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Archive for Sunday, September 2, 2001

KU defense sidebar

September 2, 2001

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Yes, he confessed, his eyes were huge during his second-quarter sack.

"We had a blitz called, and I don't believe anyone saw me," the Jayhawks' senior linebacker recalled. "I just had a clean shot and ended up raking the ball out. I saw the ball bouncing around out there. I just wanted to get there as fast as I could before he got rid of the ball."

"He" would be SMS senior quarterback Austin Moherman, who was the victim of two Atkinson sacks. During the second-quarter smackdown, Atkinson burst through the line and blasted Moherman, jarring the ball loose.

Freshman end David McMillan snagged the loose ball on the two-yard line while falling into the end zone to spot KU a 14-0 lead.

"He picked it up just ahead of me," Atkinson said of McMillan. "I saw him out of the corner of my eye diving and I was like, 'Ahh.'"

Atkinson had five tackles-for-losses -- out of his seven total stops -- amounting to 34 yards.

"Algie got to the ball and you saw (No.) 98 running around out there," KU coach Terry Allen said of Atkinson. "(Defensive coordinator) Tom Hayes did some great things to give him the opportunity to make those plays by positioning him with the defensive calls that he makes.

"We can do that with Algie, and we're going to need that type of play from Algie throughout the year."

The KU defense certainly had its moments. Senior cornerback Andrew Davison stymied the Bears' opening drive with an interception. He also finished with a sack he shared with defensive tackle Nate Dwyer.

KU junior linebacker Leo Etienne led the way with 14 total tackles, including three for losses totaling 12 yards.

"We did good. I feel we did real good," Etienne said. "I'm satisfied with the win, but I know there was a lot of mistakes there that we need to make up for. But overall I feel pretty good about this win."

Among the miscues were a 38-yard bomb from Moherman to junior Mark Marcos that set up the Bears' lone touchdown, as well as personal-foul facemask penalty and a pass-interference infraction.

The defense could be excused for some of the mistakes, considering that of the 11 Jayhawks making their starting debuts, six -- end Charlie Dennis, end Travis Watkins, linebacker Glenn Robinson, free safety Jamarei Bryant and cornerback Carl Ivey -- were on the defensive side of the ball

"I think guys were nervous," Davison said. "We had a lot of guys making their first starts, a lot of freshmen and stuff out there. It was the first game. I think those were the two main things that caused us in the first half to not play as good as we are capable of playing.

"We picked it up in the second half, which I knew our defense could do, so hopefully next week everybody's got the first game jitters out of the way and we'll be ready to play next week."

-- Sports writer Robert Sinclair can be reached at 832-7185.

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