Hard as they may have been to find, there were a couple of bright spots during Kansas University’s 59-7 football loss to rival Kansas State on Thursday night.
Chief among them was the return of Angus Quigley, a sixth-year senior running back who opened the season as the team’s No. 1 back but had gained just 66 yards on 16 carries while playing sparingly in the Jayhawks’ first five games of 2010.
Against K-State, Quigley more than doubled his season totals by rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries while filling in for youngsters James Sims and Deshaun Sands. Both were somewhat ineffective early on, but each also had trouble holding onto the ball.
“I think Angus came in and played well,” KU coach Turner Gill said. “He was definitely very positive for us.”
Though Quigley had struggled on the field, Gill said Quigley, one of KU’s five co-captains, had been a rock in terms of leadership and attitude. The biggest factor in Quigley turning in a No.-1-back-type performance against the Wildcats was simple.
“He’s finally healthy,” Gill said. “That’s probably the number one reason he came in. And, number two, we had some problems with fumbles. Because he did give us some positive things, we decided to stay with him.”
Before the season began, Gill said his goal was to establish an offense that ran the ball 60 percent of the time and passed the other 40 percent. That hasn’t quite happened. Through six games, the Jayhawks have run 55 percent of the time (234 carries for 812 yards) and thrown the ball 45 percent, completing 113 of 192 passing attempts.
There are a handful of reasons the Jayhawks have not been able to reach that 60-40 balance during Gill’s first season in charge. The new coaching staff, new schemes, a banged-up offensive line, inexperience at running back and quarterback and taking too many snaps when playing from behind all have contributed to KU’s struggles on offense.
However, after back-to-back blowout losses in which his team managed just seven points in each game, it sounds as if Gill might be entertaining the idea of putting more emphasis on the run.
“We may incorporate a little more there,” Gill said. “Maybe we need to do that to take a little of the load off of our quarterback.”