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Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas football coach Turner Gill's comments at his weekly press conference today.
If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports).
Full audio has been posted. • Gill thought KU played well in the second half against Southern Miss. He believed his team competed well through the whole game.
• Gill's keys for this week: 1. Have a tremendous work ethic, both through the week and in the game. 2. More cohesiveness in play-calling on offense. 3. Play more physically and with more passion on defense. 4. Win every phase on special teams.
• Center Jeremiah Hatch should be good to go this week. Linebacker Chea Peterman is still slowed a little bit.
• Gill says bad communication on offense play-calling is a mixture of a few things. KU needs to get plays in sooner. Some of it is mixed signals from coaches on sideline. Gill says KU has had enough football games to have that cleaned up more than it is.
• Gill says the team wants to go down the field more. The coaches have called more deep plays than fans have seen, but because quarterback Jordan Webb hasn't had much time to throw, KU hasn't had many plays down the field.
• The coaches changed who was relaying defensive plays on the sideline for the USM game. Gill said he and the coaching staff takes a majority of the blame for the poor communication that took place last game on defense.
• Gill believes the kickoff return unit has been good, but the other special teams units need work.
• Gill says the two blocked punts have come about because of missed blocks. It's about execution.
• Gill says he's not sure offensive lineman Brad Thorson is ever going to be 100 percent from his preseason foot injury, but it shouldn't impact his performance. He actually had a good second half. Gill was pleased to see Thorson's improvement in the second half.
• Jake Laptad is doing some good things that are not showing up on statistics.
• Gill was OK with his pass rush against USM, though it still needs improvement. Gill wants his defense to create more turnovers, though. If Gill's team isn't getting sacks but is getting turnovers, the coach is OK with that.
• Defensively, Gill is OK with the defense's progression from training camp. He'd still like more turnovers. Offensively, he didn't know what to expect. It's been a slow process. All that has to come together, and that takes time. Special teams is the area that Gill is disappointed in.
I can't get over the quote.
There are times when someone says something so far away from your own thinking that it's hard to wrap your head around it.
Kansas coach Turner Gill triggered that thought with something he said Friday night.
Following KU's 31-16 loss to Southern Miss, Gill was asked if he considered challenging a play in the third quarter.
With KU trailing 21-10 with 2:08 left in the third period, Southern Miss receiver DeAndre Brown appeared to fumble the ball at the 1-yard line.
The fumble went out of bounds in the end zone, and if the play had been overturned, KU would have gained possession at its own 20.
Here's Gill's quote about it after the game.
"I didn't have a good look at it. I just thought that they were going to review it," he said. "I was waiting to see. They reviewed everything else, so I thought at least that should be reviewed.
"I didn't want to waste a timeout. We only had one left. They said it was clearly out of bounds, so that's why they made the call."
Stop. Wait a minute. Let's back up to that last paragraph.
"I didn't want to waste a timeout. We only had one left."
Before I go any further, let me say Gill does not have an easy job. He admitted that, from the sideline, he didn't get a good look at the play (though he appeared to get a good enough view to run down the sideline to ask officials if a review was coming). He also didn't have the benefit of seeing a replay.
Gill also has to make split-second decisions in a constantly changing game with thousands of factors involved.
Having said all that, the quote above still gets to me just as much.
There is absolutely no way Gill should think of that challenge — especially in those circumstances — as a potential "waste" of a timeout.
Let's take a closer look, using the win probability calculator from Advanced NFL Stats* to help us.
* — Essentially, with the calculator, we can plug in the situation of a game (time, score, field position, down/distance), and it will tell us the team's chances of winning the game with the given scenario. This is based upon data from seasons of NFL games.
Though a college football win probability calculator would be ideal, I don't know of anyone who has made it available. The NFL calculator still should be useful for this exercise.
After Brown's catch (and the fumble was not called), USM held the ball on the KU 1-yard line up 21-10 with 2:08 to go in the third quarter.
According to the calculator, NFL teams in Southern Miss' position win 97 percent of the time.
OK, so let's say KU had challenged the play, and the officials overturned the call.
KU would have been down 21-10 with 2:08 to go in the third quarter with the ball on the USM 20.
In that scenario, NFL teams in Southern Miss' position only win 87 percent of the time.
With a challenge, KU could have increased its chances of winning from three percent to 13 percent: a full 10 percent.
One of the biggest momentum-changing plays of the game was Southern Miss' blocked punt returned for touchdown in the second quarter. As a fan, you would gladly trade a timeout there if meant preventing the blocked punt, right?
Well, before the punt, KU (down 11, 1:41 left in second quarter, fourth and 1 from own 28) had a 12-percent chance of winning the game.
After the blocked punt and subsequent kickoff, KU (down 18, 1:29 left in second quarter, first and 10 from own 26) still had an eight-percent chance of winning the game.
The difference there is four percent, meaning KU's non-challenge in the third quarter was much more costly than the blocked punt in terms of hurting its win percentage. This mostly is because KU still had a lot of time to recover from its mistake — a luxury KU didn't have late in the third quarter.
So Gill didn't want to "waste" a late timeout because he only had one left? There's an easy solution: Don't spend the earlier ones if not absolutely needed.
If you look back at the replay, Gill is the one who walked up to the official to call a timeout with his team trailing 21-10 with 8:20 to go in the third quarter with the play clock dwindling down.
Let's plug in the numbers: KU (down 11, 8:20 left in third quarter, third and 5 from own 43) had a 17-percent chance of winning the game.
If KU had let the play clock expire instead of using a timeout (down 11, 8:20 left in third quarter, third and 10 from own 38), its win percentage only drops to 15 percent — a two-percent decrease.
In case you were wondering, KU's first timeout of the second half was taken before a fourth-and-3 play from the USM 8.
Though there once again appeared to be issues getting the play in, it's harder to criticize wanting to get the play right there, as KU's win percentage went from eight percent before the play to 13 percent after Deshaun Sands' touchdown run and the subsequent kickoff.
The previous timeouts would be a bigger issue if Gill had no timeouts left to challenge the play in the third quarter. But he did have a timeout left.
I'd have to think there are few scenarios in any game he'll ever coach when a timeout could potentially net him a 10-percent increase in his win probability.
Watching the replay a few times, it appears Brown did fumble the ball before going out of bounds. I'd say the call probably would have been overturned at least 80 percent of the time, and that number might be conservative.
Forget saving timeouts. Forget waiting on a replay.
The play was perhaps the single biggest turning point in the game when it came to improving KU's chances of winning.
A challenge would have been anything but a waste.
Welcome back to "Breakdown," where we'll look at a KU play each week and try to go a little more in-depth into why it did or didn't work.
This is the first time in the history of this segment that we'll be breaking down a positive play for KU, as the Jayhawks defeated No. 15 Georgia Tech, 28-25, on Saturday. For this blog, I have consulted a Div. II offensive assistant coach, someone we'll just call "Coach."
Here is the replay of KU quarterback Jordan Webb's screen pass to Daymond Patterson on a late third down. You can click back to this video as you read later in the blog if you need to.
On third and four late in the game, KU offensive coordinator Chuck Long was probably expecting some sort of pressure from the Georgia Tech defense.
When Georgia Tech does blitz on this play, KU has the perfect call to attack it.
Before we get too far, let's diagnose Georgia Tech's coverage.
What we have here, Coach says, is Man-Free coverage.
What does that mean? Well, if you follow the arrows, Georgia Tech's defenders are all matched up man-to-man against KU's eligible receivers (Man).
The "Free" part is easier to see on the second replay.
Georgia Tech's No. 37 will serve as the free safety on this play, helping out in case any of his cover guys get beat deep.
There's also something interesting about the cornerbacks in our first slide.
Notice how they play close to the receivers (press coverage) and are playing on the inside of the receivers (inside coverage)?
"Obviously, they don’t want the receivers to get the inside of the field," Coach says. "When you play Man-Free, you’re trying not to give up the slant route, the easier routes. You’d rather have them try and throw it deep, where you’ll have a better chance of making a play on the ball."
In other words, Tech's coaches want to make the rookie Webb earn his first down by completing a more difficult throw.
We'll get back to the Man-Free coverage in a minute.
Though you probably didn't see it the first time, the play called was actually a double screen, meaning Webb had the option of going two different places with the football.
On the left side of the screen, KU's offensive linemen break out to block for a potential flare screen to James Sims, who is highlighted.
Meanwhile, on the right side of the screen, KU's offensive linemen break out to a block for a potential screen to Daymond Patterson.
Because it is a screen pass, KU's offensive linemen provide little resistance for Georgia Tech's defensive linemen, trying to get them up the field so they run themselves out of the play.
"Defensive linemen are taught it’s never going to be this easy to get through to get to the quarterback," Coach says. "A lot of times those defensive linemen are taught if you feel like you’re being let go — a free release — try and stick your toe in the ground and re-direct to the side that you’re nearest to or the side they have the most wide receivers."
Two of Tech's defenders appear to realize that a screen is coming.
As you can see, the two highlighted start to break down and re-direct.
Though we can't be certain what Webb is seeing, the Georgia Tech defensive lineman on the top of the screen appears to be somewhat close to Sims, making this a tougher throw.
This might be the reason Webb looks off Sims and instead opts to throw to Patterson.
"(Webb) does a nice job with his feet," Coach says. "It’s probably one-two with his feet and throw it to the running back, or one-two with his feet and then three-four with his feet and come back and throw it to the wide receiver."
As you can see in the replay, Webb also waits until the last instant before throwing the pass to Patterson.
This helps bring the defensive linemen further up the field so they can't make a play.
"He’s probably going to take a shot," Coach says, "but sometimes you have to take one for the team and sit in there and do your job."
That extra half-second makes all the difference for KU, as it allows left guard Sal Capra to get to the outside.
Notice he starts the play here ...
before sprinting down to make the key block of the play here ...
"That was an excellent job by (Capra)," Coach says. "He covered a lot of ground."
Remember our bottom defender who tried to re-direct when he saw screen pass?
Here he is later in the play.
If he'd have read the play a half-second faster, he might have been in position to bring down Patterson. Instead, he goes for an ankle tackle and can't quite get him.
Speaking of Patterson, let's take a look at him on this play.
By taking two steps forward before cutting back, Patterson freezes the cornerback, who has to respect that he might run a route down the field. If Patterson had simply gone straight toward Webb for the tunnel screen*, his defender could have triggered immediately to make the tackle.
* — Coach says this is a tunnel screen because the outside receiver comes inside to catch a screen. A bubble screen is when an inside receiver goes outside to catch a screen.
These two steps forward also allow Patterson's teammate, Johnathan Wilson, the time to go up and block the cornerback.
Coach says this play is especially effective against Man-Free coverage.
The advantage of playing zone defense is that defenders can see the ball thrown in front of them, whereas the advantage of playing man defense is oftentimes having tighter coverage on receivers.
Had Georgia Tech been playing zone, the cornerback in front of Patterson would have been playing the ball and not Patterson. Therefore, he would have immediately broken toward Patterson, giving him a better chance to make the play.
As it was, the cornerback had to respect that Patterson could go anywhere with his route, and because he wasn't watching the quarterback, he wasn't able to diagnose the play in time.
And, of course, the top cornerback had no idea he was about to be blindsided by a 295-pound offensive lineman.
Add it all up and you have a well-timed screen executed to near-perfection.
"A really good play call," Coach says. "As an offensive coordinator, you know you’re probably going to get some form of pressure from the defense on third and short.
"You just try to call your best play that’s going to give your offense the opportunity to get the ball to a playmaker and get a first down."
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas football coach Turner Gill's comments at his weekly press conference today.
If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports). Also, check out the latest depth chart, which has James Sims listed as the new starter at running back. Full audio has been posted.
• Gill started his press conference by thanking the fans and especially the students that attended the Georgia Tech game.
• Gill's keys to the game: 1. Play with tenacity; 2. Win the special teams; 3. Have more big plays that Southern Miss; 4. Win the penalty battle.
• Tight end is A.J. Steward out 3-4 weeks with shoulder injury. Angus Quigley is questionable with an injury as well.
• Gill saw his players much more relaxed last week against Georgia Tech. You never know how people are going to respond until you play a game.
• Gill doesn't read the newspapers or Internet stories about his team, because he's focused on his own job. Last week, he didn't let the loss or athletic director Lew Perkins' resignation affect him. Gill says win, lose or draw, he's going to be the same guy.
• Kale Pick's playing time will be determined on a game-by-game basis.
• Gill says Pick deserved to start Game One. Gill says he wasn't the same guy in the first game as coaches saw in practices, though. The coaches still believe Pick is a good football player.
• Gill believed Jordan Webb's demeanor in the first game was better than Kale Pick's. Gill believes Webb commanded the team well against Georgia Tech as well. Webb's teammates responded well to him.
• Running back Brandon Bourbon will make the trip, but the plan is that Deshaun Sands will get additional carries if Quigley cannot play.
• The coaching staff is trying to get defensive lineman Kevin Young to use his hands better. Gill says he's coming along.
A few months ago, you may have noticed a rash of spam being posted to our comments.
It looked something like this:
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We removed those comments as fast as we could, but unfortunately they came faster than we could ever get them. So, we implemented a technological fix that prevented those comments from ever being posted. That fix is known as Akismet.
It's a simple web service that allows websites to run their comments past the akismet algorithm, which determines whether a comment is spam.
Since we implemented akismet filtering of our comments in April, nearly 4300 comments have been marked as spam and intercepted. That means you all never see them and we don't have to chase them down and remove them.
Trying the same post over and over again generally won't help. What you need to do is look at your comment and think about what would be tripping the filter.
For example, with Agnostick's comments, his signature with an @excite.com e-mail address likely gave a very high spam score. With smitty, it was the use of odd symbols and odd spacing, behavior not normally seen in human posters but often seen from spammers, that caused the spam filter to mark the comments as spam.
Another common trigger is a comment that is almost exclusively a link. Put some normal text with your link, and it likely will go through just fine.
The great thing about Akismet is that it's always getting smarter. While it may mismark your comment now, in a few weeks it may know that your comment is fine. On the flip side, a comment that went through before may be blocked the next time, because it's similar to a new spam technique.
Have some patience and do let us know if you run into the filter catching something that just doesn't make sense at all.
Welcome back to "Breakdown," where we'll look at a KU play each week and try to go a little more in-depth into why it did or didn't work.
After North Dakota State's stunning 6-3 victory over the Jayhawks, we're going to look back at the play that killed KU's best scoring chance Saturday. For this blog, I have consulted a Div. II offensive assistant coach, someone we'll just call "Coach."
Here is the replay of KU quarterback Kale Pick's interception in the third quarter. You can click back to this video as you read later in the blog if you need to.
Right before the snap, KU shifts its receivers to a bunched formation on the near side.
Sometimes, these shifts can help the offensive coordinator and/or quarterback diagnose what coverage the opposition is playing. Coach says, in this case, it's hard to get a pre-snap read of NDSU's plans for coverage.
Here, I've diagrammed the approximate routes of KU's receivers.
"It’s actually a pretty good formation down there if a team is going to play you man-to-man," Coach says, "because if you cross your receivers at all, sometimes it causes a natural pick play for you, which helps open up receivers down there. Sometimes also it is helpful in confusing the defense as to which man they’re supposed to be covering."
Coach sees a problem just a few seconds into the play, though.
"The receiver spacing is not good at all," Coach says. "Those receivers need to run their routes a lot harder than they did and therefore, create more space and more space between defenders as well.
"When you get inside the red zone, everything’s compacted down, and so you have to have good spacing with your routes."
As we can see from this slide, KU's Tim Biere (top highlighted) and Daymond Patterson (bottom) are still very close to each other a few seconds into the play. This makes it much easier for NDSU to cover KU's receivers.
"No. 86, he’s not running his route very hard right there, either," Coach says. "The outside receiver (Patterson) doesn’t seem to be running his route very hard.
"Those guys, they just have to push off the ball harder and, like I said, try to create more space between themselves, and therefore, stretch the defense."
Let's go back to the coverage. After a few seconds, Coach identifies this as a basic version of a Cover 4 defense.
What is a Cover 4?
"The two corners have the outside quarters of the field, and the two safeties have the inside quarters of the field," Coach says. "Four guys to cover the four quarters of the field. Obviously, your linebackers or nickel will cover the underneath zones."
With the Cover 4, NDSU will rely on its four defensive linemen to try to get pressure on the quarterback. Also, Coach says, in certain situations, the middle linebacker drops back to help in the zone.
On third and long, the middle linebacker doesn't have to worry as much about a potential running play, so he immediately drops back to help the secondary. Coach says that the Bison do a nice job of defending on this play.
So what are Pick's options?
Coach sees two.
Though it's hard to see, Patterson appears to break free with only a single defender on him.
"(Pick)’s not getting pressured at all. His offensive line is doing a good job. He’s got plenty of time to make a good throw here," Coach says. "You see No. 15 coming open over here to the left of the hash. He was breaking out. If Pick would have been a little bit more patient, maybe that’s going to be the throw, with him breaking to the sideline and all this room to run down here to the sideline."
The other option is the most obvious one when going back to the film.
Take a look at KU back Deshaun Sands out in the flat.
At one point, Sands sticks his hand up, trying to get Pick's attention. He might have even been close enough to even yell to Pick.
Though Coach says that Sands wouldn't be one of Pick's first reads, it would have been his best (and safest) option.
"If (Sands) makes a guy miss — if he makes that corner miss, or if your X receiver (Johnathan Wilson) up there on the top of the screen blocks that corner, you walk into the end zone for a touchdown," Coach says.
"At the very least, he catches the ball, maybe advances it to the 5-yard line, you have a choice of going for it on fourth down or kicking a chip-shot field goal."
Instead, Pick tries to squeeze the ball into heavy traffic in the middle. In fact, it appears Bradley McDougald also was covered well by NDSU's safety — and he didn't even make the interception.
"As a Big 12 quarterback, he’s probably expected to not force this ball into coverage," Coach says. " ... There’s probably two or three guys that can intercept this ball."
NDSU's middle linebacker ends up making the pick, cheating back early when he didn't have to worry about a running play.
Pick explained the interception to Matt Tait after the game.
"I didn’t see that (linebacker)," Pick said. "He was in line with my guard."
Though it's hard to see exactly what Pick was seeing — and whether his guard actually was blocking his vision — Coach says part of the responsibility of having good vision falls on the quarterback.
"If you’re having trouble seeing over your offensive line, then you need to do a better job with your feet in the pocket and do a better job of scanning the field," Coach says.
Though this was a bad mistake by Pick, I'm still in agreement with Tait in thinking that Pick received the hook way too quickly.
After months of competition, Pick was named the starter. That decision have stood for at least a few games instead of a few quarters.
It'll be a shame if this one blemish ends up costing Pick his chance at being starting quarterback at KU.
After earning the job in practice, the sophomore deserves better than that.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas football coach Turner Gill's comments at his weekly press conference today.
If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports). Full audio has been posted.
• KU coach Turner Gill started his press conference by talking about positives: defense (only giving up six points is always a good effort), kickoff returns and kickoffs from freshman Ron Doherty.
• Only positive from offense: KU knows where it stands now.
• KU's defense will have to be disciplined against Georgia Tech's option. KU defensive coordinator Carl Torbush played Georgia Tech, so that will help with familiarity. KU cornerbacks coach Vic Shealy also worked at Air Force, so he has extensive knowledge of an offense similar to Georgia Tech's.
• Gill says the keys to the game: 1. Score a touchdown and score often; 2. Limit big plays; 3. Be plus-two on turnover margin.
• Tyrone Sellers is out for 3-4 weeks with a leg injury. Deshaun Sands is questionable with an injury.
• Gill says the strength of his offense is the receivers and tight ends.
• Gill rated his quarterbacks in the North Dakota State game as "OK, below average." OK, he says, is not good enough.
• True freshman James Sims will play this week. Toben Opurum will not move back to running back.
• Gill didn't think there was any lack of effort against NDSU. The loss was all about execution.
• KU's defensive front has to be physical and technique-sound against an offense like Georgia Tech's. The safeties also have to make a lot of tackles.
• Gill thinks James Sims is physical and has good feet. He also has good hands and can catch the ball.
• Quarterbacks are still being evaluated. A decision on who will play will be made soon.
• Gill says he isn't necessarily for playing two quarterbacks. He wants to do what is going to make the team most successful.
• Gill says "it's possible" KU might have to be more of a passing team than running team this year so that the team plays to its strengths.
• Gill believes the guys were ready to play. The execution just wasn't there on a consistent basis.
We here at KUSports.com are happy to announce that our KUSports Game Day app is now available in the iTunes store.
The app, which is free, supports iOS 4 on iPhone 3, 3G, 3GS and iPhone 4, as well as on iPod Touches and iPads running iOS 4. Compatibility with OS 3.0 is coming soon.
The KUsports Game Day App provides pre-game, in-game and post-game coverage, all at your fingertips. The app will bring you photos, stories, videos and audio and all of the KU coverage you've come to expect from KUSports.com.
Then, when the game starts, you'll get live updates and also instant analysis from Tom Keegan, Matt Tait and myself. With the KUsports Game Day App, you’ll also see game photos from our photographers, including Nick Krug, and after the game you can check in for postgame videos, analysis, blogs and stories.
For those with standard cell phones, we still have the option of signing up for text and email alerts.
We're hoping the new addition of the KUSports app will enhance the experience for our KUSports fans, wherever they might be.
If you want to get live updates from each week's press conference, be sure to follow us on Twitter (@kusports). Full audio has been posted.
• North Dakota State has beaten 3 FBS schools. That gets your attention.
• NDSU has a balanced attack, but it can run downhill against you.
• The first game is more special because Gill's oldest daughter attends KU. Everything else is like the other gameday preparations Gill has been through. Gill's mom and dad are coming to the game, and Gill doesn't think they've come to see him at one of his games since 1983.
• Gill doesn't have any gameday superstitions. The night before the game, he reflects on the game, playing situations through his head. It doesn't always end up the way he plans, but he still tries to visualize what's going to happen.
• No running back rotation is set. There's a game plan, though. Angus Quigley and Deshaun Sands will get the most carries.
• No final decision has been made on true freshmen running backs Brandon Bourbon and James Sims regarding possible redshirts. That might not be decided until the end of the preseason.
• Quigley is a tremendous leader. The fact that he was voted captain said a lot to Gill. Quigley's been through a lot. He can help guys persevere. He speaks a lot about what the KU football team is about.
• For sure, true freshman defensive lineman Keba Agostinho will play, and either James Sims or Brandon Bourbon will play. Safety Keeston Terry might also play. Three to four true freshmen will probably play.
• The one thing that makes Gill the most upset is when guys don't give effort. If they don't give effort, you don't have a chance.
• Gill is just like everybody else: He most wants to see how his quarterback responds on game day.
• Gill will be more involved in the offense than the defense on game day. Offensive coordinator Chuck Long will call plays. On defense, Gill might suggest blitzing more or less. On special teams, he might call for a trick play or fake. There are times when Gill shows more emotion on the sidelines during the games, which might not be like his normal demeanor.
The Newell Post usually doesn't dabble in music, but this will be an exception.
A song by Krizz Kaliko will probably be one most KU fans will want to know about. Krizz Kaliko, a rapper from Kansas City, Mo., has produced a new song called "Game On" which is a tribute to the Kansas Jayhawks men's basketball team.
I have to admit that the song has a catchy beat and also a professional sound to it. You can listen to it below (don't worry, it's safe for work without any curse words).
Krizz Kaliko, who also has collaborated with K.C. rapper Tech N9ne in the past, made the song available for free download online, in case you're interested in putting the song on your iPod or iTunes.
We'll probably hear much more of this tune when the season gets here, as I can't imagine that Rock Chalk Video wouldn't want to use it for some pump-up videos at Allen Fieldhouse.
I love to give stuff away.
Books, shirts, coffee mugs and concert tickets. You name it, if we get it, I want to give it to you, our loyal users.
All you have to do is check our work (clever headline, no?). Over the past three weeks, we've been working hard to prune our restaurant database. We've taken out some closed restaurants and added some new ones we were missing.
Now it's time for you to tell us what we're still missing. Full details for the contest are available over on the entry page, but the most important detail is you have from today through next Friday at 5 p.m. to get any error reports in.
Since we launched this contest via social media last night, we've received nearly 10 entries. But I'm sure there are a couple more out there. So, if you want a chance at one of two $20 Pachamama's gift cards, check your favorite restaurants in our restaurant database and let us know what still is missing.
After reading Gary Bedore's update on former KU player Kenny Gregory this week, I figured Gregory would be a good topic for the latest Jayhawk Flashback. When talking with Gary, former KU center Eric Chenowith said one of the best games he remembered from Gregory was his 17-point performance against Ohio State in KU's 80-67 victory during his junior year (Dec. 16, 1999).
The highlights of the game are below.
• This game was more significant for Gregory because it was against his hometown university (Gregory is from Columbus, Ohio) and because his parents also were in the stands (you can see them in the video).
Gregory also had taken some flak back home, as OSU had made the Final Four the previous year even after Gregory had decided not to go there. He even played pickup ball with some of the Buckeye players that summer.
"We spent all offseason arguing who is going to win and who will lose. The most important thing is about bragging rights," Gregory said before the game. "Hopefully I can go home for Christmas with something to talk about. I don't think I can go home with a loss."
Gregory made 8 of his 11 shots against the Buckeyes in his 17-point effort.
• Ohio State's two best players didn't have their best games against KU.
Point guard Scoonie Penn finished with 19 points, but he made just 5 of 23 shots.
His teammate, Michael Redd (before becoming a $100-million man) scored 20 points on 7-for-17 shooting. He was 3-for-9 from three-point range.
The Buckeyes' bench, meanwhile, combined for just two points and two rebounds.
"It was one of the best defensive jobs done on us," OSU coach Jim O'Brien said. "They just take you right out of what you want to do. Their pressure was very hard to play against."
• It's almost weird to see both Kirk Hinrich and Nick Collison on this team. Because those two were defined so much by what they accomplished in 2002 and (especially) 2003, it's almost hard to remember that they still played with guys like Gregory, Chenowith and Nick Bradford.
• Speaking of Hinrich, he played despite taking an elbow to the right eye from teammate Ashante Johnson at practice the day before.
"I took a pretty good shot. I drove past Drew (Gooden) and pump faked. Ashante cracked my head," Hinrich said. "I was really dizzy (Wednesday), but I never felt I was seriously hurt. The doctor said it was either a first- or second-degree concussion."
KU coach Roy Williams made sure to reiterate after the game that Hinrich had been completely cleared to play by doctors.
• The Jayhawks' weren't shy about firing up long three-pointers, huh?
Luke Axtell looks amazing in this video, which includes his 25-foot trey in the first half, and Jeff Boschee later adds a heat-check three of his own.
You have to think Williams wasn't happy with either of the shots when they were first hitched up.
• Anyone else notice all the Santa hats in the background? I know it's December, but is the 16th really that close to Christmas?
• After watching this several times, I'm convinced OSU's Ken Johnson (2:14 mark)
and former KU receiver Dezmon Briscoe
are long-lost brothers.
• How does official Steve Welmer manage to sneak into almost all the Jayhawk Flashbacks?
• Great pass by Bradford at the 2:45 mark, though honestly, it looks like he didn't know what he was going to do with the ball until the very last instant.
• KU had 12 steals in the game, with Axtell and Bradford swiping three apiece.
• In case you were wondering, Gregory and the Jayhawks also defeated the Buckeyes in the return trip to Columbus the next season.
Let's face it: A lot of us don't know as much about the game of football as we should.
We've always heard that receivers should catch the ball with their hands and not their bodies. And we know running backs should run with the ball in their outside arms. And throwing the ball away is often a smart decision by quarterbacks.
But how much do we really know about the techniques used by offensive linemen?
To help enlighten us, I tracked down Kansas University right tackle Brad Thorson for a few extra minutes during Big 12 media days last week in Irving, Texas.
In the two videos below, Brad goes through both run blocking and pass blocking, giving us some in-depth analysis about what he sees as an offensive lineman, what skills are most important and where he positions his feet, hands and arms in different situations.
Hopefully, by the end, you'll know a little more about the offensive line position when watching KU in 2010.
* — Notice that Brad talks quite a bit about inside and outside zones. Here's an explanation of zone runs for those wanting to know more.
With the new blog technology we introduced last week, you now have the ability to get notifications whenever anyone comments on your blog entries.
This can be both helpful and insanely annoying, so I'm sure you want to know how to control this setting.
It's easy, with the advent of the LJWorld.com Inbox. In addition to controlling your notification settings, you can also control whether private messages from other users go to your e-mail, or just stay in your LJWorld.com Inbox. You can also receive notices when a user "follows" you. At the moment, we don't have following enabled on LJWorld.com, but intend to in the future.
Following allows a user to easily find the comments or blog posts another user has made, without searching the site for them.
So, to control your notifications, first go up to the dropdown menu next to your username:
Then, click on Inbox & settings. That takes you to a page that looks like this:
Check the appropriate check boxes and you're all set. As usual, let me know if you have questions.
1 p.m. update: We've now completed this maintenance.
We'll be doing some maintenance on all of our sites at 12:45 this afternoon, meaning our sites may go down for as much as 10 minutes at that time.
Since midnight, we've been getting sporadic site overload errors that last a minute or less. To correct that problem, we're switching to a back-up server. That can't be done seamlessly however, leading to the downtime.
We try to avoid maintenance in the middle of the day, but because of when this problem cropped up, it's unavoidable.
We regret this problem and appreciate your patience.
Our sites include: LJWorld.com, KUsports.com, lawrence.com, WellCommons.com, KTKA.com, FreeStateStudios.com, TheDriveShow.com, ShawneeDispatch.com, TonganoxieMirror.com, BaldwinCity.com, BonnerSprings.com, BasehorInfo.com, DeSotoExplorer.com and EudoraNews.com.
Now, you’re at work, and you can’t listen for fear that your boss might fire you if you put in headphones.
No problem. Below, I’ve summarized some of the most interesting things I took from the chat with Connelly earlier this week.
For those that don’t know, Connelly studies the advanced statistics in college football and writes for the college portion of the 2010 Football Outsiders Almanac, which was released last week.
Here are some of the topics we discussed.
• Two of the best predictive factors for a college football team’s future success is past success (especially in the last three to five years) and recent recruiting rankings.
• In the Football Outsiders Almanac, KU has a predicted mean win total of 7.4. The numbers project a 7-5 record for the Jayhawks and a 5-3 record in conference, which would put them at second place in the Big 12 North.
• Because the FO Almanac is based all on statistics, the projections don’t take into account coaching changes (like KU’s). Connelly believes a lot of times when a coaching change occurs, expectations lower in the first year. For the Almanac, KU’s program (recent history) rank was 39th, and its recruiting rank was 41st. Because those are two of the best predictive factors of future success, KU ranks relatively high (49th) in the preseason ranking.
• KU’s schedule ranking in the FO Almanac was 38th last year. This year, it’s 89th. Obviously, that makes for many more winnable games this season.
• Schedule often plays a bigger factor than we give it credit for. Connelly brought up the example of Tennessee. Though the Volunteers are ranked 20th in the FO Almanac, they play seven top-25 teams this year. Because of that, UT is only projected to go 7-5 (like KU) even though its projected ranking is much higher.
• Another positive KU has going for it is recent offensive success. Though KU had a “down” year offensively last season, the Jayhawks still ranked 42nd in the FO Almanac’s offensive rating.
• Though Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier, Dezmon Briscoe and Jake Sharp are all gone from last year’s team, the Almanac only takes into account lost starters. KU did lose big names, but the Jayhawks still return seven offensive starters and seven defensive starters.
• A team like Texas may fall back a bit offensively because of extreme success on passing downs*. Last year, the Longhorns ranked 12th in the Almanac’s offensive rating, but second in passing downs. Passing downs success is usually not something that is sustainable from year to year.
* — Passing downs are second-and-8 or more, third-and-5 or more, fourth-and-5 or more.
“Kansas, on the other hand, despite Meier and Briscoe, they weren’t too successful on passing downs,” Connelly said. “Their overall offensive success seemed a little maintainable, but obviously, that’s going to depend upon Johnathan Wilson, Toben Opurum and all the new skill position players to at least maintain a little bit of that.”
• KU needs most improvement in rush defense. The Jayhawks ranked 112th in the Almanac’s rush defense rating, which was easily last in the Big 12.
“That’s a case where returning most of your defensive line, which Kansas does this year ... really might not be a good thing,” Connelly said. “They really need help on the defensive line and in the front seven overall.”
In comparison, KU’s pass defense ranked 53rd in the Almanac.
“(The Jayhawks) gave up a ton of yards on first down. They gave up a ton of yards on the ground. ... It just really handicapped Kansas overall,” Connelly said. “ ... When you struggle against the run so much, you have to overcompensate, and it makes you vulnerable in passing situations as well.”
• Two other factors that are usually not easily repeatable year to year by teams are fumbles and interceptions. The percentage of fumbles recovered in a year is, for the most part, is out of a team’s control, but it can have a huge impact on the final record of a team.
• The FO Almanac rankings are not kind to Kansas State, which is predicted to go 4-8 overall and 1-7 in conference. Part of that is KSU’s program hasn’t been successful in recent years (program rank of 72nd) and also hasn’t recruited at an extremely high level either (recruiting rank of 54th).
KSU’s underlying numbers last year weren’t great either, as the Almanac’s numbers ranked the Wildcats’ defense 93rd and their pass defense 104th, while KSU’s offense was ranked 95th.
“There’s no way they should have won six games last year,” Connelly said. “The numbers aren’t sympathetic to a coach being able to pull a magic act.”
How did KSU do it? The Wildcats had a great turnover margin (+7) and also played two FCS opponents.
“They seemed to outperform what the statistics would have suggested,” Connelly said. “Part of that could be (KSU coach) Bill Snyder. Really good coaches, you can overachieve you projections because you know how to win close games.”
• Another team that is being projected to fall back this year is Iowa State, which the Almanac projects at 3-9 overall and 1-7 in the Big 12.
The Cyclones haven’t had much recent success (81st in the Almanac’s program rank); they also forced more fumbles last year than any team in the nation.
“It’s just really hard to duplicate that as your main mode for success,” Connelly said.
• Connelly’s research has shown that lost talent on the offensive line doesn’t have as much of an effect on a team as many people would think. That’s part of the reason that Texas Tech (No. 16) and Oklahoma State (No. 32) have such high rankings in the Almanac despite having inexperience up front.
• Texas Tech’s high ranking has a lot to do with its recent success (Almanac’s program ranking of 16th) and a top-40 ranking in recruiting.
• Though many people do not believe recruiting rankings mean much, Connelly’s research shows that they actually are somewhat reliable when predicting a team’s future. OSU coach Mike Gundy has recruited extremely well in the last five years (24th in Almanac’s recruiting ranking), and the Cowboys’ defense was actually its strength last year, whether people realized it or not (19th in Almanac’s defensive ranking).
“If they can make something out of the offensive line, they have talent everywhere else,” Connelly said.
• Connelly’s research has shown that college players make the most improvement between their freshman and sophomore seasons and also their sophomore and junior seasons.
I've got good news for Kansas fans. I know of a college basketball transfer* who wants to play at KU.
He played major Division I basketball last year and is looking for more minutes this upcoming season.
He's also a big man. And after KU losing Cole Aldrich to the NBA, the Jayhawks could use a talented big guy in the middle.
This player only received limited minutes last year at his school, but in the time he was in, he put up some impressive numbers.
Here are some of his statistics compared to Aldrich last year.
As you can see, many of Player X's statistics were eerily similar to Aldrich's last year.
Ready for more good news? He'll be eligible next year for the Jayhawks. That's because he's already on the team.
That's right, "Player X" is Jeff Withey.
* — Sorry, I had to be tricky or you weren't going to be surprised.
Now I know I'm basing these numbers off an unfair sample size that is way too small to come to definite conclusions (45 minutes for Withey last year). And, yes, Withey did make it into the game for mop-up duty quite a few times.
Withey still performed best during the games he received extended minutes. In 12 minutes against Iowa State, he scored eight points (4-for-6 shooting) to go with five rebounds, a block and turnover. In nine minutes against Nebraska, he posted four points (1-for-3 shooting) to go with six rebounds, two blocks, one steal and no turnovers.
Also, because he was only eligible at semester, 13 of the 15 games he played in were during the Big 12 season or later.
One of KU's major needs next year will be a defensive presence in the middle. The Jayhawks were the top team in the nation in two-point field-goal percentage last season, and Aldrich was the main reason for that by blocking and altering shots as a defensive presence inside.
Judging from his block and rebounding numbers above, Withey has the potential to be that kind of defensive player for KU next season.
Should KU expect the same statistical production out of Withey with more minutes next season? Probably not.
Still, the seven-footer deserves a chance to see if he can keep his Aldrichian pace with extended playing time in 2010-11.
I've been wrangling comments and commenters and breaking news and other things online for two full years now. I finally feel like I've developed a rhythm.
That's twice as long as I've held any specific job — so that means, of course, it's time for a change.
Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be training Whitney Mathews to be our company's new online editor. Meanwhile, I'll be stepping into a new role as the company's assistant director of media strategy.
What does that mean? Well, for me, it means I'm stepping away from the day-to-day operations of LJWorld.com, in favor of a more strategic and longterm focus. I'll monitor our growth and work with Whitney to continue to make LJWorld.com a better place for news and community. You'll probably still see me posting in the comments from time-to-time, but not as often as before.
More broadly, I'll spend most of my time working to nurture our niche sites, including WellCommons, plus work on other projects that we're not quite ready to talk about. I'll also coordinate with the folks in our advertising department to make sure our websites are not only useful to all of you, but also to local businesses.
I'm excited for the new challenge and increased responsibility, but I'm being honest when I say I'll miss the relationships I've built with many of you. But I don't feel too bad because I'm really not going anywhere, just juggling what I do.
When all the conference realignment shakes out, who will have the better conference: the Big 12 or the Pac-10?
There are a million different ways to try to determine the answer, but ESPN has come up with an interesting way of looking at things: trying to determine which conference has more "prestige" schools.
On the site, ESPN is asking fans to rank the 21 teams in the Big 12 and Pac-10 "in order of the prestige you think they bring to the college sports scene."
I have to admit that the results are pretty intriguing.
Keep in mind that fans are voting on prestige and not the actual wins and losses of each athletic team. Prestige, to me, relates more to the fans' perception of a university's athletic department.
Here are the results as of 2 p.m. Thursday:
- Texas A&M
- Oklahoma State
- Texas Tech
- Arizona State
- Oregon State
- Kansas State
- Iowa State
- Washington State
A few thoughts right away:
• To me, this explains why a lot of national media attention was focusing specifically on whether Kansas was going to get left out of the realignment picture. According to this public opinion ranking on ESPN, KU is in the top half of the 21 schools listed.
Even though KU struggled in most sports in 2009-10, the perception of it being a strong athletic department hasn't seemed to change much in the public's eye.
Unfortunately for KU fans, "prestige" doesn't mean as much to potential conferences as "TV markets available" in this age of college athletics.
• Though many KU fans were worried (and for good reason) about the conference realignment possibilities, KU actually might have been in the best shape of the "Forgotten Five" — KU, Missouri, Kansas State, Baylor and Iowa State.
Looking at these public opinion rankings, KU is higher than the other four, though Missouri (14th) isn't too far behind.
Kansas State (17th), Baylor (19th) and Iowa State (20th) would have had more reason to worry that if the Big 12 dissolved, they might have been headed for a lesser conference.
• The Pac-10 is getting one school from the Big 12 (Colorado), but its public-opinion ranking isn't exactly stellar (18th). The Buffs did seem to jump pretty quickly when the offer was given to join the Pac-10.
So, as of now, which new conference has the most prestige?
For help with that answer, I gave a point value to every school based on their prestige ranking. Texas received 21 points, USC 20 points and so on, all the way down to Washington State with 1 point.
Here's how the conferences ranked:
Big 12 (without Colorado) — 10 teams, 107 points (10.7 prestige points per team)
Pac-10 (with Colorado) — 11 teams, 124 points (11.3 points per team)
If you look at things that way, the Pac-10 edges out the Big 12 in terms of average prestige ranking.
In case you were wondering, if the Pac-10 had become the Pac-16 (adding Texas, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech as was first rumored), its prestige ranking would have jumped from 11.3 points per team to 12.6 points per team.
It's hard to blame Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott for trying to enhance his conference by extending an invitation to some of the most highly thought-of teams in the Big 12.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins' comments at his press conference today.
• Perkins says KU is unbelievably happy that all 10 schools were able to stay together in the Big 12. There's lots of value in that.
• In Perkins' opinion, it is one of the greatest things to happen in intercollegiate athletics in a long time. Ten is a great number for the Big 12. Some things are still unanswered, and the league is trying to work through those as quickly as possible. Basically, it's like starting a new conference with all the details that still need to be worked out. This will not be finished for a long time.
• One of the questions he gets asked most is about the conference name. Perkins doesn't know the answer, and he believes everyone in the league will have to talk about whether a name change is needed.
• Though he thinks many of the reporters will want to know about the numbers, Perkins doesn't have completely accurate numbers right now. Things could change over time. He doesn't think any Big 12 schools would have accurate numbers right now.
• No one in the Big 12 is interested in expansion right now. The schools like having 10 teams. Perkins believes that perhaps this could start a trend for schools to go smaller. KU coach Bill Self said it well yesterday when he talked about the new Big 12 being like the old Big Eight.
• KU worked hard behind the scenes to keep this thing together. There are always going to be disagreements. That's never going to go away. But Perkins came away thinking this was the best thing for the Big 12, for the 10 teams still involved and for intercollegiate athletics.
• Perkins believes the basketball league will be stronger.
• Perkins said he kept KU's coaches in the loop throughout the process as much as he could.
• Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe deserves to be thanked. He has been blamed for a lot of things, but he and his staff might have saved intercollegiate athletics as we see it today. Perkins doesn't think the change would have been best for the student athletes involved.
• KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little was a rock star, and she and Perkins were in constant contact through the whole process.
• If Perkins ever had to "go to war," he'd want to do so with Kansas State's president Kirk Schulz and KSU athletic director John Currie. Everything between KU and KSU was done step in step.
• As the five "leftover" Big 12 schools looked at things — Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Baylor and Missouri — they came up with a business plan to try to keep the Big 12 together. Perkins compared it to a starting five of players and an institution trying to keep a good basketball coach. The schools knew what the other schools were being offered by other conferences.
• The five leftover schools then tried to figure out what they had to do to keep those other schools on board. Perkins said that the five leftover schools agreed to help subsidize the other three schools — Texas, Oklahoma and Texas A&M — if they didn't make a certain number of dollars. The "leftovers" were going to make more money with 10 teams in the Big 12 than if they were left on their own. At the end of the day, the leftover schools might have to pay a little bit, and they might not have to pay anything. Those leftover schools will guarantee, though, that those other schools would make at least what they would have made elsewhere.
• The five leftover schools hope they won't have to give additional funds to the other three schools. That's not guaranteed, though. Time will tell. The agreement just allows the leftover schools to guarantee that the Big 12 schools that were thinking about leaving, even with a worst-case scenario, will make at least as much money as they would have made in other conferences.
• The Big 12 schools signed an agreement to stay in the conference 10 years. If other things happen, it could be longer. Perkins says he has no reason to fear that any other Big 12 team will bolt on the league. All indications are that the teams are in the Big 12 for the long haul.
• Perkins says his only concern was the Big 12 during the process. His only concern now is the Big 12. He won't address the other hypotheticals and things that might have taken place in previous weeks. Everything else is meaningless now.
• Perkins says not to focus on liquidating damages. It's a non-factor in this whole situation.
• Perkins says it doesn't matter if this situation could have been averted. It doesn't matter now. There are a lot of coulda, woulda, shouldas. Things happen. Everybody wants to point a finger at somebody. Perkins says he's not going to worry about yesterday. He feels good that the 10 teams are in this for the long haul.
• Perkins' guess is that it's going to take a year to put everything in the Big 12 back together, because the conference is starting at zero.
• Scheduling is very important, but no one has gotten that far yet.
A previous version of this entry incorrectly quoted Perkins' description of KU chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. He actually called her a rock star, as is reflected above.