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Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2003

Wildcats struggled defensively last year

QB led Big Ten in total offense, but season ended with 3-9 record

August 16, 2003

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When Kansas University plays host to Northwestern Aug. 30 in the season opener at Memorial Stadium, it will be the first time the schools have ever met in football.

It also will be a matchup of two teams that ranked near the bottom of Division I-A in defense last season.

Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, Northwestern compensates with an explosive offense.

The Wildcats were 3-9 in 2002 when they ranked 113 in the country in scoring defense (41.1 points per game) and 116th in total defense (502.3 yards per game).

Like the Jayhawks (2-10 overall, 0-8 Big 12 Conference), who ranked 115th in scoring defense (42.3) and 112th in total defense (472.4), the Wildcats (1-7 Big Ten) certainly need to get off to a good start in the nonconference season.

They're led by sophomore quarterback Brett Basanez, who led the Big Ten in total offense and led the nation's freshmen in passing yardage despite missing two games because of a broken leg.

Basanez completed 190 of 325 passes for 2,204 yards and seven touchdowns last season.

His top target is senior Kunle Patrick, who had 49 receptions for 558 yards and two TDs.

The three-year starter enters the season with a 34-game reception streak.

The Wildcats can run the ball, too. Senior running back Jason Wright averaged 5.6 yards per carry last year when he finished with 1,234 yards and 12 TDs.

The Wildcats struggled with a young defense, but inexperience won't be an excuse for Northwestern this time around with nine returning starters on that side of the ball.

"The experience we developed last year is beginning to take hold, and we are seeing guys play with more confidence and more maturity," Wildcats coach Randy Walker said.

Northwestern schedule

Aug. 30 -- at Kansas

Sept. 6 -- Air Force

Sept. 13 -- Miami of Ohio

Sept. 20 -- at Duke

Sept. 27 -- at Ohio State

Oct. 4 -- Minnesota

Oct. 11 -- at Indiana

Oct. 25 -- Wisconsin

Nov. 1 -- at Purdue

Nov. 8 -- Penn State

Nov. 15 -- Michigan

Nov. 22 -- at Illinois

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