There are brains and there is brawn, and then there is Ndamukong Suh, the University of Nebraska defensive tackle who appears to possess a good amount of both.
While his size (6-foot-4, 300 pounds) is what jumps out at onlookers, the senior from Portland, Ore., also has developed a reputation as one of the game’s thinking men, a player who has used his head to dominate opposing offenses this season.
“You can’t fool him,” Kansas coach Mark Mangino said of arguably the conference’s top defensive player. “People have tried to fool him with various blocking schemes, and he’s not fooled. He’s well coached, and he really understands the dynamic of the game and how it really works.”
He certainly seemed to against the Jayhawks last season, when he finished with 12 tackles (four for loss), 2.5 sacks and, for good measure, a two-yard touchdown pass while moonlighting as a tight end.
This year, he hasn’t slowed down much.
Through nine games, he has recorded 13 tackles for loss (five sacks), blocked three kicks and been a primary reason the Huskers defense is allowing just 10.3 points per game, second in the nation.
As it stands now, the responsibility for keeping Suh in check will fall upon Kansas University red-shirt freshman right guard Trevor Marrongelli, who is coming off his first collegiate start last week against Kansas State.
“At the moment, yeah,” KU offensive coordinator Ed Warinner said. “We don’t have one of those guys walking around right now that you can throw in against him.”
The good news for Marrongelli is that, if he struggles to corral the future NFL Draft pick, he won’t be alone.
“He’s pretty disruptive in most games,” Warinner said.
Mangino not changing motivational tactics amid losing streak
Although he and his staff have carried out a number of positional switches over the past few weeks, Mangino said Tuesday that his motivational tactics have remained constant during the team’s recent four-game losing streak.
“When you take drastic measures during a tough time, the kids wonder, ‘Is the coach panicking? Do they not have confidence that we can pull out of this?’” Mangino said. “And we’ve always stayed the steady course because we believe we can pull out of it.”
Patterson slowed by injury, increased competition
Kansas cornerback/punt returner Daymond Patterson’s absence against Kansas State last Saturday was the result of injury, Mangino said Tuesday, though the sophomore also has been faced with competition at the left cornerback position.
“He’s not feeling well. There’s no question that’s part of it,” Mangino said. “And then other people are making a lot of improvement, too. The main reason is that he wasn’t 100 percent, and he didn’t feel up to it. But we’re also getting a lot of competition at that position that I was hoping it would play out that way, and it is.”
In Patterson’s absence, Anthony Davis took over the role of backup cornerback, and true freshman receiver Bradley McDougald handled punt returns.