Mark Mangino is good at devising ways to motivate his Kansas University football players. He will bench them, lash out at them, pat them on the back, even give them the silent treatment.
As droning and monotonous as his low-key public utterances might seem, he can shift gears fast. The coach is never shy about ripping somebody on the sideline during a game. He won't suffer fools.
Mark leaves no doubt about his regard for a player, good or bad. He has an offensive jewel in quarterback Todd Reesing, but is not hesitant to declare that Todd's trying to tote too much of the load. The kid does need a lot more help than he has been getting.
The players know where they stand and what is expected. Mangino realizes the running game is short of expectations and wanted to show Jake Sharp he wasn't up to par. Jake seemed to get the message, given a chance late in the game with Sam Houston State.
In looking over the final eight games, I think Mangino would be wise to use the element of terror, abject, gnawing fear of failure, to motivate his charges from here on. Use this off week to learn, heal and fine tune, particularly on defense. Starting Monday, Mark would do well to scare the hell out of his club about what it faces between now and Nov. 29. Treachery lurks.
Nobody except maybe the Iowa State coaches and players think Kansas will not come home from Ames on Oct. 4 with a victory. Barring costly injuries, that trip shouldn't be a major problem.
Then comes a seven-game stretch where KU easily could lose four games and wind up with a 7-5 season.
Bowl trip, sure, but not a nifty one.
Zealots will charge me with crimes of disloyalty for this, but right now Kansas may be the third best team in the Big 12 North, behind Missouri and Colorado. The beauty is that Kansas faces a surprising Buffalo outfit on Oct. 11 after its "sure thing" at Iowa State. Big showdown.
Then the slope really gets slippery, even if KU is at 5-1.
Oklahoma, Oct. 18 at Norman, could be a two-touchdown favorite over Kansas. I'm not sure OU quarterback Sam Bradford isn't better than even Missouri's Chase Daniel.
He commands a lot more offensive threats than Reesing at KU. Proud Oklahoma, also motivated by terror after its recent bowl floppolas, is thinking, with some justification, another national title.
Kansas has shown vulnerability to a strong passing opponent, and what team is better qualified to exploit that than free-and-easy Texas Tech with Graham Harrell here on Oct. 25? Talk about Tasmanian Devils on super-caffeine.
How long has it been since Kansas could look to a match with Kansas State as a breather? By the time they come here Nov. 1, the Wildcats could have had an upsurge and might be a load. They also could have deteriorated to a widening state of collapse, something KU would exploit with delight.
Nebraska, Texas and Missouri to wind up the regular season. KU might be 1-2 at best there.
Three major menaces.
Tell your guys to be afraid, Mark, real afraid.