Archive for Monday, October 4, 2004

Wood: Problems offset positives

October 4, 2004


Sights, sounds, gossip and guessing after Saturday's Kansas University-Nebraska football game in Lincoln, Neb.:

  • It depends on whom you ask, but the 77,000-plus fans at Saturday's game at Memorial Stadium seemed to come away with any of four opinions:

1. Kansas' defense was stout and smothering.

2. Nebraska's offense has a way to go.

3. Nebraska's defense was stout and smothering.

4. Kansas' offense has a way to go.

That covers about everything, and all four are correct. Both teams' defenses were so much better than the offenses, so it was difficult to scout either team.

For the first time all season, Journal-World sports editor Chuck Woodling didn't miss a game in last week's Wanna Whack Woodling? contest.Woodling went 6-0, tying 25 participants who also had perfect records. Matt Glassman of Lawrence won thanks to a 17-10 prediction of Nebraska over Kansas University in the tiebreaker.Be sure to visit Wednesday afternoon and make your picks for next week's contest and a chance at a T-shirt.

So debate with your buddies all you want about what factored in most in KU's 14-8 loss. Chances are, everybody's right to some extent.

  • A sign that KU's defense might not realize how good it really is: Linebacker Nick Reid said after the game that the defense's goal was to limit Cory Ross to fewer than 150 yards rushing.

Ross, a quick, elusive I-back who really was Nebraska's only offensive hope Saturday, never came close, finishing with 107 yards. He broke a few big gains and eluded a few would-be tacklers, but the Jayhawks overall contained him well.

Guess it's easier when there's not much else to be concerned about.

  • Should we have been worried that a Mark Mangino-coached squad never would be led by a strong defense?

It's understandable to wonder. Mangino was a former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma and always had specialized in offense during his pre-Kansas pit stops. Not only that, but one look just up the road at the dismal Kansas City Chiefs, led by offensive-minded Dick Vermeil, shows us that coaches exist who actually feel one facet of a team can carry the rest to success.

But kudos to Mangino for knowing better. Among other things, his preseason decision to make Charles Gordon concentrate mostly on defense makes everyone aware that he wants a balanced football team -- even if it comes at the expense of what he knows best, the offense.

  • Mangino said Sunday that freshman Mike Rivera had been battling an undisclosed injury and was a possibility to take a red-shirt season.

Rivera, a Shawnee Mission Northwest grad, hasn't recovered as quickly as the KU coaching staff had hoped he would. Mangino won't say with any certainty what will come of Rivera's situation, because he really doesn't know, but it's possible Rivera will be a freshman again next year.

As well-stocked as the KU linebacker corps is right now, Rivera should have taken a red-shirt from the get-go. His play has been limited to special teams this year, and it seems a player of his potential shouldn't waste a year of eligibility running down kickoff returns.

If Rivera is unable to recover, it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise down the road.

  • So what can the Jayhawks do against Kansas State on Saturday? Win?

Well, yeah, they can win. KU will make this a competitive series again if the strides continue as they have this season.

To add to the shrinking gap, Kansas State isn't exactly a world beater right now, coming off a 42-30 loss to Texas A&M.; At 2-2, the Wildcats are stumbling into Lawrence for Saturday's showdown, and they certainly haven't beaten anyone of the Jayhawks' stature this year.

I'd be leery of picking KU, with scoring touchdowns a major concern right now. But to say K-State will waltz in and punch the Jayhawks in the stomach would be a dangerous assumption.

This could be the first must-see Sunflower Showdown in quite some time.

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