Archive for Wednesday, September 17, 2003

KU vows to fight Jax State

With Mizzou looming, Jayhawks assert focus

September 17, 2003


Kansas University quarterback Bill Whittemore suffered a season-ending injury last year in a 36-12 loss at Columbia, Mo., and Missouri's players added insult after the game by inciting Tiger football fans to tear down the goalposts at Faurot Field.

Mizzou is off to its first 3-0 start since 1981, and KU has won back-to-back games for the first time since 2000, so it would be understandable if the Jayhawks were looking ahead to next Saturday's Border War at Memorial Stadium.

Jacksonville State won't be that lucky.

"We never want to overlook anybody," junior receiver Brandon Rideau said Tuesday at KU's weekly news conference. "We're preparing for this game like we did the last one and the one before that. ... With Missouri coming in the week after, there's a lot of excitement. We want to go into that game 3-1, so we have to stay focused and get this win."

The Jayhawks (2-1) have been underdogs in their three games this season, but not Saturday against JSU. Since losing its season opener to Northwestern, KU has scored 88 points in victories against UNLV and Wyoming.

"Offensively they're just hot as a firecracker," said JSU coach Jack Crowe, whose team is averaging 12.5 points per game. "We have an enormous challenge."

The Division I-AA Gamecocks are coming off a home loss to Division II North Alabama.

Kansas hasn't won three straight games since 1997, and coach Mark Mangino didn't assume it would be easy.

"We know this Jacksonville State team is going to be pumped up coming into a Big 12 stadium, coming to play at a venue they normally don't get an opportunity to play in," Mangino said. "They are going to look at it as having absolutely nothing to lose coming into Lawrence this weekend.

"If we play sound football and smart football -- that we are capable of -- everything will be fine. We are not taking anybody for granted. We cannot afford to take anybody for granted."


Rare Air: Whittemore is among the nation's leaders in several categories. His pass-efficiency rating of 180.9 is second only to Pitt's Rod Rutherford at 191.5, and Whittemore's 318.64 rating last Saturday against Wyoming was the nation's best single-game performance this season. He completed 12 of 15 passes for 269 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions against UW in a 42-35 victory.

Whittemore ranks 10th in the nation in total offense with an average of 306.7 yards per game and is tied for ninth in "points responsible for" with an average of 18.


Players of the week: Whittemore was named KU's offensive player of the week, and sophomore linebacker Gabe Toomey took defensive honors after making 12 tackles. Senior Curtis Ansel was the top special-teams contributor after averaging 41.3 yards on three punts and completing a 26-yard pass on the fake punt. Freshman lineman Chris Roberts was the offensive scout team player of the week, and junior Chuck Jones was the surprise pick as defensive scout team player of the week after sitting out the Wyoming game because of an undisclosed injury.


Injury update: Jones and sophomore linebacker Banks Floodman both practiced Tuesday. Floodman missed most of the Wyoming game because of an undisclosed injury, but Mangino hopes to have both players in action Saturday.

"Banks should be able to go," he said. "He is evaluated every day. Our medical staff is very optimistic about him playing. They think it will happen."

Mangino said if Jones played, red-shirt freshman Kyle Knighton would move back to end after working as backup tackle last week.

Meanwhile, Mangino was not as optimistic about the return of junior tackle Travis Watkins as he had been two days earlier.

"I was informed by our trainer that his progress is right on target," Mangino said of the team captain, who broke his right foot during the preseason. "Travis has been telling me everyday that he is way ahead. He is trying to convince us all that he is way ahead. Our trainer told me last night that he is not ahead of schedule. He is on schedule. ... We are hoping that he will be ready for Baylor."

KU plays host to the Bears Oct. 18.


Fans wanted: Kansas drew 27,775 fans for its rainy season opener against Northwestern and 33,980 for its second home game against UNLV. After wins against UNLV and Wyoming, KU officials hope for a bigger crowd for Saturday's game. As of Tuesday, 26,700 tickets had been sold.

"I expect that to go up, and I expect to have a very good walk-up crowd because it's Parents Weekend as well," said Jim Marchiony, associate athletic director for external affairs.

More than 30,000 tickets have been sold for the Missouri game.


Payday: Kansas will pay Division I-AA Jacksonville State $250,000 for making the trip from Alabama. JSU's Crowe said the Gamecocks would use about $50,000 of that to cover expenses. "It's not one of the better paydays in Division I, but it's 200 more than we would have if we didn't play them," Crowe said. "We actually feel very fortunate to have the ability to go play."


Mo than we thought: The Journal-World previously reported freshman Moderick Johnson was still looking for his first catch. The Texan actually has one reception for 11 yards.

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