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Archive for Monday, September 20, 2004

Mangino to stress basics

KU football coach: QB, receivers must do better

September 20, 2004

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Kansas University coach Mark Mangino spent a good portion of Sunday reliving his football team's 20-17 loss at Northwestern.

The videotape convinced Mangino that the Jayhawks still needed to work on the basics.

"There's no question in my mind that we have to improve fundamentally," said Mangino, whose team will play host to Texas Tech at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in the Big 12 Conference opener for both teams. "That's going to be a key thing for us in practice this week, to work on fundamentals in all three phases of game. We have to play hard and play with aggression, but we have to play smart and fundamentally."

Mangino cited several specific areas where his team needed to improve:

l Offensive linemen weren't the only ones guilty of questionable blocking after the Jayhawks were limited to 47 rushing yards. Mangino said receivers needed to do a better job of blocking downfield and that the punt-return team failed to create opportunities for Charles Gordon, who had 21 yards on three returns.

l Receivers also need to run their "routes more crisply."

l Mangino said sophomore quarterback Adam Barmann needed to do a better job of setting his feet before passing and not rushing himself.

l KU's defense held Northwestern to 20 points, but Mangino wasn't content with that unit. He said KU tacklers did a poor job of wrapping up, and that "our pursuit angles weren't good at times."

Throw in a fumble by punter Chris Tyrrell, two missed field-goal attempts by Johnny Beck and 11 penalties, and the Jayhawks (2-1) have plenty to work on before facing Tech (2-1).

"It's all correctable things that we can take care of on the practice field this week," Mangino said.

KU's kicking game might not be solved as easily. Beck made 14 of 20 field-goal attempts as a freshman in 2001, but he has made only two of six this year and 18 of his last 39 dating back to 2002.

Mangino used walk-on Jerod Brooks for extra points and short field goals in the second half of the 2003 season, using Beck only for long field goals and kickoffs. KU is using a similar approach with Beck and red-shirt freshman Scott Webb this season.

Beck missed two field goals Saturday, a 48-yarder in the final minute of the first half and a 43-yarder with 1:18 remaining. Webb made his only attempt from 27 yards.

"I'm still open-minded about that," Mangino said before meeting with his special-teams coaches. "We'll make a decision pretty quickly."

Webb made 74 of 76 extra-point attempts and 11 field goals as an all-state kicker his senior year at Tulsa Union High in Oklahoma, but he hasn't shown the range to solve KU's problem.

"Scott is becoming a very accurate kicker," Mangino said. "He's not what you would call, at this point and time, a strong kicker. ... That is not his forte at this point and time. Let's not forget he's a red-shirt freshman. He'll get stronger."

Beck has a strong leg, which is evident on the kickoff team, but he hasn't been able to regain the touch he showed as a freshman. Saturday's game was the third time in three years that Beck's miscues came back to haunt the Jayhawks in a close road loss.

In 2002 at Baylor, Beck made two of three extra points and missed a 34-yard field goal in a 35-32 loss. Last year at Colorado, KU had an extra point blocked, and Beck -- who made two short kicks -- missed a 40-yarder in a 50-47 overtime defeat.

Mangino doesn't appear to have many options.

KU signed Katy, Texas, punter/kicker Kyle Tucker last winter, and the freshman made his collegiate debut against Northwestern after Tyrrell's fumble. Tucker's only punt was 44.3 yards.

Tucker -- who was all-district as a punter and kicker at Cinco Ranch High -- set a school record with a 50-yard field goal, but Mangino doesn't want to overburden his freshman.

"Right now we're having him focus on punting," Mangino said.

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Quarterback question: Junior quarterback Jason Swanson took four snaps during a fourth-quarter scoring drive after Barmann landed on his shoulder. Swanson is listed third on KU's depth chart, but junior backup Brian Luke has been sidelined by an undisclosed injury.

"His injury isn't a major one, but it's one that set him back," Mangino said of Luke. "Jason was impressive in the limited time he was in there. He's capable. He's made tremendous strides in our program."

Swanson completed one of two passes for eight yards.

Barmann, who threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Rideau on the first play after returning to the game, said his injury was "nothing serious."

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Mum on Heaggans: KU's coach declined to discuss the status of junior kick returner Greg Heaggans, who did not play Saturday after being arrested last week on drunken driving charges.

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Back to earth: Kansas now faces a Texas Tech team averaging 40.3 points a game. The Red Raiders defeated Texas Christian, 70-35, Saturday.

Mangino said the Jayhawks might have been overconfident after his team outscored Tulsa and Toledo by a combined score of 84-17 in two home games.

"I think some of our kids -- not all, but a few -- at 2-0 thought we were better than we were," Mangino said. "I warned them. I told them you have to go out and earn your way."

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