Entries from blogs tagged with “Jayhawks”

Watch: 4-star 2018 center David McCormack uses T-Shirt to pick Kansas

His announcement is toward the very end of this feed, when the countdown gets to about 15:00 remaining. It lasts for about 3 or 4 minutes.

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KU Sports Extra: Offense takes a step forward, defense takes a step back

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Khalil Herbert, Joe Dineen discuss loss to WVU

After rushing for 291 yards on Saturday against West Virginia in a 56-34 loss, Kansas sophomore running back Khalil Herbert thanked his offensive line and never thought about approaching any records.

Herbert's rushing total is the third-highest single game total in program history and the most in Div. I-FBS game this season.

"No, I'm in the game zone, so I just do what I do," Herbert said. "Do what the coach calls to do. Whatever happens happens during a game."

Kansas football coach David Beaty discussed his dissatisfaction with the fourth quarter, which saw the Mountaineers pull away with a few late touchdowns.

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Love is in the KU football air

Kansas football head coach David Beaty cracks a smile during the team's second fall camp practice on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017.

Kansas football head coach David Beaty cracks a smile during the team's second fall camp practice on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2017. by Mike Yoder

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.”

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Zach Hannon transforms from Missouri Tigers fan to Kansas Jayhawks blocker

KU offensive lineman Zach Hannon

KU offensive lineman Zach Hannon

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.

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Peyton Bender reflects on Ohio, looks for improvement heading into first Big 12 test

With Big 12 play right around the corner, KU quarterback Peyton Bender met with the media to discuss his own performance through three weeks, as well as that of a teammate who had a career day in the team's 42-30 loss at Ohio.

"He had a rough go the first few weeks of the season," Bender said of running back Khalil Herbert. "Coach challenged him and he had an incredible game."

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Baylor has become the game to circle on Kansas football calendar

Kansas head coach David Beaty, right, screams from the sidelines during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio.

Kansas head coach David Beaty, right, screams from the sidelines during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio. by Nick Krug

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.

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Prepare to see more of Carter Stanley, David Beaty contends

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) look to cut around the Ohio defense during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio.

Kansas quarterback Carter Stanley (9) look to cut around the Ohio defense during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio. by Nick Krug

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

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Big stadium donation, Adidas extension on horizon for KU Athletics

According to KU Athletics officials, Memorial Stadium is set to undergo a $300 million renovation. Currently, architects are completing renderings of the renovation plans.

According to KU Athletics officials, Memorial Stadium is set to undergo a $300 million renovation. Currently, architects are completing renderings of the renovation plans. by Nick Krug

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.

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Mykhailiuk breaks down the first day of boot camp, losing 20 pounds in offseason

After the first day of the Kansas basketball team's annual Boot Camp, senior guard Svi Mykhailiuk discussed the start of Boot Camp and his offseason, which included losing 20 pounds since the end of season in March.

In order to cut the 20 pounds, Mykhailiuk said he changed his diet and cut out soda.

Why the change?

"I feel like now I'm faster with the light weight, and I'm more athletic," Mykhailiuk said. "It just helped me overall with the game."

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Peyton Bender a little better than so-so so far

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) is driven to the turf by Ohio linebacker Dylan Conner (35) and Ohio linebacker Quentin Poling (32) during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio.

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) is driven to the turf by Ohio linebacker Dylan Conner (35) and Ohio linebacker Quentin Poling (32) during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 at Peden Stadium in Athens, Ohio. by Nick Krug

Any time a team loses football games by significant margins human nature dictates that most of the time analyzing the outcome focuses on what factors contributed to the loss.

In the case of Peyton Bender, it’s easy to pinpoint the negatives. First, he throws too many interceptions, five in three games to be exact. Second, he does a poor job of recognizing blitzes, a weakness that contributes to him being sacked too many times, eight to be exact.

But head coach David Beaty isn’t just being nice when he follows up talking about those deficiencies by saying that Bender is “doing some really good things.” He’s right about that.

Bender has shown toughness in making throws while taking hits. He’s also zipped a number of passes into small windows and as offensive coordinator Doug Meacham pointed out, when Bender doesn’t miss by a mile, he’s an accurate thrower.

The fact Bender hits so many receivers every game suggests that he does a nice job of going through his progressions and finding the right target.

He seems to be developing nice chemistry with Evan Fairs, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound sophomore who knows how to attack the ball. Keep an eye on Fairs. He's a keeper and so is Chase Harrell.

Let's look at Bender's numbers, before doing so, I’ll issue a qualifier by saying that I agree with Vin Scully, the friendly retired Dodgers broadcaster, who once said: “Statistics are used much like a drunk uses a lamppost: for support, not illumination.”

Here goes: Kansas ranks 12th in the nation in passing yardage with 343.3 yards per game. The rest of the numbers are less impressive and more illuminating. Bender completes 58.2 percent of his passes and he has one more touchdown pass (six) than his interception total.

Bender's not the problem, but can develop into part of the solution.

So far, not great, but not so bad either.

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Kansas receiver Ryan Schadler back playing sport he loves most

Kansas freshman Ryan Schadler returns a kick in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas.

Kansas freshman Ryan Schadler returns a kick in the Jayhawks' 23-17 loss to TCU on Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015, in Fort Worth, Texas. by Richard Gwin

As is the case with much of the Kansas roster, junior slot receiver Ryan Schadler didn’t have any Div. I football scholarship offers when he played his final high school game.

Schadler had more options than most, but no Div. I football offers.

Selected 4A state player of the year after rushing for 2,541 yards and 42 touchdowns, Schadler had a slew of Div. II offers from which to choose. One of four players to average more than 12 points a game on Hesston High’s 26-0 4A state-champion basketball squad, he was recruited to play guard by many junior colleges and NAIA schools, including Baker University.

State champion in the 400 meters and long jump and state runner-up in the 100 and 200 meters as a senior, Schadler ultimately chose to accept a partial scholarship to run for nearby Wichita State.

“I decided to give up football and focus on track,” Schadler said. “I thought it would be better for my body. But when I got there I just missed football way too much. Right when football season began I said, ‘I can’t do this anymore.’ It was killing me.”

So he asked for and eventually was granted his release from Wichita State, which does not have a football program. He and his high school coaches became pro-active in trying to drum up interest in him as a football player by sending video of his high school highlights.

He said he was on the verge of committing to Missouri State, but it was then that coach Terry Allen was fired.

“Then I was about to commit to Pitt State to be a dual-sport athlete in track and football,” Schadler said. “Then the next day Clint Bowen called me on my head coach’s phone and said “We want you to be part of our team. He’s big on Kansas kids and that’s something I really value in him. You see the guys 90 miles down the road doing it well for years now and it’s really cool how he’s helped Kansas with that.”

Since scientists haven’t yet figured out how to clone human beings, Schadler won’t be playing for Bowen. Otherwise, he might be a safety. Offensive coordinator Doug Meacham is happy to have Schadler in his stable of receivers, even though he’s new to it and needs reps before mastering the nuances of the position.

It was Meacham who suggested to head coach David Beaty that Schadler convert from running back to receiver.

Schadler already made a positive impact in KU’s second game of the season. He not only ran 33 yards for a touchdown on a double reverse and returned a kickoff 46 yards against Central Michigan, he also caught six passes for 60 yards.

“I do have a lot to work on and I feel like I’m getting a lot more comfortable,” said Schadler, who missed last season after undergoing offseason abdominal surgery to address a birth defect that led to excruciating pain. “The first game, especially after my injury, I was a little anxious and I probably wasn’t thinking as much as I should during plays. The last game I felt more comfortable.”

Beaty has coached receivers for much of his career and likes Schadler’s ceiling at the position. “There are still some things that as you go through the tape, you’re like, ‘OK, he hasn’t played that position yet.’ . . . He’s getting better every week," Beaty said. "He improved greatly (from first game to second).”

Meacham said he shrunk the number of plays he used Schadler on and put tight end Ben Johnson in the slot more often, so as not to give Schadler too much too soon.

“We made the volume of things he needed to know a little smaller,” Meacham said. “There are some little things he’s still trying to figure out. It’s really just coverage read things. It’s not the actually running in a particular route, it’s how you run it into this or that (coverage), where you go. So we try to put him in there when we know he’s going to know.”

That Schadler’s first touchdown run happened to cover 33 yards gave it an eerie quality. He has worn No. 33 his entire life and when he had his surgery, his mother, Donna Schadler, said that when she saw his patient number was 33 that made her feel as if everything would turn out fine.

Schadler was born with a malrotation of his small and large intestines and his appendix. “It’s still twisted up, but it doesn’t affect me because they cut the strands that were really long and twisting around,” Schadler said. “My intestines are still in the wrong spot.”

Yet, he’s still on the football field, which he is convinced is the absolute right spot for him to showcase his athleticism. His two autumns away from the sport, one to focus on track, one to recover from surgery, hammered home what he already knew, that football is his favorite sport.

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Kansas defensive line coach Jesse Williams liked discipline he saw during recruiting visit to KU

Kansas defensive line coach Jesse Williams flashes a smile during spring football practice on Thursday, March 30, 2017.

Kansas defensive line coach Jesse Williams flashes a smile during spring football practice on Thursday, March 30, 2017. by Nick Krug

First-year Kansas defensive line coach Jesse Williams didn’t see a strong performance from the Jayhawks when he visited Lawrence last season as part of Frank Solich’s Ohio staff, but he decided to make the move anyway.

Ohio defeated Kansas 37-21 at Memorial Stadium after jumping to a 25-0 lead. Kansas managed just 21 yards in total offense in the first half in that one. The Jayhawks never drew closer than 10 points.

So why did Williams make the move?

“I definitely saw it as a program on the rise,” Williams said during the summer. “When I was able to come on my visit, you saw the discipline. That locker room was pristine. When I was on my visit I toured it three times: before a workout, after a workout, on the tour. Not one time was something on the ground, so you knew there was discipline within the room. You knew there was talent in the room and you knew there were some good coaches in the building. That’s why I felt like it was on the rise.”

That discipline hasn’t shown on the field yet as Kansas continues to turn it over too often and draw costly penalties, but Williams didn’t expect the program to turn around overnight.

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Q&A with KU football left tackle Hakeem Adeniji

Kansas offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji runs through warmups on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark.

Kansas offensive lineman Hakeem Adeniji runs through warmups on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark. by Nick Krug

This week’s Q&A is with sophomore left tackle Hakeem Adeniji, from Garland, Texas, who has started all 14 games of his college career heading into the Kansas football team’s road opener at Ohio.

Q: Obviously Saturday night’s loss against Central Michigan was disappointing, but then you come back Sunday and get right back to work. How intense are those meetings with offensive line coach Zach Yenser as he breaks things down for you?

A: Coach, he’s not really an ‘I’m gonna yell at you and chew you out type of guy.’ Because he knows what we’re about and that we know what we want to get done. So we just kind of go over things and go over our mistakes and what we need to focus on in practice in the upcoming week.

Q: So it’s more of a learning environment in that setting. Is Yenser more fired up on the sidelines?

A: During practice coach gets pretty fired up, but he does a good job of keeping his cool for the most part.

Q: What proved to be the biggest issues against Central Michigan when you reviewed the video? What areas of concern kept popping up for the O-line?

A: It’s a lot of mental stuff, I feel like. We’ve got some younger guys on the line and we’ve got to do a better job of encouraging them and keeping your composure, because we’ve got some talented guys there. It’s going to take a little bit of time, because experience is probably the most important thing in playing. I feel like as they continue to get more reps and more snaps then I think their game will just elevate.

Q: That right side of the line is less experienced, with right guard Chris Hughes and right tackle Antione Frazier each having started just two games. As a leader, how do you try to help those guys along?

A: When I’m watching film I like to give them a little breakdown here or there if I see something, if I see certain tips. When we’re out practicing, especially Antione, I’ll try and tell hims something he can tweak, whether it’s in his stance or technique-wise that he can do to make himself better.

Q: Right now are you all finding more success in pass-blocking or run-blocking? Is it close?

A: It’s hard to really say. I feel like we’ve had ups and downs in both of them. But I feel like we’re continuing to improve.

Q: What are the biggest challenges going to be for the offensive linemen this week at Ohio? How much have you all got into their defensive front and the kind of things they might try to do?

A: We played them, obviously, last year (a 37-21 home loss), and it’s the same front pretty much. And I’m probably going to get in touch with Coach (Jesse Williams, KU’s defensive line coach who left Ohio to join David Beaty’s staff), since he recruited pretty much all of those guys. I feel like that could be a really huge advantage for us. But they’re a really good D-line from what we’ve watched, and we’re just going to have to come ready, for sure.

Q: How much have you all discussed being the team that finally ends the program’s road losing streak — 41 consecutive in opponents’ stadiums, 44 overall away from Lawrence?

A: We really don’t discuss it at all. But it definitely would be really good to do that. To go out there in another environment and win would be great, especially for the plane ride home. At the end of the day it’s about winning and coming back with that win. Regardless of if it’s at home or on the road, it’s something we need to do.

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David Beaty: There’s no panic here

Three days following a 45-27 home loss to Central Michigan, Kansas football coach David Beaty said he's seen a strong response from players in practice and film sessions.

Preparing to go on the road to play Ohio, the Jayhawks' first road game of the season, Beaty mentioned that he believes that his players are in the correct mindset.

"Our guys are embarrassed, but they are also very prideful," Beaty said. "They are a group that's resilient and they are ready to get back on that field. There's no panic here. We what happened on the video and I think we're going to be able to move forward."

Sophomore left tackle Hakeem Adeniji agreed with Beaty that players have responded well to their first loss of the year and they expect to play much better in Week Three.

"The loss just kind of focused us in," Adeniji said.

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4th-down philosophy: Punting, field goals can be ‘kind of a buzzkill’ to Kansas OC Doug Meacham

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) throws during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) throws during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 2, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Two weeks into the season, the Kansas football team’s offense has not yet achieved the type of results coordinator Doug Mecham’s Air Raid scheme is designed to produce.

But fans combing through the debris of a 45-27 home loss to Central Michigan in search of some signs of encouragement could choose to cling to this: the Jayhawks appear to have a plan for fourth downs.

The days of indecision and calling timeouts to determine whether to punt, kick a field goal or go for it just might be behind KU, now that Meacham is calling the plays.

“We have a lot of data that gives us a read on when to and when not to,” KU’s first-year coordinator and receivers coach explained this past week.

Meacham said as a drive progresses, members of the staff will let him know what a chart of percentages says about a given situation on the field.

“There’s a lot of math involved, a lot of data involved in when and when not to. It’s kind of like when you go to Vegas, you know the blackjack card, when to take a hit. We kind of have that for fourth downs,” he said. “They let me know. And it helps me because on third down I can maybe do something that is a little abstract, because I know I’ve got another one.”

So far this year it has worked to KU’s favor. The Jayhawks are 5-for-6 on fourth downs, an 83.3-percent success rate, which ranks 28th nationally among FBS teams. Only Miami (Ohio), Pittsburgh, UMass, Syracuse, Idaho, East Carolina, Virginia, San Jose State and Hawaii have attempted more fourth-down conversions, with eight being the most.

“We’re just gonna go,” Meacham said. “We have speed-ball plays in line for fourth, we’ve got normals and we’ve got a fourth-down plan. We’ll probably go for it on fourth more than the average team will.”

Against Central Michigan, those words proved factual, as Kansas found prosperity on four of its five fourth-down tries.

Kansas tight end Ben Johnson slips past a CMU defender during the Jayhawks game against Central Michigan Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas tight end Ben Johnson slips past a CMU defender during the Jayhawks game against Central Michigan Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

The first came in the second quarter. On fourth-and-four at the CMU 31-yard line, junior quarterback Peyton Bender found senior tight end Ben Johnson for a seven-yard gain — a play which Meacham didn’t hesitate to signal in.

Later, in the third quarter, with KU trailing 31-20, Meacham called upon freshman running back Dom Williams to convert on fourth-and-one at Central Michigan’s 45, which Williams did, with a four-yard rush.

The other three attempts came in the final quarter. Just one yard across midfield, on fourth-and-10 and trailing 38-20, Bender connected with junior receiver Ryan Schadler on a 15-yard pass.

Next, with the CMU lead up to 45-27, Kansas went for it on its own 42, and Bender threw to redshirt sophomore Chase Harrell for nine yards on fourh-and-six.

KU’s run of fourth-down success didn’t end until the final minutes, in desperation mode from its own 32. On fourth-and-11, Bender’s pass to Schadler only picked up nine yards.

Kansas offensive coordinator and receivers coach Doug Meacham watches over a drill during practice on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark.

Kansas offensive coordinator and receivers coach Doug Meacham watches over a drill during practice on Monday, Aug. 14, 2017 at the grass fields adjacent to Hoglund Ballpark. by Nick Krug

According to Meacham, he prefers assertive tactics on fourth downs.

“It’s probably a little bit more aggressive than your norm. Than what the norm is, I guess,” he said. “It’s just like if I coached baseball I’d probably steal a lot more than a lot of these guys do. I mean, make them make a play. You go for it on fourth down. Make them make a play. You punt or try a 48-yard field goal, that’s just kind of a buzzkill to me. Let’s just go.”

KU also converted on fourth down against Southeast Missouri State, in Week 1. At the SEMO 25-yard line, on fourth-and-one, Bender hit Harrell for a nine-yard gain.

Any time head coach David Beaty asks Meacham what the Jayhawks should do, he knows what his response will be.

“I’m going to say ‘go,’ every time,” Meacham said. “You cross that 50, let’s go.”

Beaty pointed to KU’s fourth-down triumphs after the CMU loss as one of the few silver linings.

“I’d just like us to do it on third down so we don’t get to fourth,” the third-year KU head coach added. “But the analytics that we use is something that’s paying off for us.”

— Below is a list of fourth-down positions in which Kansas punted or kicked a field goal during the first two games.

SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE

FIRST QUARTER

  • Own 24, fourth-and-six: punt

SECOND QUARTER

  • Own 49, fourth-and-11: punt

  • SEMO 49, fourth-and-13: punt

THIRD QUARTER

  • Own 5, fourth-and-15: punt

  • Own 37, fourth-and-14: punt

CENTRAL MICHIGAN

1ST QUARTER

  • Own 47, fourth-and-seven: punt

  • CMU 6, fourth-and-goal: Gabriel Rui 23-yard field goal good

2ND QUARTER

  • Own 25, fourth-and-10: punt

  • Own 13, fourth-and-11: punt

  • CMU 16, fourth-and-13: Rui 33-yard field goal good

3RD QUARTER

  • CMU 41, fourth-and-10: punt (down 31-20, late in quarter)

4TH QUARTER

  • CMU 19, fourth-and-10: Rui 37-yard field goal missed wide right
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Kansas losingest FBS program of this decade

Kansas head coach David Beaty gives a pat on the back to Kansas wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez (1) after Gonzalez fumbled a punt during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas head coach David Beaty gives a pat on the back to Kansas wide receiver LaQuvionte Gonzalez (1) after Gonzalez fumbled a punt during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Third-year Kansas football coach David Beaty lost some followers with Saturday's loss to Central Michigan, but his team hasn't lost him as a believer. Beaty remains bullish on the Jayhawks.

"We're still a good football team," Beaty said Tuesday at his weekly presser. "That's the thing I'm excited about. We're still a good football team. Nothing's changed."

Nothing has changed, but Kansas hasn't been a good football team since last decade. In fact, nobody in the FBS has been worse than KU this decade in terms of W's and L's.

Staring at 10 games in which it will be the underdog, unless favored against Baylor in Lawrence, the Kansas football program doesn't stand a chance of climbing out of last place among all FBS schools this decade any time soon.

Two games into the eighth season of the decade, KU has a .174 winning percentage. New Mexico State is next worst with a .207 mark.

If KU (1-1) somehow still can squeeze two more victories out of the schedule, it will remain in last place, even if New Mexico State goes winless for the rest of the season.

Turner Gill (.217 winning percentage at KU), hired by Lew Perkins to replace ousted Mark Mangino (.510), coached the first two seasons of the decade. Sheahon Zenger hires Charlie Weis, interim Clint Bowen and third-year coach David Beaty have combined for a .161 winning percentage.

These are facts, which makes them slanted neither positively nor negatively. Cold, hard facts.

Here's how the 20 losingest FBS football programs of this decade have fared:

School
Record Pct. Current HC (rec.)
1- Kansas
15-71 .174 David Beaty (3-23)
2- New Mexico State
18-69 .207 Doug Martin (11-39)
3 - UNLV
23-67 .256 Tony Sanchez (8-18)
4- Florida Atlantic
23-63 .267 Lane Kiffin (0-2)
5 - Eastern Michigan
24-63 .276 Chris Creighton (12-27)
6- Idaho
25-62 .287 Paul Petrino (16-34)
7 - Tulane
26-62 .295 Willie Fritz (5-9)
8 - Purdue
27-61 .307 Jeff Brohm (1-1)
9 - Akron
27-60 .310 Terry Bowden (24-38)
10 - Iowa State
29-59 .330 Matt Campbell (4-10)
11t - Miami (Ohio)
30-59 .337 Chuck Martin (12-27)
11t - New Mexico
30-59 .337 Bob Davie (28-37)
11t - Buffalo
29-57
.337
Lance Leipold (7-19)
14 - Colorado
31-59
.344
Mike McIntyre (22-31)
15 - Virginia
30-57
.345 Bronco Mendenhall (3-11)
16 - Army
31-57 .352 Jeff Monken (16-23)
17t - Indiana
32-56 .364 Tom Allen (1-1)
17t - UTEP
32-56 .364 Sean Kugler (18-33)
19t - North Texas
36-58 .383 Seth Littrell (6-9)
19t - Hawaii
36-58 .383 Nick Rolovich (9-8)

Georgia State (10-40) and Massachusetts (10-53) did not qualify for this list because they moved up from the FCS in mid-decade. UAB (19-43) also was not included because it discontinued its football program for a couple of seasons.

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Offensive line disappoints in loss to Central Michigan

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) passes while under pressure from the CMU defense during the Jayhawks game against Central Michigan Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Peyton Bender (7) passes while under pressure from the CMU defense during the Jayhawks game against Central Michigan Saturday, Sept. 9 at Memorial Stadium. by Mike Yoder

The most obvious difference in performance when comparing units from Central Michigan of the Mid-American Conference and Kansas from the Big 12 came at offensive line.

The Chippewas' O-line held KU’s talented front four in check and didn’t allow a sack. KU linebacker Joe Dineen was the only one credited with a quarterback hurry.

Kansas did a decent job against the run (3.5 yards per carry), but thanks in part to sound pass protection and his mobility, lefty quarterback Shane Morris shredded KU’s overmatched, green secondary for 467 passing yards and five touchdowns without throwing an interception.

In contrast, Peyton Bender was under fire all day, largely because of breakdowns on the right side of the line, where tackle Antione Frazier showed his inexperience.

How can a MAC O-line be so much better than one from the Big 12?

The biggest factor is experience. To what degree making the right decisions in recruiting also is a factor will play out in coming seasons as we learn how KU’s young blockers develop.

Central Michigan started four fifth-year seniors who were all high school recruits who were part of the Class of 2013 and redshirted in 2013. A third-year sophomore started at left guard.

Conversely, Kansas started a true sophomore at left tackle, a third-year senior at left guard, a third-year sophomore at center, a true sophomore at right guard and a second-year freshman at right tackle.

Head coach David Beaty and offensive line coach Zach Yenser expressed confidence throughout camp that the line had made big strides from a year ago. It didn’t show Saturday, at least not in the area of pass protection.

It will be interesting to see if any shakeup is in store, heading into Saturday’s game at Ohio.

Charles Baldwin, dismissed from Alabama’s program after spending one spring with the Crimson Tide, has not earned playing time yet at right tackle. If he hasn’t earned it and Yenser determines Frazier needs more seasoning, no obvious place to turn is available.

Backup junior right guard Larry Hughes played right tackle as a freshman, so that’s an option.

A more drastic step would involve putting fourth-year senior Jacob Bragg at center and moving Mesa Ribordy to right tackle, where he never has played. That alignment at least would have KU’s most talented, smartest blockers at the tackle spot with Hakeem Adeniji at left tackle.

Shifting backup left tackle Clyde McCauley to starting right tackle also could be tried. Or, Yenser could decide to keep the line in tact and hope that all Frazier needs to hold his own are game reps.

Heading into the season, I thought the O-line was a year away, but based on Saturday’s performance, that projection seems a little optimistic. There is no rushing the development of offensive linemen.

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KU Sports Extra: What went wrong against Central Michigan?

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Joe Dineen, Peyton Bender share what went wrong in KU’s loss to Central Michigan

Kansas junior linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. and junior quarterback Peyton Bender talk about what went wrong in a 45-27 loss to Central Michigan.

Facing CMU quarterback Shane Morris (467 yards and five touchdowns), Dineen said KU's defense had breakdowns with "everything."

"Credit to those guys," Dineen said. "They came out and the quarterback slang that thing. Not much we could do about it."

As for KU's offense, Bender was pleased that the Jayhawks put together a couple of long drives, though he wished more of them would've ended with touchdowns.

"We knew coming out at halftime we were going to have to have a big third quarter to get back in the game," Bender said. "We came out hot, two quick scoring drives. We got back in it. We just couldn't sustain that."

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