Archive for Saturday, September 8, 2007

Sharp shows he’s up to speed

After struggling in two-a-days, running back impressive in opener

September 8, 2007

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Jayhawks ready for SE Louisiana

The KU football team readies for week two against an FCS opponent. Last week, Michigan lost to one of those former Division 1-AA schools, but don't expect the Jayhawks to fall victim to SE Louisiana in the same manner. Enlarge video

Seeing Jake Sharp shake and bake for 106 yards on 15 carries last week was a fulfilling feeling for Kansas University's football coaches.

Sharp, a sophomore running back out of Salina, picked up all but 19 of those yards in the second half of KU's 52-7 victory over Central Michigan. He wiggled his way to open field, bounced forward off of tacklers and even bruised his way in for a three-yard touchdown run, the first of his college career.

Sharp is expected to share carries with Brandon McAnderson today when Kansas takes on Southeastern Louisiana. Last week's blowout confirmed the impact both can make.

For Sharp, that's a welcome sight. It wasn't smooth sailing all offseason for him.

"I was a little concerned with Jake at the beginning of two-a-days," KU coach Mark Mangino said. "His head was spinning."

Mangino hired offensive coordinator Ed Warinner during the offseason, and the offense soon after underwent a makeover that was noticeable against Central Michigan.

Sharp didn't make the crystal-clear transition he hoped to.

"Jake in the spring and the beginning of a two-a-days, he struggled a little bit," Mangino said. "You figured, he played high school ball, then he was in an offense last year where we only retained about half of it, and he had new stuff. It took him a little while."

Sharp's intense work ethic helped get him through it. And last week's game confirmed that he's back on track.

"The past week and a half, he got settled down, gathered himself up, spent time with his position coach, and he really showed up Saturday," Mangino said. "We feel good about him."

¢ Harris/Harper clash: True freshman Chris Harris is starting at cornerback now, but that's not a given for too much longer.

The window opened for Harris due to an injury to projected starter Kendrick Harper on the first day of KU's summer camp. Harper, though, could be back in two or three games, jumbling the corner position in a good way.

"Having Kendrick back is just going to make us both better," Harris said. "It's going to make the whole team better. I don't know what the coaches have planned, but as long as I keep playing good, the only thing I worry about is making this team better."

¢ Former big boys: Southeastern Louisiana has three players who formerly played at Bowl Subdivison (formerly Division I-A) schools.

Jay Lucas, the Lions' starting running back, signed with Texas A&M; out of high school and played in six games for the Aggies in 2005. He had seven carries for 87 yards and a touchdown before deciding to transfer closer to his Baton Rouge, La., home.

In addition, wide receiver Courtney Smith is a former UAB player, while Tyler Unsworth, a 6-foot-8 offensive lineman, red-shirted last season at Southern Mississippi.

¢ One link: There are not many ties to speak of between Kansas and Southeastern Louisiana. But there is one of note.

Brock DeLong, a 6-foot, 235-pound fullback for the Lions, is from Valley Center and spent the last two seasons at Butler Community College. He was teammates with KU juniors Harper and Chet Hartley.

DeLong played special teams last week against New Mexico State, returning two kickoffs for 15 yards.

¢ This, that: Southeastern Louisiana is located in Hammond, about an hour northwest of New Orleans. : Kansas has played a lot of Louisiana schools lately, battling Louisiana Tech in 2005, Northwestern State and Louisiana-Monroe last year and Southeastern Louisiana today. KU will play Louisiana Tech again next year. : KU and SE Louisiana are playing each other for the first time today.

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