Archive for Sunday, October 29, 2000

Welker, Dorris have their days

October 29, 2000


I've seen Kansas University football teams obliterated. I've seen the Jayhawks incinerated. And I've seen them annihilated.

On Saturday, I saw the Jayhawks alliterated.

I knew Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury was a talented passing quarterback and he sure as heck proved it. But I had no idea the Jayhawks would turn two guys named Derek Dorris and Wes Welker into the greatest things to come out of Lubbock since the late great Buddy Holly.

Dorris, a senior wide receiver who had narrowed his college choices to Kansas and Texas Tech, caught a school record four touchdown passes from Kingsbury.

And Welker, a unimposing 5-foot-9 wide receiver/kick returner, amassed a staggering 271 all-purpose yards. Welker benefited from perhaps a lifetime supply of air tackles as he maneuvered 42 yards for a touchdown on a flanker reverse, and 66 yards for a TD on a punt return.

Hey, you can't stop Derek Dorris and Wes Welker. You can only hope to slow them down.

Welker's 66-yard touchdown gallop with a Joey Pelfanio punt was just the latest embarrassment for a KU punt team that has been about as effective this season as the Royals' bullpen.

You could make a case for that Keystone Kops punt coverage team costing the Jayhawks two victories this season. Three punt team errors cost Kansas the opener at SMU, and if you take away Welker's 66-yarder Saturday the Jayhawks would have won by one point.

Colorado's Roman Hollowell returned a punt for a TD against the Jayhawks last week coincidentally also 66 yards but KU survived that one, mainly because the Buffaloes were using a true freshman at quarterback.

Tech's Kingsbury is a battle-tested sophomore who has, I suspect, Heisman potential. Can't you just see Tech publicists churning out the flak next year? Kliff Klicks. The Marquis of Kingsbury Rules. Happiness is Kliff Kingsbury in Your Rear View Mirror.

Does anybody remember when Kansas led the nation in pass defense? That was five or six weeks ago. On Saturday, Kingsbury buried a KU secondary that was using a free safety and five cornerbacks.

From the outset it was clear the Red Raiders' game plan was to pick on Quincy Roe. They matched the 5-9 Roe against the 6-2 Dorris and it was truly a mismatch.

Such a mismatch that twice Roe interfered with Dorris in the end zone and both times Dorris made the reception anyway.

Late in the game, with Tech again knocking on the door, the KU coaches shifted Andrew Davison arguably the Jayhawks' best pass defender onto Dorris. Sure enough, Kingsbury tried to connect with his favorite end-zone receiver again and Davison broke it up.

Davison quickly came to Roe's defense, however, saying, "We're not going to single anyone out. We just didn't make plays period."

Nonetheless, Roe sat dejectedly on the stool in front of his locker minutes afterward, reflecting on "the worst game I've ever played since I've played this sport."

At times, Roe looked like he was on roller skates while trying to cover Red Raiders' receivers.

"I've just gotta shake it off," he said. "That's all you can do. We've got more games to play and we have to go forward."

Yes, the Jayhawks have three more games, and they face the daunting task of winning two of the three in order to qualify for a postseason appearance.

It's unlikely Kansas will win at Nebraska next Saturday and the final home game in two weeks is against Texas, another pass-minded team but with a better defense than Texas Tech.

Yet if the Jayhawks don't win against either Nebraska or Texas, the road finale at Iowa State in three weeks will be moot.


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