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Archive for Thursday, December 15, 2005

KU has hard time getting handle on Houston

December 15, 2005

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The middle man is Mike Leach, head football coach at Texas Tech.

He's the guy linking Kansas University and Houston as the two squads set to face off in the Fort Worth Bowl on Dec. 23.

KU coach Mark Mangino and Houston coach Art Briles have worked with Leach - Mangino as a fellow assistant at Oklahoma, Briles later on as an assistant under Leach at Texas Tech.

Briles then defected to take the head-coaching job at Houston in 2003, but as is the case with many head coaches, where Briles came from is reflected in what kind of football his team plays.

"There's some of the same principles," Mangino said of the Houston offense compared to Texas Tech's. "You can see some similarities, but I know the Tech offense because I coached in it."

The Texas Tech offense is well known across college football for its unique spread attack that is two-thirds passing. Houston, meanwhile, has a similar spread offense that's complicated further by quirky formations and unexpected twists to plays. But there's a small difference: The Cougars run the ball 54 percent of the time.

Houston running back Ryan Gilbert, a transfer from LSU, has rushed for 1,030 yards this season - almost as much as the whole Texas Tech offense - earning him All-Conference USA honors.

He'll be lined up behind quarterback Kevin Kolb for the 7 p.m. game at Amon G. Carter Stadium. But considering KU's stout rush defense is ranked third in the nation, Kansas might be a bit more concerned with Kolb's arm than Gilbert's legs.

"They do throw the ball a lot," Mangino said. "They use a variety of formations, and, at times, their offense can look a little unorthodox."

Kolb has passed for 3,044 yards and 19 touchdowns, attempting about 34 passes per game. His favorite target is Vincent Marshall, who has 69 catches for 927 yards and six touchdowns.

The Jayhawks have been hard at work dissecting Houston's game film, and Mangino has come to one conclusion from glancing at it: They've got to pick it apart even more than they originally thought.

"They're a difficult preparation," Mangino said. "Our defense has been working very aggressively in watching tape."

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