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Archive for Sunday, October 19, 2008

Kansas football notebook

October 19, 2008

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2008 KU-OU football
Spodcasters

Spodcasters Postgame: Oklahoma

The guys (Jesse Newell, Tom Keegan) break down KU's 45-31 loss to Oklahoma and discuss whether KU's defense can play better against next week's high-scoring opponent, Texas Tech.

Crawford emerges on special teams

Jocques Crawford, the highly touted transfer running back who recently has become an afterthought in the Kansas offense, took a step forward Saturday in emerging as a potential weapon.

This time, though, he did it in a new role.

With all-Big 12 preseason selection Marcus Herford struggling, Crawford was called upon to return kicks Saturday, and the 6-foot-1, 230-pound junior promptly took advantage of the opportunity. On his first return of the game, midway through the first quarter, he took the ball from the one and maneuvered his way 42 yards to the KU 43-yard line, the longest return so far this season (the previous best was 26 yards, by Herford).

Crawford finished with three returns for 77 yards, a 26-yard average, and also capped a first-quarter Kansas drive with a two-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 7.

"The best way for me to get out on the field right now is special teams," said Crawford, who also rushed four times for nine yards. "So I just go out and give it my all."

The kick-return game highlighted a much-improved outing by the Jayhawks' special-teams units, which had struggled in recent weeks in a multitude of areas. Punter Alonso Rojas averaged nearly 42 yards on eight punts, and kicker Jacob Branstetter was 1-for-1 on field goals, connecting on a 23-yarder in the second quarter that cut Oklahoma's lead to 14-10.

"Special teams were pretty good today," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. "We had a few penalties that I'm not real excited about, but I thought we played pretty decent special teams today. In fact, we played probably our best all-around (game) in special teams in all five units."

Third-down troubles

The most telling statistic to come out of Kansas' second loss of the season? Zero-for-10 - as in, the Jayhawks failed to convert a third-down conversion on their first 10 attempts, finishing the day just 2-for-12 overall.

Entering Saturday's game, Kansas was ranked third in the nation in third-down conversion percentage with 53.8, thanks largely to the play of receiver Kerry Meier. But against the Sooners, who sacked KU quarterback Todd Reesing a season-high five times, things quickly deteriorated.

"That hurts a lot," said Reesing. "I don't think anybody's going to argue that. Converting third downs in a game like this on the road is big. And we've been pretty good at it all year, and today we weren't so good."

Blakesley injured again

Kansas defensive tackle Caleb Blakesley, who left the Jayhawks' game against Colorado last week due to an undisclosed injury but started Saturday in Norman, went down with another injury in the first quarter Saturday.

He had to be helped from the field and didn't return. Following the game, Mangino declined to comment on the injury or its seriousness.

OU no good on first possession

When Oklahoma place kicker Jimmy Stevens' missed a 30-yard field goal with 12:15 left in the first quarter Saturday, it marked the first time this season the Sooners failed to score on their first possession of the game.

It also marked the first time in six games that Oklahoma (6-1, 2-1 in Big 12) failed to score from inside the red zone.

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