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Archive for Sunday, September 20, 1998

RESERVE QUARTERBACK JAY ALEXANDER SHOOK OFF THREE YEARS OF RUST SATURDAY NIGHT AS KU POUNDED ILLINOIS STATE ON BAND NIGHT AT MEMORIAL STADIUM.

September 20, 1998

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So long had it been since Kansas quarterback Jay Alexander had played in a football game he couldn't remember the opponent.

``It was in the state playoffs. It was Blue Valley North, or maybe Blue Valley, I don't remember,'' Alexander said after making his collegiate debut in Saturday night's 63-21 fricassee of Illinois State.

For the record, it was Blue Valley. The Stilwell school defeated Alexander's Independence High team, 17-8, in the first round of the 1995 Class 5A state playoffs.

Since then, Alexander has been enrolled at junior colleges in both Garden City and Independence. He didn't play football at either school. Thus, he was a tad rusty when he ran onto the field with 4:20 remaining in the first half.

``Yeah, a little,'' Alexander said, smiling. ``I was nervous for a little while, but then I started calming down.''

Alexander threw six passes in his KU debut and not a single one hit the ground. Unfortunately, his first pass was intercepted by ISU defensive back Adam Franklin.

``It was the jitters there,'' Alexander said. ``I relaxed a little after the first series.''

Alexander played the rest of the way as Zac Wegner's caddy. Most of the time, he simply handed off, but he did throw five more times and completed them all -- to teammates.

``He did well,'' Wegner said. ``He stepped up and did a good job. He's going to be fine.''

KU coach Terry Allen had mentioned earlier in the week he hoped to be able to give Alexander his baptism against the NCAA Div. I-AA Redbirds.

``It was nice for him to get an opportunity to get in there in a less-than-pressure situation,'' Allen said. ``He did a good job. He threw that interception, but he did a nice job putting the ball in there.''

In addition to his interception, Alexander was charged with a fumble when he handed off to Henri Childs and the ball hit the ground.

``We're not use to guys as tall as Henri,'' Allen quipped. ``Jay put it on Henri's thigh instead of his breadbasket.''

The 6-foot-2 Childs, whose primary job is returning punts, is also the Jayhawks' fifth-string tailback. The other four are all under 6-foot.

Alexander had his fingers crossed about playing Saturday.

``I was hoping because I thought we'd get a pretty good lead against this team,'' the 6-2, 200-pound Alexander said.

Late in the first half, after Kansas had boosted its lead to 42-7, Allen sent Alexander in.

``I saw (Allen) talking to Zac and telling him what a nice job he did,'' Alexander said. ``When I saw that I figured he'd tell me it was time to go in.''

Now that Alexander has shaken off some rust, he says he'll be ready if he has to caddy for Wegner is an emergency situation.

``It was just good to be back on the field,'' he said. ``I'll be a little bit more ready the next time.''

Officially, Alexander completed five of six passes for 74 yards. His longest toss was a 25-yard screen pass to Julius Bruce.

``I hope this game can get us started on a winning streak,'' Alexander said.

-- Chuck Woodling's phone message number is 832-7147. His e-mail address is cwoodling@ljworld.com.

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