The capability is still there, despite a massive changing of the guard on Kansas University's defense.
The Jayhawks showed Saturday that they still could smother a running game, evident in their 49-18 football victory over Northwestern State at Memorial Stadium.
The Demons rushed the ball 30 times, but only managed 62 yards, about 2.1 yards per carry. Such stats are strikingly similar to last year's defense, which allowed 83.3 yards per game and 2.41 yards per carry, tops in the Big 12 Conference and third-best in NCAA Division I-A.
While nobody is expecting an identical encore, especially with eight starters lost from last year, Saturday may have been proof that solid run-stopping could continue into the 2006 campaign.
"We still have a lot of work to do," KU coach Mark Mangino said Sunday. "We were very pleased with their performance last night, especially in plays early in the game. Their backs were put up against the wall twice, and they held Northwestern State to field goals.
"We have the potential to be awfully, awfully good on defense."
The solid run defense numbers were in part due to KU's 12 tackles for a loss totaling 40 yards. Eight players made stops behind the line of scrimmage, including sophomore linebacker Joe Mortensen, who had four by himself.
KU's numbers on the stat sheet were nice, but what it did in pressure situations may have been even better. NSU started its first two drives inside the KU 30-yard line after special-teams blunders, but couldn't reach the end zone in either.
The Demons actually didn't score a touchdown until the fourth quarter.
"The grade for game one, I'm going to give us an A-minus, because we did give up a touchdown," strong safety Jerome Kemp said. "If we didn't give up a touchdown, I'd give us an A-plus."
Kemp, who finished with five tackles. particularly was pleased with the opening two drives, in which Northwestern State had just 16 yards on 11 plays. It demonstrated the type of swagger that last year's defense had, a welcome sign for KU considering so many parts were lost.
"I think the first couple of series proved that we're a force to be reckoned with," Kemp said. "We're not going to give up an easy touchdown. We're going to put our feet on the ground and make a stand."
¢ Up next: Kansas now is in preparation for Louisiana-Monroe, a Division I-A team that is 1-0 after beating Alcorn State 24-6 on Saturday. The Warhawks play in the Sun Belt Conference.
Quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster passed for 100 yards and rushed for 62 more in the victory.
Early Las Vegas odds has Kansas as a -point favorite over the Warhawks, who went 5-6 last season.
¢ Still dinged: Mangino confirmed last week that free safety Darrell Stuckey (ankle) will not play this week. Also expected to be out is linebacker James Holt, sidelined with a foot injury.