Friday, November 4, 2011

Recent foes restrict KU football rushers

Texas defensive end Alex Okafor drags Kansas running back Tony Pierson down in the backfield during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Also pictured are Kansas offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson (72) and Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson (1).

Texas defensive end Alex Okafor drags Kansas running back Tony Pierson down in the backfield during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Also pictured are Kansas offensive lineman Tanner Hawkinson (72) and Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson (1).


The running game no longer appears to be a strength for the Kansas University football team.

Shealy: Iowa State a "blue collar bunch"

Kansas defensive coordinator Vic Shealy says the Jayhawks will have to play "not a good one, but a great ballgame" against Iowa State.

After averaging 4.5 yards per rush through non-conference play, KU is averaging a Big 12-worst 3.2 yards per carry in five league games.

That includes a 20-carry, negative-2-yard showing against Texas last week — a performance KU offensive line coach J.B. Grimes believes is an outlier.

“You look at our eight football games, and out of those eight, seven of them we’ve functioned pretty well,” Grimes said. “In the eighth ballgame, hey, it didn’t happen for us down there in Austin. There’s a whole lot of folks that have been bucked off down there in Austin. I’m not trying to make excuses, but it happens.”

Much of the reason for KU’s struggles against UT, Grimes said, was simply the talent level of the Longhorns’ defensive linemen.

“I think every one of those cats is going to make a lot of money,” Grimes said. “They’re really good.”

The Texas talent doesn’t completely explain KU’s struggles over the last two games, though.

Against Kansas State, the Jayhawks rushed 37 times for 76 yards.

That means, in KU’s last two games, it has rushed 57 times for 74 yards — an average of just 1.3 yards per carry.

The Jayhawks’ longest run in their last 57 carries? A 10-yard rush by Darrian Miller against K-State.

“We’ve just got to put together a better gameplan, for us as coaches, to give us a better chance,” KU coach Turner Gill said of his team’s running game. “But I think also we’ve got to get off the ball, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do, as far as our five guys getting off the ball, plus our tight ends, too — the six guys that are going to do the majority of the blocking.”

This week, Grimes has focused on fundamentals with his linemen, including work on first and second steps, pad level and correct technique with hands, feet and eyes.

“They’re getting there. They really are,” Grimes said. “We’ve been able to keep these five guys together, and that’s a big deal.”

The second-year offensive line coach also has been encouraged by his players’ demeanor during KU’s six-game losing streak.

“I’ve got to tell you all, guys, it’s fun to go out on the practice field. It really is, and that’s unusual in a situation that we’re in right now,” Grimes said. “It’s very unusual to go out there and have fun on the practice field and get some work done. And there’s still a good spirit about this group.”

Grimes has been especially pleased with KU senior center Jeremiah Hatch, who has kept his weight down while also turning into a leader for this year’s team.

“The key is, when you fall, get back up,” Hatch said. “That’s what we plan on doing this week.”

Even after a rough stretch, Grimes said he “couldn’t be more proud of a group of guys” after seeing his offensive line’s resilience.

“There’s an approach to it right now that those guys are taking where, ... ‘Yeah, it’s tough right now, but we’re going to get better. We’re going to work our way out of this thing,’” Grimes said. “And I really believe that those guys believe that. I know I do.”


blackhawkjayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

As much as I wish that this season was just a bad dream...those young men will learn a lot about themselves as the season winds down. It can't be easy for them to keep working hard. I hope that they do and that they all finish the season knowing that they never quit. Best of luck in Ames!

hawk316 10 years, 8 months ago

It's really remarkable how this team has continued to maintain high morale and work hard through so much disappointment. That probably speaks to both the character of the players and to this coaching staff.

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

"That means, in KU’s last two games, it has rushed 57 times for 74 yards — an average of just 1.3 yards per carry."

Why don't they just have Webb (or anyone) stand at the line of scrimmage and FALL forward? I think they could move the ball further doing that.

hawkshot 10 years, 8 months ago

When you are so predictable that the other team already knows what your play call is going to be, the results are also predictable. We're not a team that can line up against just anyone and beat them. Get just a little innovative, and if something doesn't work change it.

okiedave 10 years, 8 months ago

Okay, KU's talent is not all that impressive. Everybody knows that. Against OU, we saw some heart and soul in our players. Were has that gone?

yates33333 10 years, 8 months ago

No wonder, they have Toby Opurum playing defense.

yates33333 10 years, 8 months ago

No wonder, they have Toby Opurum playing defense.

troutsee 10 years, 8 months ago

I usually really get revved up for a KU football game. Part of the excitement is due to the expectation that we might win. That feeling has been absent this year, following the exposure of the ineptitude of our defense during the GT game followed by repeated blowouts, which have demonstrated the ineptitude of our coaching staff. I'll be watching the ISU game, but I am going to be calm, cool, and collected, as I will be going up there expecting nothing from our team. How peaceful my mind is this week. And, just maybe, the trip will be worth it. One can only hope but at this juncture, most of the hope has evaporated. Let's hope the team can turn it around but that seems unlikely. Without a turnaround, Z will have to make a move or Williams Fund donations and season ticket sales will go way down next year.

Displayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

I agree with Hawkshot. If you don't have the talent to square off against your opponent, then pull out all the stops! If you have to run gadget plays all day, then do it! Whatever it takes.

ahpersecoachingexperience 10 years, 8 months ago

"There’s a whole lot of folks that have been bucked off down there in Austin. I’m not trying to make excuses, but it happens.”

Except that UT hadn't won a home big12 game since sometime in 2009. So apparently we were the first conference opponent to get "bucked off" in a long time!

Good lord I'm so sick and tired of reading these comments from every coach on the staff. Does anyone of them have a clue? It's sickening when almost everything that comes out of there mouth is either "positive" spin or flat out lies. Sad when the average poster/reader knows enough to see through the garbage they are speaking.

Please sheahoRn...Please!

Mat Davis 10 years, 8 months ago

The lack of running game is due to the lack of a passing game. Teams are putting 9 guys in the box and daring us to throw it. Webb manages the game, but he doesn't win them. Our opponents are not remotely scared of our passing game, and take there chances that they won't be beat by a downfield threat. Beshears is about it as far as playmakers on the outside, and even then, we throw the ball up for grabs to a guy who's 5'9" and hope that he can get it. He does a good job, but it's still not a high percentage play. I think the loss of Patterson really hurts, but it's exciting that he'll be back next year.

Benjamin Piehler 10 years, 8 months ago

I agree we need more passing to take the pressure off the running game.... or a better O line.

AzNHawk 10 years, 8 months ago

@rcjallday – I believe the concept was to establish the run game in order to open up the passing game. While Webb has had some good, but not great stats and such he is not a threat to opposing defenses. If he could scramble with his feet like Russell Wilson or Denard Robinson then I’d think that defenses would be on edge. As for his passing, I can’t seem to think of any main targets for him other than Kale pick. Webb seemed to do okay with that pitch and pass during the k state game which did move the chains.

Mat Davis 10 years, 8 months ago

I totally understand opening up the passing game by running it, however every team is now cheating their safeties up and blitzing the snot out of us because we're so one dimensional. Webb is not dynamic enough to scare any of the defenses. Hopefully, Michael Cummings is getting some quality reps and will be ready to go. A dual threat guy gives the defense someone else to account for, and you can essentially run the Wildcat formation with someone who could also throw it. The only stats that matter to a QB are victories. Passing efficiency and yardage are all well and good, but at the end of the day, he is the face of every team and is judged by W-L. KU is not talented enough to just have someone manage the game like an Oklahoma or Alabama. They need someone who can make things happen when things breakdown.

AzNHawk 10 years, 8 months ago

What are your thoughts about Mecham? He is the backup QB and I've heard alot of talk about how his arm isn't as strong. I've seen him in a few games and have seen some glimpses, but not enough to make a full judgment. Which is why i'd like to see him in for some reps.

Mat Davis 10 years, 8 months ago

At this point, you have nothing to lose by playing him. Maybe his arm isn't strong enough, but arm strength means very little when you're making poor decisions. Sometimes lack of strength can be beneficial because you know you can't take crazy risks with the football by trying to force it into tight spots. The reality is when you have two QB's, you have none. Haven't heard anything about Berglund, but I'd prefer we cut ties. He may be good, but he also has been a distraction, and no one is above this team, regardless of talent. I hope recruiting QB's is a high priority.

Dyrk Dugan 10 years, 8 months ago

rcjall is right. yes, we were going to have to run the football...chew the clock...and keep our D off the field. and at the begining of the year, that was good enough to win. (barely but we were competitive).

but during that time, and in the games since, we've needed to go down the field...and we haven't done it. only D.J. has caught a pass down the football field in the Big 12 games.....i don't even know if we've thrown to Shephard.

Omigie has dropped numerous balls this our WR dependability is lacking to say it lightly.

and throw in the fact that Webb has an issue of throwing into double's a perfect recipe for talented, speedy crowd the line of scrimmage and dare us to throw....ergo, the running game is stuffed.

now should it be stuffed to the tune of 1 1/2 yards a carry in our last 50 plus attempts? i would say no. but imagination is lacking among the coaching staff. no flea receiver true options (Webb isn't quick enough).

the situation is truly understandable: a bad football team, that used to have one thing it could hang its hat on...running the ball....and now that is gone.

i've said it before and i'll say it again: this is the ballgame. Gill has no road wins...ISU has given up a lot of yards rushing....they got hammered by UT, MU and Baylor. Yes they just smashed TTech, but if the Red Raiders aren't the strangest team in the league, then i don't know who is.

this SHOULD be a competitive football game.....and if somehow, we pull it out of our tail and win it, then Gill should stay as coach. if we're down three or four TDs going into the 4th quarter...and that ends up being the margin...then he should be fired Saturday night. it's put up or shut up more more stats talk...just win a football your league...on the road...vs.a peer school.

Go Jayhawks!

plotku 10 years, 8 months ago

What ever happened to lining up under center, in a 2 back set and running behind your lead blocker? I am so sick and tired of having our offense based solely out of the spread formation. The limitation of the running game out of the spread formation is sick. Zone read left, Zone read Right, that's it. Oh and Draw. When under center, you have leads, counters, traps, toss sweeps, draws, and option. When your strength of your team is the line and running backs, use them! Then go play action off those various sets.

Sean O'Daniel 10 years, 8 months ago

KU Football mean running backs?

Sparko 10 years, 8 months ago

How often have we used the gadget "Jayhawk" formation. Now how many times have we thrown from it? Yeah. I know. Even a gadget play is easy to defend with this coach. Fire Gill. Soon.

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