Archive for Tuesday, November 2, 2004

Woodling: Beware of injury voodoo

November 2, 2004


In this case, the third time was not the charm. In this case, the third time may have been a warning to Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino.

Do not suit your starting quarterback for games on the last Saturday in October.

Next year and the year after and forever, tell your QB to stay home. Don't leave the house. Instruct him to stay away from windows. Tell him to avoid using the stairs if at all possible. Advise him to become a monk for a day.

Every year since taking over as KU's coach prior to the 2002 season, Mangino has lost his starting quarterback to a serious injury during a road game on the last Saturday in October.

This is beyond coincidence. Does it have something to do with the calendar being on the cusp of Halloween? Did the moon in the seventh house collide with Jupiter and Mars? Is it voodoo? Does a witch stick a pin in a KU quarterback doll?

Here's a quick recap:

On Oct. 26, 2002, at Missouri, Bill Whittemore was tackled, limped off the field because of a knee injury and didn't play in the Jayhawks' last three games.

On Oct. 25, 2003, at Kansas State, Whittemore was tackled, played another down, then trotted off the field holding his shoulder and missed the next three games.

On Oct. 30, 2004, at Iowa State, Adam Barmann was tackled, played another down, then trotted off the field favoring his right shoulder and will miss the last three games.

The injuries to Whittemore were not really surprising. There had been foreshadowing. As a freshman at Tennessee-Martin, Whittemore had missed several games because of a knee injury, and as a sophomore at Fort Scott Community College he was sidelined for a couple of games because of a shoulder problem.

Barmann has been relatively injury-free. He was knocked out of last year's Oklahoma State game -- his third outing subbing for the ailing Whittemore -- but the 6-foot-4, 210-pound sophomore had been a rock this season, starting the first eight games. Now he, too, is on the late October scrap heap.

The irony of Barmann's loss is that his injury occurred while he was doing what he has been loathe to do -- run. Although hurt midway through the second quarter, Barmann already had rushed for more yards than he had in a single game all season. And it was only 24 yards.

They say quarterbacks receive too much praise and too much blame, and that may be true. But it's also a fact Barmann had been a disappointment this season. That's partly because everyone was spoiled by the multi-talented Whittemore, whose mercurial feet, deft ball-handling and knack for throwing the bomb belied the small stature that prompted NFL scouts to write him off, but also because Barmann hasn't produced.

Nobody really expected Barmann to run as well as Whittemore, but he had shown during his short stint as a freshman that he could pass. But Barmann retrogressed as a passer, primary because he wouldn't or couldn't throw long. This week's NCAA Division I-A passing efficiency list contains the names of 100 quarterbacks. Of those 100, Barmann's 5.45 yards per attempt is the lowest. Overall, he ranks 96th -- lowest in the Big 12 Conference -- in passing efficiency with a 107.8 rating.

In his cameo appearances last season as a freshman, Barmann compiled a 126.56 quarterback rating and averaged 6.63 yards per attempt. Those weren't Whittemore numbers -- 154.65 and 9.06 -- but they're sure better than this year's lowly rating.

On the plus side, Barmann has not been turnover-prone. He has more TD passes (12) than interceptions (9) and is not a fumbler. That dependability may have been what kept him in the lineup ahead of juco transfer Jason Swanson and Brian Luke, a veteran caddy who looked Saturday at Iowa State like a rowboat in Hurricane Frances.

Swanson has quickness and has shown flashes of skill, both as a runner and a passer. Swanson looked a lot less shaky Saturday than he did two weeks ago at Oklahoma, so perhaps he has arrived at the point where he knows he can compete at this level.

If the Jayhawks hope to make any noise down the stretch, they must have better production out of their quarterback, and Swanson is their only legitimate hope.

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