Archive for Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Matt Tait’s KU football notebook

September 22, 2010

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Laptad ready to snap if necessary

During the first three weeks of the season, the Kansas University football team already has had two punts blocked, one which was returned for a touchdown in last week’s loss to Southern Miss.

KU coach Turner Gill and his staff have blamed simple missed assignments for the early miscues, but Gill said he would consider all possibilities when looking for a way to tighten up his special teams in the coming weeks.

One player willing to do whatever it takes to help is senior defensive end Jake Laptad. Though he has played exclusively on the defensive line during the last two seasons, Laptad has been a long snapper in the past. He said Tuesday that, even though he isn’t listed on the team’s two-deep depth chart at the position, he continues to work on his long-snapping skills.

“I’m pretty good,” said Laptad, who, effectively, is the third-string long snapper behind starter Justin Carnes, a red-shirt freshman, and second-teamer Willie O’Quinn, a sophomore. “I can fire it back there pretty fast, but sometimes it doesn’t go exactly perfectly. But I go out there and I work on it in practice every day.”

Laptad’s most recent days as a long snapper came during his senior year at Jenks High in Oklahoma. With this being his senior season at Kansas, Laptad said he was willing to give whatever was necessary of himself to help the Jayhawks win.

“It’s very critical,” Laptad said of having strong special teams play. “That (blocked punt) almost took us out of the game. It’s a momentum swing for sure. We’ve been practicing on punts really hard this week, and I feel like our punt team’s gonna get it done this week.”

The last time the Jayhawks had a punt blocked was 2006.

Running game helpful for O-Line

Criticism has weighed heavily on the minds of KU’s offensive lineman in recent weeks and, in some cases, has inspired them to prove the nay-sayers wrong. Senior right tackle Brad Thorson, who still is recovering from a foot injury he suffered in July, said Tuesday there was one element of the KU offense that has given the front five confidence during the first three weeks of the season.

“Staying after the run has helped us out a lot,” Thorson said. “Obviously, if we get behind in a game, we’re going to have to throw the ball more. But staying with it, running the ball when it’s still some longer-yardage (downs), keeps our confidence up.”

Through three games the Jayhawks have rushed for 373 yards on 117 attempts for an average of 3.2 yards per carry. While those numbers might not seem that impressive, the line has paved the way for freshman running back James Sims to gain 175 yards on 37 carries (4.8 ypc) in his first two college games.

Players of the week

Senior Sal Capra (offense), junior Patrick Dorsey (defense) and senior Phillip Strozier (special teams) were named the KU players of the week for the game against Southern Miss.

Capra, who started the game at left guard, moved to center for most of the second half after junior Jeremiah Hatch went down with an injury. Dorsey, a starter at defensive tackle, recorded two tackles and provided a consistent push up the middle. Strozier’s highlight of the game was his interception in the first half, but he also chipped in solid kick coverage and a couple of tackles on special teams.

Injury update

Gill said Tuesday that Hatch would be ready for Saturday’s game against New Mexico State. Hatch injured his back on the fourth offensive play of the second half last week and sat out the remainder of the game. Gill also said special-teams player Chea Peterman remained questionable for Saturday’s game. In addition, freshman safety Keeston Terry is out two to three weeks with a leg injury.

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