Entries from blogs tagged with “basketball”
In sports, opinions that start with a snowflake can turn into an avalanche because so many hear a viewpoint, run with it as their own and don't ever stop to think whether it's fair.
In the case of Bill Self, who has led Kansas basketball to seven No. 1 NCAA tournament seeds in the past 11 seasons (seeded No. 2 three times in that span, No. 3 the other) and has had at least a share of the Big 12 title for 13 consecutive years and counting, the rap on him is that he's not the same coach in the tournament. Much of that stems from a 2-7 career record in Elite Eight games, including a 2-5 mark at Kansas, which he has taken to the Elite Eight in 50 percent of his seasons.
In an attempt to capture tournament success with a formula, I decided to award one point for every victory, two points for each Final Four appearance and 10 points for a national title to see where Self stacks up among active Div. I basketball coaches.
Based on my research, which does not include the work done by Jim Calhoun at UConn, Billy Donovan at Florida and Rick Pitino at Louisville because they are not active college coaches, Self placed fourth, which pokes holes in the theory that his teams routinely disappoint during March Madness. The Elite Eight remains his Achilles heel and he doesn't hide from that, talks about needing to burst through the door instead of just knocking on it, and each year holds himself up to that standard, but it's not accurate to term a coach who places fourth among active coaches in tourney success a disappoint.
A look at active college basketball coaches' NCAA tournament success since 2003-04, Self's first at Kansas, based on the aforementioned formula:
|1 - Roy Williams
|2 - John Calipari
|3 - Mike Krzyzewski
|4 - Bill Self
|5 - Tom Izzo
|6 - Jay Wright
|7t - Jim Boeheim
|7t - Mark Few
|9 - Ben Howland
|10t - John Bielein
|10t - Sean Miller
|10t - Kevin Ollie
|13 - Bob Huggins
|14t - Dana Altman
|14t - Gregg Marshall
|16t - Rick Barnes
|16t - Jamie Dixon
|16t - Frank Martin
|16t - Bruce Weber
Kansas chancellor Dr. Doug Girod and athletic director Sheahon Zenger addressed the state of Kansas football once this season and that was at a Sept. 22 press conference centering on the campaign to raise $350 million to upgrade the facilities.
Girod, based on the information he had at his disposal at that time, stood behind Zenger and football coach David Beaty. We'll see if he changes his mind on that based on new evidence entering the equation each week, but nothing has changed with at least one statement Girod made that day.
“I think we know that we started this rebuild in a pretty big hole,” Girod said. “I think we would all agree with that comment.”
Can’t dispute that. I don’t know the new chancellor, but those who do know him say he is a knowledgeable sports fan. But did he follow the Charlie Weis era closely enough to understand that Weis’ win-now recruiting philosophy that brought so many four-year and junior-college transfers to Lawrence was at the center of the hole Weis dug?
I bring this up because most coaches in Beaty’s situation, a 3-27 record with the tougher half of the schedule remaining, would not be able to resist the temptation to slip into win-now recruiting mode, making every recruiting decision based on what gives you the best shot to win games next year in order to survive.
That’s where a strong athletic director has to come in and put a limit to the number of transfers the coach can include in his recruiting class. That’s not Zenger’s style. He likes to let his coaches coach. Plus, Zenger, whose football hires, Weis and Beaty, have gone 5-55 vs. FBS competition, also is in survival mode because his longevity is tied directly to Beaty’s because surely Girod would not allow Zenger to make another football hire.
If Zenger doesn’t step out of his comfort zone and do what’s best for the future of Kansas football, the hole grows deeper, uglier.
Some of Weis’ junior-college transfers, such as defensive back Cassius Sendish, worked out well. Too many others came and went before either playing a single down or completing their eligibility: Andrew Bolton, Jocques Crawford, Marquel Combs, Chris Martin, Marcus Jenkins-Moore, Kevin Short, Pearce Slater.
Scholarships that went to graduate transfers who were solid if unspectacular in their one season at Kansas (Corey King, Joshua Williams) or injury-weakened (Mike Ragone, Anthony McDonald) could have gone to high school prospects who would have four or five years to blossom. Weis recruited three quarterback transfers (Dayne Crist, Jake Heaps, T.J. Millweard), and a tight end (Kent Taylor) whose performances didn’t justify wasting a scholarship that could have gone to a high school prospect. Receivers Nigel King and Nick Harwell upgraded the position greatly, but only played one year.
Beaty also has not hit the jackpot on transfers from four-year schools (receivers Quincy Perdue and Joshua Stanford, who combined for three receptions and didn’t stay a whole year). It’s too early to make a call on Alabama transfer wide receiver Daylon Charlot, but halfway into the season, he has one catch and it was for no gain. Right tackle Charles Baldwin, who participated in spring football at Alabama after playing two juco seasons, has not been in uniform for several weeks.
Beaty used 17 scholarships in his first three recruiting classes on junior-college players. Running back Octavius Matthews had star potential, but had to retire because of a heart condition.
The other Beaty juco recruits:
Offensive linemen: D’Andre Banks, Jayson Rhodes.
Defensive linemen: DeeIsaac Davis, Jacky Dezir, Isi Holani, J.J. Holmes, Willie McCaleb, KeyShaun Simmons.
Defensive backs: Antonio Coles, Hasan Defense, Stephan Robinson, Brandon Stewart, Shakial Taylor.
Offensive linemen: D’Andre Banks, Jayson Rhodes.
Quarterback: Peyton Bender.
Running back: Ke’aun Kinner.
Wide receiver: Kerr Johnson.
Kinner and Banks were the best of the bunch.
Kansas fourth-year junior reserve center Jacob Bragg didn’t think much of a quick comment offensive line coach Zach Yenser made at the start of a practice during bye week.
“You ready to run some routes and do some fullback blocking?” Yenser asked without stopping.
“At first I thought he was kidding, but as practice started, he put me back there,” Bragg said.
By "back there" he meant at blocking back. Bragg showed enough in practice that he swapped out his No. 55 for No. 1 and made his fullback debut with a decent amount of playing time in Saturday's 65-19 home loss to Texas Tech.
To Bragg’s recollection, it was his first action in the backfield since he was a running back on short-yardage plays in middle schools.
Technically, fullback falls under the running back umbrella, but Bragg is not likely to ever run the ball or catch it, leaving pouncing on a fumble his only opportunity to touch the ball.
As a center for his high school team in Nacogdoches, Texas, Bragg once swelled to 340 pounds. He’s listed at 6-foot-4, 291 pounds on this year’s roster.
No. 1 generally goes to football players who burn their way into open space, not to players whose knuckles swell from working in crowded places.
Guys like Harrison Hill and Isaac Byrd, John Randle and Jake Sharp, Rodriguez Coleman and LaQuvionte Gonzalez looked appropriate wearing No. 1. Bragg looks big.
That’s fine with Bragg.
“I’m so happy right now just being able to get back on the field, contribute to our team and make a difference,” Bragg said. “I cherish every play I get to be out there. It’s a dream come just to get back out there and try something new that probably no other lineman in the Power Five gets to do.”
It’s doubtful his dreams ever drifted to the backfield, but now that he’s there, he does imagine running the ball and catching passes, plays for which he is eligible. Not all dreams come true.
Bragg’s move to the backfield made bye-week practices more interesting for his fellow offensive linemen.
“They were charging me up all week: ‘You’ve got to knock somebody out.’ They’re all supporting me right now,” Bragg said. “They’re all wishing they were in my shoes right now, getting a full head of steam going.”
Bragg’s days at center and guard aren’t necessarily over.
“Himer (equipment manager Jeff Himes) was telling me they have my pads and 55 all ready and loaded on the sidelines, so if anything happened I can take my jersey off and get put together on the sidelines and be good to go,” Bragg said.
His extra-large defensive back pads are much smaller than the ones he has worn the rest of his career. He's fine with that. Dogged by injuries early in his career and with others ahead of him on the O-line depth chart this season, Bragg doesn't care what number or which pads he wears. He just wants to play football.
Football coaches and coordinators have no incentive to divulge their game plans publicly, and that’s the primary reason Kansas head coach David Beaty elected this week to not announce a starting quarterback for Saturday’s game at Iowa State.
If you listen to offensive coordinator Doug Meacham’s perspective on the matter, though, the decision may have been an easy one.
Speaking with reporters Thursday, Meacham discussed how the staff came to a conclusion early in the week on whether Peyton Bender or Carter Stanley would hold the No. 1 QB spot at ISU (11 a.m. kickoff, FOX Sports Net), instead of letting it play out at practices.
“The team knows the plan. We’ve got a plan. We kind of like to keep it a little bit more internal to have that element of (Iowa State) not knowing,” Meacham began, regarding Beaty’s strategy.
So did either Bender or Stanley show the coaches something early in the week to end the QB debate ahead of schedule?
“It’s just a body of work over the course of time, you know. You still reflect back on that,” the first-year KU coordinator said. “I think Peyton was just going through a little bad spell there (in the loss to Texas Tech). I don’t think he’s necessarily just crummy for life.”
In theory, it’s possible Meacham could be floating the idea of Bender starting — without actually saying the junior transfer is still the starter — as a ploy to throw off the Cyclones (3-2 overall, 1-1 Big 12). But the more he spoke at his weekly media session, the more it seemed he’s not ready to move on from Bender.
A 6-foot-1 junior with past Air Raid experience at both Washington State and Itawamba Community College (Miss.), Bender at numerous times through five games has dumbfounded his coaches with mistakes. For example, Bender misfired on goal-line throws to both tight end Earl Bostick and receiver Jeremiah Booker just before halftime against the Red Raiders. KU’s coaches decided shortly after to play Stanley at QB the rest of the blowout loss.
“When he overthrew a 6-7 tight end (freshman Bostick, listed at 6-6) on the goal line I was a little nervous about throwing verticals,” Meacham said, with a wry chuckle. “Six-seven and he overthrows him. How do you do that?”
Bender’s two quarters worth of stats read: 12-for-24 passing, 146 yards, one touchdown, one interception, no sacks.
“He just had a bad day,” Meacham said. “You know, it’s like you shoot layups and all the sudden you miss five out of 10. Hard to answer why. You just keep shooting them.”
It was Bender’s fluctuating success that led to Stanley (11-for-19, 110 yards, no touchdowns, one interception, one sack, one lost fumble) finishing the fourth straight loss for Kansas (1-4, 0-2) instead of just entering for certain packages designed around his strengths as a mobile QB.
But the highs and lows of Bender’s play were nothing new.
“He’s just had moments of inconsistency that kind of come out of nowhere,” Meacham said. “We’ve just got to deal with it. There’s a lot of things that factor into it that kind of take the blame and kind of spread it around a little bit.”
While fans might see Bender throw the ball and have it picked off — through four and a half games of action he has completed 56.4 percent of his 202 passes while suffering eight interceptions — Meacham said a missed protection or bad route have led to some of the costly turnovers.
“Or a tipped ball,” Meacham continued. “Tipped ball, and then maybe a tipped ball. I see tipped balls all the time, from the line of scrimmage or wherever. It just seems like all the time somebody grazes the ball — I almost want to tell our guys, ‘If you don’t think you can catch it just put your hands down.’ Because we touch one, they pick it and then they score.”
A not-so-supercut of Bender’s interceptions, Meacham suggested, would leave a viewer scratching one’s head.
“That’s just like, how does that happen consistently?” Meacham said of tipped passes becoming takeaways for KU opponents. “Just freakish stuff.”
A deflection, of course, had nothing to do with a second-quarter Bender throw over the middle against Texas Tech, which Dakota Allen snagged out of the air, setting up a quick Red Raiders TD drive.
“He under-threw it. Ben (Johnson) was wide open,” Meacham said. “(Bender) just kind of panicked a little bit. If you watch the tape from the end zone the linebacker’s feet were like (more than 3 feet) off the ground, made the greatest interception of his entire life. He’ll never do that again. He jumps up in the air and just … unbelievable.”
While inaccuracy obviously has played a factor in Bender’s struggles, Meacham said he doesn’t necessarily judge the starter of KU’s first five games as an eight-interception QB.
“No, if he had (eight) picks legit and was on the wrong guy, made a horrific throw over a guy’s head and the safety picked it or he under-threw a ball or he threw it right to them (eight) times he wouldn’t be playing at all,” the man in charge of KU’s Air Raid said. “It’s just, he’s had about three of them that weren’t very good, and the rest of them are just … it’s unbelievable some of the stuff.”
Bender hasn’t produced at the level Meacham and the rest of KU’s offensive coaches hoped. That doesn’t mean they’re ready to move on from him and hand the offense over to Stanley.
“I keep thinking about the sweet’s not as sweet without a little sour,” Meacham offered, regarding how he handles the inconsistencies and turnovers. “Can’t always be good.”
There is a website for everything. For example, fortunecookiemessage.com exists. I recommend it for those stressed out by the inability of Kansas to field a competitive football program.
Read the fortune-cookie messages and then add “except with Kansas football,” at the end.
Here goes: “A friend asks you only for your time, not your money, except with Kansas football.”
And: “Your high-minded principles spell success, except with Kansas football.”
Or: “A dream you have will come true, except with Kansas football.”
Plus: “A new voyage will fill your life with untold memories, except with Kansas football.”
And then there is this cruel fortune: “A short stranger will soon enter your life with blessings to share, except with Kansas football.” Oh, he did all right, for four years and then he went back to Austin and took all that good karma with him.
“It’s better to be alone sometimes, except with Kansas football.” Tell that to the guy sitting alone at the top of the stadium.
And: “You will conquer obstacles to achieve success, except with Kansas football.”
This one fits too: “Happiness is an activity, except with Kansas football.”
Plus: “The only certainty is that nothing is certain, except with Kansas football.”
Another: “Failure is the mother of all success, except with Kansas football.”
True: “A new wardrobe brings great joy and change to your life, except with Kansas football.”
Perfect: “You will make many changes before settling down happily, except with Kansas football.”
Pluperfect: “A lifetime of happiness is in store for you, except with Kansas football.” Try it at the end of your next meal at a Chinese restaurant.
Jack Trice Stadium, home of the Iowa State Cyclones, expanded from 46,721 to 55,000 in 2007 and in 2015 expanded to 61,500. The Cyclones sold out their first two games of the season, so the expansion isn't going to waste.
Memorial Stadium's listed capacity is 50,071. Since KU hasn't drawn a crowd that big since 2009, we won't hold the Cyclones' capacity advantage against them in comparing crowd sizes for this decade between the schools.
Both schools have had 49 home games so far this decade.
Iowa State has drawn 2,605,352 spectators, an average of 53,170. Kansas has drawn 1,736,83, an average of 35,446.
A year-by-year look at attendance for the two Big 12 schools this decade:
I learned in my years of covering baseball that umpires often had keen insights into players and managers. They saw them perform up close, under pressure, night after night. Many umpires, in off-the-record conversations, would share opinions on what impressed them about players and managers.
Based on his ability to hire successful football coaches at Kansas, not an easy thing to do, Ernest Cosmos Quigley must have been one of those umps who knew what made successful men tick. Born in Canada in 1880 and reared in Concordia, Quigley played basketball for James Naismith at Kansas. Quigley was a college basketball referee and Major League Baseball umpire for decades. He also served as AD at KU, where he hired George Sauer and J.V. Sikes, two winning football coaches.
Quigley might not have been as good at keeping a coach happy as he was at identifying the right one to hire. After going 15-3-3 in two seasons at KU, Sauer bolted for Navy, where he went 3-13-2 in two seasons. From there, he went to Baylor and posted a 78-55-9 record.
Of the 14 men to hire a KU football coach or coaches, Quigley ranks first with a .636 winning percentage compiled by his hires. Current AD Sheahon Zenger ranks last with a .154 winning percentage. The good news for Zenger is that if the Jayhawks can finish the season strong enough to become bowl eligible, he could tie or even pass Lew Perkins to move into 13th place. If KU goes 5-2 the rest of the way, Perkins and Zenger will be tied with a .208 winning percentage. If KU goes 6-1 or 7-0, Zenger drops Perkins into last place, but a 4-3 mark the rest of the way would still leave Zenger behind Perkins.
By cross-referencing the list of athletic directors and football coaches, here is what I came up with for the combined records of each AD's football hires at Kansas.
||1944-49||George Sauer, J.V. Sikes
||1911-19||Ralph W. Sherman, Arthur Moose, H.M. Wheaton, Herman Alcott, Jay Bond
||Tom Hays*, Mark Mangino
||1919-37||Leon McCarty, Phog Allen, Potsy Clark, Franklin Cappon, Bill Hargiss, AD Lindsey
||1964-72||Pepper Rodgers, Don Fambrough (first term)
||1950-63||Chuck Mather, Jack Mitchell
||1987-2001||Glen Mason, Terry Allen
||Don Fambrough (second term)
||1982-87||Mike Gottfried, Bob Valesente
||2011-present||Charlie Weis, Clint Bowen*, David Beaty
Saturday's 65-19 home loss to Texas Tech marked the 18th time, a 45-0 loss at Iowa State the 19th time this decade in the 82nd game vs. an FBS opponent that the Kansas football team has lost by a margin of at least 40 points, which translates to 23 percent of the games.
The Iowa State humiliation was third-year head coach David Beaty's eighth such loss in his 27th game vs. an FBS foe, which calculates to 30 percent. It happened under Gill six times in 22 games (27 percent) and under Weis four times in 25 games (16 percent), under Bowen once in eight games (13 percent).
Some might argue that a loss is a loss, but the hope was that this season more games would be contested closely and right-off-the-bat blowouts would not happen. KU still has six games left to grow more competitive.
A look at the 19 losses by margins of 40 points or greater this decade:
|11/19/11||at Texas A&M
|12/01/12||at West Virginia
|10/24/15||at Oklahoma St.
|10/14/17||Iowa State||45-0||45||David Beaty
|09/17/11||at Georgia Tech
|10/08/11||at Oklahoma St.
|10/06/12||at Kansas State
When Kansas sophomore running back Khalil Herbert takes the field Saturday for the 11 a.m. kickoff vs. Texas Tech, he will have had two weeks to rest from the hits he took during a 36-carry, 291-yard, two-touchdown day against West Virginia in Memorial Stadium.
Even though Herbert carried the ball just once the first week of the season and twice the week after that, he remarkably ranks second in the Big 12 with 109.5 rushing yards per game. Herbert rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries in the loss at Ohio, a great day and not even half as productive as his monster game of two weeks ago.
“His problem early in the year was he was kind of down there on the depth chart and he just didn’t practice very well," offensive coordinator Doug Meacham said. "He just seemed timid and unsure. He just didn’t give you a lot of confidence to put him in there, based on what you saw in practice. We're making decisions based on practice. I hadn’t seen him in a game, but I had seen him in practice a lot and he just didn’t look very good. But there are those guys who are gamer-type guys. Apparently, he’s a gamer. But he has practiced a lot better, I think because he has more confidence now.”
Herbert has the look of a back who could lead the conference in rushing and earn first-team All-Big 12 honors.
A look at how Herbert stacks up against the rest of the Big 12's top rushers:
|1 - Justin Crawford (WVU)
|2 - Khalil Herbert (KU)
|3 - Darius Anderson (TCU)
|4 - Justice Hill (OSU)
|5 - David Montgomery (ISU)
|6 - Jesse Ertz (KSU)
|7 - Abdul Adams (OU)
|8 - Trey Sermon (OU)
|9 - Kennedy McKoy (WVU)
|10 - John Lovett (BU)
Believe it or not, there may be a Saturday in the future when Kansas football fans don’t feel inspired to file a missing persons report for receiver Daylon Charlot.
A much-hyped sophomore who transferred to KU from Alabama, Charlot expected to put up gaudy numbers and star alongside Steven Sims Jr. in the Jayhawks’ Air Raid offense this season.
However, as a borderline second- or third-string wideout during KU’s 1-3 start, Charlot has experienced few in-game reps. A third of the way through the season, the 6-foot, 195-pound, former four-star recruit has made just one catch for zero yards — a reception that didn’t amount to anything versus Central Michigan. The names of 13 Jayhawks (four of them running backs) appear before Charlot’s on a list of the team’s most productive receivers.
So why should we expect anything to change on the “Where’s Charlot?” front? It’s possible he could be on the path to a breakout game in the near future.
Look to Khalil Herbert’s head-scratching rush totals from earlier this season — one carry for 4 yards vs. Southeast Missouri State; two rushes for 6 yards against Central Michigan. The numbers puzzled at the time but look even more outrageous now, following outings of 137 and 291 yards for the sophomore running back.
Offensive coordinator Doug Meacham said Thursday Herbert was “not really” healthy the first couple of weeks and didn’t practice well, either.
Asked whether similar circumstances have kept Charlot off the field, KU’s Air Raid expert and receivers coach said practice habits and some injury-related physical limitations held back the Patterson, La., native.
“Yeah, Daylon’s kind of a combination. He’s been nicked up as well. He’s doing so much better now out at practice. He had a really good day yesterday, I thought,” Meacham said. “As a coach, that’s what our job is, to assess what you see, and put a guy in based on what he’s doing. You’re going to get what you see.”
There was a time just a few weeks ago when Herbert hadn’t given coaches enough reasons at practices to use him more during games.
“I know a lot of people are like, ‘Yeah, you’re really smart. The guy rushed for 300 yards and he was on the bench.’ But the thing that fans, I urge them to kind of take a look at, is that they’re not at any of our practices,” Meacham explained. “They don’t see any of our kids day-to-day. They have no idea why. You can only assume, which is fine. Because if we didn’t have fans, we wouldn’t have a job, so I appreciate every dadgum one of them. But we’re making decisions based on practice. And I hadn’t seen (Herbert) play in a game yet, but I’d seen him in practice a lot, and he just didn’t look very good.”
Meacham said KU’s coaches have since learned Herbert is a “gamer,” and now they’re seeing him practice “a lot better,” as well, because his confidence is growing.
The man in charge of KU’s offense didn’t claim Charlot will be able to reproduce Herbert’s trajectory to a starring role, but there’s no denying the former Alabama receiver and other Jayhawks now have an easy example to follow if they want to burst out of the depth chart’s lowest rungs.
The Texas Tech-Kansas 11 a.m. kickoff Saturday at Memorial Stadium will be ignored by most of the college football world. Five years ago, KU head coach David Beaty and Tech's Kliff Kingsbury were on the same sideline in the most memorable college football game of this decade.
ESPN.com, in a story under the headline "When Johnny Football Mania took over the world," spoke to both Beaty and Kingsbury for their memories of the Nov. 10, 2012 game in which Johnny Manziel led Texas A&M to a victory against mighty Alabama. Kingsbury was offensive coordinator for A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and Beaty was receivers coach.
"Johnny was the kind that if he felt he could just go into the game and do his deal, there wasn't a lot of extra put into it, if you can imagine that," Kingsbury told ESPN.com. "But that was [a week] where he was spending some more time watching film. I think he understood the magnitude."
Said Beaty: "One of the biggest memories for me was just how electric that place was. It was unreal. That's why you want to play college football, right there."
Kingsbury addressed what the game did for Johnny Mania: "(Manziel) was already going pretty good down in College Station, prior to that. ... (The Alabama win) took it to a whole other level. We show up and there's I don't know how many thousands of people waiting -- and here comes the rock star. They had to have police security literally walk him through these masses of people to get him to his car."
The world won't be watching Saturday's game, but that doesn't mean it won't be extremely entertaining, which it has a chance to be for football fans who like high-scoring games.
Since he took on the monumental challenge of trying to turn around the Kansas football program, David Beaty stated the goal of his team being the smartest in America. By that, he means not turning it over and not piling up undisciplined penalties. So far, not so good.
In the 56-34 loss to West Virginia in the Big 12 opener, both KU starting guards, junior Andru Tovi and sophomore Chris Hughes, both of whom received plaudits for their run-blocking, were flagged for a pair of false-start penalties.
How did that happen?
“There is a rule in our rulebook that you're not able to simulate the snap on the other side of the field,” Beaty said. “You're not able to simulate a snap count.”
But if you walk up to the border of what’s considered simulating a snap count by shifting bodies and yelling instructions to each other in such a way as to sound a little like a snap count, you can get away with it without drawing a flag. If you’re really skilled at it, it might even result in a flag on a fooled offensive lineman.
“There's a lot of philosophy across the country defensively of shifting and moving and there can be some times where you're shifting and moving and you're seeing things and it could be something that's very close to being illegal,” Beaty said. “It's been happening quite a bit, right? I wouldn't say that I'm upset with the way that it's been called, but it's a challenge, and the thing is, we work on that. There is no excuse. We know that the philosophy across the country is people want to do that to try to draw you off and we're not going to make excuses because we work that. We work shift calls, we work move calls all the time, because we know that's absolutely something that happens.”
In short, defenses have been smarter than KU’s offensive linemen in working around the borders of the rulebook.
“It all comes down to that. When those guys come off and we talk to them about what caused it, it's communication on the other side of the ball,” Beaty said. “It's sudden movement, communications that are happening and we know it, and we work it. It shouldn't happen.”
The Kansas O-linemen are marked men now, so opponents no doubt will look to turn up the deceptive practice of simulating a snap count subtly.
"Every team we play does it," Beaty said. "You'll see them shifting and moving all the time. I would imagine after they see something like that, I would do it. But (Texas Tech defensive coordinator David) Gibbs, he's going to do it. Three-down front, four-down front. It's a common way to do it. But people across the country are all dealing with the same thing, and they're not jumping off sides. No excuse. We've got to be more disciplined, right?"
Kansas has a good shot to score at least 30 points in a game for a third consecutive week for the first time since doing so in each of the first six games of the 2009 season.
The question then becomes whether Kansas travels primarily by ground or air vs. a Texas Tech defense that ranks 111th in the nation with 454.8 total yards allowed per game. (Kansas is 118th with 482).
The teams' hurry-up offenses are partially responsible for the defenses giving up so many yards. Viewing the average yards allowed per play paints a more accurate picture of a defense’s efficiency.
The Red Raiders defend the run (3.74 yards, 52nd in the nation) better than the pass (7.4, 83rd). So KU should try to pass its way to the end zone, right? Not so fast.
The Jayhawks rank 43rd in the nation with 4.93 yards per rush and 86th with 6.8 yards per pass play.
KU sophomore Khalil Herbert, coming off a 291-yard rushing effort in a loss to West Virginia, ranks 29th in the nation with an average of 7.55 yards per carry.
If Tech can bottle up the running game and prevent Herbert from springing free up the middle for big gains the way he did against West Virginia, look for passes to fill the air all day Saturday for the 11 a.m. kickoff.
Of the nation’s 130 FBS schools, only five have allowed more passing yards per game than Kansas (309.5) and Texas Tech (309.8).
KU has allowed 12 touchdown passes in four games and has just two interceptions. The Red Raiders have given up nine passing touchdowns and have five interceptions.
Tech ranks third in the nation, behind UCLA and Washington State, with an average of 410.8 passing yards, Kansas 18th with 306.8.
Red Raiders senior quarterback Nic Shimonek averages 394.5 passing yards (second to UCLA’s Josh Rosen) and has thrown 12 touchdowns and two interceptions.
KU junior Peyton Bender ranks 14th with 306.8 and has seven touchdowns and seven picks. Shimonek is no stranger to Kansas.
A 6-foot-3, 225-pound native of Corsicana, Texas, relieved injured Patrick Mahomes last season in Lubbock in the third quarter of a 55-19 victory in which the Red Raiders outscored KU, 27-0, with Shimonek standing in the shotgun. He completed 15 of 21 passes for 271 yards and four touchdowns and did not throw an interception.
So there is no mystery as to how Tech will attack, especially given the inexperience of KU’s secondary. The Red Raiders average just 3.93 yards per carry and 125.75 rushing yards a game. Best guess as to Tech's defensive strategy: Load up to try to stop Herbert and force Kansas to try to win it in the air.
Larry Keating, special assistant to the athletics director, handles scheduling for Kansas men’s and women’s basketball and football.
Having been in college athletics for so long, Keating, 73, has the advantage of knowing coaches and administrators in just about every league in the country. He uses those connections to project which schools will win a lot of games in lesser-known conferences, a trick that helps Kansas improve its strength of schedule.
Keating first became involved in scheduling college basketball games when, fresh out of the Army, he was hired as an assistant basketball coach at Stonehill College in Massachusetts.
Keating predicts that this year’s nonconference schedule will have a number of teams that will be better this season than last, a good thing considering just three schools made the NCAA tournament field a year ago: No. 1 seed Kentucky and No. 16 seeds South Dakota State and Texas Southern.
Keating said he schedules most of the games, “a year or two ahead of time.”
Washington is one school on the nonconference slate that does not figure to be on the rise. Former long-time Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins has replaced fired Lorenzo Romar as head coach of the Huskies.
How Washington ended up on KU’s schedule has an interesting twist to it.
Keating said Washington contacted KU attempting to play a home-and-home. Kansas wasn’t interested in playing in Seattle, but Keating offered a Dec. 6 game in Sprint Center without a return game. Then coached by Romar, Washington accepted. Why?
It was scheduled as a favor to the Huskies’ top recruit, Michael Porter Jr., a native of Columbia, Missouri, whose father had been hired on Romar’s staff.
Once Romar was fired, Porter Sr. was without a job, although not for long. First-year Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin hired Porter Sr. and Missouri ended up with not only Michael Jr., but his brother Jontay, who reclassified to join his year-older brother as a part of a loaded recruiting class for the Tigers.
So Kansas was going to face Michael Porter Jr., the nation’s top recruit, but now won’t, unless that is, the schools meet in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas projects as a No. 1 or No. 2 seed and Missouri projects as anywhere from a No. 7 to No. 10 seed, so it could happen.
Kansas sophomore running back Khalil Herbert didn't land Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors, even though he rushed for 131 more yards than did TCU's Darius Anderson (three touchdowns, plus four receptions for 41 yards), presumably getting the nod because the Horned Frogs scored the most impressive victory of the week, 44-31, in Stillwater vs. favored Oklahoma State.
Tough break for Herbert, whose effort came in a 56-34 loss to West Virginia, but the talent Herbert showed suggests he'll win the award, perhaps multiple times, before his career is over.
Herbert's was the third-best rushing yardage total in KU history and the 20th 200-yard-plus rushing performance in Kansas football history. The top 20:
|1 - Tony Sands, Sr.
|2 - Nolan Cromwell, Jr.
|3 - Khalil Herbert, So.
|4 - Gale Sayers, So.
|5 - David Winbush, So.
|6 - Wade Stinson, Jr.
|7 - June Henley, Fr.
|8 - Laverne Smith, Jr.
|9 - Reggie Duncan, So.
|10 - June Henley, Sr.
|11 - L.T. Levine, Jr.
|12 - Tony Sands, So.
|13 - June Henley, Sr./
Kerwin Bell, Fr.
|15 - Tony Sands, So.
|16 - James Sims, Sr.
|17 - June Henley, Sr.
|18 - Tony Pierson, So.
|19 - Jon Cornish, Sr./June Henley, Sr.
|Source: Kansas football media guide
I sometimes wonder if the KU Athletic Department celebrates itself a little too often. That thought occurs most loudly every year when the Rock Chalk Choice Awards — doesn’t really roll off the tongue, does it? — take place.
Those are basically the Oscars of the athletic department and they took place this year two days after the football team’s one-sided loss to Central Michigan. Love was in the air.
KU football coach David Beaty leads with love, too.
Nebraska graduate transfer Zach Hannon talked about what makes KU a different place.
“I would just say it’s a family atmosphere,” he said, echoing the sentiments expressed by so many recruits in various sports when they explain why they chose KU. “You can tell all the coaches treat us like their own sons. They’re hard on us, but at the same time they have passion for us and for the game. That’s just one thing that’s invaluable for us here. You have coaches and an environment that’s just really full of love. You can’t get that everywhere, so it’s a great thing to have.”
It’s quite different from the approach of many successful football coaches, such as Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers’ dynasty. Times change and it will be interesting to see whether Beaty is ahead of the times or if too much love just can’t work in a sport as brutal as football.
Beaty enjoyed having Hannon as part of the program even before he moved into the starting right tackle spot with a credible performance in the loss at Ohio.
“Having him in that locker room and really being able to speak truth into guys about how good they really have it here, what a phenomenal place this place is,” Beaty said. “…Zach has been great for us to help our guys understand how good they have it. It's a good place here. Really good place.”
Then a junior at Rockhurst High, Kansas offensive lineman Zach Hannon sat in the stands and watched Tyshawn Taylor score nine of his 24 points in overtime to lead the Jayhawks to an 87-86 victory against Missouri in the final game between the bitter rivals.
Hannon watched with Montell Cozart, Ben Johnson and other recruits. He watched Kansas whittle away at Missouri’s 19-point lead. He watched and he stewed.
“It was so tough for me not to cheer for Missouri,” Hannon said. “I was trying to keep my mouth shut."
It’s a shame late Kansas football player and coach Don Fambrough was not around to see what the coach would have considered Hannon’s transformation from foolish teenager to wise, young husband and father.
“I never thought I’d be a Jayhawk because both of my parents and my grandma were Tigers,” Hannon said. “I actually grew up hating KU, but my parents love it for me and I love it.” For one thing, he’s getting to play. He watched others play during his four years at Nebraska before coming to Kansas as a graduate transfer.
Hannon earned his roster spot in Saturday’s loss at Ohio. It became increasingly evident that sophomore right tackle Antione Frazier needs more seasoning, so offensive line coach Zach Yenser turned to Hannon early in the game and the former Cornhusker gave a credible performance, especially for someone who had not played tackle since high school.
His reps throughout fall camp all came at guard and he just moved to tackle during last week’s practices.
At not quite 6-foot-4, 315 pounds and not blessed with particularly long arms, Hannon is built more like a guard.
“Definitely a little bit different,” Hannon said of playing without his hand on the ground. “It’s fun when you’re out on an island like they call it. It’s just you one-on-one against the D-end and you get an opportunity to show what you’ve got.”
Hannon’s not fast but has better footwork than his body type might suggest. He attributes that to playing lacrosse from a young age. His father, Tim Hannon, is on the lacrosse coaching staff at Rockhurst High.
“So even though I’m a shorter, heavier dude, I still can keep up because I have the feet,” Hannon said.
He’s atop the depth chart, expected to make his first college O-line start Saturday vs. West Virginia at Memorial Stadium, 11 a.m. kickoff.
So far, transfer Charles Baldwin has done a much better job of working himself into the coach’s doghouse than out of it — he was not in uniform the past two games — but remains KU’s most talented option at right tackle. Even if Baldwin eventually earns the job, Hannon will supply valuable depth at multiple positions.
Hannon said no to Charlie Weis out of high school and yes to Beaty when Texas Tech and Nevada recruited him as a graduate transfer.
“One of the reasons I wanted to play close to home was my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer,” Hannon said.
So even when he didn’t play in the first two games, he said he was “extremely grateful. I wouldn’t exchange this experience for anything, and as of Monday we found out my dad is cancer-free, so God is good. Everything is going great.”
He said his father underwent 49 sessions of radiation and described him as “a fighter, man. He’s always been a very positive role model, a great example of the type of man that I want to be, the type of father that I want to be, the type of husband that I want to be. I’m just very blessed to have him as a father."
Hannon and receiver Ryan Schadler are the only married players on the KU roster. Hannon and wife Jennifer, who “started talking,” as freshmen in high school, per Zach, have a 2-year-old daughter, Harper.
“My daughter’s a blessing,” Hannon said. “She came at a perfect time. She helped me and my wife through so many different things. When the coaching change happened, I was starting to get upset with my playing time, then I would come home and see her. “Then when I found out about my father being sick, whenever she was in the room with my parents or Jennifer’s parents, she just lights up the room. She definitely has her grandparents wrapped around her finger.”
Hannon has taken over at right tackle for the moment, junior-college transfer Andru Tovi at left guard, two friends ascending on the depth chart at the same time. Tovi calls Hannon, “Old Man.”
“After practices, I’m not as young as I used to be, so you can catch me limping off the field,” Hannon said. “They tell me I need a cane.”
He doesn’t need one of those yet, but he did need a chance. He came to a place where one was available and he made the most of his first shot at the age of 23.
Kansas head coach David Beaty, in his third season of trying to build something out of the rubble left him, went out of his way to praise the school's football fan base at his weekly press conference.
"I would just say that we've got unbelievable fans," Beaty said. "They've been patient. We certainly appreciate it. There's no doubt about that. But the plan is a great plan. We believe in it. We know it will work. There's no doubt in our mind."
During the offseason, Beaty underrated the importance of experience and physical maturity and talked in a way that made many believe he tought a bowl game was possible this season. Reality has set in.
"We've got some young guys," Beaty said. "We're not going to use that as an excuse. You know what, we've got some young dudes. Probably 53 percent or more of our roster that we traveled with the other day were sophomores or juniors. Only three of them, three of those guys were redshirt juniors in Joe (Dineen), and Keith (Loneker), guys like that. You're talking about there's a lot of youth there."
Young doesn't necessarily mean eventually good. Sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn't. You can guess which side Beaty stands on with that one.
"I would say that the future looks bright," Beaty said. "The good thing is we're 1-2. That's where we're at. There's a bunch of teams out there that are 1-2. I would just say, Hey, listen, don't make it more than it is."
Beaty didn't mean that 1-2 is a good record when the only victory came against Southeast Missouri State, an FCS program, followed by a pair of losses to MAC schools Central Michigan and Ohio. He meant that 75 percent of the season remains and it's too early to tune out.
"We've got a great opportunity this Saturday against West Virginia," Beaty said. "Show up. Be there. Bring five friends. Let's get after 'em."
At this point, KU probably needs to show something on the field for that fan-recruiting talk to resonate. As is the only appropriate focus for a football coach, Beaty's attention remains trained on the next game, against a team blessed with a quarterback, Florida transfer Will Grier, well-armed to shred the Jayhawks' secondary.
I like the "bring five friends," pitch though. And if every KU student who goes to KU football games talks five friends into coming to one game, the more time she or he has to make that pitch, the better. So it's not difficult to know which game on the brutal Big 12 schedule is the best one for KU fans to circle if they can make it to just one game this season: Baylor.
The beleaguered Bears visit Memorial Stadium on Nov. 4, which we'll call, "Bring Five Friends Day." Baylor has lost to Turner Gill-coached Liberty, 48-45, UT-San Antonio, 17-10, and at Duke, 34-20.
Circle it, bring five friends, and in the event that Kansas should win, know that you had a part in what very well could be a victory that keeps the Jayhawks out of last place, a sign of progress.
No, Carter Stanley is not about to supplant Peyton Bender as the Kansas football team’s starting quarterback. But head coach David Beaty said the redshirt sophomore backup will play a factor in KU’s Big 12 opener versus West Virginia.
The Jayhawks used Stanley in a limited capacity at Ohio. Late in the second quarter, on a touchdown drive, the former KU starter made his season debut in a short-yardage scenario.
Stanley, the 6-foot-2, 196-pound QB with more rushing ability and mobility than Bender, was credited with two rushes for just two yards. Still, one short carry came on fourth-and-1, before Bender re-entered and threw a touchdown pass to Chase Harrell.
“I thought what he did do when he went in there was very positive,” Beaty said of Stanley, who started the final three games of 2016 for Kansas. “He did a nice of job really straining to get that first down on that fourth down. No hesitation to him, seeing him going in there and doing that.”
The coach claimed the Jayhawks would like to sub in Stanley in other scenarios moving forward, not just when the first-down marker is a few yards away.
“We actually like him everywhere,” Beaty said. “We’ve got an even bigger package for him this week.”
Ohio’s 18-0 lead, Beaty asserted, kept KU (1-2) from playing Stanley even more in the nonconference finale. While such a declaration could be pure posturing, an attempt to float toward WVU (2-1) another wrinkle for which to prepare, the third-year head coach avowed the Jayhawks’ No. 2 QB will get on the field more often Saturday at Memorial Stadium (11 a.m. kickoff, ESPNU).
“We would have loved to have seen him a little bit more the other day, because of what we have in him, the plan for him, is going to be very helpful for us,” Beaty added.
Whatever Stanley’s role may be this weekend and beyond, his head coach said the QB has been “unbelievable” in his new, less prominent post.
“This guy was the starter here last year. He beat Texas,” Beaty stated. “He came in with a lot of accolades and hopes about coming in and being the starter, and for him to handle himself the way he has, I mean, I cannot be more impressed with him. And he's not satisfied. He wants to play. But he also wants to win. So, very, very impressed with Carter Stanley. He's going to get on the field a lot more for us, no doubt about it.”
Stanley was requested for an interview Tuesday, but according to a KU official, had a class conflict. His teammates, though, say he manages his duties well.
“I feel like he’s handling it really good,” fellow redshirt sophomore Chase Harrell said. “You don’t ever see Carter down or in a bad mood. Carter’s a really good guy for that and he’s always trying to improve, watching film and stuff. You can tell he wants that No. 1 spot. He’s on his way up.”
— PODCAST: KU football’s offense is not the problem
The downside of Big 12 membership for Kansas is that it ensures a brutal schedule for a rebuilding football program.
With the exception of Baylor (0-3), which visits Memorial Stadium on Nov. 4, every conference member is off to a significantly better start than Kansas.
The upside of Big 12 membership gets better all the time and far outweighs the burden the football schedule brings. After all, there is a positive as well to playing in such a tough conference. Members can recruit to it.
Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby spelled out clearly speaking at Big 12 Football Media Day the financial benefits to members.
“It varies a little bit from institution to institution based upon how they did in some of our championships -- but we distributed a little over $34 million last year,” Bowlsby said. “That is about a 15-percent increase from the previous year. That also, I would remind you, doesn't include our third-tier rights, which in the case of several of our schools are very substantial. “So we felt like we really have continued to compete from a financial standpoint. Among the critical success factors for any conference is the ability to distribute money to its members, and I think that we've continued to keep pace there.”
No disputing that.
In order to ensure it keeps its place in such a lucrative conference, Kansas must eventually get football turned around to the point it draws much bigger crowds and becomes a more appealing team for prime TV slots.
To that end, KU is trying to raise a stunning $300 million to renovate Memorial Stadium. No specific plans have been revealed for the first phase of renovations, but should come this month, perhaps tied to an announcement of a $50 million donation from a prominent KU graduate.
Even without a competitive football team in recent years, Kansas remains an appealing brand for apparel and equipment companies.
Look for Adidas to extend its six-year, $26 million deal with Kansas that expires in 2019, and do it in a way that could put KU at the top of its schools in terms of dollars and products received.