Archive for Monday, November 25, 2013

Opinion: Road trips trouble for KU football

Kansas receiver Andrew Turzilli is tossed to the ground by Iowa State defensive back Nigel Tribune after bobbling a pass during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.

Kansas receiver Andrew Turzilli is tossed to the ground by Iowa State defensive back Nigel Tribune after bobbling a pass during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2013 at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames, Iowa.

November 25, 2013

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My wife joined me on the road trip to beautiful Boulder. We ate at a delicious steakhouse in Denver with good friends.

I not only was covering a perennial national-title contender in basketball, but a football team that was on a 28-7 tear, including an impressive 9-5 record in games played away from Memorial Stadium in Lawrence.

Finally, Kansas football had turned the corner. Life was beautiful. How lucky was I?

What happened?

The next day, Oct. 17, 2009, during the game at Colorado’s Folsom Field, Kansas University quarterback Todd Reesing suffered a groin strain that would nag him for much of the rest of his senior season, although he played through it without complaining. It greatly diminished his Houdini pocket act. The magic spell Reesing sprinkled on the KU football program vanished and the Jayhawks reverted to form. That’s never a good thing.

Despite Reesing’s 401 passing yards, KU lost, 34-30, to the Buffaloes, the first setback in a streak that now stands at 27 in games played away from Lawrence. For the purpose of this discussion, we’ll call them road games, although three of them were played at neutral Arrowhead Stadium against Missouri.

The last road victory came in the West Texas town of El Paso, where Kansas leveled UTEP, 34-7, Sept. 12, 2009. Has it really been four-and-a-half seasons since that day? Sometimes, it feels like 20, the last few spent Saturday night in Ames, Iowa, where Iowa State picked up its second victory of the season and first in the Big 12.

The next opportunity for a KU road victory comes in Durham, N.C., against Duke, Sept. 13, 2014. The Blue Devils (9-2) have just 11 scholarship seniors and a ton of juniors on this season’s 9-2 team. In a recent 48-30 spanking of Miami (Fla.), Duke rushed the ball 52 times for 358 yards. Just one carry was from a senior and he gained four yards. The two quarterbacks who combined to throw for 185 yards are juniors. All but 24 of the receiving yards were produced by non-seniors. The score won’t be as lopsided as that of Duke graduate Jay Bilas’ Twitter followers vs. follows, 602,757-0, but 10 months out, it doesn’t look good for the Jayhawks.

The rest of KU’s road foes next season, listed in chronological order: West Virginia, Texas Tech, Baylor, Oklahoma, Kansas State. The way things look at the moment, it will take an upset to keep the streak from growing to 33 games.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, or would it be behind ourselves? Anyway, the KU football equipment truck has wheeled into 17 different football stadiums in 11 states and covered 24,780 miles (based on quickest route to each location, per mapquest.com) during this dry spell.

Three different coaches — Mark Mangino (0-5), Turner Gill (0-11) and Charlie Weis (0-11) — have been on the sideline for KU when the home spectators filed out of stadiums in good moods.

Seven different young men have started at quarterback during the active streak: Reesing (0-5), Jordan Webb (0-9), Quinn Mecham (0-2), Dayne Crist (0-3), Michael Cummings (0-3), Jake Heaps (0-4) and Montell Cozart (0-1).

Particularly cruel, the state of Texas, where so many family members and friends of Kansas players show up for games, has been the site of 10 of the 27 legs of the slide. Three of the five margins of defeat of 43 points and greater have come in the Lone Star State. The states of West Virginia, Oklahoma, Georgia and Kansas also played host to KU road losses of 40 points or greater during the embarrassing free-fall.

Not all of the games have been routs, which is why the average score is only 40-15.

At least Kansas plays its final game in Memorial Stadium, where it has gone 9-18 since the road skein started. An upset would make KU 4-3 at home this season. For a better of indicator of how the game might go, consider that the three home losses — to Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Baylor — came by an average score of 49-16.

Are you ready for some football? Hello. Click, click, click. Hello? Can you hear me? Can you hear me now?

Ten of the worst

Kansas football’s 10 largest margins of defeat during its 27-game losing streak in games away from Lawrence:

Date — Opponent (score, margin of defeat) — KU coach

(1) Oct. 29, 2011 — Texas A&M (61-7, 54 points) — Turner Gill

(2) Dec. 1, 2012 — West Virginia (59-10, 49 points) — Charlie Weis

(3) Oct. 2, 2010 — Baylor (55-7, 48 points) — Gill

(4) Oct. 20, 2012 — Oklahoma (52-7, 45 points — Weis

(5) Oct. 29, 2011 — Texas (43-0, 43 points) — Gill

(T6) Sept. 17, 2011 — Georgia Tech (66-24, 42 points) — Gill

(T6) Oct. 8, 2011 — Oklahoma St. (70-28, 42 points) — Gill

(8) Oct. 6, 2012 — Kansas St. (56-16, 40 points) — Weis

(9) Sept. 9, 2013 — Oklahoma St. (42-6, 36 points) — Weis

(10) Nov. 23, 2013 — Iowa St. (34-0, 34 points) — Weis

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