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Archive for Wednesday, September 7, 2011

KU football notebook: Jayhawks view Northern Illinois as must-win game

September 7, 2011

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Kansas University might call the Big 12 home (for now), and Northern Illinois might be coming to Memorial Stadium on Saturday with the tag of mid-major, but you’d never know it listening to the Jayhawks on Tuesday.

“We’ve won our one game, so no one expects us to win any more,” senior linebacker Steven Johnson said. “But I know if we go out here and show people who we are and win this game, there’ll be a lot of people talking.”

Johnson said he wasn’t the only Jayhawk feeling that way.

“We actually talked about it,” Johnson said. “My roommate, Tunde Bakare, we talk about it all the time. He’s like, ‘We have to win this game.’ This is the ‘Who is Kansas football?’ game.”

KU quarterback Jordan Webb also got in on the act when asked by a reporter if he thought the Jayhawks had a chip on their shoulders.

“I think we do,” Webb said. “We’re picked to go 1-11, so apparently we’re supposed to lose the next 11 games and live up to the expectations. But that’s not our goal. We feel like we have a chance to win every Saturday.”

Webb said the Jayhawks were aware of Saturday’s tough opponent.

“We know they’re gonna come into the game pretty confident,” he said of NIU. “They had a great year last year, and they bring back some good players. But we’re gonna be confident, too. We feel like if we win this game, some people will start jumping on the bandwagon a little bit and we think we can have a good year.”

KU down 2 WRs?

KU coach Turner Gill said Tuesday that senior Daymond Patterson was doubtful for Saturday because of an injured groin. In addition, Gill announced that sophomore wideout Christian Matthews would miss Saturday’s game due to suspension.

Though the moves leave KU shorthanded at receiver, the coaches have shuffled things around and expect juniors Kale Pick and D.J. Beshears, as well as freshman JaCorey Shepherd to step up. KU also is expected to get sophomore Chris Omigie back from injury this week.

Rumor mill reaches NIU

A Tuesday night conversation with NIU quarterback Chandler Harnish revealed two things. One, Harnish is a bright and talented quarterback who will present a great challenge for the Jayhawks. Two, the conference-realignment chatter has reached a new level.

Asked if he’d been following the conference talk, Harnish, a 6-foot-2, 221-pound senior from Bluffton, Ind., said he hadn’t, but indicated that, earlier Tuesday, he heard that Northern Illinois was headed to the Big 12.

“Is that true?” Harnish asked.

Regents favor KU, KSU in same conference

The chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents told the Associated Press on Tuesday night that it would be best for Kansas and Kansas State to remain in the same conference, even if the Big 12 eventually falls apart.

In a phone interview, Ed McKechnie said the Board prefers for the Big 12 to remain together, and “until something happens, I’m just not going to speculate on what else there could be.”

The New York Post has reported that the Big East has explored the possibility of adding Kansas, Kansas State and Missouri to create a super conference with 12 football-playing members, and other reports have indicated that the Pac-12 also has been in contact with Kansas.

One other note of interest regarding this situation came late Tuesday, when reports began to surface from Atlanta that said the SEC had, in fact, voted in favor of extending an invitation to Texas A&M. A news conference announcing A&M’s official move could come as soon as today.

NFL Jayhawks

With word coming out of Colorado that former KU cornerback Chris Harris had made the Denver Broncos’ 53-man roster, the number of Jayhawks currently playing in the NFL jumped to seven last week.

Joining Harris on NFL rosters heading into opening weekend are: Dezmon Briscoe, Tampa Bay; Anthony Collins, Cincinnati; Kerry Meier, Atlanta; Moran Norris, San Francisco; Darrell Stuckey, San Diego; and Aqib Talib, Tampa Bay.

James Holt (San Diego), Jake Laptad (Chicago) and Mike Rivera (Miami) all were recently cut.

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