Kansas football coach Mark Mangino wants to put his defensive backs on an island.
Hint: It's not Maui.
For the jargon-impaired, a defensive back on an island is one who is taking on a receiver one-on-one. Such islands have not been paradise for KU defenders in recent weeks.
Dustin Long passed for a Texas A&M-record; 399 yards Saturday at Memorial Stadium as the Aggies torched the Jayhawks for 428 yards passing in a 47-22 victory.
Baylor's Aaron Karas passed for 359 yards in a 35-32 victory against KU on Oct. 5 at Waco, Texas. The Bears haven't scored a point in two games since.
Kansas defensive backs go one-one-one with receivers every Tuesday and Wednesday during practice. Mangino added that drill to his Monday practice routine this week, with a unique twist.
"We stopped practice entirely yesterday," Mangino said Tuesday during his weekly news conference. "We made everyone take a knee. The offense cheered for the offense on one side of the field. Defense cheers for defense on the other side. It's you against him. End of story. No excuses. We'll do it again today.
"We're trying to send a message to those kids that this is important. Normally that drill is done when we're doing a bunch of other drills with other people, so what we've said is, 'This is going to be an area of focus for us. Your teammates are going to be on the sidelines watching. All eyes are on you, just like it is in the stadium. The only thing is, you can't ask for help. If you're a corner on a post, you better stay on the post because you don't have a safety over the top.'"
The drill also is a challenge for receivers, who have to prove they can get open against man-to-man coverage. KU's receivers have had slow starts in recent weeks, contributing to the Jayhawks' streak of falling behind by two or more touchdowns in four straight games.
KU receivers dropped seven passes against A&M.;
"That's what we need out there," quarterback Bill Whittemore said of the one-on-one session. "I'm glad we did that. It was fun. That's what it was about, to get everyone going."
Mangino got into the act, working as referee.
"He had a good time out there," Whittemore said. "He was throwing the flag a couple of times."
The coach wasn't the only one having a good time, though.
"People were talking trash and having fun with it," Mangino said. "It was a highly competitive atmosphere."
Coaches kept score, awarding points for good plays, and the defense won by a point. The receivers' loss meant all offensive players had to run two extra sprints.
"It's accountability," Mangino said. "We're holding those kids accountable, and we're telling them that by having the rest of their teammates watch them that this is an important area of our team that we need to improve. We put our receivers and our defensive backs on the spot. Sometimes that's what you need to do to get improvement in some areas."
Kansas (2-6, 0-4 Big 12) will face another dangerous quarterback Saturday in Columbia, Mo., when it takes on Missouri (3-4, 0-3). Freshman Brad Smith averages 207.3 passing yards per game and ranks second in the conference in total offense.
Don't be surprised if KU shows some new wrinkles against Mizzou in order to help inexperienced cornerbacks Remuise Johnson and Donnie Amadi.
"Hopefully we can get some help for those guys and not be exposed in other areas," Mangino said. "We want to get them help. We're trying our best to do that."
Mangino wasn't about to reveal his game plan, but linebacker Greg Cole had one suggestion.
"We need to get pressure on the quarterback," he said. "Against A&M;, he had too much time back there and that made it tough for our corners."