Archive for Thursday, August 23, 2001

Backup backs battle for carries

August 23, 2001


Perhaps Kansas University's running back position best could be described as "Reggie and the Reserves."

While sophomore Reggie Duncan is the clear-cut starter, the Jayhawks have been using a backup-by-committee approach this preseason. During its final preseason scrimmage, KU used 13 ballcarriers in gaining 118 yards on 37 rushes Wednesday at Memorial Stadium.

"Right now, of course, Reggie's the starter," sophomore Dan Coke said. "Me and the other guys, we're all fighting for that backup position. We're all in there competing hard, waiting for our opportunity."

Coke, a 6-foot-1, 210-pounder from Moore Haven, Fla., is one of three players in a logjam at No. 2 on the depth chart. He has been sharing time with fellow sophomore Harold McClendon and freshman Clark Green.

"Danny Coke will play a lot and do a good job for us," KU coach Terry Allen said. "But Danny's got some limitations. So if Reggie were to be out, we'd use some other people. Coke can block like a son of a gun, he can run the ball north and south inside, but he does not have exceptional speed."

Coke, who had four carries for 10 yards Wednesday, has caught the eye of the man he's chasing.

"He shows a lot of skills," Duncan said of Coke. "He's a good runner, a hard runner, quick feet. He's doing a real good job."

While Duncan accounted for 36 yards on five carries, the youngest of the backups stole the show. Green, a 5-11, 200-pounder from Tampa, Fla., rumbled for a scrimmage-high 40 yards on six carries.

"He did a good job," Duncan said of Green. "Last night, as a matter of fact, we were talking and he was like, 'Man, I just want coach to give me a chance.' I said to him, 'You'll get your chance tomorrow.' I was just telling him, 'When you get your chance, make something out of it.'

"And he had a good day. I saw him run a few people over today."

Green, who at one point was being pursued by Florida, bounced off two would-be tacklers while gaining eight yards the first time he touched the ball. He originally was attractive to the Jayhawks because of his versatility. Allen said Green eventually could be used at linebacker or strong safety.

Green is just one of KU's highly-touted freshman running backs, but Marshell Chiles has been held out contact drills. Chiles, who is suffering from a narrowing of the spinal column, was to return from seeing a specialist in Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

"We've said that Clark Green had a lot of the talents that Marshell had," Allen said, "and one of those freshmen might have to play. I thought Clark demonstrated that he had some ability there. There's no question about it."

Green said he's not as fast as Duncan, but might be more punishing. Green also was used as a receiver out of the backfield in high school. And while he admitted the older backs had an advantage because of their experience, he wouldn't rule out playing this season.

"I've got to wait for my chance," Green said. "I've got a couple of backs in front of me. That's what you've got to do when you're a freshman, just wait for your chance. True freshmen don't get to play as true freshmen. I'm hoping I can."

Allen lauded McClendon, who had four carries for seven yards, for his understanding of KU's blocking schemes.

"Harold struggles a little bit catching the ball," Allen said of the 5-11, 190-pound back from Jacksonville, Fla., "and that probably holds him back more than anything."

Final scrimmage: Allen was less than impressed by the Jayhawks' final preseason scrimmage.

"I think the scrimmage was kind of a culmination of bad things," Allen said. "We were very lethargic out there and weak-legged. It was extremely hot."

Allen also said there was no change in the quarterback situation.

Sophomore Zach Dyer was 6-of-10 passing for 55 yards with a nine-yard touchdown to Termaine Fulton and an interception, while red-shirt freshman Mario Kinsey was 4-of-9 for 70 yards with a 27-yard TD toss to Harrison Hill. Kinsey lost one of two fumbles.

Getting defensive: Junior linebacker Greg Cole recorded an interception for the second straight scrimmage and sacked Kinsey twice, the second resulting in a safety. Junior defensive end Brandon Lacy recovered a Kinsey fumble after the intended back slipped and fell, and freshman defensive back Darren Rus intercepted fellow freshman Brian Luke.

Injury update: Senior middle linebacker Marcus Rogers didn't participate because of a bruised hand and a slight stinger, Allen said. Senior wide receiver Byron Gasaway (shoulder), junior offensive guard Tony Damiani (shoulder) and freshman tight end Jason Farley (hip) also sat.

Upcoming: The Jayhawks will practice once this afternoon, practice Friday evening under the lights at Memorial Stadium and then get the weekend off.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.