Archive for Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Keegan: Crawford remains optimistic

September 10, 2008

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Jocques Crawford paused, stretched his lips, grimaced and softly said something about his mouth hurting. He meant from his braces, not from his boldly stated goal of rushing for 2,000 yards in this, his first Div. I football season.

Crawford has eased off that stance. He had no way of anticipating the difficulty of the transition from junior-college football.

He already has made at least one adjustment. He no longer talks about the season and about individual statistical goals, instead focusing on this week and this team.

South Florida's All-American defensive end George Selvie was being discussed Tuesday when Crawford shared one of his primary goals for Friday night's game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

"Just do my best to try to block him when I am in the game," Crawford said.

He knows he might have to wait for that to happen.

"I probably won't start this game," Crawford said.

Two carries into his KU career, he had gained 20 yards. In the 16 carries since, he has gained 29, an average of 1.8.

Disappointed in his performance?

"I don't want to be too hard on myself," he said. "I just got here. I've played only two games. I just hope things get better for me in the future."

Part of life as a Div. I football player, at least at a big-time program, is getting graded in more than just the classroom. Players get graded on film and on written quizzes.

"We get graded on everything, when we don't have the ball, carrying the ball, our fakes," Crawford said. "Everyone's been pretty average. We've been graded about the same. One thing, as a running-back unit we need to do better, is blocking more, picking up the defensive ends. They're beating us up field. We're not attacking them."

Crawford said the written tests the running backs take consist of questions about, "stuff we've gone over on film. Our responsibilities on alignments and protections and things like that. I've graded pretty highly, up in the 90s. I missed a couple of questions, simple mistakes. I knew what I'm supposed to do, I just didn't write it down."

Kansas is averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Head coach Mark Mangino stressed both Florida International and Louisiana Tech both took away the run. Run-game coordinator and offensive-line coach John Reagan noted the offensive line is a "work in progress."

"When you're playing with two red-shirt freshman tackles, that's obviously a factor, too," Reagan said. "And I don't know if we've played as well inside (the two guards and center) as we should have played thus far."

Doing without the blocking of Buffalo Bills tight end Derek Fine and injured KU receiver Dexton Fields are other factors.

Still, it would instill confidence that Kansas has a balanced offense if one of the running backs had looked superior to the others.

Crawford, who hasn't yet displayed his advertised power, said he's not antsy for a break-out game.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on myself," he said. "I mean, I'm inexperienced at the D-1 level right now. I'm just going to be patient and wait for things to open up for me."

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