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Archive for Thursday, October 2, 2008

Dugan Arnett’s KU football notebook

The Kansas football team opens it's Big 12 schedule on the road for the fourth consecutive season. On Saturday, Mark Mangino's team will be in Ames for a battle with the Iowa State Cyclones.

October 2, 2008

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2008 Oct. 1 KU football practice

Meier keeps eye on playing in NFL

When not leading the nation in receptions per game and emerging as the Kansas University football team's biggest surprise, junior quarterback-turned-receiver Kerry Meier has allowed himself - briefly - to ponder the possibility of a future in the National Football League.

"Right now, I've still got all this year and the entire season next year as well," said Meier, whose brother Shad spent five years in the NFL as a tight end with the Tennessee Titans and New Orleans Saints. "But that's why I came to college football - the next level is NFL."

With the swiftness in which he has seemed to master the wide receiver position, a professional future in the sport is becoming increasingly tangible.

Despite spending only a fraction of his practice time with the receiving corps - Wednesday, for instance, he spent two hours of a two-and-a-half-hour practice with the quarterbacks - he has been the team's most reliable offensive weapon while earning the nickname "Old Faithful" from quarterback Todd Reesing ("I don't know about the 'old' part," Meier said, "but 'faithful' is good").

Rest assured, Meier has no plans of leaving KU before his eligibility runs dry after the 2009 season, but he readily admits the NFL was an alluring proposition.

"If (the NFL) is not in your mind, I really don't know why you're playing the game," Meier said.

Jayhawks set for first morning start

When Kansas takes the field for an 11:30 a.m. kickoff against Iowa State on Saturday, it'll mark the first time this season the Jayhawks have played a day game.

This year, Kansas has never kicked off before 6 p.m., and Saturday's game in Ames will mean a change in the team's pre-game preparations.

"You just don't have meetings and walk-throughs like you normally do for a night game," coach Mark Mangino said. "We kind of like it. You get up, have breakfast, have a meeting and go play."

Special teams return woes don't worry Mangino

Despite the fact that his team ranks last in the Big 12 in kickoff return production - the Jayhawks have averaged just 12.2 yards per return, which ranks 119th in the nation - Mangino brushed off the early struggles as a by-product of opponents' desire to prevent big plays.

"When you analyze it, we're getting awfully short kicks, so there's only been a few occasions where we haven't actually gotten good field position out of it," Mangino said. "The kicks are so short, the coverage is down on top of you, and there's just not a lot of room to run the ball."

The result is limited production out of Marcus Herford. Herford, who was a preseason all-Big 12 first team selection at kick returner entering the season, has averaged just 11.4 yards-per-return and ranks 12th in the conference in the category.

"I think he's fine" Mangino said of Herford. "He just needs a little room. Nobody's kicking the ball deep to him. So we have to adjust as a team, and Marcus has to adjust."

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