Archive for Saturday, October 26, 1996

KU SHORT-HANDED FOR HUSKERS

October 26, 1996

Advertisement

Kansas University's football team knew it wouldn't have a quiverful of arrows for its trip to Nebraska.

On Thursday the Jayhawks learned they'd leave their bow behind, too.

June Henley, KU's primary offensive weapon, was suspended Thursday by KU coach Glen Mason for the Jayhawks' meeting today at NU.

Henley, a senior who leads the team in rushing (790 yards) and scoring (13 touchdowns), was arrested early Thursday for several alleged driving violations, including suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Henley is one of three starters who will need to be replaced today. Kickoff is 6 p.m. at NU's Memorial Stadium, and the game will be televised on channel 45. Nebraska is a 32-point favorite.

Starting senior center Jared Smith, who is nursing an arthritic shoulder, will be replaced by erstwhile guard Jim Stiebel, a converted center, and red-shirt freshman Dameon Hunt will take over at guard. And linebacker Jason Thoren, who suffered a knee sprain last week, won't start. He'll be replaced by sophomore Steve Bratten.

Two of the new starters -- Hunt, making his first career start, and Eric Vann, Henley's replacement -- will play on a struggling offense that has scored just seven points in the past six quarters.

"You can't allow yourself to be discouraged," Mason said about his offense's struggles in general. "It's a challenge. You keep marching on. It can be frustrating, but you just hang in there and keep plugging away."

The Jayhawks have had trouble plugging away with Henley, the nation's seventh-leading rusher. They no doubt will have even more trouble without him.

Against CU, the Jayhawks (3-3 overall, 1-2 Big 12) had season-lows in seven offensive categories, including pass completions, passing yards and total yards.

And they'll face an even tougher defense this week. Fifth-ranked NU (5-1, 3-0) has allowed just 68.3 rushing yards and 232.2 total yards and 9.2 points per game. The Huskers also have 33 sacks in six games.

"One of the philosophies I have is, to be successful, you have to eliminate the things you have control over -- penalties, missed assignments, minus-yard plays," Mason said. "It's hard to make up for minus-yard plays. That's a concern for us.

"We went back to view the film on offense to see where the specific breakdowns were. Was it a quarterback problem? Was it an execution problem? Was it a coaching problem? Execution problems far outnumbered all the others. ... There was no one common denominator. On one play it was the wide receiver. On one play it was the running back. On one play it was the line."

The two-time defending national champion Huskers are concerned about their own offensive execution. NU had five turnovers -- four lost fumbles and an interception -- in a 24-10 squeaker over Texas Tech last week.

"I thought we had gotten past our execution problems," NU coach Tom Osborne said. "When your execution is poor, everything looks bad. It makes it look like nobody is trying and that nothing is working right. We just need to execute better."

The Huskers have had little trouble executing against the Jayhawks over the years. KU hasn't beaten the Huskers since 1968, and the average margin of NU's victories over that span is a whopping 37.6 points.

  • For a halftime update and the final score, call the Journal-World Sports Connection, 865-5000, category 6000.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.