While the flashes of run-game command displayed during its game against Iowa State two weeks ago could have been written off as chance, the Kansas University football team's encore performance in Saturday's 30-14 victory over visiting Colorado went a bit farther in qualifying the rushing attack as legit.
Saturday marked only the second time this season the Jayhawks rushed for 150 yards or more. KU gained 161 against Sam Houston State in Week Four.
Jake Sharp's 118 yards Saturday marked the first time this season a Kansas running back has eclipsed 100 yards.
Kansas coach Mark Mangino credited much of the team's success to a revamped ground game designed to utilize Sharp, who finished with a season-high 118 yards and scored on touchdown runs of one, seven and eight yards, and praised the team's coaches and players for buying into the switch.
"More than anything, it's based out of necessity," Mangino said of the changes implemented during the team's recent bye week. "When you have to do something, then your coaching staff, your players, they dig in and put their mind to it that they're going to make it work."
"We don't want to be stubborn," he added. "We want to be practical. And (during) the off week, I knew we had to make significant change in some areas of the run game because our personnel was better suited for a different style. And we did it, and the kids have done well with it."
The biggest benefit of a suddenly adequate run game, however, might come from its effects on other facets of the game. In addition to controlling the game clock and keeping the 16th-ranked Jayhawks' defense off the field for larger stretches, a consistent ground attack also could take pressure off quarterback Todd Reesing, who has been charged with carrying much of the offensive load so far this season.
Said Reesing, who completed 27 of 34 passes for 256 yards and a touchdown Saturday, "Anytime you can gain yards in the running game and get something consistent going, it's going to help with the passing game. That's just simple football knowledge."
Special teams revamp starts now: No stone will go unturned this week as the Kansas coaching staff attempts to correct the special-teams problems that have plagued the team throughout its past two games.
A day after his team struggled in all facets of special-teams play - from punt and kick returns to field goals - Mangino said changes would be imminent, and he'd look for players who had a desire to learn the fundamentals of the positions.
"Everything on special teams is under evaluation," said the coach, who devoted a great deal of his postgame meeting with the media to voicing his displeasure with his team's sub-par special-teams play. "It's all about playing with heart and enthusiasm, that's all. You don't need to be a super talented guy to play on special teams. You just have to have a lot of heart and enthusiasm to do it."
One change already might have been made. Dexton Fields replaced struggling true freshman Daymond Patterson as the team's punt returner mid-way through the Colorado game. Asked whether Fields will start against Oklahoma on Saturday, however, Mangino said it's still in limbo.
"I haven't made any decision on that and probably won't until I watch them all week in practice and evaluate what they do on the practice field," he said.
Blakesley 'day-to-day': The injury sustained by junior defensive tackle Caleb Blakesley, which forced him out of Saturday's game late in the second quarter, will not keep him out the rest of the season, as coaches originally thought was a possibility.
"We got a lot of positive news that we were hoping for, and he's actually day-to-day," said Mangino, although he declined to reveal the specifics of the injury. "And we'll just see how it goes."