Sunday, September 11, 2011

Matt Tait’s KU football notebook: KU running game solid again

KU receiver D.J. Beshears said he wasn't worried that his final TD would be overturned after a replay in KU's 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011.


KU quarterback Jordan Webb describes the game-winning TD pass to D.J. Beshears

KU quarterback Jordan Webb describes the game-winning touchdown pass to D.J. Beshears following KU's 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011.

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Press Conferences & Post-Game Interviews

KU coach Turner Gill

Kansas coach Turner Gill talks to reporters following the Jayhawks' 45-42 victory over Northern Illinois on Sept. 10, 2011.

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Reader poll

Who was KU's most valuable player against Northern Illinois?

  • D.J. Beshears: 7 receptions, 70 yds, 2 TDs; 197 kick-return yards 35% 663 votes
  • Jordan Webb: 21/30, 281 yds, 3 TDs 50% 953 votes
  • James Sims: 26 runs for 110 yds, 2 TDs 10% 191 votes
  • Darrian Miller: 10 runs for 57 yds, TD 0% 9 votes
  • Kale Pick: 3 receptions, 55 yds, TD 1% 34 votes
  • Other 1% 35 votes

1885 total votes.

For the second straight game, Kansas University’s football team wowed its home crowd with an awesome display of running the football.

After rushing for 301 yards on 55 carries in the opener, the Jayhawks tallied 253 yards rushing on 60 carries during Saturday’s 45-42 victory against Northern Illinois.

Several key plays in a game full of fireworks came on the ground and a large chunk of those out of KU’s “Jayhawk” formation.

Three different backs took direct snaps Saturday night, with sophomore James Sims and true freshman Darrian Miller handling the bulk of the between-the-legs passes from center Jeremiah Hatch that didn’t touch quarterback Jordan Webb’s hands first.

“We’re fortunate to have a lot of quality players,” KU coach Turner Gill said. “It’s good to have those guys who we can put in there in different situations, who can go play the ‘Jayhawk’ position.”

While KU’s trio of freshmen backs (Miller, Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon) combined to rush for 131 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, sophomore starter James Sims nearly did that by himself. Sims finished with 110 yards and two TDs on 26 carries. The 26 carries were a career-high for Sims. The back-to-back 100-yard games were the first for a KU running back since Jake Sharp during the first two games of the 2009 season. Sims has topped the century mark five times in his first 13 games as a Jayhawk.

“A lot of good things happen when he’s over 100 yards,” Gill said of Sims. “In his two years here, when he’s been over 100 yards, we’ve won the football game.”

Gill said his team realized early that it could lean on the running game for the second straight week. He and KU’s running backs credited the offensive line for a lot of that.

“They were coming off the field talking about how we could run the football against these guys,” Gill said of the O-Line. “They felt very confident going against their defense, and it showed.”

Webb strikes again

The last time Kansas won on its last offensive play of the game came in 2005, when place kicker Scott Webb hit a 34-yard field goal in overtime to beat Iowa State. Saturday, the Jayhawks won on a six-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Webb with nine seconds to play in regulation.

Injury update

A few Jayhawks were forced to leave Saturday’s game because of injuries, and, following the game, Gill said he had no update on their status. Junior linebacker Tunde Bakare left midway through the game and did not return. In addition, junior defensive tackle John Williams suffered a leg injury and was limited, and freshman receiver JaCorey Shepherd also spent time on the sideline because of an injury.

Senior center Jeremiah Hatch sat out for one play, but immediately returned and finished the game.

Dandy debuts

After six true freshmen played in last week’s game, two more cracked the rotation against Northern Illinois. Defensive back Victor Simmons, of Olathe, and defensive end, Michael Reynolds, of Wichita, played the first snaps of their KU careers Saturday.

Reynolds was credited with two tackles while Simmons had one.

Red-shirt freshman Andrew Turzilli also played in his first game for the Jayhawks. He did not have a catch.


JJHAWK 10 years, 11 months ago

Freshman class showed up early. Thank you HC Gill.

HAWKTOPIA 10 years, 11 months ago

Hawk fans, the offence has arrived. Don't be confused, it is the offensive line.

The difference between an OK quarterback and a great one is about 1 second in the pocket. The difference between a 3 yard loss, a 5 yard gain, and a 15 yard scamper, is 1,2,or 3 solid blocks. Three cheers for the guys in the trenches, creating the opportunity to let players play. and coaches coach.

Tighten up on defense.

troutsee 10 years, 11 months ago

Our defense sucks. Big time. Players are slow to respond, slow to recognize, and appear to be out of position. The defensive coaches are doing a crappy job. We gave up many easy first downs to their wide outs. The frustrating thing is that is exactly what we did last year too. This ineptitude is on the coaches.

Andy Tweedy 10 years, 11 months ago

The defense does look bad, but I'm not ready to blame the coaches. How 'bout the total lack of depth and size on the d-line. I'd go with that.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 11 months ago

This is the 3rd DC/defense in 3 years. The FS & SS have 4 D1 games at their current positions. Several others have played only a few games with the others. Maybe it takes a little while for players to get adjusted, and I believe that is even more the case with D than O.

Maybe the real ineptitude is on fans that expect a finished product without development. It wasn't long ago (10 days?) that most fans were saying they would be happy with being competitive even if we weren't winning.

Dan Harris 10 years, 11 months ago

half glass empty gotta BITCH about something huh troutze! Why not enjoy the success of the offense AND the team ! The team is 2-0 for christ sake and 50% of the posters on here 2 weeks ago didn't think we would win more then 1 game all year, were you one of those "fair weather fans?" I agree the defense has been horrific the first couple of weeks and isn't likely to get better any time soon but I choose to compliment the success of the team rather then dwell on the negatives but hey that's just me.

troutsee 10 years, 11 months ago

see my other posts. I could not have been happier or more thrilled by our win. However, the D needs lots of work, especially against the quick outs. Look at my previous posts. I am the eternal optimist. Our defense was billed as being more aggressive. Thus, far I have not seen it. Rarely is a pass contested. I too compliment the success of the team and am thrilled by it. I think we will give GT fits.

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 11 months ago

You're certainly entitled to your opinion, but there's a heck of a difference between saying that the D needs a lot of work and saying that the defense sucks, the players are slow and the coaches are crappy.

I think everyone who has seen or heard the first two games will agree that the defense needs work, but hey - we're 2-0. If the keep playing just the way they have been and we win - I'm good with that.

Robert Brock 10 years, 11 months ago

Pretty tough stretch of games after GT. Let's see if the D improves and can slow down the uptempo offenses of the Big 9.

basketball122009 10 years, 11 months ago

you won't see a improvement in the d till next year, thats just how the 3-4 defense is

texashawk10 10 years, 11 months ago

Didn't KU beat Misery on its last offensive play of the game in 2008?

Andy Tweedy 10 years, 11 months ago

Not the last play, but close. We scored with about 30 seconds left, but Misery went down the field and tried a FG, which was blocked.

Jim Pendleton 10 years, 11 months ago

You are correct, it was our last offensive play, unless they are counting special teams plays as offense now. Technically both the Iowa State win in '05 and the extra point after the '08 MU game were special teams plays. For that matter, last night had an extra point after the touchdown.

So in my book, the '08 MU game should count as the last win for the Hawks which came as a result of their final offensive play of the game.

Brad Avery 10 years, 11 months ago

Yes. And KU almost made the same mistake against NIU that it did against Missouri, not kicking the ball deep on the kickoff. We gave Missouri 30 seconds and we gave NIU 8 seconds. Fortunately, neither team was able to take advantage and score. But Missouri got close enough to try a field goal.

rockchalk_dpu 10 years, 11 months ago

We gave NIU 8 seconds with no timeouts. If you were at the game, you would have realized that there was no time to do anything even if they had made the reception on that long final pass. I'd rather them squib the kick down and roll it to one of the blockers than give it to one of their return guys who have the speed to make someone miss and score. It was the correct call by the coaches given the lead and the time left.

gardenjay 10 years, 11 months ago

Hey Matt, GOOD JOB picking KU to win this one!!!! You're the man at! The rest of the beat writers get the word 'bandwagon' for this week.

Mike Kendall 10 years, 11 months ago

@ gardenjay---LOL.

There was another beat writer for KU who covers the Jayhawks for the Wichita Eagle, J. Brady McCollough, who predicted a KU win---kudos to him, too!

Look out for Michael Reynolds---he's going to be good. I was fortunate to see him play one game last year for Kapaun Mt. Carmel HS in Wichita, KS. He was dominating at defensive end. I hope he continues to improve.

Jeff Coffman 10 years, 11 months ago

I don't mean to be too negative, but #9, who I think is Bakare...really was the worse person on the Defense during the game.

I thought he was burned about every other play. He was also playing about 10-15 yards of the slot receiver.

You fix that, and I think you fix a few of our problems.

Ron Prichard 10 years, 11 months ago

Bakare is #17 and was all over the field before he got hurt.

KU 10 years, 11 months ago

Bakare didn't play the second half. He played like his hair was on fire before he got his bell rung.

On a worse note, John Williams is out for the year with an ACL tear. We were already thin at DL.

On a positive note, we were able to slow down GT option offense last year by playing alot of 3-4. Hopefully they don't gash us with huge pass plays too often while we concentrate on stopping their option. Their QB had insane YPA the last game, but they don't throw often.

Andy Tweedy 10 years, 11 months ago

He also played with NFL RB Jeff Smith. And how could you you forget Heisman Trophy winner Mike Rozier!

Randy Bombardier 10 years, 11 months ago

Since I had to listen to the game I have watch the highlights below about four times now.

I have a few favorite highlights then two observations. Favorite run was by Brandon Bourban just would not go down. On Pierson TD that was called back he made a wicked, absolutely stunning move to make a man miss. You have to watch it. Needs to be blown up and played in slow-mo (which I cannot do). This should have made a highlight somewhere. Favorite catch and moment of the game was the clincher by Beshears. Awesome presence to make sure he got over the goal line.

Observation number one. Pick quit on his route too early on the shotput to TE Biere on the drive that ended in the field goal. I really hope this gets coached up. If Pick would have been continuing to scramble and had set a course for the middle of the field, back of end zone he would have had an easy TD. Our guys had to do a lot finding open spots because of Reesing's ability to avoid a sack. Webb is also getting better about buying time so the receivers are going to have to extend the play.

Observation Number two. Eight men in a box is not going to stop our running game.

KU 10 years, 11 months ago

NIU's defensive front was sub-par, maybe even for the MAC. Big goes around comes around) defenses will be considerable more stout up front. I don't foresee KU averaging 200+ yards per game in the Big 8.

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