Archive for Sunday, September 23, 2001

KU kicker bright spot

September 23, 2001

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— Kansas University freshman kicker Johnny Beck was more surprised by his 41-yard field goal than he was his 59-yarder.

Although the latter spotted KU a three-point lead at halftime of its eventual 27-16 Big 12 loss to Colorado on Saturday, it was the former to open the scoring that caught the true freshman off guard, sliding off the left upright before going through.

KU KICKER Johnny Beck connects on an extra point. Beck also had
three field goals including a 59-yarder in the Jayhawks' 27-16 loss
to Colorado on Saturday in Boulder, Colo.

KU KICKER Johnny Beck connects on an extra point. Beck also had three field goals including a 59-yarder in the Jayhawks' 27-16 loss to Colorado on Saturday in Boulder, Colo.

"Actually, I thought it was right down the middle," Beck admitted. "Me and Brandon (Wier, holder) were celebrating. All of the sudden we heard it hit and I was going, 'What the (heck) happened with that?'"

Not that he had a problem with the longest of his three field goals he also nailed a 46-yarder in the second half which was a career best, the second longest in school history and set a Folsom Field record.

"It was great. I was proud of myself," said Beck, who's a perfect 5-for-5 in his KU career. "I knew coming out here the ball travels a little bit farther. I had the wind with me. It was in a great environment at Colorado, tied game, crowd's going."

Beck said he figured his range was about 55-60 yards while warming up before the game, but told KU coach Terry Allen it was around 52 yards under game conditions. Before making his long-range kick at the end of the first half, Beck said he heard his coach calling for a punt.

"I don't know who told him to change his mind," Beck said. "I don't know if he was debating the whole time. He gave me an opportunity to do it."

Not only did Beck's boot have the Jayhawks fired up at halftime "It was hyped," the kicker said but also came in front of about 20 people who came to see him, including his aunt, uncle, and grandmother who all live in Denver.

"I was just trying to get it up," Beck said. "In this altitude, that's pretty much what you have to do. You don't necessarily have to drive the ball through this thin air. You just get the ball up and it carries.

"I hit it excellent. It's probably one of the best balls I've ever hit."

Allen said the kick was key for the Jayhawks' confidence.

"This isn't the most conducive locker room in the Big 12 conference," Allen said of the atmosphere at the half. "You got seven different little rooms that everybody's in. But I think there was a sense of some confidence going in and the players felt they could come out and play with them.

"It just wasn't meant to be in the fourth quarter when they kinda stuck it to us."

During the fateful fourth, the Jayhawks defense allowed two touchdowns in a span of 1:56. The Buffaloes took the lead for good on a 17-yard touchdown catch by tight end Daniel Graham, which sent the CU faithful into a frenzy.

Colorado also scored on Chris Brown's 40-yard run on the first play of its ensuing possession.

"They had a couple big plays that really sparked it for them and then their crowd got into it," KU junior linebacker Leo Etienne said. "They fed off their crowd. The energy just jumped on their back. They took it and rolled with it."

The players showed their fair share of emotion as well. The two teams combined for 21 penalties totaling 216 yards. Flags flew for everything from personal fouls and roughing the kicker to a chop block and pass interference.

All told, there was a total of eight 15-yard infractions.

"Their offensive line was whining a little bit," said Etienne, who finished with seven total tackles. "We had a couple guys who were whining too, but they were playing dirty. That's no excuse to say why we lost and this and that. You have that in football. That's just football."

The Jayhawks don't have a game next weekend their second weekend off in three weeks and then play Oct. 6 at Texas Tech.

"We're real frustrated," Etienne said. "After any loss you get frustrated, but we have two weeks to prepare for Tech. That's what we plan on doing. We can't just focus on this loss right here. We've got to look ahead and put this behind us now."

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

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