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Archive for Saturday, September 23, 2006

Turnovers focus for KU

September 23, 2006

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Kansas University's football team may find out that late whistles can lead to more turnovers.

The Jayhawks, mired in a takeaway funk as they head into today's 6 p.m. game against South Florida, have tried several different approaches to force more turnovers. One is to blow the whistle later than normal at the end of plays in practice, so defenders can keep clawing and scratching for a strip that could turn into a recovered fumble.

Of course, today's referees won't be tardy, but the mentality to rip and strip the football in practice could translate to being done before the whistle in today's game.

"We are emphasizing it a lot during practice," linebacker Joe Mortensen said. "We are trying to strip the ball out and put pressure on the quarterback. But it just comes down to making the right tackle, the right hit and getting to the quarterback. Some games you can play really well and not have one forced turnover, and there are some games where you can play bad defense and still force a lot of turnovers."

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Back in the early '90s, KU coach Mark Mangino and South Florida head coach Jim Leavitt were assistants for Bill Snyder at K-State. Enlarge video

The Jayhawks (2-1) forced zero turnovers the last two games, a victory against Louisiana-Monroe and a loss at Toledo. They had two - a fumble recovery by Eric Washington and an interception by Sadiq Muhammed - in the opener against Northwestern State.

"I like where we are," Mortensen said. "There is always room for improvement. You can never be content with where you are. I think a good defense is defined by forcing three-and-outs and getting turnovers. We need to stay off the field so our offense can score some points."

Remember him?: KU recruiting followers will remember the name Brouce Mompremier.

A 6-foot-1, 225-pound linebacker out of Miami, Mompremier appeared all but headed to Kansas late in the 2004 recruiting season before changing his mind and signing with South Florida instead.

Mompremier left USF for a year before returning in 2005 and playing that season as a freshman. This year, he has two tackles playing as a second-string middle linebacker.

No influence: KU coach Mark Mangino and USF coach Jim Leavitt worked together as assistants at Kansas State in the early 1990s. That, however, had no influence on the scheduling of today's game.

"It wasn't a factor," Mangino said. "(Associate athletic director) Larry Keating told me he couldn't find a game. That was the only game he could find available, and I said, 'Well, if that's all there is, we'll do it.'"

The contract is a two-game deal. Kansas will travel to Tampa, Fla., to complete the contract in 2008.

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