Advertisement

Archive for Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Jayhawks test depth as injuries pile up

October 4, 2006

Advertisement

A lifelong baseball fan to the fullest, Kansas University coach Mark Mangino often references that other game when talking about his football team.

His fandom bled through again Tuesday, when the fifth-year coach went to America's pastime when discussing the need for his team's depth to become a strength.

"When the call goes out to the bullpen, we're going to find out if you were paying attention to the game or if you were eating sunflower seeds and looking up in the bleachers," Mangino said. "We're going to know the difference."

Especially this season, when injuries, position shuffling and some examples of inconsistent play have tested the Jayhawks' depth more than they have in years. The quarterback spot, with Adam Barmann filling in for injured Kerry Meier, is the most glaring example, but it's merely a microcosm of what's taking place across the Kansas depth chart.

Barmann, for one, has stepped up nicely in Meier's absence. But the defensive end, linebacker, cornerback, offensive guard, free safety and wide receiver positions also have had uncertainty and shuffling among its personnel.

Recognizing the normalcy of turnover - especially at quarterback in his program - Mangino seems to have come into the 2006 season prepared.

"Any player on the field that gets hurt, we get the next guy ready and we get him to go and we believe in him," Mangino said. "We feel like 'Hey, if we gave him a scholarship to be here, there must be a reason.'"

Kansas players and coach Mark Mangino watch as medical personnel examine KU linebacker Eric Washington during the second half of KU's 39-32 OT loss at Nebraska. Injuries have forced extensive re-shuffling of the Jayhawks' depth chart this season.

Kansas players and coach Mark Mangino watch as medical personnel examine KU linebacker Eric Washington during the second half of KU's 39-32 OT loss at Nebraska. Injuries have forced extensive re-shuffling of the Jayhawks' depth chart this season.

Defensive end Russell Brorsen wasn't even on the latest depth chart, and he started over Rodney Allen on Saturday against Nebraska. A head injury to Eric Washington leaves Arist Wright and James Holt battling for a starting job at outside linebacker.

Bob Whitaker, who's body is all but worn out, goes to the sidelines for Jake Cox occasionally. And Justin Thornton and Sadiq Muhammed have interchanged at free safety, mainly because projected starter Darrell Stuckey's ankle injury.

The Jayhawks may not have been able to get away with so much turnover a few years ago. But for the most part, all of the shuffling hasn't come with many noticeable wrinkles - save some home runs against the Kansas secondary at Nebraska.

"(Nebraska) made some plays," Mangino said. "A couple of times they caught our corners in coverage where we felt like we had enough cushion to operate.

"Our secondary made a lot of plays in the game, a lot of good plays. They probably should've had a couple of picks. The issues that we have, we understand, and it's fixable. It's correctable."

It's still unclear whether Blake Bueltel or Anthony Webb will start at cornerback opposite Aqib Talib against Texas A&M. With Stuckey possibly returning Saturday, free safety might become a competition again.

Add to it all the other positions with multiple faces on the field, and it may be a pain keeping everyone straight.

But so long as the dropoff isn't extreme, Mangino thinks it's going to work.

"We just get the next guy ready and go," Mangino said. "We dont talk about it, we don't pout about it, I dont have team meetings about it. The kids see."

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.