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Archive for Monday, September 12, 2005

Wood: Offense creates buzz

September 12, 2005

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Cleaning out Saturday's notebook, trying desperately to decipher some of the slop I actually thought was legible at the time I wrote it:

¢ Who would've thought? Filing out of Memorial Stadium on Saturday, some spectators who witnessed Kansas University's 36-8 football victory over Appalachian State actually were excited about the Jayhawks' offense.

Yeah, offense. The same facet ridiculed in preseason magazines, pointed at by pundits forecasting a cellar season in the Big 12 North and blamed by throats predicting no bowl for the second straight year.

Suddenly, "exciting" isn't such a wrong word. And after some of the stale play a year ago, that's quite a turnaround.

I know, I know. It was Appalachian State, a Division I-AA squad. But the opponent didn't matter much - Marcus Herford still would be quick and elusive, Jon Cornish would have that nice combination of speed and power, and Brian Luke's first-quarter passes downfield to Clark Green and Brian Murph were near-perfect strikes.

Will the Jayhawks be potent offensively come Big 12 Conference season? Probably not in incredible amounts. But I expect a vast improvement if the injury bug stays away.

¢ On the flip side, the defense certainly isn't playing up to its potential, though it has been serviceable.

Florida Atlantic had 132 yards of offense on two plays. Appalachian State started the game with a 12-play drive that went 76 yards before a fumble. KU still doesn't have an interception. The takeaways - a staple of pride last season - are few and far between.

It goes against what was expected out of the veteran bunch, making some wonder if they listened to all the offseason compliments passed out to them in excess.

"I don't see it that way," coach Mark Mangino said, adding, "our defensive players understand the style of football we play. We will improve greatly from week two to week three."

It's needed - especially before Texas Tech on Oct. 1, a team with the capabilities to make defenses weep.

¢ Green's dropped pass in the first quarter had many groaning, and with good reason. After week one's butterfingers across the wide-receiver corps, it wasn't a good start to Saturday's game to see much of the same.

The clanks never picked up steam, though. Murph hauled in a 59-yard pass on the next drive, and drops weren't a glaring problem the rest of the night.

¢ Brian Luke has the vertical passing game Kansas fans craved, but his problem might be floating passes in when a throw with some zip on it would be more effective. It contributed to his lone interception, and while it may seem a minor problem, it has the potential to be one nonetheless.

¢ Don't get me wrong when I point out a Luke shortcoming. I endorsed Adam Barmann as the best QB choice in the preseason, but even the perfect are allowed to be wrong every so often. Looks like Chuck Woodling won the little campaign the Journal-World did in August. Luke indeed was no fluke.

Hey, what do you expect? Woodling was a veteran scribe when I was still in diapers.

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