Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Captain Toben Opurum: Kansas motivated by 2-10 record


Rarely one to wear his feelings on his sleeve, Kansas University senior co-captain Toben Opurum recently talked bluntly about the toll KU’s 2-10 season a year ago took on him and his teammates.

“There’s no way you can go 2-10 and not be motivated by that,” Opurum said at Big 12 media days last week in Dallas. “It’s embarrassing, to be honest, and it’s not something that anybody wants to be a part of any more. That alone will motivate guys to give a little more effort and play with a little more intensity.”

KU coach Charlie Weis also has discussed the role that the past two seasons would play in his rebuilding project, and he, too, said he believed the record harmed his team’s confidence.

“One issue, the one that everyone sees, is the fact that we’re 2-10 and 3-9 over the last two years, having won one conference game in that time frame,” Weis said. “The other one, which I think is maybe even more important, were not the losses last year but how badly they lost so often.”

The Jayhawks lost six games by 30 or more points a year ago, and, while he might not be able to promise more victories right away, Weis said it is his intention to put a more competitive team on the field immediately.

“Once you get your team more competitive on a weekly basis, more wins will naturally follow,” Weis said. “That that’s the No. 1 job that we have to permeate all the way down to our players is that we expect them to know what to do and go out and do it hard for 60 minutes. I think that at least gives you a chance.”

Opurum honored

Opurum on Monday was one of 40 college football players named to the Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award Preseason Watch List.

The 6-foot-2, 245-pound senior from Richardson, Texas, who finished the 2011 season with 45 tackles, including 10.5 behind the line of scrimmage and four sacks, will split time between defensive end and Sam linebacker. He played defensive end during the entire 2011 season after switching from running back to linebacker in 2010.

In its 11th season, the Ted Hendricks Award is named after the first three-time All-American, who played at the University of Miami.

DT McKinney delayed

Monday night, during a joint appearance with KU men’s basketball coach Bill Self on KLWN’s “Rock Chalk Sports Talk,” Weis confirmed that junior college defensive tackle Ty McKinney, of Trinity Valley CC in Athens, Texas, would report to camp at least a couple of days late.

McKinney, who was originally slated to arrive on campus in June but had to stay in Texas to finish a class, was one of the late arrivals Weis talked about last week in Dallas. He emphasized that even though McKinney would be late, McKinney was still coming and would still play.

The Jayhawks are slated to report to campus Wednesday and will begin fall practice Thursday.


Bangkok_Jayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

I wrote this a few days ago on an old post but I am curious if anyone else is thinking the way I am. Don't want to sound like a hopeless optimist but...

If I had to put my life savings on a win number I would bet on 3-4 wins. That being said, every year there are "breakout" teams that have dramatic improvement. I don't know if there is another team out there that has had more upgrade this off season than Kansas, and I would not be absolutely shocked if we had one heck of a ride that ended up with +7 wins and a bowl appearance.

Offense... QB: Webb was average. Crist will be a massive upgrade. O-Line: We return a lot and they should be in much better shape. A year wiser and more experienced as well. Zlatnik and Hawkinson are good! RB: Miller was good, but Pierson and Sims, a year older and wiser, should be better. WR: Same guys plus Patterson and Ford so we should improve a bit. TE: Biere was good but I have faith that Ragone/Brooks/Mundine will team up for even better production.

Special Teams: Gibas will be missed but Carnes is experienced. Doherty is the same guy from last year so our kicking game should be equal. Patterson is back so our return game could be better.

Defense... D-Line: Awful last year but we didn't lose anyone. Opurum, WIlliams, Young, and Agostinho will be more experienced and in better shape with Holsopple. Everyone is raving about the new guys so you have to believe our worst position has been upgraded. LB: Johnson will be missed but Willis, McDonald, Miles, Reynolds, and Tharp should combine for a better unit than last year. D Backs: McDougald is a player at safety and hopefully Smith steps up. Brown and Patmon look to at least be respectable. Hopefully another guy, maybe a freshman, steps into the mix and plays well. Will need it in the pass happy Big 12.


Coaching: Obviously a massive upgrade. Weis seems to be great. Also, Campo, former NFL Head Coach and DC > Vic Shealy who was appointed last minute. Strength and Conditioning: Apparently it was a joke for the past few seasons. Tait and others are praising the heck out of Holsopple so I have to imagine that there will be a drastic improvement in that area.

Again... Not saying I am betting on it, but there could definitely be something special in the making as early as this year if everything pans out.

KGphoto 9 years, 9 months ago

100% agree. Even small improvements in every area would make a huge difference in competitiveness, and probably a couple more wins. Add four huge upgrades at QB, Head Coach, OC and DC and you are bound to pick up at least a couple more. That's 6 wins my friends!

Ken Tomberlin 9 years, 9 months ago

Good analysis but I think you are underselling the improvement in the QB position. I wouldn't say Webb was an average Big 12 QB, more like in the bottom 2 or 3 and Crist has to be in the top 2 or 3. That kind of improvement in the most important position on the field is huge.

NebraskaJayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

So you're predicting a 9 to 10 win season?

Lucas Town 9 years, 9 months ago

I love the optimism, and hope you can see this in our future. But we have only won one road game since the 2008 season (UTEP in '09). I love the players that Weis has kept, but I am betting on 4 wins this year at the most. SDSU, Rice, N. Illinois and Iowa State. It is going to take 3 to 4 years to turn this thing around.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Agree with the aim towards the future. My point only being if things REALLY line up right we could be in for a ride. My head says 3 years but my heart says "not so fast!"

troutsee 9 years, 9 months ago

Good analysis. I share your enthusiasm and optimism. Other teams need to be ready to play this bunch of Jayhawks.

Danny Hernandez 9 years, 9 months ago

I too could see 6-7+ wins this year. Count me silly or plain optimisitic but with a break or two here, Kansas could win a few games they're slated to lose and once the winning feeling sets in, everything is off the table because attitude and preparation can win games. If our O line can protect Crist, he stands a chance of leading the Big12 in passing. He's got the better arm in the Big12

NebraskaJayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

There's too many IFs. One that glaringly stands out right now to me is at WR. Every good team has at least one stand-out receiver. Not sure we have that, but maybe we will. Nobody, and I mean nobody, has had a season for us that earmarks him as "the guy". I was at the spring game and Crist does look like a general behind the line. I know it was just a spring game, but the dude can flat out sling it and he just looks like a stud back there. But if he doesn't have open receivers, it doesn't matter how good he is. Our O-line last year was average at best. I'm not sure it's going to be much better this year, but I'm hoping the new S&C coach has these guys motivated. The defense...I'll believe it when I see it, but the D is key to us staying in ballgames....not the offense. Mangino turned this program around on the D side of the ball, and that's what it's going to take if Weis is going to do it as well. I hope you're right though , Bangkok, and I love your attitude.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

I agree with what you are saying. I definitely see what we have warranting hope, maybe immediate, but Weis wasn't hired to win a bowl game this year. When I was writing that, the hardest area to argue from an improvement was receiver. Ford coming in and Patterson coming back will help. Pick and Beshears should be a little better with another year under their belt but you are right when you say we don't have "the guy". Damn the McCay ruling.

edmondjayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

I too love the optimism but I just don't see more than four wins...if even that. Probable wins against SDSU and Rice and possible wins against N. Illinois and Iowa State are what I see. Other than Iowa State at home, I don't see another Big 12 game that's winnable...the offenses in the Big 12 are too explosive for our defense....I like the direction that we're headed but it's going to take some time to get the athletes on the defensive side of the ball to win in this conference. It's still amazing to me how TG could let a program fall as far as it did in only two years.

Micky Baker 9 years, 9 months ago

I do. Texas Tech and Baylor are winnable, and well, if our Offense adds a couple of TDs and the defense moves up to the middle of the pack, we could surprise a couple of others at home. I think we can beat Texas Christian in Lawrence but none of us have seen a game yet so it's really hard to know.

But I bet that Kansas scores 7 TDs or more against South Dakota State and allows at most, 2. Then at Northern Illinois, we're going to win that game. We won last year with no defense. The last place finish in defense, there wasn't a close second to last. Moving out of last will be a dramatic improvement, and two td's fewer allowed against NI with a better offense that it appears that we have, we're going to win that game.

The game that we'll know what the rest of the season will look like is the one against Texas Christian. It's in Lawrence (shades of Glen Mason).

texashawk10 9 years, 9 months ago

I also believe the Texas game is winnable and could be the signature win early on for Weis. UT does still have a great defense, but Ash and McCoy are both average at best QB's and if a team can stop UT's run game, UT will struggle again this year offensively and that game is in Lawrence this season.

lmontague 9 years, 9 months ago

I think that the best improvement for the defense will be the offences capability to move the football. It will give the defense more rest for the secnd half.

NebraskaJayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

That's a good idea and it does help, but if you can't slow down the opposing team's offense, you can't win football games. Does it make the score closer if your offense is on the field more? Heck yeah it does, but you have to put some stops together to give yourself a chance to win....and winning is what it's all about, not staying close. You are right though....sustaining drives keeps a defense fresh, but the defense has to come to play as well.

Bangkok_Jayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

I agree with you! Defense takes a lot of energy. If we give them more time to breathe and increase our S/C then we could see a bigger improvement than we might have imagined before.

constantlyej 9 years, 9 months ago

Too bad that the conference got tougher just as the Jayhawks are starting to rebuild. So is life.

okiedave 9 years, 9 months ago

Having been raised in Lawrence, I am an annual Jayhawk optimist -- hoping each year is going to be a great year. However, last year we were simply outmatched.. When we bring the same out-matched players back to go head to head with the same competition, it does not bode well because they have also matured and gotten a year of additional experience.. Weis is going to need at least one additonal good recruiting class for Kansas to be able to go head to head with most Big 12 teams and compete in a respectable manner. With that said, I am always hoping for a surprise year.

texashawk10 9 years, 9 months ago

One of the single biggest problems with this team last year was that they simply did not have the strength or endurance to compete. All reports from this offseason is that this team is stronger and has better endurance than last year. There's a pair of top 35 recruiting classes on this team right now which means there is talent on the KU team, but Gill was completely incompetent about developing the talent and Weis from all reports is beginning to develop this talent so there is a very good chance this will be a much improved team on the field this season. This team may not improve much in the W-L column, but this team should be more competitive because of the upgrades in the coaching staff and strength and conditioning programs.

FTC_Jayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Our team was not outmatched in the first halves of games except for the OSU, Texas, and Texas A&M games. In general, our players lacked conditioning and our coaches lacked the ability to make smart in-game adjustments.

Our guys were not as bad as TG made them look last year. It will take a significant failure (think TG) by coach Weis and the new staff in order for the jayhawks to not present themselves as one of the most improved teams in the big 12 this year.

741hawk 9 years, 9 months ago

This is a fair basis upon which to set a reasonable expectation for 2012. FTC and Bangkok = +1

KjayhawkprideU 9 years, 9 months ago

I can't wait for this year to begin. This is my prediction- we will go 7-5 this year with 3 very close wins over ISU, Baylor, TTU and an upset win over TCU covering the 15 point favorite, +3 non- con. games. These kids have something to fight for and and a chip on their shoulders. We need to make sure the stadium is full of screaming fans ready for a great year. RCJ!!!!!

Micky Baker 9 years, 9 months ago

Don't leave at half time either. The beer will still be there at the end of the game, win or lose. Make the noise and make it a real home field advantage.

741hawk 9 years, 9 months ago

We'll have a much better chance to create home field advantage when Zenger gets rid of the track.

Chris1955 9 years, 9 months ago

The students leaving at halftime tradition is really one that I hope can be eliminated. Winning should be a remedy for this ailment. I'm guessing it can be accomplished.

Remember the 2007 76-39 victory against Nebraska? I doubt any KU fan in their right mind would have left that game at halftime!

Ryan Shelton 9 years, 9 months ago

Maybe I'm crazy, but I think we can make a major statement when TCU comes to visit early on.

Our winnable games include: Rice, SDSU, NIU, ISU, BU, TTU, and TCU. Can you imagine being 4-0 going into Manhattan in October?

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