100 yards or more three times in the team’s first four games this season, including a 127-yard, two-touchdown performance in a victory over Army and a 143-yard, one-touchdown day against Kent State.

He left last Saturday’s 24-23 loss to Kansas State in the first quarter after re-aggravating a groin injury he suffered in the team’s victory over Army the previous week.

“Alexander is well ahead of where he was a week ago,” ISU coach Paul Rhoads said. “The blood of the injury has come to the surface, which is a good sign. And ... he’s already started lifting weights, which he couldn’t do a week ago because of where the injury was.”

“He’ll be ready to play on Saturday,” the coach added. “How long he’ll be able to stick around before it gets tight, who knows?”

Last year’s ISU game fresh in Mangino’s mind

Kansas’ near-upset at the hands of Iowa State last season is fresh in the minds of Kansas’ players and coaches heading into this weekend’s matchup, Mangino assured reporters Monday.

Entering halftime of last year’s contest, the Jayhawks found themselves in a 20-point hole before scoring 28 straight points in the second half to escape Ames with a 35-33 victory.

“The message to our players is this: You can’t take anybody lightly,” Mangino said. “You can’t just show up when you’re playing in the Big 12. Any team can beat anybody, and I think we learned a valuable lesson in Ames. And I don’t think we’re going to have this kind of mindset this Saturday, that’s for sure.”

Mangino mum on Big 12 North race

With three Big 12 North teams currently ranked in the top 25 of the Associated Press poll (in addition to 16th-ranked Kansas, Nebraska is 21st and Missouri is 24th), the Jayhawks road to a first-ever outright North championship appears to be dotted with speed bumps.

And Mangino admitted as much, though he declined to elaborate after being asked how he thought the race might play out.

“I think its going to be a competitive race, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “A lot of good teams. But to tell you where people are and where they’re going to be a week, three weeks, a month from now, I’m not able to do that.”


gardenjay 12 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for taking care of the players.

Sharp and Toben would also make good first names for soon-to-be parents in Lawrence...

Phoggin_Loud 12 years, 7 months ago

How about Mangino & Perkins for kid's names??

Dyrk Dugan 12 years, 7 months ago

good news about Jake....i expect him to play some vs. ISU.

good names for sure. Another good name was Aqib Talib. and, anyone named after him, can be proud from strictly his performance on Sunday. 3 picks vs. the Redskins. no help though as the Bucs lost.

NebraskaJayhawk 12 years, 7 months ago

Not to sound like I'm glad Sharp got hurt, but I think getting Opurum the extra work early on is really gonna help this team offensively. We need to be able to run the ball, and Toben definitely gives us another dimension in my opinion. Very glad to have Sharp back though, because he is a huge difference maker for us on offense and a great leader. Speaking of leaders...this team has so many of them senior leaders.. Reesing, Meier, Sharp, Stuckey, Thornton to name a few. Anything less than a Big XII title will be a disappointment to these fellas.

swkhawk24 12 years, 7 months ago

nebraskajayhawk i agree with you. it is helpful getting opurum the early work. but if for some reason sharp needs another week off to heal up i think we will be just fine against iowa state with opurum getting the majority of the carries.

Dirk Medema 12 years, 7 months ago

Glad to have Jake back, but I'm disappointed Rell didn't get some carries in Jake's absence. We are still completely unproven beyond those 2, which is not the most encouraging thing in the world IMO going into conference play. It would be nice to think that no one gets injured during the season, but a bit misguided as well. We still need to work on developing depth - quality, experienced depth.

jakzhumans 12 years, 7 months ago

Ditto to dagger108. I'm really happy Sharp's injury isn't more serious and I'm thrilled Opurum got a lot of extra work, but I think we missed a chance to get someone else some work. Lewis barely saw the field against So. Miss or Duke, and we're going to need him, badly, if Sharp gets dinged up again.

Phoggin_Loud 12 years, 7 months ago

FYI: has KU ranked #13 in their poll this week. Here's the interesting point: KU has a #34 strength of schedule.

22 MU- 104 s.o.s.

23 NU- 73 s.o.s.

17 OSU- 85 s.o.s.

2 Texas- 49 s.o.s.

1 Florida- 33 s.o.s.

So, who says KU isn't playing anyone??

Tony Bandle 12 years, 7 months ago

The Hawks need nicknames:

Jake " The Snake" Sharp Lubbock " I'm No Aggie" Smith Isiah "The Prophet" Barfield Olaitan "Number One to You" Oguntodu Nick "Pluto" Plato Dakota "Lakota" Lewis Kerry "The Mailman" Meiers [because he always delivers} Jake "Laptop" Laptad Dezmon "Crisco" Briscoe [because he's so slippery] Todd "Breezin" Reesing Justin "Thunder" Thorton Darrell "Too Good to be called Lucky" Stuckey

Andy Hess 12 years, 7 months ago

except that Lubbock is the home of Texas Tech, not A&M

Lubbock "I'm no Red Raider" Smith maybe?

suttonku 12 years, 7 months ago

Interesting that kusports has this game at 1130 and so does ESPN but theshiver has this game at 6PM...Im pretty sure it's at 1130 though.

NebraskaJayhawk 12 years, 7 months ago

"Who says KU isn't playing anyone?"

Um, they haven't yet. Two games from now is where that strength of schedule begins.

Tony Bandle 12 years, 7 months ago

Leave it to the photo genius of Nick Krug to make Jake Sharp look like a 6'-5". 275 lb defensive end!!

KGphoto 12 years, 7 months ago

Yeah, I'm not into that strength of schedule crap. Especially when they do it in the pre-season. OSUs sos was certainly calculated before Houston got revved and snapped off a vicious 3-game win streak and mounted a heisman campaign for their QB. Granted UTEP brought them down to earth (wierd) but still nobody saw Houston coming. The whole season has been unpredictable at best. I just don't care about rankings much at all.

Jake get well soon please. Cuz Mangino freaks me out with all his secret injury smoke and mirrors. I half expect Jake to come out on Saturday with a full cast, only to break it off in the third quarter to reveal bionic legs. What else could be so double-top-secret?

kranny 12 years, 7 months ago

I disagree with the reps for Rell Lewis and such. These past two games were tight. You put the best people on the field to win for now/this year. Practice and redshirting is what builds for the future. If the games were blowouts, sure, put them in but you don't stick people in close games just to give them "game experience". There's a reason they aren't playing more now and I'm guessing it's because they aren't ready. If they aren't ready why risk a fumble, dropped pass, or a blown blocking assignment in a tight game when you have a fully capable back to do the job.

number1jayhawker 12 years, 7 months ago

The game vs ISU is @ 11:30 AM on Versus The game vs CU is @ 06:00 PM on FSN

If both Sharp and Opurum get hurt in the same game, I wouldn't have second thoughts about playing the other true freshman phenom, Bradley MacDougald. He was one hell of a RB in high school.

Dirk Medema 12 years, 7 months ago

Kranny - 44-16 was not tight, though I can understand a bit of Coach's thoughts there in that Rell wouldn't have had much prep time for that game. The Southern Miss game is different, since Jake wasn't practicing (much?) that week. Also, Rell's 100+ yd spring game would seem to indicate that he is capable, even if spring games aren't a whole lot different than glorified practices (than non-con games?).

The reality is that it s all a continuum of prep from little (drills) to bigger (practice plays, scrimmages, non-conf games) to biggest games. I don't know why Rell didn't get more reps, so I for one am not intending to second guess anyone, just disappointed he didn't get reps. Do you really think any team can expect to make it thru the season, or even a (big) game, with just one RB?

suttonku 12 years, 7 months ago

Bad news as far as Im concerned...I just heard that Sharp was wearing a brace on his shin and that is a sign of a stress fracture...I really hope Im wrong but that's what I think.

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