Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”

Stronger Frank Mason gives credit to Andrea Hudy

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) gets to the bucket against Washburn during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) gets to the bucket against Washburn during the first half, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

Frank Mason looked thicker, stronger during the Bill Self Basketball Camp games. In Tuesday night's exhibition opener against Washburn, Mason looked as if he might even have increased his already jaw-dropping vertical leap.

“I’m not sure, but I’ve been working hard with (strength and conditioning coach Andrea) Hudy all summer and all fall and she got my legs stronger, upper body stronger, everything," Mason said. "Just proud to have Hudy in my life and have her help me and I get the best instructions from her.”

Mason got way up for there for some of his 10 rebounds, nine at the defensive end. Backcourt mate Devonte Graham also soared high, ripping one of his four defensive rebounds from the air with one hand.

Mason, with 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, easily was KU's best player in the exhibition opener, although he had three turnovers. Graham (nine points, three assists) had a quieter night, but turned it over just once.

It's too early to say the Jayhawks have the best backcourt in the nation, but they definitely rank high in the conversation.

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Kansas open to recruiting another quarterback in this class

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart (2) passes against Oklahoma during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct.29, 2016.

Kansas quarterback Montell Cozart (2) passes against Oklahoma during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Oct.29, 2016. by Alonzo Adams/The Associated Press

Kansas football coach David Beaty seems to remember everything he ever has heard from head coaches who have engineered successful rebuilding projects. He shared one of those pointers Tuesday.

"He talked a lot about how he wants to make each room a little bit better each year," Beaty said.

Even the quarterback room?

"We'll look at anything and everything to make our rooms better, including quarterback," Beaty said.

Beaty went into the season figuring that red-shirting quarterback Tyriek Starks was all the insurance the team needs at quarterback. Coaches always have to keep an open mind to recruiting needs changing and the quarterback spot again has left much lacking. There is no guarantee Starks will be ready to take over next fall and it's always wise to have insurance against injuries.

Cozart and Deondre Ford are juniors, Ryan Willis a sophomore, Carter Stanley a freshman.

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Linebacker Joe Dineen out for season

Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (29) pressures Ohio quarterback Greg Windham (14) during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen Jr. (29) pressures Ohio quarterback Greg Windham (14) during the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Kansas linebacker Joe Dineen, out with a hamstring injury, will miss the remainder of the season, head coach David Beaty announced at his weekly Tuesday press conference.

Dineen suffered the injury in the Memphis game the third week of the season, which means that he is eligible for a medical redshirt, which will keep the junior in the program through the 2018 season.

“He’s been working feverishly to get back," Beaty said. "He cannot stand his life without football right now.”

Each time Dineen thought he made progress, he suffered a setback.

Beaty said that freshman running back Khalil Herbert (toe injury) is questionable and added that center Joe Gibson, who missed the Oklahoma game with a recurring neck injury, "is progressing pretty good."

Defensive end Dorance Armstrong, who missed fall camp after on the first day going down with an injury that Beaty called, "a partially torn ACL." Beaty said that Armstrong tells him he does not feel anything wrong with the knee now and the coach said he does not anticipate him needing offseason surgery.

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Those aren’t boos, they’re ‘Moos’

Kansas' Cole Moos (36) punts from the Jayhawks' end zone late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.

Kansas' Cole Moos (36) punts from the Jayhawks' end zone late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Kansas is in a prolonged slump in the kicker department, but has had better results with punters in most recent seasons.

Cole Moos averages 41.7 yards per punt, good for sixth in the Big 12. More hang time might result in a better net punting average of 37.5, ninth in the conference, but the punt team tacklers are at least partially responsible for that figure.

After the 49-7 loss to Baylor, Moos was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week afer averaging 50.3 points per game and drilling punts of 82 and 73 yards.

A junior, Moos came to Kansas from Northeast Oklahoma A&M College, a junior college.

It figures that Kansas has no trouble attracting punters to school. Athletes prefer playing to watching and at least until Kansas is able to recruit and develop quarterbacks and offensive linemen better than in recent years, the punter will get plenty of action. Moos’ nine punts at Oklahoma wasn’t even a season-high. He punted 10 times at Texas Tech.

Moos is no Trevor Pardula, who averaged 44 yards a punt in his two seasons, but is an upgrade from Eric Kahn, who averaged 34 punts a game last season.

Recruiting kickers isn’t as easy because athletes prefer playing to watching. Kansas ranks last in the Big 12 in touchdowns (19) and tied with Oklahoma for last in field goals (seven).

The Jayhawks have reason to believe they will have a more accurate field-goal kicker next season, having gained a verbal commitment from Liam Jones from Choctaw, Okla.

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Those aren’t boos, they’re ‘Moos’

Kansas' Cole Moos (36) punts from the Jayhawks' end zone late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.

Kansas' Cole Moos (36) punts from the Jayhawks' end zone late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Kansas is in a prolonged slump in the kicker department, but has had better results with punters in most recent seasons.

Cole Moos averages 41.7 yards per punt, good for sixth in the Big 12. More hang time might result in a better net punting average of 37.5, ninth in the conference, but the punt team tacklers are at least partially responsible for that figure.

After the 49-7 loss to Baylor, Moos was named Big 12 Special Teams Player of the Week afer averaging 50.3 points per game and drilling punts of 82 and 73 yards.

A junior, Moos came to Kansas from Northeast Oklahoma A&M College, a junior college.

It figures that Kansas has no trouble attracting punters to school. Athletes prefer playing to watching and at least until Kansas is able to recruit and develop quarterbacks and offensive linemen better than in recent years, the punter will get plenty of action. Moos’ nine punts at Oklahoma wasn’t even a season-high. He punted 10 times at Texas Tech.

Moos is no Trevor Pardula, who averaged 44 yards a punt in his two seasons, but is an upgrade from Eric Kahn, who averaged 34 punts a game last season.

Recruiting kickers isn’t as easy because athletes prefer playing to watching. Kansas ranks last in the Big 12 in touchdowns (19) and tied with Oklahoma for last in field goals (seven).

The Jayhawks have reason to believe they will have a more accurate field-goal kicker next season, having gained a verbal commitment from Liam Jones from Choctaw, Okla.

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Huggins: Key to unseating KU’s conference streak is winning at Allen Fieldhouse

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) holds up his share of the net as Jayhawks celebrate locking up a share of their twelfth-straight Big 12 title following their 67-58 win over the Red Raiders, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Devonte' Graham (4) holds up his share of the net as Jayhawks celebrate locking up a share of their twelfth-straight Big 12 title following their 67-58 win over the Red Raiders, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KANSAS CITY, MO. — After finishing two games behind Kansas in the Big 12 conference standings last year, West Virginia men's basketball coach Bob Huggins said the key to unseating KU at the top of the conference is learning to win at Allen Fieldhouse.

The Jayhawks own a 206-9 record at home under coach Bill Self, including only two league losses since 2007. Obviously, no other team in the Big 12 enjoys the same level of success on its home floor.

"People have to go into Allen Fieldhouse and win once in a while," Huggins said. "Because the rest of us all lose at home, and I think if you look at it, that's without a question, the difference. That has a lot to do with the job that Bill does. Bill does a great job. And they have really good players."

On a 12-year conference title streak, the Jayhawks are one season shy of tying the longest consecutive conference title streak, set by UCLA in 1967-79.

"Kansas' dominance is really -- it comes down to three things," Huggins said, "they've got a great coach, they've got great players, and they never lose at home. Until we start beating them at home -- and we had chances, we had chances. We missed free throws and a lot of crazy things happened at Allen Fieldhouse now. So we end up losing. If we had beaten them, I think somebody else would have had a chance to maybe tie for the league championship or whatever."

Despite KU's long streak at the top of the conference, Huggins disagrees with people that believe it hurts the image of the Big 12 to have one team with a monopoly on conference titles.

"I don't know why that would taint anything, you know what I'm saying?" Huggins said. "Because they've been one of the top three or four teams in the country for how many years, and that's not going to change. They can be in whatever league you want to put them in and they're still going to be. Don't listen to those people."

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Jamie Dixon: Bill Self is ‘future Hall of Famer’

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) celebrates next to Kansas head coach Bill Self following the Jayhawks' 90-84 win, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse.

Kansas guard Frank Mason III (0) celebrates next to Kansas head coach Bill Self following the Jayhawks' 90-84 win, Saturday, Jan. 30, 2016 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

KANSAS CITY, MO. — After coaching for 13 seasons at Pittsburgh, TCU men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon enters the Big 12 Conference with some appreciation for Bill Self and the Kansas program.

Speaking at Big 12 Media Day for the first time, Dixon compared Self to some of the coaching giants in the industry and said he's on his way to earning a plaque in the basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

"We've gone against some pretty good coaches over the years and Hall of Famers. He's obviously a future Hall of Famer if not already," Dixon said of Self. "And, yeah, I mean, what they've done is inconceivable. No one could have predicted it, and it's still hard to believe."

Coaching in the ACC, Dixon matched up against some of the giants of the industry throughout the season. But he's amazed by the Jayhawks' 12-year reign at the top of the Big 12.

"There's nothing like this. I mean, to win it 12 years in a row and what Kansas has done, it's unheard of," Dixon said. "I guess it hasn't been done since UCLA, I guess is what they said. And that was obviously a different time. So, yeah, it is different in that regard. But probably stands out even more when you get the picks for the year, and the 12, 13th time, and they're claiming them the champion in the 13th year already."

The Horned Frogs are ranked last in the Big 12 coaches' preseason poll, but Dixon said it's ultimately up to the rest of the conference to unseat the Jayhawks from their spot at the top of the conference.

"I was talking to somebody earlier, it's unbelievable," Dixon said of the streak. "Obviously that was the thing about the Big East. There was no clear-cut team year-in, and year-out. We had the best record in the conference over a ten-year span. But we weren't looked at as the leader of the conference.

"There's no question about it. I guess it's up to the other nine to do something about it."

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Sprint Center is ‘Hilton South’ for Iowa State

Iowa State guard Monte Morris (11) gets to the bucket against Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) during the first  half, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa.

Iowa State guard Monte Morris (11) gets to the bucket against Kansas guard Wayne Selden Jr. (1) during the first half, Monday, Jan. 25, 2016 at Hilton Coliseum in Ames, Iowa. by Nick Krug

KANSAS CITY, MO. — Speaking at Big 12 Media Days on Tuesday at Sprint Center, Iowa State men's basketball coach Steve Prohm addressed his team's play in Kansas City, winners of two of the past three Big 12 tournament titles.

"What I think the number one factor coming over here is being just three hours from here, that Cyclone Nation really makes this — Hilton South is what they call it, it's an unbelievable atmosphere here," Prohm said. "I think that obviously goes a long way in winning games in this arena."

The Cyclones, coming off a 23-12 season, were ranked fourth in the Big 12 coaches' preseason poll behind Kansas, West Virginia and Texas. KU coach Bill Self gave the Cyclones his first-place vote.

Iowa State split the season series with the Jayhawks last year, winning in Ames, 85-72. When the two schools played again in the regular-season finale, the Jayhawks won, 85-78.

"I thought both games were really well played," Prohm said. "We were fortunate to beat them at our place. Then we went to their place last game of the regular season and actually really played well. I think we led by three with three minutes to go. But when you're playing Kansas, you're playing elite teams, you have to make tough plays down the stretch and you have to finish games. We weren't able to do it up there this past season."

Iowa State senior Monté Morris was picked as the conference's preseason Player of the Year. The dynamic point guard is the top returning scorer in the league after averaging 13.8 points per game, adding a league-leading 6.9 assists per game last year.

But of course, Prohm wants the Cyclones to contend for a Big 12 title and work their way to the level of success that is common at Kansas.

"Obviously Kansas is the standard, like I touched on, and our goal is to continue to put ourselves in a position to challenge them," Prohm said.

"But Allen Fieldhouse, Hilton Coliseum, there's probably, like I said, not five better places to play college basketball."

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Say something nice about Kansas football: A lot to like about Daylon Charlot

Kansas receiver Daylon Charlot soars back to get in line during team stretches at the beginning of practice on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas receiver Daylon Charlot soars back to get in line during team stretches at the beginning of practice on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Nobody believed it could be done, saying something nice about Kansas football for 25 weeks in a row, but this is the 25th installment of the blog that will continue at least for 52 weeks.

So far, the funniest line was typed by Matt Herrera in Week 1 on May 9: “The funnel cakes are consistently on point.”

It might be difficult to top that in the sarcasm department, but I’m still seeking someone to weigh in with the most insightful remark that will inject genuine optimism in the direction of the program. It’s not an easy challenge, but somebody surely is up to the task.

My contribution this week centers on a name that has appeared here in past weeks: Daylon Charlot.

A 6-foot, 195-pound transfer from Alabama, Charlot will have three seasons of eligibility for Kansas, which will use him at wide receiver and possibly in the return game.

“Daylon Charlot’s a talented guy, I mean a talented guy,” head coach David Beaty said. “We wish he was playing this year. He’s not, but we’re excited he’ll be here next year.”

A four-star recruit out of Patterson, La., Charlot made a verbal commitment to Alabama, decommitted and then signed with the Crimson Tide. He picked 'Bama over scholarship offers from, among others, Arizona, Arizona State, LSU and Notre Dame.

He played sparingly as a freshman at Alabama and caught two passes for nine yards.

Rollbamaroll.com — possibly the coolest website name ever — reported on signing day, 2005, that Charlot had a 4.35 40 time and a 40-inch vertical leap.

Nobody who has seen him practice for Kansas is surprised at those numbers.

“He can fly,” junior quarterback Montell Cozart said of Charlot. “He’s one of those guys who’s a little bit of a posession receiver, too, so he can go up and go get the ball too. So it’s going be nice to have him.”

When Kansas has running back Taylor Martin and receivers Steven Sims, LaQuvionte Gonzalez and Charlot on the field at the same time, Sims will be the fourth-fastest Jayhawk. That’s a lot of speed. Of course, if the blocks aren’t there and the passes aren’t delivered on target, on time, it won’t matter how much speed is on the field. Oops, that wasn’t nice. I'll neutralize that remark by pointing out that Cozart looks as if he's throwing the deep ball with far more accuracy than in earlier years when he overthrew everything but the government. Plus, the offensive line had its best game vs. legitimate competition in Saturday's 44-20 loss to Oklahoma State.

There you have it. I have made it 25 weeks in a row saying something nice about Kansas football.

Your turn. Make me believe that the program is headed in the right direction. Failing that, see if you can clear the sarcasm bar set so high by Herrera. Either way, say something nice about Kansas football.

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Recruiting juco cornerback greater priority than bringing in juco quarterback

Kansas freshman Bryce Torneden, left, and freshman Shola Ayinde (15) work on kick-off coverage during practice at Memorial Stadium on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.

Kansas freshman Bryce Torneden, left, and freshman Shola Ayinde (15) work on kick-off coverage during practice at Memorial Stadium on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016. by John Young

Kansas football coach David Beaty tipped his hand as to how he believes the team's three quarterbacks who have played this season — Montell Cozart, Ryan Willis and Carter Stanley — are imperfect fits for his offense.

Beaty did so when he pointed out that red-shirting New Orleans recruit Tyriek Starks was the first quarterback recruited to fit the current offense, although Stanley was recruited out of high school and Deondre Ford out of junior college after Beaty took the Kansas job.

Recruiting a quarterback from the graduate-transfer pool or from a junior college In the event Starks is not ready to run the offense by next season is a tempting thought, but doing so would deny the coaching staff the chance to recruit a high school player at another position who could be developed for four or five years.

Kansas already will need to go that route at cornerback, a position at which Kansas will be thin next season.

When talking about how fortunate the program is to have Murphy Grant in charge of supervising the rehabilitation of injured players, Beaty mentioned how well "the ACL guys" are progressing. Two of those he referenced play cornerback.

"They're all off their crutches and looking good," Beaty said. "Shola (Ayinde) looks amazing. I can't believe he just had surgery not too long ago. (Long snapper John) Wirtel, (walk-on cornerback) Justin Williams had ACL surgery last week."

Beaty marveled at modern medicine.

"Murph is so good with them," Beaty said. "Those guys, they’re under anesthesia walking around in our facility the day they get out of that, which is amazing because they used to sit in a bed for weeks. I mean, Murph is so good at what he does with those guys. You would not believe those guys have just had ACL surgery."

Ayinde, who red-shirted in 2015 as a freshman, should be ready to play next season, but even with all the medical advancements athletes still tend to perform better in their second year after ACL surgery than the first.

Marnez Ogletree and Brandon Stewart are seniors, so recruiting a juco corner is a must, a bigger priority than bringing in another quarterback.

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Kansas football problems run deeper than size of Big 12 conference

Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis (13) is sacked by Baylor defensive end Jamie Jacobs (43) during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas.

Kansas quarterback Ryan Willis (13) is sacked by Baylor defensive end Jamie Jacobs (43) during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 at McLane Stadium in Waco, Texas. by Nick Krug

Once Big 12 expansion talk lost momentum in recent months on the way to its official end Monday night, part of me was disappointed because the nine-game conference schedule makes it even more difficult for the Kansas football program to reverse course.

But the truth is Kansas football is in such a deep hole that the only path out must be one that comes from within. One more winnable game on the schedule wasn’t going to make bowl eligibility any more realistic in the foreseeable future.

No outside circumstances can be blamed for the current state of Kansas football and no outside forces will do anything to lend a hand up.

The SEC’s dominance and the addition of Texas A&M has made recruiting Texas a tougher deal for almost every Big 12 program, Kansas included.

Head coach David Beaty and cornerbacks coach Kenny Perry have strong ties to several high school coaches, which will benefit Kansas. But so many programs with winning traditions mine the same talent.

Give Beaty credit for putting New Orleans high school coach Tony Hull on the staff and it’s already paying dividends with commitments.

More pro-active work on the Kansas walk-on front, much of it done by Gene Wier, director of high school relations, is beginning to gain momentum.

Once more walk-ons from Kansas high schools bring home positive reviews of the student-athlete experience that extend beyond the weekly final score, more scholarship players from the state will consider the state’s flagship university.

The subtle gains won’t translate to victories until an adequate offensive line can be built through recruiting and development, the slowest, toughest area of a football team to improve.

Evaluating quarterbacks, never easy, becomes so much tougher when an offensive line doesn’t block well enough to establish a running game and give the quarterback time to run through his progressions.

It remains to be seen if Kansas has upgraded its recruiting of offensive linemen — tough to judge that position until the player has been in the program two or three years — but some gains elsewhere are evident.

Sophomore defensive end Dorance Armstrong could be the most talented, productive high school recruit at his position Kansas has had this century. Isaiah Bean, a freshman at the same position from the same city (Houston), shows promise as well. True freshman running back Khalil Herbert shows speed, sharp cutting ability and toughness. He looks like a terrific prospect whose talent will result in production if the line develops.

Steven Sims and LaQuvionte Gonzalez have upgraded the wide receiver position and Chase Harrell looks like a solid prospect. Alabama transfer Daylon Charlot will make a difference as a receiver and return man when he is eligible next season.

Still, the biggest key remains developing an offensive line, which at the very least would enable a truer evaluation of quarterbacks.

Sure, a 12-team conference would have meant having two-year pockets without having to play Oklahoma and other powers from the South, but until Kansas can become competitive vs. schools from outside the Power Five, it’s a moot point.

The solutions, which must include avoiding the temptation of chasing quick-fix approaches, must come from within.

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Avoiding longest losing road losing streak in history a possibility

Kansas wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. (11) celebrates with teammate Ke'aun Kinner (22) after his second touchdown of the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. (11) celebrates with teammate Ke'aun Kinner (22) after his second touchdown of the third quarter on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The Kansas football program’s official road losing streak reached 38 games with Saturday’s 49-7 loss to Baylor in Waco, where Bears coach Jim Grobe showed great mercy by resting his starters after taking a 42-0 lead into halftime.

The record does not count three losses to Missouri at Arrowhead Stadium because those were played on a neutral field. So even though KU has lost its last 41 games played outside of Lawrence, the official streak stands at 38.

If Kansas can’t win away from home the rest of this season and in any of its first four road contests of 2017, Western State’s (Gunnison, Col.) record road losing streak of 44 will fall.

Three road games remain this season: Oklahoma, West Virginia, Kansas State. Looking at the past two outcomes in Norman, Morgantown and Manhattan doesn’t inspire confidence that the streak won’t be carried into next season. In its last three trips to those cities, the combined scores have been 96-14 vs. Oklahoma, 92-24 vs. West Virginia and 107-29 against K-State.

In all likelihood, the streak will stand at 41 heading into the 2017 season. Kansas has a realistic shot to end it, Sep. 16 in Athens, Ohio, against an Ohio Bobcats squad that won in Lawrence, 37-21, in the second game of this season.

Potential areas of improvement that need to be realized for Kansas to gain signifcant ground on Ohio:

Offensive line: Charles Baldwin was ranked No. 1 among junior-college offensive linemen, signed with Alabama and participated in the program last spring He was dismissed from the team by coach Nick Saban for violating a team rule. If Baldwin matures enough, gains enough discipline to avoid repeating whatever mistake it was that led to his ejection from the nation’s top program, he could nail down left tackle and enable whatever guard would have been used there to play his natural position. D’Andre Banks is the only senior starting on the offensive line so it doesn’t require a great leap of faith to believe the rest of the line will improve as well.

Quarterback: A better line equates to better play at quarterback. One more candidate will join the mix that already includes current starter Ryan Willis, former starter Montell Cozart and backup Carter Stanley. Tyriek Starks, a fast, strong-armed recruit from New Orleans,. is redshirting this season. Considered raw coming out of college, Starks will compete for the job in the spring.

Wide receiver: Daylon Charlot, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound sprinter from Patterson, La., was frustrated with his lack of playing time as a true freshman at Alabama and transferred to Kansas. Coaches are excited with what they have seen from Charlot in practice. Put him on the field with fellow burner LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Steven Sims and big target Chase Harrell, who is developing steadily, mix in tight end Ben Johnson, and there will be no shortage of capable pass-catchers.

The defense will lose six starters, but if the staff on that side of the ball stays together, they’ll figure out how to field a competitive unit.

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Baylor blockers spent an hour stuck in hotel elevator Friday night

Baylor quarterback Seth Russell stretches with the team during warm ups before an NCAA college football game against Texas Tech Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Arlington, Texas.

Baylor quarterback Seth Russell stretches with the team during warm ups before an NCAA college football game against Texas Tech Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in Arlington, Texas. by Tony Gutierrez/The Associated Press

Waco, Texas — Carrying a 37-game road losing streak and facing a bigger, faster, more experienced opponent, it can't be easy for the Kansas football team to find reasons to be confident the streak will end today at McLane Stadium.

Here's a small one: Baylor's huge weight advantage at offensive line, where the starting five blockers average 313 pounds, might have shrunk the tiniest bit.

Most FBS teams spend the night before home games at hotels. Baylor was staying at the same hotel as the broadcasting crew headed by Tim Brando and Spencer Tillman for today's game. Members of the crew said that as many as eight Baylor offensive linemen were stuck in the hotel elevator for about an hour and after emerged on the sweaty side.

They might have sweated away a few pounds, but it's not as if quarterback Seth Russell is sweating about his line not getting the job done. The Bears' blockers consistently know how to rise up to protect the quarterback and blow open holes for running backs Shock Linwood and Terence Williams.

This is not the first time a group of massive football players ignored the posted weight capacity and brought the elevator to a lengthy halt. It also happened last spring to USC linemen.

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Aqib Talib comments on Donald Trump and ‘locker room talk’

Denver Broncos’ Aqib Talib (21) celebrates during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Denver Broncos’ Aqib Talib (21) celebrates during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game against the Carolina Panthers, Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

One of the top defensive backs in the NFL, former Kansas football star Aqib Talib has once again made headlines for the wrong reasons this week.

The ninth-year corner, who already has three interceptions and a touchdown return through five games this season for defending Super Bowl champion Denver, reportedly shot himself in the right leg this summer.

On Tuesday, the 30-year-old Talib told Denver’s 9News Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump “may fit in” in the Broncos’ locker room. Talib’s comments came days after an old recording emerged of Trump using vulgar language while denigrating women.

Talib played at Kansas from 2005 to 2007 and ranks second all-time in program history, with 13 career interceptions (Ray Evans, who played in the 1940s, is first, with 17).

Watch the Talib clip below.

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Wednesday’s KU-K-State volleyball showdown to be televised by ESPNU

Junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon prepares to spike the ball over the net against Texas Tech.

Junior outside hitter Madison Rigdon prepares to spike the ball over the net against Texas Tech. by Kyle Babson/Special to the Journal-World

The Kansas women's volleyball team, ranked No. 6 in the country with a 15-2 record, will play host to Sunflower State rival Kansas State at 6 p.m. tonight at Horejsi Family Athletics Center.

If you're like most Kansas fans in the area, getting a ticket for the Jayhawks' sold-out, always-wild home venue will be next to impossible. But that doesn't mean you can't see the action.

The Jayhawks, whose two losses this season have come to No. 4 Texas, in Austin, and No. 22 Purdue, also on the road, will play this one on national television on ESPNU.

The Jayhawks have been ranked in the Top 25 of the AVCA poll for a program-record 22-consecutive weeks dating back to last season, including 18-consecutive times in the Top 10. KU finished last season ranked No. 4 after advancing to the Final Four.

Kansas State leads the all-time series with Kansas, 61-42, but the Jayhawks have won seven of the last eight meetings with the Wildcats, including a series sweep last season and a pair of wins over ranked K-State teams in 2012.

Tonight's showdown features one of the top defensive teams in the conference — KU leads the Big 12 in four defensive categories — against one of the most potent offenses.

It also features yet another opportunity for the Jayhawks to lay it on the line in honor of academic advisor Scott "Scooter" Ward who remains in the hospital after surgery to repair a tear in his aorta last Friday. Updates from those who have made the trip to visit with Ward have been increasingly encouraging and doctors continue to be pleased and surprised by his progress during the recovery process.

KU volleyball coach Ray Bechard recently penned the following letter to express what Ward means to the program:

It is seldom in life that you come across someone as inspirational as our academic counselor, Scott "Scooter" Ward.

He has faced so much adversity in his own life, but never do you hear him complain about his own circumstance. Rather than do that, he puts all of his energy into helping others and creating opportunities for the people around him to get better. He has done that for everyone involved in our volleyball program.

As we all became aware of Scooter's (emergency open-heart surgery) situation last Friday and we spent time together processing that, it was clear how every team member felt about him – how important it is to all of us that he gets a full recovery and what a joy it will be when he returns.

Our team realizes how much he cares about them and how badly he wants them to succeed. He is there for them beyond the academic support level. He is willing to listen and impart words of wisdom. He cares about the individual. He has devoted his entire career to preparing young men and women for life.

It is very difficult to come up with a way to thank a person like that, other than be the best we can be in his absence right now. On his return, hopefully we can continue to be that way. We look forward to that day when he is back with us full-time and supporting us at the level he always has.

Our team will continue to move forward and we will honor his absence by being the type of people and team he would be proud of.

— Ray Bechard

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Wide receiver Steven Sims KU’s most productive in years

Kansas wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. (11) tears down the field as he is trailed by the TCU defense after a catch during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas wide receiver Steven Sims Jr. (11) tears down the field as he is trailed by the TCU defense after a catch during the first quarter on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Not even halfway into his sophomore season, Steven Sims already has as many touchdown receptions as any Kansas pass-catcher in the years since record-breaking quarterback Todd Reesing headed back to his home state of Texas.

Sims has five TD receptions with seven games remaining, matching wide receiver Nick Harwell’s total in 2014 and tight end Jimmay Mundine’s in 2013.

Sims has more touchdown receptions this season than all Kansas wide receivers had in 2012 (zero) and 2013 (three) combined (three).

A case could be made that the most productive player on the offense and the defense are in the same class and come from the same city. Defensive end Dorance Armstrong also is a sophomore from Houston.

Credit head coach David Beaty with sound talent judgment for pursuing a wide receiver no other Big 12 school deemed worthy of a scholarship.

Among Big 12 receivers, only Texas Tech’s Jonathan Giles (seven TD’s) and James Washington (six) have more scoring catches than Sims, who ranks seventh in the conference with 82.6 yards per game.

When Sims catches his next scores on a catch he will have the most touchdowns in a season by a Kansas receiver since Dezmon Briscoe had nine in 2009.

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Quarterback not the biggest issue stalling Kansas football rebuilding effort

Kansas newcomer, Charles Baldwin, 72, a transfer from Alabama, gets stretched out with the offensive line during practice on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas newcomer, Charles Baldwin, 72, a transfer from Alabama, gets stretched out with the offensive line during practice on Monday, Aug. 15, 2016 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

TCU invades Memorial Stadium on Saturday as, at the moment at least, more than a four-touchdown favorite.

The biggest reason centers on the bigger, older, more experienced bodies that the Horned Frogs line up in front of their quarterback and running backs.

At offensive line, TCU starts five blockers who tip the scales at 300 pounds or higher. Kansas starts two whose weight starts with a 3.

The Horned Frogs average 318 pounds up front, the Jayhawks 291 pounds.

TCU starts one O-linemen with five years in the program, three with four, one with three. Kansas starts one O-linemen with four years in the program (center Joe Gibson), one with three years (right guard Jacob Bragg), two with two (left tackle De’Andre Banks and left guard Mesa Ribordy), one with one (right tackle Hakeem Adeniji).

Banks, ideally suited to play guard, has been the team’s most valuable O-lineman and has moved to left tackle for lack of a better option.

Projected starting left tackle Jordan Shelley-Smith was forced into giving up the game because of concussions, a smart move on his part.

Searching for the right combinations, coupled with injuries, has made it difficult to develop chemistry, another issue stalling the line’s development.

Senior Ke’aun Kinner and freshman Khalil Herbert, a pair of talented running backs, have break-away speed, but haven’t been given the holes to use it.

Consequently, Kansas ranks 124th among 128 FBS schools with 91 rushing yards per game and 115th with 3.34 yards per carry.

Head coach David Beaty has entrusted offensive line coach Zach Yenser with evaluating the position and deciding which recruits to offer scholarships. Yenser passed on Lawrence High’s Trey Georgie, a freshman at Illinois State. It will be interesting to track his career to see whether FBS schools properly evaluated him in passing on him.

Before the current coaching staff arrived, Kansas had not done well in recent years recruiting local offensive linemen.

Nebraska’s 6-foot-5, 300-pound redshirt freshman Christian Gaylord of Baldwin High is listed second on the Cornhuskers’ depth chart at left tackle.

Scott Frantz, 6-5, 293, a redshirt freshman out of Free State High, opened the season as Kansas State’s starting left tackle.

J.R. Hensley, a 6-5, 310-pound red-shirt freshman at Hawaii, played his youth football in Lawrence before the family moved to Edmond, Okla. Brother of New York Yankees pitching prospect Ty Hensley, a 2012 first-round draft choice, the younger Hensley was disappointed Kansas did not offer him a scholarship and is looking forward to making his first college start Saturday for the Rainbows.

Beaty and Yenser hope that they have a starting tackle in waiting in redshirting Charles Baldwin, recruited out of junior college by powerhouse Alabama, participated in spring football but was dismissed from the team by coach Nick Saban last May for an undisclosed rules violation.

If Baldwin has matured since breaking ‘Bama’s rules, he could help, but the long-term solution lies in Kansas identifying the right high school players to recruit and landing its fair share.

As many problems as Kansas has had at the quarterback position in recent years, it ranks no higher than the second-biggest cause of the program’s prolonged slide.

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Say something nice about Kansas football: Ben Johnson gem of vanishing recruiting class of 2013

Kansas tight end Ben Johnson (84) is brought down after a catch during the first quarter on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas.

Kansas tight end Ben Johnson (84) is brought down after a catch during the first quarter on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016 at Jones AT&T Stadium in Lubbock, Texas. by Nick Krug

Teammates with younger, less developed football minds, physiques and skills than Kansas tight end Ben Johnson must wait their turns as Johnson plays his way into all-conference consideration.

But those younger teammates have something that makes Johnson envious. They are members of a recruiting class that will grow together and help each other up from stumbles along the way.

Johnson? He is one of four players still on the roster from Charlie Weis’ recruiting class of 2013, joining quarterback Montell Cozart and reserve defensive players Kellen Ash and Colin Spencer.

That class had 16 junior-college recruits. Ten of them either never played a down at Kansas or left with eligibility remaining. Four of the eight high school recruits left the program.

“I’m happy there are more (high school recruits)coming in because when I came here with coach Weis it was way different,” Johnson said. “It was 20, 23-year-olds coming in because it was all jucos. It’s cool to see them come in and bond as a class.”

Second-year Kansas head coach David Beaty referred to Johnson as MVP of fall camp on a couple of occasions and the tight end is living up to the hype. Not all of KU’s offensive formations call for a tight end, but when he’s on the field, Johnson has shown a knack for getting open and catching passes thrown his way.

He had five receptions for 86 yards, both career highs, in Thursday night’s 55-19 loss at Texas Tech.

Johnson (eight receptions, 107 yards, one touchdown) and Oklahoma State’s Blake Jarwin (seven receptions, 82 yards) are the lone Big 12 tight ends on the John Mackey Award watch list.

“I’m just glad to be on the field,” Johnson said. “I’m happy that I’m getting opportunities now and I’m confident in myself that anybody that lines up over me I can beat them and I’m confident my teammates can help me out and get me in a position to win and make plays.”

Among the other four high school recruits from the Class of 2013, only wide receiver Ishmael Hyman plays college football. His first reception of the season for James Madison University, a gain of three yards, came Saturday.

Linebacker Colton Goeas transferred to Hawaii but has not played football there. Reserve offensive lineman Joey Bloomfield retired from football after suffering concussions. Quarterback Jordan Darling was at the bottom of the depth chart, tried practicing at offensive line briefly and then left the program.

Saying that Beaty started from scratch isn't far from the truth, although the coach is grateful Johnson stayed in the program.

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Late Night 2016: Sights and sounds

With the 32nd annual Late Night in the Phog tonight, the anticipation of the beginning of another Kansas basketball season is at an all-time high.

Led by 14th-year head coach Bill Self, the Jayhawks will open the season, as they always do, with high hopes and lofty goals. A likely Top 3 team heading into the season — which officially begins in Honolulu on Nov. 11 — the Jayhawks will be gunning both for a national title and a record-tying 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.

While the quest for both will hold the interest — and nerves — of KU fans for the next several months, few things get the fan base as fired up as Late Night, which offers both an opportunity to see the players in action and be entertained by their personas away from basketball.

"There’s nothing like it," said junior guard Devonte' Graham. "The fans know what recruits are coming from high school. They get all the privileges just to be around here and experience Late Night. Seeing Allen packed is different from just walking in and seeing it empty. You can’t really imagine it but it definitely is a huge impact on recruits.”

With that in mind, here's some of the sights and sounds from Late Night — the unofficial beginning of the KU basketball season...

None by Nick Krug

None by Nick Krug

None by Nick Krug

None by Nick Krug

None by Matt Tait

None by Matt Tait

None by Matt Tait

None by Bobby Nightengale

None by Matt Tait

None by Matt Tait

None by Matt Tait

None by Matt Tait

None by Benton Smith

-Check back to KUSports.com and this blog for much more coverage of Late Night

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Looking back at Late Nights past

The F.C. "Phog" Allen statue looms over fans waiting to enter the fieldhouse for Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse.

The F.C. "Phog" Allen statue looms over fans waiting to enter the fieldhouse for Late Night in the Phog on Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 at Allen Fieldhouse. by Nick Krug

With the 32nd annual Late Night in the Phog a little more than 24 hours away, the anticipation of the beginning of another Kansas basketball season is at an all-time high.

Led by 14th-year head coach Bill Self, the Jayhawks will open the season, as they always do, with high hopes and lofty goals. A likely Top 3 team heading into the season — which officially begins in Honolulu on Nov. 11 — the Jayhawks will be gunning both for a national title and a record-tying 13th consecutive Big 12 regular season title.

While the quest for both will hold the interest — and nerves — of KU fans for the next several months, few things get the fan base as fired up as Late Night, which offers both an opportunity to see the players in action and be entertained by their personas away from basketball.

"There’s nothing like it," said junior guard Devonte' Graham. "The fans know what recruits are coming from high school. They get all the privileges just to be around here and experience Late Night. Seeing Allen packed is different from just walking in and seeing it empty. You can’t really imagine it but it definitely is a huge impact on recruits.”

Added Graham backcourt mate Frank Mason III: "I’m looking forward to having a great time with my teammates for the last time. I think it is good for freshmen to play in front of the crowd. It’s a great thing we do every year and I’m looking forward to it. The skits are always funny. I’m not used to dancing and things like that. I think the dance moves are hilarious and us trying to fit in with the dancers. It’s always a good time."

With that in mind, here's a quick look back at recent Late Nights, through the lens of our talented photo staff...

2015 - Halfcourt shot steals the show

2014 - Late Night with the Royals?

2013 - Andrew Wiggins mania invades Lawrence

2012 - Dressed up and jeweled out

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