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Archive for Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Mangino: ‘D’ is A-OK

November 7, 2007

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Top 5-ranked Hawks take on OSU Saturday

This time last year, the closest the Jayhawks were to the BCS standings was watching on TV. Kansas faces Oklahoma State ranked in the top five. Enlarge video

Sophomore Darrell Stuckey maneuvers past Nebraska's Marion Lucky during the Jayhawks' 76-39 victory over the Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium.

Sophomore Darrell Stuckey maneuvers past Nebraska's Marion Lucky during the Jayhawks' 76-39 victory over the Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium.

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Finally, if only for a week, we saw a flaw on Kansas University's football team. A new angle. A fresh concern in a season that hasn't had very many.

Each day since KU's 76-39 victory over Nebraska last week, Jayhawk coach Mark Mangino has been pressed about his defense, which surrendered 405 passing yards and 39 points to a Nebraska team going nowhere fast.

Certainly, critics guess, it will be a problem as No. 5 Kansas plays Saturday against an Oklahoma State team featuring freak passing targets like Adarius Bowman and Brandon Pettigrew.

It's a theory. But Mangino isn't buying it.

"Our defense has played well all year," Mangino said Tuesday with a touch of irritation. "You keep asking about our defense. I think you think we have some issues. I don't think we do."

Kansas did twist the knife against Nebraska, intercepting four second-half passes and improving to 9-0 with the 37-point victory. But the pass-defense breakdowns in the first half were obvious to the naked eye, partly because they led to some big plays and partly because Kansas hasn't had a lot of problems otherwise all season.

"There's no concerns," Mangino insisted. "It's all correctable things. We had a few communication breakdowns. They caught us on a couple of pick routes. We understand that can happen and how to deal with that. I thought our defensive coaches made excellent adjustments at the half."

Coupled with quick fixes on the practice field Sunday, KU's sixth-year coach feels it won't be a liability this week, when Kansas travels for a 7 p.m. game Saturday at Oklahoma State.

The Cowboys are balanced enough to go any way they want offensively. But seeing Texas A&M's failures running the ball against Kansas, coupled with Nebraska's success throwing it, makes an air-it-out game plan for OSU a good guess.

The Cowboys have big targets in 6-foot-4 Bowman (57 catches for 910 yards) and 6-6 tight end Pettigrew (27-449). In addition, quarterback Zac Robinson has passed for 1,939 yards this season, with just one interception his last four games.

"I think A&M had some outstanding players," KU defensive coordinator Bill Young said, "but I think Oklahoma State has more."

Which inevitably puts added pressure on KU's pass defense. Part of that is coverage, which Mangino seemed to have few concerns with. But part of it is also stopping a play before it ever gets to the secondary.

"One thing we need to do is get a better rush with our four down guys," Mangino said. "We've talked about that. That's something we will work on. We can't give the quarterback a whole lot of time to throw the ball."

But pressing issues on that unit? Mangino doesn't think so.

Part of being 9-0, he figures, is that opponents will game-plan more creatively than ever to try to knock the hot team off the top of the totem pole.

Nebraska did just that. And Mangino doesn't want anyone to mistake that for an internal deficiency at Kansas.

"I have told our players that we're going to get everybody's best shot now," Mangino said. "You have to be prepared for anything and everything."

Comments

craigers 6 years, 5 months ago

Keep it up KU. You guys are doing great and keeping a very level head about your success.

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