Entries from blogs tagged with “Jayhawks”
The Kansas football team’s top three quarterbacks for the Baylor game — freshman Ryan Willis (No. 13), junior T.J. Millweard (No. 10) and red-shirt freshman transfer Keaton Perry (No. 8) — take reps at Tuesday’s practice with running backs Ke’aun Kinner (No. 22), De’Andre Mann (No. 23) and Preston Randall (No. 40), as offensive coordinator Rob Likens looks on.
Kansas junior guard Wayne Selden Jr. discusses why he thinks the Jayhawks will make a deeper run in the 2016 NCAA Tournament than they did in his first two seasons at KU, and the different styles of basketball Kansas should be able to play.
Plus, Selden assesses expectations for Perry Ellis, the improving hip of Brannen Greene and what impresses him about Cheick Diallo.
Saturday marks the first Big 12 game of 2015 for both Kansas and Iowa State, and the Jayhawks and Cyclones have some losing streaks they’d like to get rid of at Jack Trice Stadium (11 a.m. kickoff).
Winless through three games this season, KU at least snapped a four-game skid versus Iowa State by winning 34-14 in Lawrence in 2014. But there is that not-so-insignificant matter of the Jayhawks’ 34-game losing streak away from Memorial Stadium. ISU accounted for three of those, and Kansas hasn’t won in Ames, Iowa, since escaping 35-33 in 2008.
Back then, of course, Mark Mangino was coaching the Jayhawks. Now ISU’s offensive coordinator, Mangino wouldn’t mind adding to KU’s road troubles — with no offense to his former assistant David Beaty.
ISU hasn’t won a Big 12 opener since bludgeoning Kansas, 45-3, in 2002. But the streak the Cyclones would really like to snap is a stretch of nine consecutive Big 12 losses.
Iowa State’s defense — unlike KU’s this season — has shown it can get into the backfield and make plays. The Cyclones (1-2) already have 24.0 tackles for loss — three times as many as KU — ranking third in the Big 12 and 17th nationally.
The Cyclones, who beat Northern Iowa in the opener and have since lost to Iowa and Toledo, have enough play-makers on offense to keep KU’s road losing streak alive and well. Here are five ISU players Kansas should be worried about.
FIVE CYCLONES TO WATCH
No. 12: QB Sam Richardson | 6-2, 217, sr.
• Believe it or not this will actually mark senior quarterback Sam Richardson’s first career start against Kansas. Injuries kept him out of the KU-ISU game each of the past two seasons. In 2012, though, he came off the bench as a freshman against Kansas and lit up the Jayhawks — 23-for-27 passing, with 250 yards and four touchdowns.
• This season, Richardson is averaging 249.7 yards passing per game and completing 61.3 percent of his throws (65-for-106).
• In each of his first two games this season (vs. Northern Iowa and Iowa), Richardson threw two TD passes, giving him 15 multi-TD games in his career.
• He ranks 28th nationally in completions per game (21.7).
• ISU’s QB only threw one TD pass vs. Toledo. He now has 42 in his career, tying for the second-best total in school history (Bret Meyer, 50, 2004-07).
• Richardson is one of five active FBS QBs with more than 5,000 passing yards and 1,000 rushing yards.
No. 5: WR Allen Lazard | 6-5, 223, soph.
• Richardson’s favorite target, sophomore receiver Allen Lazard leads ISU in receptions (15) and receiving yards (150).
• He has caught at least one pass in all 15 games of his young career.
• As a freshman in 2014, Lazard had five catches for 70 yards at KU.
• Lazard delivered one of the best rookie seasons from a WR in ISU history last year, with 45 catches for 593 yards and three TDs.
• Also a threat on special teams, Lazard averaged 25.0 yards a punt return against UNI.
• The tall receiver already has two eight-catch games on his résumé. Not surprising when you consider how highly he was thought of coming out of high school.
No. 45: DE Dale Pierson | 6-2, 249, sr.
• Senior DE Dale Pierson ranks second nationally in sacks per game (1.7), trailing only Penn State’s Carl Nassib (1.75).
• Pierson also ranks No. 5 in the nation with 2.0 tackles for loss per game. That mark leads the Big 12.
• With nine games left to play, he is 3.5 sacks shy of ISU’s single-season record: 8.5, by Shawn Moorehead in 2006. No wonder his Twitter handle is @SACKMAMBA45.
• In ISU’s win over UNI, Pierson went for 3.0 sacks and recorded his first career interception.
• Pierson, a former Pasadena CC standout, really began to take off late last season. In his last six games for ISU, he has 37 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 7.0 sacks, two fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and an interception.
No. 2: RB Mike Warren | 6-0, 200, RS-fr.
• After seeing few opportunities in ISU’s first two games, red-shirt freshman running back Mike Warren broke out against Toledo. His 126 rushing yards included a career-long 41-yard carry.
• Warren now leads ISU with 154 rushing yards on the season.
• The young RB is averaging 5.1 yards a carry.
• It seems Warren could become the first ISU freshman to lead the team in rushing yards since Alexander Robinson did it in 2007.
No. 12: LB Jarnor “Jay” Jones | 6-3, 209, jr.
• Linebacker Jarnor “Jay” Jones’ 20 tackles rank third on ISU, and he has made plays in the backfield, with four 4.0 for loss.
• A former member of North Carolina State’s football program who transferred to Georgia Military College after running into some trouble, the transfer now seems to have things figured out.
• Jones had a sack and two tackles for loss in each of his first tow games for ISU, against Northern Iowa and Iowa.
Highly touted Kansas freshman Cheick Diallo speaks with media members for the first time since arriving on KU’s campus.
The 6-foot-9 post player discusses the influence soccer had on him as a basketball player, why he thinks he is the No. 1 player in his class, a prep matchup versus Joel Embiid and much more.
Bill Self kicked off his 13th season at Kansas Thursday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse with KU basketball media day.
After players posed for photos and answered questions from reporters, Self sat down for a Q&A. Here are some of the highlights:
• Self is impressed every time he goes over to the new dorm, McCarthy Hall, which players should move into next week. Every time he is in there it looks better.
• Perry Ellis should be as good as or better than any player in the Big 12. He played at an All-American level for a stretch last season and he could do that all season long as a senior.
• “We’ve kind of got a crowded house” in the backcourt. But NBA people think Svi Mykhailiuk is as good as anybody on the team from a prospect standpoint. Self expects Mykhailiuk to challenge for a starting position and be as good as any reserve in the country if he doesn’t start. The Ukraine native, now in his second season at KU and living in the U.S., has far more maturity and strength now.
• Now that former KU point guard Aaron Miles is a part of the program as the new assistant director of student-athlete development, it will be really good for Devonté Graham and Frank Mason III. Self knows players respect him and Miles will be nothing but a huge positive.
• Wayne Selden Jr. played really well in Korea by using his athletic ability and strength. He drove and didn’t rely on jump shots, and that will make him a more impactful player if he continues in that style his junior season.
• Freshman big man Cheick Diallo (6-foot-9) has a wingspan of 7-foot-5, and has a motor, but he doesn’t know how to play yet. Diallo will keep balls alive and do important things, and he should be a good rim protector. Surprisingly, he’s a good shooter, too, which is exciting.
• KU struggled to score inside last year, and the coaches need to do a better job. But guards need to improve at feeding the post and playing angles. The Jayhawks should be a better passing team and better at scoring inside because of that.
• Freshmen Carlton Bragg and Lagerald Vick are a lot better off having traveled to Korea and being a part of KU winning gold at the World University Games. Bragg ia a “Marcus Morris type” offensively. He has a chance to be a “special” guy.
• This KU team is deeper than what they’ve had recently. “It’s gonna be hard this year figuring out who to play.” KU has 12 pretty good players and the 12th man isn’t going to play. The 10th-best player might not be in the rotation. Hopefully they’ll be much better defensively and tougher because of that depth and the flexibility it gives Self. There’s gonna be more competition at practices.
• Senior big man Hunter Mickelson has learned to compete more. He plays hard in a manner that uplifts his teammates and creates energy more than he used to.
• They haven’t even talked about red shirting right now in terms of what first-year guard Vick will mean for the team. He could be as good a defender as they have with his athleticism.
• Diallo’s situation isn’t complicated. He has been cleared to practice. It doesn’t mean that it’s permanent. KU is still waiting for a ruling on his eligibility. Self is excited he can practice, because that means he won’t fall behind in terms of conditioning and learning.
KU is still gathering information for the Diallo case to present to the NCAA. It’s frustrating for Diallo. He has goals and dreams based on playing this season. There’s a lot of stress involved for him because of that.
— Hear the complete press conference: Bill Self discusses upcoming season, Cheick Diallo’s situation
Tom Keegan and Matt Tait have some good news and bad news about Kansas football’s Saturday Big 12 opener at Iowa State. They reveal those and spread knowledge with great pageantry in this week’s episode of KU Sports Extra.
A peek inside Tuesday’s Kansas football practice, where cornerbacks Brandon Stewart (No. 8), Tyrone Miller Jr. (19) and Marnez Ogletree worked with each other on footwork and technique during some down time.
Kansas offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rob Likens discusses the Jayhawks’ struggles running the ball at Rutgers, his unwavering confidence in running back Ke’aun Kinner, quarterback Montell Cozart showing progress, the emergence of wide receiver Tyler Patrick and the challenges that face a true freshman QB such as Ryan Willis.
During the past few days, players for the NBA’s 30 franchises posed for photos, answered questions and took in media day festivities with varying degrees of seriousness.
That means it’s time to get the old ’Hawks in the NBA blog up and firing again. At this moment 19 former Kansas players draw paychecks in The Association, and they all — well, almost all of them — had their moments in the spotlight at media days.
From rookies just getting started, to veterans joining new teams to role players fitting in, here are some of the KU-related social media highlights from around the league.
COLE ALDRICH, L.A. CLIPPERS
CLIFF ALEXANDER, PORTLAND
DARRELL ARTHUR, DENVER
TARIK BLACK, L.A. LAKERS
MARIO CHALMERS, MIAMI
In case you were wondering, “Spo” is Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, and Chalmers’ “new role” will be him coming off the bench.
NICK COLLISON, OKLAHOMA CITY
JOEL EMBIID, PHILADELPHIA
If you were curious about how Joel Embiid is handling his ongoing injury and rehab process, you’re not alone.
Appropriately enough, the injured-for-another-entire-season Embiid wasn’t a part of the 76ers’ media day, according to The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey.
Presumably, he’ll attend a media day and play in the NBA one of these years.
Embiid’s last known whereabouts? Going to see the Pope.
DREW GOODEN, WASHINGTON
Before looking for Drew Gooden content, I thought, What’s that maniac up to?
Well, he’s up to this:
That dude has to be a blast to cover. Rarely not entertaining.
KIRK HINRICH, CHICAGO
BEN MCLEMORE, SACRAMENTO
MARCUS MORRIS, DETROIT
The Pistons’ Twitter account did a tweet Q&A with a number of Detroit players Monday, but apparently Marcus bounced before they could get one rolling with him.
As a side note, ESPN’s NBA folks ranked Marcus Morris as the 191st-best player in the league. So there’s that.
MARKIEFF MORRIS, PHOENIX
By far the biggest ’Hawks in the NBA news to come out of media days was presumably disgruntled forward Markieff Morris putting on a happy face and stating he wants to be in Phoenix.
That’s not what he was saying back in August, when he told The Inquirer’s Keith Pompey: “One thing for sure, I am not going to be there.”
At the time at least, Markieff was hot and bothered about Phoenix shipping his twin brother and roommate Marcus off to the Pistons. He still might be a little sour with Suns general manager Ryan McDonough about that transaction.
SASHA KAUN, CLEVELAND
Sasha Kaun is Russian. Timofey Mozgov is Russion. Hijinks ensued.
KELLY OUBRE JR., WASHINGTON
Looks like Kelly Oubre Jr. loosened up and got comfortable at the Wizards’ media day.
PAUL PIERCE, L.A. CLIPPERS
THOMAS ROBINSON, BROOKLYN
BRANDON RUSH, GOLDEN STATE
Yes, Brandon Rush won an NBA championship with the Warriors. But, no, there isn’t a lot of media interest in him out in Oakland.
Upon posting this blog, Rush hadn't appeared in any Golden State tweets — or, really, anywhere else in the Twitterverse.
ANDREW WIGGINS, MINNESOTA
Unlike Marcus Morris, the 2014-15 Rookie of the Year was able to answer a few questions on Twitter.
JEFF WITHEY, UTAH
Kansas senior forward Perry Ellis describes what coach Bill Self asks of the Jayhawks on the final day of his week-long “Boot Camp,” and how it feels to know he won’t ever have to go through one again.
When Kansas University junior forward Landen Lucas contemplates the quantity and quality of big men in KU’s basketball program right now, he almost can’t believe it.
The Jayhawks rarely lack in the depth department down low. Now entering his fourth season in Lawrence, Lucas (who red-shirted his first year) has played alongside or practiced with interior contributors such as Tarik Black, Joel Embiid, Kevin Young and Jeff Withey in the past. Still, the 6-foot-10 Lucas said the 2015-16 KU roster is more crowded in the front court than any he has seen.
“It’s weird to say that,” Lucas admitted earlier this summer, “because I feel like the last couple years we’ve had that kind of depth. But this year there will be an insane amount of people who have either started here, started at other schools — Hunter (Mickelson) started at Arkansas — mixed in with (high school) All-Americans.”
Indeed, KU seniors Perry Ellis (71 career starts), Jamari Traylor (19 starts) and Mickelson (25 starts in two seasons at Arkansas), like Lucas (14 starts), know what it’s like to be one of the first five on the court. Even 6-9 junior Dwight Coleby, who will sit out this season after transferring from Ole Miss, has seven career starts.
Plus, Kansas coach Bill Self and his staff brought in highly touted freshman big men Cheick Diallo (Rivals.com’s No. 5 recruit in the Class of 2015) and Carlton Bragg (ranked No. 21 by Rivals).
If the NCAA Eligibility Center clears Diallo to play, upon completing its review of his academic records from Our Savior New American High, in Centereach, New York, the Jayhawks will have six players available to use at power forward and center.
Lucas said just four big men in a rotation allows for aggressive play in the paint. He thinks the collective assertiveness of the front court should only improve with more options.
“Hopefully it will get people to go out there and play hard,” Lucas said. “If you go out there and you don’t, there’s somebody who’s ready to come in and do that.”
Each available big figures to bring something a little different to the floor.
The 6-foot-8 Ellis can score in a variety of ways.
Also 6-8, Traylor is quicker than most big men and has shown the ability to use that to his advantage.
Thus far a backup at KU, 6-10 Mickelson looked like a steady rim protector, as well as an effective scorer and passer as the Jayhawks won gold medals at the World University Games this summer.
And Lucas might be the best defensive rebounder among the veterans.
Without Bragg and Diallo making an immediate impact, though, the Jayhawks will only have a comparable version of last season’s front court. If the two rookies prove game-ready, KU could drive opposing teams mad inside.
While playing in South Korea this summer, the 6-9 Bragg showed he can run the floor, play with toughness and knock down open jumpers.
Diallo, meanwhile, might be the exact kind of player KU lacked this past season. The 6-9 big man is expected to play with manic energy on the defensive and offensive glass, protect the rim and compliment Ellis’s scoring inside.
Mickelson said transitioning from the high school ranks to high-major college basketball is different for every player, and although getting acclimated can be difficult, Bragg and Diallo shouldn’t have too much trouble. Freshmen, Mickelson added, usually can pick up drills and plays quickly enough, but KU’s veterans will be sure to remind them about other aspects of the game, such as body language or how to approach different situations.
“There’s just little tweaks and stuff like that that you can point out to help them,” Mickelson said.
In June, before playing in the World University Games, when asked what his weaknesses were, Bragg replied “everything.” The humble freshman’s point: he wanted to improve as much as possible every day. Bragg said KU’s veterans help him stay positive and let him know what to expect.
“They’re getting me ready, mentally,” the young big from Cleveland said. “Going through what they went through their freshmen, sophomore years, how coach was getting on you.”
Traylor already seems convinced Bragg will fit right in at KU, noting Self has said as much in complimenting Bragg’s feel for the game.
“But as far as natural stuff and natural athletic ability and instinct,” Traylor added, “he’s gonna be great for us.”
Because KU only has two newcomers inside, Traylor said it will be easy for the veteran Jayhawks to take Bragg and Diallo under their wings. It won’t be like the past couple seasons, when KU had first- and second-year players all over the floor — inside and out.
“We’re pretty much an old team now, so things are pretty much going quick,” Traylor said, snapping his fingers for emphasis.
You won’t see Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood on the field Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium, in Piscataway, New Jersey. As you’ve probably learned by now, the Scarlet Knights’ head coach is in the midst of serving a three-game suspension for rules violations and a string of off-the-field issues involving Rutgers players.
An investigation found that Flood emailed and met in person with a RU faculty member even though he knew — or should have known — of the university’s policies prohibiting coach-initiated contact with faculty members regarding students’ academic standing.
What’s more, Rutgers captain and standout wide receiver Leonte Carroo was suspended after facing assault charges in a domestic violence issue. On Sept. 16, Carroo pleaded not guilty to the charge in which authorities say he slammed a woman onto concrete after a football game.
As the AP reported, the Carroo incident “is the latest stain on a program that has seen six other players kicked off the team this month after being arrested on charges that include armed robbery and home-invasion burglary and rioting. One of the former players was also charged in two home-invasion robberies.”
All that disarray has led many who follow Kansas football to circle this week’s game at Rutgers (11 a.m. kickoff on Big Ten Network) as one of the few winnable dates on the schedule.
But before deciding if that’s the case, we should probably get to know the important remaining members of the Scarlet Knights, because those players will be the ones trying to extend KU’s 33-game losing streak away from Memorial Stadium.
Leading Rutgers in place of the suspended Flood is interim coach Norries Wilson. RU’s assistant head coach and running backs coach opened this unenviable stretch with a 28-3 loss at Penn State this past weekend. The Scarlet Knights never reached the end zone, in part because of meager field position: on average, RU started its first-half drives at its own 16-yard line; that average barely improved in the second half, to its own 20.
But if Kansas blows any special teams coverage, Rutgers (1-2) has just the weapon to flip the field. Here are some play-makers the Jayhawks (0-2) will have to keep in check in order to have a shot at a rare road victory.
FIVE SCARLET KNIGHTS TO WATCH
No. 1: RET/WR Janarion Grant | 5-11, 170, jr.
- Washington State had no answers for Janarion Grant on Sept. 12, when the return specialist set a new Rutgers record with 337 all-purpose yards, including a 55-yard punt return for a touchdown (above) and a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD (below). The day made him an easy choice for Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week.
Grant, who also took a kickoff return to the house in RU’s season opener versus Norfolk State, has returned a kick 70 yards or more five times in his career.
So far this season, Grant has 93 receiving yards (10 catches) and 21 rushing yards (one carry). Given KU’s defensive issues, the Jayhawks better be aware of him every time he appears in an offensive formation.
Grant had 105 receiving yards on eight receptions late last season against Maryland, and with his speed, he is a threat to burn KU’s secondary on any given snap.
No. 3: WLB Steve Longa | 6-1, 225, jr.
If Rutgers is playing, odds are linebacker Steve Longa is leading the team in tackles. In 29 career games with the Scarlet Knights, Longa has finished 20 of them with the most tackles.
Longa’s 251 career tackles give him the team lead among active players — by 107.
Averaging 8.7 tackles a game this season, Longa had made 15 tackles on passing plays.
On nine occasions at Rutgers, the linebacker has racked up 10 tackles or more. He had 14 vs. Washington State.
In his career, Longa has broken up seven passes, sacked a QB five times, recorded 12.5 tackles for loss, forced three fumbles and recovered two fumbles
On the Lombardi Award watch list.
No. 5: QB Chris Laviano | 6-3, 210, soph.
The Big Ten’s current leader in completion percentage, Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano has succeeded on 72% of his throws through three games, and has a passing efficiency mark of 148.0, which is fourth-best in his conference.
First-and-10 has been his favorite down-and-distance. Laviano is 25-for-32 on first-down pass plays, with 12 first downs and two touchdowns.
RU failed to score a touchdown in the sophomore’s first career road start, at Penn State, but he set new career highs with 27 completions, 42 attempts and 251 yards.
Laviano doesn’t appear to have a favorite target. He completed passes to 10 different teammates against both Washington State and Penn State…
… And there is an obvious reason for spreading the ball around. Three of his four touchdown passes in 2015 came to now suspended receiver Carroo in the season opener.
Laviano isn’t a huge running threat and can be sacked — good news for KU defensive ends Ben Goodman and Damani Mosby. His net average on rushing attempts (which include sacks in college) is -11.7 yards per game. PSU sacked the RU QB five times.
No. 31: FS Anthony Cioffi | 6-0, 200, jr.
KU quarterback Montell Cozart might not want to test Anthony Cioffi. The free safety already has two interceptions this season and four in his career.
Cioffi broke up a career-best three passes on Sept. 12 vs. WSU.
The free safety hasn’t had to do too much cleaning up on defense, with 11 solo tackles through three games.
In his 27-game career, Cioffi has nine pass breakups, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
In 2013, Cioffi blocked a punt for a touchdown against Central Florida.
No. 8: RB Josh Hicks | 5-10, 215, soph.
Sophomore running back Josh Hicks leads Rutgers with 16 first downs gained, and is a perfect 5-for-5 in third-down rushes in that category (average of 5.6 yards on third-down carries).
Hicks ran for 118 yards vs. Norfolk State, marking his third 100-yard game, and scored two touchdowns (his only two this season to date).
Through three games, Hicks is picking up yardage in chunks, averaging 6.3 yards per rush. His 41 carries and 258 rushing yards lead Rutgers, which also uses RBs Paul James (31-112) and Robert Martin (24-150) a great deal.
Finished off his 2014 season with 202-yard performance and MVP honors at the inaugural Quick Lane Bowl, where RU handled North Carolina, 40-21.
Tom Keegan and Matt Tait dive into the Kansas football team's first road game of the 2015 season, at Rutgers, in New Jersey, and provide at least three things to look forward to this weekend.
Kansas defensive coordinator Clint Bowen says the Jayhawks’ bye week after opening the season with back-to-back losses came at a good time, because the coaches could really evaluate what the personnel can and can’t do.
Given where the defense is at right now, Bowen says coaches are looking for small signs of improvement that will eventually add up and make for a better overall unit.
A peek inside Tuesday’s Kansas football practice, where first-year coach David Beaty and his staff continued preparations for Saturday’s road game, at Rutgers.
Kansas offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Rob Likens discusses starting QB Montell Cozart’s approach as a passer, and the junior’s issues with overthrowing his intended targets — a problem that resurfaced during KU’s last game, a home loss to Memphis. Through two games, Cozart had completed 38 of his 66 attempts with one interception.
Kansas junior point guard Frank Mason III discusses some of the tweaks to this year’s version of coach Bill Self’s “Boot Camp,” how the team’s newcomers have handled the first couple of days and the growth of sophomore wing Svi Mykhailiuk.
Kansas sophomore wing Svi Mykhailiuk discusses the challenges of coach Bill Self’s annual preseason “Boot Camp” and the work the 6-foot-8 Ukrainian native put in this past summer, while his teammates represented Team USA at the World University Games, in South Korea.
Kansas football left tackle Jordan Shelley-Smith and quarterback Montell Cozart discuss the importance of the bye week for the Jayhawks, and specific areas that need to be addressed going forward — both for the offense as a whole and the QB specifically.
With the help of a big, mobile quarterback who can command a versatile offense, Memphis football coach Justin Fuente is leading the kind of turnaround David Beaty hopes to pull off at Kansas.
Fuente took over a downtrodden Tigers program in 2012. After a 3-9 mark in 2013, Memphis went 10-3 last season, won the American Athletic Conference title for the program’s first league crown in more than 40 years and beat BYU in double overtime at the Miami Beach Bowl.
Entering Saturday night’s game at KU’s Memorial Stadium, Memphis has won its last eight games, dating back to the 2014 season — the fourth-longest win streak in FBS Football. Heading into this week, only Ohio State (14), Boise State (10) and TCU (nine) have longer win streaks. You might have heard of those programs.
Fuente’s teams are known for having creative offenses that can fool and burn defenses in a number of ways. The bad news for the Jayhawks: Memphis didn’t have to show much of anything in its season-opening, 63-7 dismantling of Missouri State.
The Tigers utilized six running backs who helped account for 317 rushing yards. Memphis’ 63 points against Missouri State ranked seventh in the nation, while the Tigers’ defense also put up some stellar numbers, nationally: rushing defense (18 yards, sixth), total defense (125 yards, fifth), turnover margin (+3, fifth)
Although Memphis put up 519 yards of total offense (35th) in its opener, KU actually fared better, with 576 yards (19th).
While Memphis and Kansas are in very different places as programs right now, Memphis has lost 19 straight games to schools which currently reside in the so-called Power 5 or BCS conferences. The Tigers’ last victory over a program from a major league came in the 2004 season opener against Ole Miss.
Fifteen of the Tigers’ 19 such losses in the past 11 seasons came against either ACC, SEC or Pac-12 opponents — six to Ole Miss and four to Tennessee. Four more came against current ACC program Louisville.
Interesting note: Memphis assistant head coach Darrell Dickey played QB for Kansas State from 1979-82
FIVE TIGERS TO WATCH
No. 12: QB Paxton Lynch | 6-7, 245, jr.
Pulled from the opener late in the first half, Memphis star quarterback Paxton Lynch completed eight of his 12 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown vs. Missouri State.
In his career, Lynch has started 26 consecutive games, completed 60.7% of his 774 throws, racked up 5,165 yards and 32 touchdowns through the air and rushed for 15 more scores.
At the Miami Beach Bowl, Lynch played a part in seven total touchdowns (four passing, three rushing) — tying an NCAA bowl game record — and was named MVP.
On watch lists for Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien National QB Award.
No. 11: RB Sam Craft | 6-0, 210, jr.
Though Jarvis Cooper led Memphis with 102 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns last week, he was one of many backups to see extensive playing time. No. 1 RB Craft still went for 72 yards on 12 carries.
Last week’s 12-touch game figures to be an anomaly this season for the junior, and Craft as recently as last season against Cincinnati tallied 38 carries in one game. He rushed for a career-high 170 yards against Cincy.
The speedy junior also serves as a kickoff returner for Memphis.
No. 39: FS Reggis Ball | 5-11, 210, sr.
The Tigers’ leading returning tackler has 95 in his career — 68 unassisted — in 38 games.
Ball is capable of doing a bit of everything on defense and will be counted on to do so as a senior defensive back. He has 3.0 tackles for loss, two sacks, two interceptions, two pass breakups, three fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and two blocked kicks during his time at Memphis.
Returned an interception 93 yards in 2013 vs. SMU.
No. 40: TE Alan Cross | 6-1, 235, sr.
Don’t let the 0 receptions vs. Missouri State fool you. Cross earned first-team all-AAC honors in 2014 for a reason.
The tight end caught three passes for 69 yards and a TD in the Tigers’ bowl win over BYU to close 2014.
On the John Mackey Award watch list for the nation’s top tight end.
No. 46 : PK Jake Elliott | 5-10, 165, jr.
Not many college programs are fortunate enough to have a real weapon in their place kicker, but Memphis does in Jake Elliott.
In 2014, Elliott made 21 of 32 field goals. Of the 11 he missed, eight came from more than 45 yards out.
The kicker set a new school record by hitting 57 extra points, going perfect in the process.
Eight of Elliott’s 10 kickoffs went for touchbacks in the season opener.
Named the American Athletic Conference Special Teams Player of the Year in 2014.