Norman, Okla. Red-shirt freshman quarterback Michael Cummings made the first start of his career on Saturday, and even though his squad wound up on the wrong end of a 52-7 drubbing by the 10th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners, Cummings managed to crack a smile when talking about his debut.
“I was excited,” said Cummings, who finished 10-of-21 for 111 yards and two interceptions. “OU, all the history and everything … clearly, the game didn’t end up how we wanted it to end up.”
While KU coach Charlie Weis played Cummings and fifth-year senior Dayne Crist (3-of-6 for 13 yards) at quarterback against the Sooners, Cummings said the first indication that he would be KU’s starter came early Saturday morning. All that did was add to the excitement.
“No butterflies anymore,” he said.
During his first drive, Cummings, who played nearly all of the second half, took over with his back against his own end zone and completed two of three third-down passes, which led to two KU first downs. The drive stalled when a third-down pass for Sims was a little hot, and KU had to punt. It didn’t produce points, but Cummings looked comfortable in his first action in a hostile environment.
“I was proud of Mike,” junior tailback James Sims said. “Mike stepped up and showed what he could do in the first quarter. Things didn’t go our way, but he still continued to play hard.”
For the second week in a row, Cummings showed the elusiveness that brings a different dimension to this KU offense. The reverse spin move already seems like his favorite escape mechanism, and, although it did not always work on Saturday against the Sooners, it did keep several plays alive. There were, however, plenty of plays Cummings and Weis wish they could try again.
“I told him that,” said Weis, recalling the conversation after one of Cummings’ two interceptions. “‘Say, Mike, I know you’re trying to make a play, but, as you’re starting to play, you have to learn that there’s times where you just have to throw it away.’ That’s a perfect coaching point for a young guy.”
Marrongelli banged up
Starting center Trevor Marrongelli left the game briefly during the first quarter and was replaced by red-shirt freshman Dylan Admire.
Admire stayed in for a couple of plays and delivered a couple of shotgun snaps on the money before Marrongelli came back.
In other injury news, sophomore Tony Pierson played for the first time in seven quarters, rushing 14 times for 67 yards. Senior linebacker Tunde Bakare, who missed last week’s game because of a head injury, also returned to the field. His lone tackle was a highlight-reel stuff of OU’s Blake Bell, “The Belldozer,” inside the KU five-yard line. Two plays later, Bell ran it in from a yard out.
Sims solid — again
Sims continued his strong comeback from a three-game suspension. Sims, who entered the game averaging 114.7 yards per outing, ran for 102 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries, bringing his team-leading totals to 446 yards and five touchdowns. He also led KU in receiving yards, as he hauled in two passes for 56 yards, including a 51-yard catch-and-run in the third quarter.
Sims has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the past three games.
This and that...
The Jayhawks lost Saturday’s opening coin toss for the first time in six weeks, and OU elected to defer its choice to the second half. KU received. ... Oklahoma now has won eight straight against Kansas. ... Junior defensive end Darius Willis served as the team’s fourth captain after being voted by KU’s coaches as the top special-teams performer against Oklahoma State. ... Temperature at kickoff was 79 degrees, under mostly clear skies with winds of 13 mph out of the south.