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Archive for Monday, October 4, 2004

First-down failures doomed Jayhawks

Mangino: Third-and-long situations, abundant against NU, could have been avoided with better execution

October 4, 2004

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The statistic stuck out to Kansas University football coach Mark Mangino.

Mangino noticed his Jayhawks were 3-of-19 converting third downs in Saturday's 14-8 loss to Nebraska, a certain reason why the Jayhawks struggled to score.

It's an important, yet misleading statistic that Mangino wants to clarify.

It's easy to blame third-down woes on a promising drive suddenly stalling, but in KU's case, that's not it.

Sometimes, that momentum never even begins.

"It tells me that first-and-10 is not an effective play for us," Mangino said Sunday. "We have too many third-and-longs. When you have a lot, it reduces the chance of converting those third downs."

KU spent much of its time on offense making up for lost first downs Saturday. It led to lower-chance pass plays that often were either completed for less-than-desired gains, thrown off the mark or dropped by a KU receiver.

Quarterback Adam Barmann completed 49 percent of his passes (24-of-49) for 200 yards against the Cornhuskers. For the season, Barmann has completed 54.8 percent of his throws.

"We had more drops than I would like," Mangino said. "We never want to drop the ball, and we strive for that."

In all, Mangino's immediate assessment of Saturday's game stayed the same after seeing the game film on Sunday: KU's offense needs fine-tuning, and KU's defense undeniably is leading the team.

The Jayhawks forced four turnovers Sunday, including two interceptions by Charles Gordon, a pick by Rodney Harris and a fumble recovery after a Nebraska completion.

Mangino had especially good words for Gordon and Banks Floodman, who forced a fumble, recovered it and added seven tackles on the night.

"The overall play of the defense seems to be really strong," Mangino said. "We just need to continue to build on that. They're on the right track."

The Jayhawks (2-3) now must prepare for a Saturday home game with Kansas State. The Wildcats lost, 42-30, Saturday at Texas A&M.

Mangino feels the Jayhawks have the necessary tools to be successful this season, even against perennial powers like K-State. It's just a matter of getting all of the parts running -- and soon.

"You couldn't help but think that after the last three games," Mangino said. "The tide will turn, but it's up to us to get it turned."

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