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Archive for Wednesday, November 3, 1999

S ROGERS WANTS REDEMPTION VERSUS BAYLOR

November 3, 1999

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Darrell Bush went one way and Marcus Rogers went the other.

As a result, Kansas University's football season, which could have gone one way, instead went the other.

OK, so maybe that's an oversimplified version of the effects of one play from last year's KU-Baylor football game on the entire 1998 season, but it also might not be far from the truth.

"I thought about that play for the longest time," said Rogers, KU's 6-foot-1, 235-pound sophomore linebacker from Dallas. "I lost sleep about it. If not for that play " well, I'm not going to do it again."

That play was a 70-yard run by Bush in the fourth quarter of last season's KU-BU game in Waco, Texas. Kansas carried a 24-14 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Bears bounced back, forging a 24-all tie.

In the final minutes, Bush broke free for a 70-yard run, setting up a one-yard TD run with 49 seconds left, and KU left with a 31-24 loss.

And a bad case of heartache.

"Geez, that game just killed us a year ago," KU coach Terry Allen said. "You win that game, you're playing for something at Iowa State. But you lose the lead. That's a sick feeling. (The Jayhawks) will be reminded of it this week."

For good reason, too. Baylor is coming to town for a 1 p.m. Saturday game against the Jayhawks, and Rogers hopes for a shot at redemption.

A year ago, Rogers was making his first career start -- in place of the injured J.J. Johnson -- against the Bears. He finished with four total tackles and a sack, but it was the play he didn't make that has haunted him ever since.

The way Rogers remembers it, Rogers was supposed to follow Bush, but Bush went inside and Rogers went outside. With the rookie Rogers out of position, Bush bolted 70 yards virtually uncontested.

"That was really inexperience," Rogers said. "It was a mental error, a miscommunication. " That kind of shot our bowl hopes away, just that one big play at the end of the game. We had 'em where we wanted 'em. It won't happen again."

To that end, Rogers was a diligent worker in the offseason. And he figures he gained from the experience of being forced to play last year as a red-shirt freshman.

"I feel I've matured more," Rogers said. "I know the defense a lot better and I'm more aggressive now. And I was in the weight room all summer. That's been a big factor.

"I'm in shape now. I spent the whole summer in the weight room and worked so I wouldn't get tired."

That dedication has paid. When junior Dariss Lomax sprained his knee two weeks ago, Rogers -- who was close to supplanting Lomax as the starter anyway -- took the starting job last week against Nebraska.

He earned defensive player of the game honors from his coaches after he collected eight total tackles.

"Both Rogers and (Andrew) LeClair are reaping the benefits of having to play as red-shirt freshmen," Allen said. "Things (Rogers) didn't do a year ago, he'll do on Saturday. He understands better the concept of things."

Lomax returned to practice on Tuesday and should play against Baylor, but Allen said Rogers likely will make his second straight start on Saturday alongside LeClair.

Having Lomax back, Allen said, would make Rogers better.

"Marcus will continue to play, and we have Lomax to spell him," Allen said. "(Rogers') intensity tends to drop off as his number of reps goes up."

The Jayhawks' defensive intensity has been high for nearly a month now. After shutting out Missouri and holding the Tigers to 44 rushing yards two weeks ago, the Jayhawks limited Nebraska to 366 total yards and 21 points last weekend.

Over the past two weeks, KU has surrendered an average of 291.5 yards and 12 points per game; in the first seven games, Kansas was surrendering 440 yards and 35.3 points per game.

"Our confidence level is up," Rogers said. "The coaches made the defense more simple. We just fly around and don't have to think as much. They cut our calls down and we don't have as many checks. They just let us fly around and play."

*

Injury update: Backup cornerback and special-teams regular Chad Coellner won't play Saturday. He suffered his second concussion of the season against Nebraska.

"Hopefully," Allen said, "he'll be able to play the following weekend."

Also, linebacker Victor Bullock suffered a concussion against NU and is questionable for BU. Bullock was the third member of Kansas' punt teams -- joining Coellner and Tyrus Fontenot -- who was sidelined for part of the NU game.

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

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