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Archive for Wednesday, November 12, 1997

S BLEVINS BULLISH ON BOWL BID

November 12, 1997

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Back in 1995, when Kansas University had its best football season in a century, Tony Blevins watched from the sidelines.

When the Jayhawks went 10-2, finished the season ranked in the top 10 nationally and capped the year with a trip to the Aloha Bowl, Blevins didn't bother to second-guess his decision to sit out a year to rehabilitate his injured knee.

"It wasn't all that tough," said Blevins, KU's fifth-year senior free safety. "Seeing how much fun the guys were having, that wasn't too hard. I thought there'd be another bowl."

There wasn't, and now Blevins has one last shot. The Jayhawks (5-5 overall, 3-4 Big 12) are a victory short of qualifying for a postseason invitation with one game to go -- on Saturday at struggling Texas.

"Everybody knows the situation," Blevins said. "We're going to have to go down there and win. It's all going to come down to how much we want it."

And make no mistake, Blevins wants it as much as any of them.

"We've got a bunch of guys who want it, especially the seniors," said Blevins, the Jayhawks' tackling leader with 86 total stops. "Texas has had a down year. I'd think this is the type of team you'd want to play in this situation. They're out of the bowl picture. They're not playing for anything. We've got a bunch of seniors who want to go to a bowl."

That's not to say Blevins expects an easy go Saturday. The Longhorns (3-6, 1-5) were ranked among the nation's top 10 before suffering a 66-2 shellacking at home to UCLA. The Horns have since lost four straight, and calls are going out to fire coach John Mackovic.

"There's no question they've got talent," Blevins said. "That'll be a challenge for us."

So, too, will be the 1-2 punch of elusive QB James Brown and running back Ricky Williams. Williams leads the country with 166.56 yards per game.

And Brown, though he has been inconsistent all season, threw for a school-record 397 yards in last Saturday's loss to Texas Tech.

That could be especially troubling to the KU secondary. After allowing three touchdown passes in the first eight games combined, the Jayhawks have allowed six TD passes in the last two games, though it should be noted Iowa State's starters threw three TD tosses against Kansas reserves.

"I'm not really concerned about us," Blevins said. "It's not like we've been outskilled. A couple of times they took advantage with a couple of good calls, or we slipped up mentally. But we've been playing pretty good defense."

Bowl bonus: Sure the TV exposure is nice. The fun in the sun is dandy. The free loot is nifty. But for coach Terry Allen and his merry, young band of Jayhawks, a bowl bid would mean so much more.

"I'd love for the kids to get the opportunity to get their sixth win and get in a bowl game for them," Allen said. "But for the future of the program, it would be a great situation to get another two, three weeks of practice -- just as we're starting to improve."

If KU picks up win No. 6, it would be able to practice until all the bowl bids were issued.

"If this is our last ball game, this is the first time I've been finished in the middle of November," Allen said, alluding to his playoff runs at Northern Iowa. "In eight years, we played something like 17 games over the minimum."

No quarterback controversy: Though senior backup Matt Johner through KU's only passing touchdown last week and though sophomore starter Zac Wegner often overthrew open receivers, Allen said Wegner still is KU's starting QB.

"Zac is our starter," Allen said. "In that area, at the quarterback spot, we could very easily play both of them. You could start either one of them. But Zac has demonstrated he's our guy. I don't feel there's a controversy."lay both of them. You could start either one of them. But Zac has demonstrated he's our guy. I don't feel there's a controversy."

-- Andrew Hartsock's phone message number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is hartsock@ljworld.com.

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