Archive for Thursday, October 31, 2002

Whittemore practices

Mangino: It’s too early to say if quarterback will play against K-State

October 31, 2002


The Bill Whittemore watch continues.

Kansas University's injured quarterback practiced Wednesday at Memorial Stadium, but coach Mark Mangino said it was too early to determine whether the junior would play Saturday against Kansas State.

"He did some limited work," Mangino said of Whittemore, who injured the medial collateral ligament in his left knee Saturday at Missouri. "We had him in a pretty restrictive brace today, probably not the type of brace he would use if he's cleared to play on Saturday. It was very limited. At this point and time, that's not all bad. Rest is probably more important to him than repetitions on the practice field. He's had plenty of those all year."

Whittemore ranks third in the Big 12 Conference in total offense, averaging 246.1 yards a game. If he's unable to play, senior Jonas Weatherbie would make the first start of his college career against K-State. Red-shirt freshman Brian Luke would be the backup.

So what are the chances Whittemore will play?

"I'm driving our trainer crazy with that," Mangino said. "She said he has improved. His range of motion has increased. His swelling has decreased. It's hard to tell at this point and time. He could be out there Saturday, maybe not. Every day is crucial now. We're trying to see how he responds to treatment."

Chill out: KU practiced outdoors Wednesday despite temperatures in the low 40s and a wind chill that dipped into the 30s.

"We had a good practice," Mangino said. "We're out there in the cold working because we believe there's a pretty good chance it's going to be like that Saturday. It was chilly out there and everybody's jumping around, but our kids are focused. I thought their attention was good."

Saturday's forecast calls for a low of 31, a high of 50 and a 31-percent chance of rain. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Ansel makes cut: Kansas junior Curtis Ansel is among 10 semifinalists for the Ray Guy Award recognizing the nation's top punter, it was announced Wednesday. Ansel averages 42.4 yards per punt, which ranks fifth in the Big 12 and 22nd in the nation. The Garden City Community College transfer booted a career-best and Big 12-record 83-yard punt at Baylor and had an 82-yarder at UNLV. Twenty-two of his punts that have been downed inside the 20-yard line.

Coach Q: Offensive coordinator Nick Quartaro knows what slumping KU kicker Johnny Beck is going through. Quartaro was the second-leading scorer in Iowa history when he finished his career as a Hawkeye kicker in 1976.

"It just happens," said Quartaro, who said a kicking slump in football is no different than a hitting slump in baseball. "All it takes is a bloop hit or maybe it's a knuckle ball that goes through the goal post and you're like, 'OK, I'm back on track.' And it really is like that."

Beck, who was a Groza Award candidate in the preseason, has missed eight straight field goals in a five-game span. He is battling sophomore walk-on Jerod Brooks in practice this week.

"There's no doubt this guy's got a super leg," Quartaro said of Beck, who made 14 of 20 field-goal attempts last season as a freshman. "He's proven he can kick the ball a long way. Whether it's rhythm, or confidence or just tough luck, he's struggled. And yet, as an offensive coordinator, I want to see him out there kicking it through as much as anybody and we believe he can. We just have to get him on track."

Quartaro coached special teams and kickers at several of his other stops during his 25-year coaching career, but so far no one has asked for his input on KU's kicking woes.

"I think they know my plate is full," said Quartaro, who also coaches KU's quarterbacks.

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