Entries from blogs tagged with “ku”
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his weekly press conference today.
• Tyshawn Taylor made some shots against Tennessee Tech. He's back to shooting 44 percent from three. He played better. He can guard better, but it was good for him to have the lid come off the basket.
• Xavier Henry is ready to shoulder a load on this team as well as any freshman has been able to do so far in Self's tenure.
• Sherron Collins can guard better. So can the whole team. Against Memphis, KU was outstanding defensively. The team has to get back to playing that way. The faster KU plays, the looser it has been defensively.
• It's human nature to see a lopsided scoreboard and take it easier defensively. The great teams don't do that.
• KU's non-conference schedule is about to get tougher. From this point forward, KU's non-conference slate will be about as tough as any team's in the country.
• The team took Monday off, as a couple guys were beat up and a couple of guys were run down.
• Self likes to schedule five to six non-conference games against high-major teams. Self isn't going to apologize for his team's non-con schedule so far, especially because four of those games were part of one tournament.
• Self isn't upset that his team hasn't had more road games so far. KU has plenty of road games coming up.
• The main thing Self hopes to see against Alcorn State is his team getting better. Self thinks a lot of time, players get more out of practices than games.
• One of the improvements Self would like to see is for his team to pressure the ball defensively without getting beat. Self also would like to see better rebounding. KU should be a better rebounding team. With a lot of blocks and steals, though, there are less opportunities for rebounds. KU's rebounding numbers are not good, but they are probably better than the statistics look right now.
• Self saves a lot of his team's "best stuff" and best sets for later in the season so that his players get down the fundamentals first and understand the offensive and defensive basics before they start executing more complex schemes.
• As a coach, if you're worried about being ranked No. 1, you're trying to hold on to something instead of trying to take something. Self prefers to go and take something.
• Self hopes his players don't think about their No. 1 ranking much, because it's not a big deal. It's an irrelevant thing.
• After being asked if the No. 1 ranking means something in recruiting, Self had the quip of the day: "Obviously not recently." Most of the reporters laughed, understanding the obvious reference to Bradley Beal choosing Florida over Kansas on Tuesday.
• Aldrich was better against Tennessee Tech, but Self said the big man had not played to his capabilities or potential so far this season.
• The Big 12 has been pretty good so far, according to Self. Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Iowa State have been pleasant surprises.
• Xavier is more advanced than Self thought he would be. Xavier is a smart player, he likes to learn and he's picking up things quickly. Xavier has bought in. It's been new for him to go from a situation his whole life where a bad shot for him was better than a good shot for teammates. Now, a marginal shot for him is not as good as an open shot for the guy next to him. You don't want to take away his aggressiveness, but it is different for him now.
• Self says the team has to understand that it needs to play offensively through Aldrich and Collins.
One day in November, we were sitting around wondering what we could do that would be a cool, fun way to reward you, our awesome users, for visiting us at KUsports.com.
Slowly, after many false starts and bad ideas, we hit on this.
To make a long story short, we want you all to recreate THE SHOT. You know the one I'm talking about, right? The Shot. The important one. From April 2008. Yeah, that one. Do you have it yet?
OK, good. Now, I know lots of you know how to use iMovie, and some of you are probably wizards with the Final Cut as well. But this challenge is going to be a little bit more difficult.
First, you can't use any photos, video or anything else that has the likeness of any current or former KU player or coach. Sure, that's a concession to the folks in our legal department (OK, we don't really have a legal department, but it's still a concession to The Law), but think of it as an extra special challenge. The entry must be precisely as long as the example video on the complete rules page: 1:05. No longer, no shorter. You also have to incorporate our site logo in there somehow.
What? You thought we weren't going to squeeze ourselves in there some way?
It's a big challenge. We know. But with a big challenge comes a big reward. This time, we're giving away a 1.5-inch thin, $2,000, 32-inch, HD TV from Kief's Audio Visual in Lawrence. We're also giving away a pair of men's basketball tickets to the runner-up, and a free buffet from Prairie Band Casino to everyone who enters.
So there it is. You have until Dec. 28 to put your video together. Get creative. Use videogames. Claymation. Who knows? The sky's the limit. Before you get started though, kindly read the full rules.
Once you've done that, got your video created, post it to YouTube and drop us the link.
From the sounds of it, Kansas coach Mark Mangino believes his Kansas team is a near-lock to make a bowl game if it defeats Missouri on Saturday.
“Everything I’m hearing from my sources, which I think are pretty credible, (tells) me that 6-6, for us in the Big 12, would qualify for a bowl,” Mangino said Tuesday.
Is it that simple for the Jayhawks, though?
According to Bob Burda, the Big 12’s assistant commissioner in charge of communications, the Jayhawks perhaps aren’t a slam dunk to qualify for a bowl even if they picked up their sixth victory.
Let’s start with the scenario that would 100 percent put the Jayhawks in a bowl game: If KU picked up its sixth win and two Big 12 teams also qualified for BCS bowls.
The Big 12 conference receives seven automatic bids to non-BCS bowls. If KU picked up its sixth victory this weekend, it would be the ninth bowl-eligible Big 12 team.
So the math is simple. If two Big 12 teams make BCS bowls, then seven Big 12 teams are left for the other seven bowls.
If only one Big 12 team makes a BCS bowl, though, then the other eight bowl-eligible teams would be left to fight it out for the final seven spots. More on that a little later.
So what would need to happen for the Big 12 to get two teams in the BCS? It could actually occur two different ways.
If Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma on Saturday, then most likely the Big 12 would get both Texas and Oklahoma State into BCS bowls, as both would currently have BCS rankings in the top 12.
There’s another zanier way for the Big 12 to get two teams in the BCS: if Texas lost to Nebraska in the Big 12 championship game. In that scenario, Nebraska would get an automatic berth into the Fiesta Bowl as the Big 12 championship game winner, and Texas would still most likely receive an at-large BCS berth with only one loss.
What should be scary for KU fans is another likely scenario that would only put Texas in a BCS bowl.
If UT wins against Nebraska, and Oklahoma State loses to Oklahoma on Saturday (OU opened as a 9 1/2-point favorite; another way of looking at this is that Vegas believed if the two teams played four games, OSU would approximately win once), then Texas would be the only Big 12 team eligible to play in a BCS bowl, as BCS bowl teams have to finish 14th or better in the final BCS poll. Oklahoma State, which is currently 12th in the BCS, would likely drop more than two spots with a loss to OU.
So, let's say OSU has a 25-percent chance of beating OU on Saturday*. And let’s say Nebraska has a 10-percent chance of beating Texas in the Big 12 championship (though that number might be a bit optimistic).
Assuming those numbers and probabilities, the Big 12 would have two BCS teams in 13 of 40 possible outcomes. That would give KU a 32.5 percent chance of being assured a bowl game.
That’s hardly a slam dunk.
* — The line has since moved to OU being an eight-point favorite, so perhaps you can bump the numbers up a couple percentage points.
There are other scenarios, of course, but they’re much more risky. If KU did pick up its sixth win, it would be fighting for the Big 12’s final two bowl slots with Texas A&M and Iowa State (assuming OU beats OSU). The two final bowls with Big 12 ties are the Independence Bowl (Shreveport, La.) and the Texas Bowl (Houston, Texas).
It would be hard to imagine a bowl not taking Texas A&M, especially with its devoted football fans.
Iowa State also would be a compelling draw, as the Cyclones haven’t played in a bowl game since 2005. A bowl game also could provide a nice reward (and extra month of practice) for first-year coach Paul Rhoads.
Consider this as well: If the Independence Bowl took ISU, the Texas Bowl would jump at the chance to take A&M, as College Station and Houston are less than 100 miles apart*.
* — And, this is pure speculation on my part, but I guess it’s possible the two bowls could come to a gentleman’s agreement to allow the Texas Bowl to take Texas A&M.
KU’s only hope here would be for the Independence Bowl to take Texas A&M and then have the Texas Bowl decide between KU and ISU.
Even then, it might not work out for KU. Everyone saw two years ago how important an athletic director can be in this process, as Lew Perkins helped convinced the Orange Bowl to take Kansas over Missouri even though MU had defeated KU a few weeks earlier.
Would Perkins be willing to go to bat for this year’s team? Especially when the Jayhawks might fire their coach in the next few weeks?
KU’s only other hope would be to grab an at-large bid from a lower-level bowl that is affiliated with a conference that can’t fill all its bowl slots.
The chances here aren’t great, either*.
Burda says that two bowls for sure will have an at-large spot available, and based on the rest of the season’s results, there could be the potential for two to four more spots to open up.
When picking at-large teams, though, bowls are required to take teams with seven or eight wins before they take six-win teams.
Middle Tennessee State (8-3) and Northern Illinois (7-4) will automatically take two of those at-large spots.
Here are some other six-win teams that could help their bowl chances with another win this weekend: Bowling Green, UCLA, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe.
If those teams win this weekend, they would automatically move in front of KU in the bowl pecking order by getting to seven wins.
Here’s another problem for KU: Notre Dame (6-5) will not qualify for the BCS and will clog up another at-large bid. Even if the Fighting Irish are 6-6, you can bet they will be the first ones chosen among any six-win teams.
KU also has to worry about another group: those teams that have five wins now but could still pick up their sixth win.
According to Burda, as of today, there are 69 bowl-eligible teams and 68 bowl slots. There also is the potential for nine more teams to become bowl eligible. They are: Kansas (5-6), Toledo (5-6), Kent State (5-6), UAB (5-6), Wyoming (5-6), Hawaii (5-6), Duke (5-6), Army (5-6) and UConn (5-5 with two games left).
So even if an at-large spot was available for a six-win team, KU potentially could be competing against the six-win teams above (most notably UCLA) and also the five-win teams above that get to six wins. UConn could even get to seven wins, which would allow the Huskies to leapfrog the Jayhawks for an at-large bid.
It’s not impossible for KU to sneak in, as ESPN’s Bruce Feldman has KU as an at-large team in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho, in his latest bowl projections.
After breaking it all down, though, a whole lot would have to go right in the final two weeks for a six-win team like KU to have a chance at an at-large bowl. And even then, the Jayhawks would have to be chosen over a team like UCLA and probably would have to make a great pitch to get themselves in a bowl.
* — I posted this two weeks ago in the comments section of one of my blogs: “Other bowls have spots to fill because some conferences do not have enough bowl-eligible teams. If KU goes 6-6, it will 100 percent go to a bowl.” Yep, I was wrong, too. Can I get a retraction?
The point is this: KU fans wanting their team to make a bowl need to cheer their hearts out Saturday for the Jayhawks at 2:30 p.m.
But they also need to make sure to cheer for the Oklahoma State Cowboys at 11:30 a.m.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas football coach Mark Mangino's comments at his press conference today.
• Players of the game, voted on by the coaching staff: Offense: Dezmon Briscoe; Defense: Justin Thornton; Special teams: Dezmon Briscoe; Offensive scout team: Receiver Reece Petty; Defensive scout team: Defensive end Shane Smith.
• KU did all it could to compete with Texas, but UT was just the better team.
• Mangino says he believes he has had a good working relationship with athletic director Lew Perkins.
• After being asked if he would want to coach at KU going forward, Mangino said that he has a lot of hard work invested into Kansas. Players have made great investments and assistant coaches have great investments. Mangino has put every waking moment of his life into this football program. When he's not at work, he's still at work. He's put his heart and soul into this program.
• Mangino says he has had overwhelming support from players, fans, coaches on his team, coaches on other teams and complete strangers. Mangino has received lots of emails and text messages in the last week. Mangino regrets that he can't return all of the messages yet because he's focused on Missouri. Some players that have contacted Mangino are Marcus Henry, Nick Reid, Brandon McAnderson and Charles Gordon. Mangino thinks he's appreciated by a lot of people. He just doesn't know who everybody is that appreciates him.
• Mangino on whether he believes this is his last game: "No. I'm coaching, and I'm focused on coaching," Mangino said. He says he's focused on Missouri. The preparation is all the same. The coach is moving full-speed ahead.
• If Mangino's tenure here is based only on the MU game, that would be a sad day for everyone.
• Mangino thinks the players believe in what the coaches are doing. The seniors still have a chance to leave a legacy with three straight bowl games. The kids aren't distracted. They won't be. They understand all the hard work invested can still pay off by winning against MU.
• One of Mangino's regrets about the situation is that not many people in the media wrote about Todd Reesing's return to Austin, Texas, last week. He thinks many people missed an opportunity to write about a great player returning home last week.
• Mangino said KU is not going to take MU lightly. "We're not fools," Mangino said. From everything he's heard, six wins would get KU into a bowl.
• MU's offense is unique and gives teams trouble. The Tigers give you a lot of different looks, and you have to prepare for a lot of different things.
• Safety Lubbock Smith is day-to-day. It will probably be a gametime decision.
• Mangino says he and Todd Reesing have had a great time at KU together. Mangino has enjoyed being around Reesing and his wit. "He's a wonderful kid," Mangino said. Reesing's a smart guy, and the two occasionally talk about economics and the market. The coach would love to see Reesing go out in style this weekend.
• Arrowhead Stadium is a great atmosphere, though it's not necessarily a true college football atmosphere. When you win the game, you think it's a good idea to play in Arrowhead. When you lose the game, you think it's a bad idea. That's the way coaches think.
• Mangino sees two talented young men in quarterbacks Kale Pick and Jordan Webb. Both are bright guys. They've both watched Reesing closely and have learned things from him.
• Kerry Meier is a phenomenal player and person. Kerry is a unique individual. He possesses traits that you don't normally see in a college student. He's a guy that like to give and also is unselfish. Mangino tells his players all the time that he can't always remember former players' stats, but he does remember their character. And Meier will be remembered for a long time. Mangino won't remember the number of catches that Meier had, but he will remember his character.
• Darrell Stuckey has made the most of his ability. KU was his only Division-I offer. He's another guy that reaches out to others. Who knows what the final record of this team will be, but the character of the players is what will mean the most to Mangino.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his weekly press conference today.
• Xavier Henry's scoring numbers are not inflated, but he did have a big game where he scored 27. Self isn't surprised at all by the scoring. Xavier has a chance to lead KU in scoring in every game.
• Self has been really pleased with Sherron Collins. So much of postseason accolades is based on statistics. Collins doesn't buy into that. He's only taken 14 shots in the last two games, and that's pretty unselfish.
• Brady Morningstar has been only back in practice for a week, but he's looked good. The offense has flowed well with him. Jeff Withey (still injured) is an unknown. Self doesn't know what to expect from him.
• Self says KU is not good at rebounding. The Jayhawks did well rebounding against Memphis, but they didn't do well against Central Arkansas. Cole Aldrich has to become better this season at rebounding. KU needs 10 rebounds out of him per game. KU has the pieces to become a good rebounding team, but the team hasn't done it yet.
• Oakland is up as a program and it should be up. The team returns nearly everybody, and it returns a 26-year coach. It's always a team that can beat some highly rated programs because it schedules well. Oakland lost a close game to North Dakota State in the Summit League championship game last year. The challenge could be comparable to what Memphis was. Self will tell the team that Oakland has a history of beating highly ranked teams.
• Self doesn't know C.J. Henry's role. C.J.'s been doing well in practice, but he hasn't had enough repetitions to know what the future holds for him. He's going to have to get comfortable in a lot of areas before a role is defined for him.
• Tyshawn Taylor hasn't played as well as the coaching staff had anticipated him playing, but he hasn't played poorly. Lots of players have gotten off to slow starts, and if you make shots, your whole game looks better. Taylor is a really good player, and he'll play better. The coaches have confidence in him.
• Brady Morningstar hadn't gotten first-team reps in practice until two days ago. The offense flows with him in because he knows how to move the ball and also because he can hit open threes.
• Self went to the National Collegiate hall of fame inductions of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson on Sunday in Kansas City, Mo. Self saw how much joy that they had when the open man took the open shot. KU's guys don't think selfishly, but Self doesn't think they understand how much fun things can be when they don't care who gets the credit. The team two years ago "got it," but this year's team isn't there yet. Morningstar is a guy that "gets it," though.
• Self tries to recruit the best players possible. You need blend guys, though — guys that allow other players to be as good as they can be.
• To score in the post at KU, the post players have to score before they get the ball — they have to score by getting good positioning. If players don't have that positioning, the ball needs to continue to move. Before you catch it, you know if you're open or not. If you're not, the ball needs to move.
• Teams are harder to guard when you have five guys to defend rather than two guys to defend. The 2007-08 team was like that. One game against Nebraska, Mario Chalmers didn't take a shot in the first 30 minutes, and Self told him to look for his shot. Chalmers said to the coach, "It's not me tonight." Self said, in that circumstance, Chalmers understood how the offense should work. Last year, Self didn't care that the ball "stuck," as long as it stuck in two guys' hands (Collins, Aldrich). This year, with the talent KU has, the ball should move more.
• Conner Teahan has gotten a lot better. How much he plays remains to be seen. Self has confidence in him out there.
A big part of my job involves meetings. Meetings about what we can do to make our Web site better for all of you, meetings about what sort of content we should be creating, meetings about how we'll cover the Turnpike bridges coming down and even meetings about our new health project.
But a strange thing happened Thursday; almost all my meetings were canceled. So I spent my day working with the Federal Cash for Clunkers database and looking at what vehicles were purchased in Lawrence and in other select communities in northeast Kansas.
First, let me say, the database does not seem to be exceedingly accurate. For example, according to the data, a 2000 Nissan Xterra with 1,257,367 miles on it was traded in for a 2009 Honda Civic at Jack Ellena Honda.
Don't get me wrong. I don't doubt a 2000 Xterra was traded for a brand-new Civic. But more than one million miles in 10 years? Please. Typo!
And in another extreme, a 1984 Chevrolet C10 truck with just 15,586 miles, was traded for a 2009 Nissan Frontier at Briggs Nissan. Of course, it's possible that a person bought this car 26 years ago and basically left it in the garage. Doubtful though that he or she would then trade it in as part of Cash for Clunkers.
Here are some other goodies, and even some graphs that I've already put together.
This first graph looks at the total number of miles on the cars taken off the street at each dealer in Lawrence. Keep in mind, that big, million mile Xterra turned in at Jack Ellena.
And this graph examines the MSRP of the all the new vehicles purchased as part of a Cash for Clunkers transaction in the state of Kansas. You can see millions of dollars in sales were generated at least in relation to this program.
Some other facts: Of seven dealers in Lawrence that reported a total 306 sales in Cash for Clunkers transactions, here's how many sales they each made:
- Briggs Nissan-Subaru: 38
- Dale Willey Pontiac-Buick-Cadillac-GMC: 21
- Jack Ellena Honda 50
- Jim Clark Volkswagen: 5
- Laird Noller Ford-Lincoln-Mercury-Mazda-Mitsubishi-Hyundai: 75
- Crown Toyota Scion Chevrolet: 117
And, what was the most popular car to be purchased as part of Cash for Clunkers in Lawrence? That would be a tie between Hyundai Accents (27/33 mpg) from Laird Noller and Honda Civics (24/31 mpg) from Jack Ellena. The data shows 18 of each sold, including one Civic Hybrid, which would get higher gas mileage.
Surprisingly, the data shows only two hybrids were sold as part of the program in Lawrence: the aforementioned Civic and a Ford Fusion.
I've got a lot more numbers that I'm still making sense of, but I want to know what you want to know. What's the most interesting statistic for you, in terms of Cash for Clunkers. Is it how much in sales (at least at MSRP) that each dealer brought in? Or is it why the data is so inaccurate? Or is it a story about that million-mile Xterra? Let me know what you think. Or if you were one of the folks who traded in an old clunker for a slick new ride, I want to talk to you too.
Or, if you've got a good eye and some experience with databases, I'm making all of my Lawrence data available as a .csv file. If you see something interesting in there that I might have missed, post a comment here or drop me a note.
Look for more on this story in the next few days.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas football coach Mark Mangino's comments at his press conference today.
• Players of the game, voted on by the coaching staff: Offense: Dezmon Briscoe; Defense: Chris Harris; Special teams: Darrell Stuckey; Offensive scout team: Running back Deshaun Sands; Defensive scout team: Safety Brian Blackwell.
• Last week's game was a case where KU made mistakes and Kansas State did not. The team with the fewest mistakes usually wins.
• Nebraska's Ndamukong Suh is as fundamentally sound of a football player as there is in the conference. He's strong and quick and is hard to get off his feet. He's a smart player, and he's hard to fool with blocking schemes.
• KU didn't change its offense in the second half against KSU. The Jayhawks didn't play more conservatively because of the three first-half turnovers.
• Mangino thinks the offensive line needs a leader to emerge.
• Mangino is not going to try to push Toben Opurum too hard, because he is just a freshman.
• Right now, KU has to focus on today. Therefore, Brad Thorson gives KU the best chance to win at right tackle for these games. His best position will be reassessed in the offseason.
• Daymond Patterson didn't play Saturday partly because he's banged up, but partly because other guys have stepped up at cornerback. Mangino is thinking of the now, so he won't examine a potential position change for Patterson back to receiver until the offseason.
• Through the years when KU has had a tough spell, the team has stayed the course. The team keeps its same routine and keeps encouraging players. When you take drastic measures during a tough time, players start to question if the coach is panicking.
• Defenses are catching up to offenses. Mangino says you could see it coming. The coach says he started to see it toward the middle of last year. An observation the coach has had is that more and more teams are fading out of the spread offense. There are more bunched formations and more two tight-end formations. When you're throwing the ball, a lot of bad things can happen. There are great things that can happen, as KU has seen in the past, but many teams are becoming more conservative. KU will continue to function out of its spread set, even though the team has tried different looks. Mangino says the spread isn't dead, but teams are adjusting. Football is always going to change. It goes in cycles. It's like old clothes — hold on to them and they'll come back in style.
• Mangino is still comfortable with his spread offense. He isn't ready to abandon it just yet. KU is still going to throw the football. The coaches thinks it fits KU right now, with the personnel it has.
• Mangino knew the spread wouldn't last forever, but it's surprising to some degree how quickly more teams are going to bigger personnel formations. People want to be able to control the clock. A lot of teams want balance to their balance. When you're spread out, you have to have some talented guys to run the ball effectively.
• The coaches thought the time was right to get Anthony Davis back on the field. He has some talent. He's fast and strong and has good hip movement. Davis worked with the scout team for a few weeks, and Mangino likes the way he looks right now.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at his weekly press conference today.
• If C.J. Henry was healthy, he would have played the same minutes as the other guys Tuesday. He needs to be out there to gain confidence. Self is hopeful C.J. will be out there for the next exhibition game. Self is a little bit concerned about the injury because C.J. needs to get out there to get in a rhythm. Self isn't concerned about C.J.'s long-term health, though.
• Tyshawn Taylor will probably start next Tuesday, but Markieff Morris has been playing well. Markieff is probably the most improved player KU has.
• Self wants be able to give Marcus Morris the opportunity to play on the perimeter. KU can be a big team if it wants to be. The "big" team could be a pretty good zone defensive team (the rotation that had Xavier Henry playing at the two and Marcus at the three).
• Tyhsawn will be fine, but he goes through times when he's careless.
• C.J.'s injury situation doesn't affect Mario Little, Travis Releford or Conner Teahan's red-shirt possibilities.
• Self and the players will probably decide Monday about red-shirts.
• All the guys want to play, but the reality is, some of them might be better with another year's experience. If you're a good player, and the deck's stacked against you and you feel like you are the odd man out, then red-shirting is not a bad scenario.
• The future is, 'What are we're going to do this weekend?' for a lot of college kids, so it is sometimes tough to get them to think about a year from now.
• Self thought a month ago Elijah Johnson was a definite redshirt candidate. Self doesn't see that now. He didn't expect Johnson to impact the program the way he has this quickly.
• Markieff's body has changed. He's put on 30 pounds. He's confident. Self's son even commented that Markieff dunked on his first attempt when he didn't dunk much last year. Cole Aldrich might not get as many rebounds because he'll be more contested by his teammates. Markieff has a good feel for the game.
• Self thinks the twins have the chance to be really good players. From a fan's perspective, Self thinks those guys could be frustrating to watch last year because they were inconsistent. Early in Julian Wright, Brandon Rush and Mario Chalmers' careers, they were also inconsistent as well. Self thinks perhaps the Morris twins had too much expected of them last year.
• Self see Tyrel Reed's role as being one that he can make shots and make big shots. Reed also tries so hard and cares so much. Reed is an unbelievable leader for KU's players. Everybody respects Tyrel. There's no way you can play here and not respect his effort. KU fans should respect everything he does because he tries so hard. Self sees his role as comparable to last year, but perhaps with a few more minutes, especially early in the season. The coach doesn't know for sure, though, as it's too early to tell exactly what guys' roles will be.
• Self thinks some of the new recruiting rules are favorable and rules that all coaches would agree with. Some rules need to be tweaked, especially regarding summer camps. The thought is good, but some tweaking need to be done. With the current rules, Self couldn't bring in any coaches to speak at camp.
• KU needs to get Aldrich more shots. Self thinks a different way, though, in that instead of more shot attempts, KU needs to get Aldrich more touches. He needs to have double-digit shot attempts each game.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas football coach Mark Mangino's comments at his press conference today.
• Players of the game, voted on by the coaching staff: Offense: No selection; Defense: Arist Wright; Special teams: Alonso Rojas; Offensive scout team: Offensive lineman Joe Semple; Defensive scout team: Linebacker Chea Peterman.
• Mangino still thinks his team squandered a good defensive effort against Texas Tech. The coach is very pleased with the progression of his defense.
• The offense's problems are numerous, including poor blocking on the perimeter, bad decision-making by players and drops by receivers.
• Mangino thinks "you guys" (the media) make Todd Reesing's benching a big deal. It's not a big deal. It was the appropriate thing to do to take him out of the game against Texas Tech.
• The coach doesn't think you can look at the North standings. You have to look at yourself. The Jayhawks need a win more than they need to get caught up in the standings. This KU-KSU game is an important game because it's an in-state rival. To Kansans, this is one of the biggest sporting events in the state.
• In Mangino's world, benching a quarterback is the same as benching any other player. KU has 11 players on the field and all are asked to do specific things. When he goes into a house to recruit, Mangino doesn't tell parents he'll treat quarterbacks different from right guards.
• Hard work and teaching fundamentals will be the key to get the offensive line back to playing better. The coaches will just go back to teaching all the little things that are important.
• Quinton Woods is learning to use his hands. He's relied on his speed and quickness prior to coming to KU. He's learning how to gain leverage and learning how to make moves instead of running around people.
• Kansas State is back to playing basic football. The Wildcats are not really flashy. KSU doesn't leave anything to chance. Everything is carefully choreographed.
• Mangino thinks some position changes have helped the defense. The defensive line also is coming together. Last year, the coach felt the unit was inconsistent. This year, he feels the defensive line is much more consistent. The younger players on defense also are becoming more comfortable.
• Mangino thinks Alonso Rojas has improved his game in directional kicking. When he first got here, he wanted to kick with all his might. The coach thinks he has to be one of the best punters in the nation in sky kicks and dropping them inside the 20. Rojas is doing a great job.
• A lot of kids growing up in Kansas grow up in a KU or K-State household. That means most of the Kansas recruits you find are either K-State kids or KU kids already. Therefore, the coach thinks the result of the Sunflower Showdown game does not impact recruiting as much as the coaches would like for it to.
• KSU running back Daniel Thomas is a pretty good player. He has the quickness to make you miss. He has a strong lower body, so you really have to wrap up. Mangino is really impressed with Thomas.
• Arist Wright is getting more comfortable in the run game and also is jumping the pass routes.
• Mangino has spent 95 percent of his time with the defense this year in practice. That's unusual, as he's usually closer to 50-50 with the offense and defense. The coach said he knew back in April that the team had some major problems on defense. Now, the coach has turned his attention to the offense. It's not because he has a magic wand to fix things, but the coach wonders if it's a little like children: that without the head coach paying much attention to the offense, perhaps the players get the impression that the offense isn't as important.
• Reesing is running the same plays that were working earlier in his career. Mangino is not going to panic, because he has a lot of faith in Reesing. Mangino thinks he'll be fine. Ressing isn't happy with the way things are going, and he's going to change it. There's no panic and no worry from the coach.
• Mangino told the players in the locker room after the Texas Tech game that he coached lousy.
So what exactly happened during the first offensive play for Kansas against Oklahoma when Todd Reesing threw an interception?
Welcome to "The Breakdown," where we'll look at one KU play each week and try to go a little more in-depth into why it did or didn't work.
For help with this blog, I have consulted a Division-II defensive assistant coach, someone we'll just call "Coach" in this blog.
Hat tip to the Missouri football fan site, Rock M Nation, which has been doing this for a few weeks now and inspired the idea for this type of blog.
First off, here is the replay of the Reesing interception for reference. You can also click back to this as you read later in the blog if you need to.
Before we go any further, I asked KU offensive coordinator Ed Warinner about the play, and this is what he said:
"We were going to take a shot at them and see if we could get them on the first play. Their kid made a great play. There's a lot of safeties in this league and a lot of safeties that we've played against over the years that couldn't have made that play, but he ran a long way.
"They disguised a coverage, and you know, he made a great play. So there's some risk in taking a shot after them in the first play. It came back to bite us in the rear. ... You'd like to have that one back, but if you don't take any chances against Oklahoma, you play conservative, you probably have a hard time beating them, too."
Let's take a look at what happened.
You can see the KU players looking to the sideline. This is where the Jayhawks are confirming the play call.
Warinner mentioned that OU had disguised a defensive play call. At this point, it appears that OU has lined up in a Cover 2 shell.
In this Cover 2 scheme, four players rush the passer and each of the other seven defenders drops into a zone. Those seven players guard the areas I have indicated in the above photo.
So, seeing this setup, Warinner most likely believes the Jayhawks will go against a zone coverage.
This is where it all changes. Notice right before the snap, one of the OU cornerbacks comes up late toward the line of scrimmage and will be blitzing on the play.
"He does a very good job here," our D-II defensive assistant coach — or Coach — says. "You can do this if you've got a lot of speed at this position. If this guy isn't going to be a very good athlete, obviously he's going to have to cheat down so he can get a good blitz. But what makes the play, obviously, is this guy plays at Oklahoma. He's an excellent athlete."
By coming late, the cornerback tries to catch KU's offense off-guard. Notice also that the backside safety takes off toward the middle of the field, indicated with the other arrow.
So what is going on? OU is not going to run a Cover 2, but instead is running a Cover 1 with a cornerback blitz. This means that instead of two safeties splitting the deep coverage of the field, one safety covers the entire field.
This also means for a significant change in coverages for OU. Instead of seven defenders playing seven zones, OU instead will go man-to-man on KU's four eligible receivers, with the safety playing deep. Take a look at what OU's coverage is with the Cover 1.
Suddenly, KU's play call to take advantage of a Cover 2 defense might not be so effective because of a well-timed and well-disguised blitz.
Let's take a step back before we go forward, though. Let's pretend OU had stayed in the Cover 2 defense (which it did not). What was KU's play call trying to accomplish? As you can see from the next slide, Meier goes out in the flat and gives a fake leap for the ball, letting us know that it was a planned fake for Reesing the whole way and that Meier was not an option for this play.
So what purpose does the fake serve?
According to Coach, the purpose of the fake bubble route is to widen out OU's No. 1, who is the bottom cornerback on the screen. By having him break toward Meier to the outside, that opens up the field for Dezmon Briscoe, the second receiver from the bottom.
The goal now could be to put a "two-way stretch" on the back safety. This simply means overloading the safety's zone with more men than he can cover.
If Johnathan Wilson runs vertically up the hash and Briscoe runs vertically up the numbers, it's very difficult for OU's safety to cover them both. That's why the cornerback's job in front of the safety is important as well.
In Cover 2, the cornerback (standing on the bottom hash at the 25-yard line) has the job of collisioning the receivers. If Wilson runs toward him, his job is to try to funnel him to the outside to make him run his route closer to Briscoe.
"If those receivers are running 15 yards apart and both are running vertical, that's hard for the safety to cover," Coach says. "But if those guys are running five yards apart vertical, that's easier for that high safety to cover."
So, if KU read Cover 2, the goal was most likely to get Briscoe in single coverage against OU's safety (who also had to worry about Wilson) and try for a big play down the field.
Obviously, that's not the way it worked.
Let's take one more step forward and go through how the play actually turned out with OU running its Cover 1 defense.
Let's go back to this slide, because it's important. Notice how the OU safety cheats toward the bottom of the screen right away?
There's two reasons he can do this.
For one, he's very confident that the linebacker up top (the one on the Big 12 logo) can guard KU's tight end (Tim Biere) in single coverage without any safety help. Coach says this isn't a slight on Biere; typically, teams figure they can get by covering a tight end with a linebacker man-to-man.
There's another reason the safety can cheat immediately: KU doesn't have another receiver to the top of the screen. Because KU has trips, or three receivers, to the near side, the safety can cheat over to where there are more receivers.
If KU had split its receivers, putting two on each side, Coach says it would have been much tougher for the safety in Cover 1 to cheat over so much to one side, as he would have had to worry more about covering the entire field.
As you can see from this next slide, Wilson and Briscoe cross routes, essentially running the common "pick" route. OU schemes it well, though, according to Coach.
"What you don't want to do in man-to-man coverage is have your defensive backs or defensive players play on the same level," Coach says. "You don't want to have them both at five yards, because when teams run crossing routes like that, if the receivers cross paths with each other, that causes your defensive players to run into each other."
As you can see from the picture, OU has it played nearly perfectly, as the defensive backs are three yards apart and are in no danger of running into each other.
Coach does see one big mistake from OU, though, and that's from the cornerback covering Briscoe at the bottom of the screen.
"He should have his hips open ready to run," Coach says. "He thinks he's going to get a jam right there on (Briscoe), and that's very hard when that receiver's got two yards of cushion, and he's going to be able to make a move. That (cornerback), essentially, should have his hips open and be ready to run."
The poor hip position costs the OU cornerback. As we can see in this photo, Briscoe has the cornerback beat by nearly two steps. Even worse for the cornerback is the fact that he's not guaranteed safety help in a Cover 1 scheme.
"If that safety didn't get over there and help him out," Coach says, "that was a big play for Kansas."
Most likely, Coach says, Reesing sees Briscoe beat the cornerback and figures he can throw it over the top to his receiver without any issues.
The problem is, Reesing either doesn't see the backside safety, or he doesn't think the safety will be able to get all the way across the field to make a play*.
* — Remember what Warinner said earlier: "There's a lot of safeties in this league and a lot of safeties that we've played against over the years that couldn't have made that play, but he ran a long way."
OK, so the throw gave the safety enough time to come over the top to make the interception and save his cornerback.
Why didn't Reesing just throw it harder, you ask?
Simple. It would have been nearly impossible.
Let's go back to the first slide.
Notice KU's play starts from the top hash. That makes his throw to the right sideline an extremely long throw.
"Reesing has a good arm, but that's a tough throw, and he's not going to be able to put it on a line," Coach says, "so it's going to give a guy time to come over and help on it."
Perhaps the only way Reesing could have safely gotten the ball to Briscoe would have been an intentional underthrow, hitting him on his back shoulder near the 40. That way, Briscoe could have reacted to the ball and caught it in a spot that the safety couldn't have gotten to.
OK, so how could this play have been successful for KU against OU's Cover 1 scheme?
Let's take a look.
The irony of this play is that perhaps the best pass KU could have completed was the bubble screen that Reesing faked at the beginning.
If you look above, because of the blitzing cornerback, OU is forced to put a linebacker in man-to-man coverage against Kerry Meier.
"This is a pretty risky coverage," Coach says, "but it's also smart knowing (OU's) got a pretty good athlete out here at outside linebacker."
OU's hope is that its linebacker has as much speed as the possession receiver Meier and will be able to run with him down the field.
However, to start the play, the linebacker is beat by alignment, as he is playing a huge distance off Meier.
If KU had called the bubble screen, Reesing could have taken the snap and immediately gunned it to Meier. Briscoe and Wilson then simply could have blocked the cornerbacks in front of them, as the picture above shows.
"If you throw it to Meier and just run out here and get what you can," Coach says, "you've got a good play."
There's another option as well.
After the fake to Meier, Wilson crosses with Briscoe and has a defender running with him.
At this point, he is facing man coverage, not a Cover 2 zone*.
* — Take a look at the first slide again.
Wilson is pointing up at an angle. Did he already notice that the OU cornerback was blitzing? Was he trying to alert Reesing and/or Warinner that perhaps the Jayhawks weren't going to go up against a Cover 2?
It's hard to know, but I'm guessing the receiver was trying to communicate something.
With the safety bailing towards Briscoe at the bottom of the screen, it's Wilson's job to beat the cornerback and get himself open against the man coverage.
However, Wilson doesn't get much separation at first from his defender.
"The corner does a great job on him. See how he jams him right there and doesn't let him off and basically has him blanketed. He does a nice job there," Coach says. "So what has to happen is 81 has to beat that guy. We ran a play similar to this, and what has to happen is that guy, if you get man coverage, you have to win right there. (No.) 81 has to beat No. 1 right there."
Though we can't be sure of KU's specific receiver routes, most likely Wilson has the option of multiple routes to get himself open.
"He just needs to keep running straight up the hash and let the quarterback lead him to where he wants him to go," Coach says. "It's probably going to be straight up the hash or straight up the middle of the field. That could have been the throw."
It wasn't, though, and for the second straight week, a first-half turnover put the Jayhawks in an early hole they couldn't recover from.
Full audio is posted here. Be sure to check it out, as Mangino gave some funny lines about players' girlfriends and Penn State coach Joe Paterno.
• Players of the game, voted on by the coaching staff: Offense: No selection; Defense: Jake Laptad; Special teams: Jacob Branstetter; Offensive scout team: Quarterback Jacob Morse; Defensive scout team: Linebacker Josh Richardson.
• Mangino felt the defense was much improved against Oklahoma, but it didn't come up with two stops it needed in the third quarter.
• One of the things Texas Tech has done on defense is kept things simple scheme-wise. The Red Raiders execute their sets well, though. Traditionally, Tech stops the run well, though that didn't happen last week against Texas A&M.
• Every Big 12 season takes on its own character. Mangino sees the parity as a sign of strength for the conference. He thinks all the conference teams are improving.
• The KU coaches are doing everything they can to prevent slow starts on offense. They've studied it inside and out. There's no excuse for the number of mistakes made early in the games. One of the guys that has made mistakes early (Todd Reesing) is one of the most reliable guys Mangino has had since being at KU.
• Mangino has always had confidence in Branstetter. The coach still feels, without the wind, the kicker's range is around 48-49 yards. The coach believed Branstetter's 57-yard attempt would be long enough. He did feel better putting the kicker out there with the wind behind him.
• Mangino is encouraged by what he's seen on defense. The coach said that he's learned as the season has gone on that perhaps some of the upperclassmen have a better role on defense as part-time players. The young kids are really coming along, but Mangino still says the team needs 25-30 snaps from the veteran guys. The young guys are playing hard, and they're playing smart football. In some ways, the veteran guys have not stepped up as well as the coaches would have liked.
• The coaches try to do things to fit Jake Sharp when he's in. There are some things they won't do when he's in at running back. Sharp on a bad leg is better than a lot of backs on two good legs. The coaches have seen Sharp lose some of his explosion lately, though, with his injury.
• Todd Reesing is fine after the disappointing game against OU. He takes a lot of pride in his performance. He knows there are some plays that haven't been good and that he hasn't executed well. Reesing had good energy in practice on Sunday and was talking it up with his teammates. The casual fan can see how much he cares and how much he wants to be successful.
• Mangino isn't surprised by the things TTU coach Mike Leach says. Leach says what he believes, and Mangino doesn't think there's anything wrong with that. Leach is intelligent, so what he says has been carefully thought out.
• Mangino loves watching Penn State coach Joe Paterno's press conferences. Mangino says Paterno is "the king of college football, and he can say anything he wants." He's earned that right. Mangino thinks, in general, we're too uptight in society.
• The last few weeks in the Big 12 results have been confusing to Mangino. When watching the tapes, though, the coach takes the emotion out and simply watches the cut-ups to see the technical aspect of the game.
• Mangino thinks Tech's offensive system is well-coached, and that's why it's successful. Leach coaches his players well, and he doesn't compromise his offensive beliefs.
• Players of the game, voted on by the coaching staff: Offense: Todd Reesing; Defense: Darrell Stuckey; Special teams: Kayl Anderson; Defensive scout team: Randall Dent; Offensive scout team: Nick Plato.
• Mangino felt like Reesing played really well and got some help from his receivers. KU did not run the ball as well as it would have liked. Good games defensively by Stuckey and Drew Dudley. The coach thought the defensive personnel switches gave his team a boost.
• Oklahoma has one of the nation's best defensive units. The Sooners play an aggressive style on defense. The front four are quick and talented.
• It's difficult for a player to learn a position in a week, but sometimes it's a necessity and a team has to do it. If you have kids that are mentally tough, they can do it. For John Williams, it's been a sudden change, but it hasn't been a sudden change for Bradley McDougald. McDougald has worked some on defense in practice for the past few weeks. The coaches don't simplify defenses for new players in a position, but instead put the players in spots that they think they can handle.
• The philosophy of Kansas over time has been to put the most talented players on defense. But guys like Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier aren't built to play defense, and it would be foolish to move them there. Some kids have the skills sets for both. KU has tried to put the most athletic and physical guys on defense.
• KU recruited John Williams to be a defensive tackle. After an injury his first year, though, the coaches felt that playing offensive line would take some pressure off the injury he had. The whole time, Mangino still watched Williams and thought he would make a great defensive linemen. Mangino finally pulled the trigger last week, and he thinks Williams will help KU at that position.
• KU has to be better blocking movement on the offensive line to run the ball better. The Jayhawks didn't block moving defenders well against Colorado.
• Mangino thought Jake Sharp was fine. He was a little sore and did OK. The coach isn't worried about him.
• Mangino said he was over the loss against CU at about 2 p.m. Sunday. History is history. Mangino said he doesn't let himself worry about things in the past he can't control.
• Mangino said the team had a good practice on Sunday. The coach said that people would be surprised with the players' resiliency. You have to be able to put losses behind you in this business. If you're a coach that can't get over losses, then everyone around you will be the same way.
• Dezmon Briscoe has shown more consistency since last year's OU game. It's amazing what Briscoe has been able to do with the amount of coverage he's been getting. The coach is pleased with the way he's going about his business.
• Mangino admits his team has been getting off to slow starts offensively, but he also says the amazing thing is that once the offense gets going, it really gets going. A lot of times, defenses do things out of character early in the game to confuse KU's offense.
• Mangino said his years in Oklahoma were important for him and also a lot of fun. The people of Oklahoma welcomed the coaches with open arms. The first year, the coaches took the team to the lower-tier Independence Bowl, and the fans still thanked the coaches. Mangino said he was comfortable there. The people there reminded him of those he grew up with in western Pennsylvania.
The Kansas football team’s offense is the best in the nation when it comes to passing on second- and third-and-longs. The Jayhawks’ defense ranks in the top 10 nationally in the second quarter, but is in the bottom 10 in the third quarter. KU’s offense has been best on second downs, while KU’s defense has been the most effective on third downs.
Interesting stuff, right?
Well, thanks to Football Outsiders columnist and statistical analysis expert Bill Connelly (who kindly sent along his statistical work this week), we can break down the Jayhawks’ season through five games to see what areas KU has been most and least successful this season.
Also, at the end of this blog, I’ll take a look at Colorado’s strengths and weaknesses to get you prepared for today’s game.
Before we get to the analysis, I first would once again like to highly recommend Connelly’s weekly blog on the Football Outsiders Web site. The statistical analysis boom in baseball and basketball has been well-documented, and Connelly’s great work in college football should be noticed by bigger fish sooner rather than later.
Also, for the following statistics, I have put KU’s national rank first, followed by the actual statistic in parentheses. An * means KU has the best mark in the Big 12 in that category, and a # means that KU ranks last in the Big 12 in that statistic.
Just to let you know, these are the raw numbers have not been adjusted to factor in KU’s (so far weak) schedule.
Let’s first take a look at KU’s offensive statistics by both quarter and downs.
Success Rate (Efficiency)
First Quarter — 42nd (.465)
Second Quarter — 4th (.579)
Third Quarter — 4th (.553)
Fourth Quarter — 2nd (.549)
• Remember, success rate is the percentage of times a team gets 50 percent of its needed yards on first down, 70 percent of its needed yards on second down or 100 percent of its needed yards on third or fourth down.
In the second quarter, KU’s offense accomplishes that on 57.9 percent of its plays. No matter who you’re playing, that’s pretty amazing.
This also confirms what we talked about earlier in the year with the KU offense: It oftentimes has gotten off to a slow start. Still, with the Jayhawks ranking top-four nationally in each of the final three quarters, a sub-par first quarter usually hasn’t held KU back for long.
First Quarter — 29th (.432)
Second Quarter — 22nd (.484)
Third Quarter — 29th (.428)
Fourth Quarter — 5th (.542)
• Pretty consistent across the board here. This does show that KU’s offense seems to be especially potent in the fourth quarter. Not only are the Jayhawks fielding a consistent attack in the final quarter with a 54.9-percent success rate, they’re also springing tons of big plays.
S&P (Efficiency and Explosiveness)
First Quarter — 34th (.897)
Second Quarter — 9th (1.062)
Third Quarter — 13th (.981)
Fourth Quarter — 2nd (1.091)
• S&P gives us a combination of success rate and PPP and is a nice baseline to show us overall effectiveness of KU’s offense. Looking at this, the Jayhawks are best offensively right before halftime and also just before the final buzzer.
First Down S&P — 15th (.9394)
Second Down S&P — 4th (1.1048)
Third Down S&P — 18th (.958)
• The down breakdown is always fascinating to me, because it gives us information that is hard for us to process by simply watching the game. The Jayhawks are pretty darned good on each down, but they are the best on second down, ranking fourth nationally.
Let’s get to a look at the Jayhawks’ defensive numbers.
Success Rate (Efficiency)
First Quarter — 37th (.373)
Second Quarter — 5th (.281*)
Third Quarter — 117th (.527#)
Fourth Quarter — 37th (.357)
• This is probably the most fascinating set of numbers in this entire blog. KU’s defense has been amazing in the second quarter, only allowing successful plays on 28.1 percent of drives. Perhaps the Jayhawks should petition the NCAA to eliminate halftimes. The Jayhawks have been dreadful in the third quarter, allowing successful plays on 52.7 percent of downs. In the span of one quarter, the Jayhawks go from the fifth-best defensive success rate team in the nation to the fourth-worst. Not only that, you might expect that the third quarter would be the time that the defense would improve slightly because of halftime adjustments. Third-quarter defense definitely should be a major area of concern for KU the rest of the season.
First Quarter — 95th (.389)
Second Quarter — 11th (.200)
Third Quarter — 99th (.409#)
Fourth Quarter — 21st (.241)
S&P (Efficiency and Explosiveness)
First Quarter — 63rd (.762)
Second Quarter — 6th (.480)
Third Quarter — 106th (.936#)
Fourth Quarter — 30th (.598)
• I’ll go ahead and lump these two sets of statistics together because they complement the PPP ranking above. The national ranking of 99th in PPP shows us that KU is giving up too many big plays in the third quarter as well as allowing consistent yardage. And how a team can have the nation’s sixth-best S&P defense in the second quarter and the 106th-best S&P defense in the third quarter is something I’m not sure I can explain.
First Down S&P — 88th (.808)
Second Down S&P — 33rd (.622)
Third Down S&P — 18th (.575)
• Another revelation about KU’s defense comes here, and this most likely explains many of the struggles that the Jayhawks had last week against Iowa State. KU has been excellent on third downs this season based on the numbers above. The problem is, KU’s defense was so unsuccessful last week on first downs that oftentimes the Cyclones had manageable third downs. Of the nine third downs ISU had last week in the second half, seven of them were third-and-4s or less. Four of those were third-and-1s. Those situations make it awfully tough for your defense to force punts. We’ll talk more about KU’s third-down defense a little later.
Let’s go ahead and dive into some other stats that are interesting from the Jayhawks.
A couple other definitions you might need:
• Passing downs are defined as plays that are second-and-8 or more, third-and-5 or more, fourth-and-5 or more.
• Also, “close games” are ones that are within 24 points in the first quarter, 21 in the second quarter, and 16 (two possessions) in the second half. This statistic aims to give us a more accurate assessment of a team’s statistics when the game is on the line and the starters are still in.
Interesting Kansas offensive stats
Close success rate — 4th (.525)
Close S&P — 7th (.976)
Passing close success rate — 2nd (.551*)
• KU fans should be happy with these numbers, as so far, KU is tops in the Big 12 in all three of these “close” categories. That means KU’s numbers aren’t being swayed much by garbage-time stats, and the offense has performed well when the game is being determined.
Passing downs success rate — 1st (.477)
Passing downs PPP — 3rd (.538)
Passing downs S&P — 2nd (1.014)
• I just want to explain the top number again to illustrate how impressive it is. Passing downs, as explained above, are when the offense faces second-and-8 or more, third-and-5 or more, fourth-and-5 or more. All these situations make it much harder for a team to “succeed,” which requires 70 percent of the needed yardage on second down or 100 percent of the needed yardage on third and fourth downs. Yet, when the Jayhawks pass the ball in these situations, they still have a success rate of 47.7 percent, which leads the nation. Not surprisingly, the Jayhawks also have impressive passing down PPP and S&P numbers as well.
Red zone success rate — 19th (.529)
Red zone S&P — 9th (1.248)
• Red zone offense usually isn’t a statistic that is consistent from year to year, but for now, the Jayhawks are getting it done offensively near the goal line. The Jayhawks lead the Big 12 in both of the statistics above.
Let’s look at some defensive numbers.
Interesting Kansas defensive stats
Run close success rate — 32nd (.371)
Run close PPP — 82nd (.301)
• This tells us a little something about the Jayhawks’ run defense. KU is pretty good at stopping the other team from gaining a “success” on the ground (32nd nationally), but the Jayhawks are not very good at limiting big plays on the ground (82nd nationally). KU, therefore, needs to do a better job of damage control on running plays when backs make it past the first level of defense.
Passing downs success rate — 27th (.244)
Passing downs PPP — 13th (.200)
Passing downs S&P — 17th (.444)
• I told you we’d talk more about third downs, and this stat is a key. KU has been good — really good — this season when forcing teams into second- and third-and-long. I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t every defense better during second- and third-and-long situations? Yes, but the Jayhawks have been even better than most teams in these situations, ranking in the top 30 nationally in all of the above categories. KU defensive coordinator Clint Bowen told Tom Keegan this week part of the reason for KU’s struggles against ISU was the Jayhawks’ inability to force third-and-longs. In those situations, the Jayhawks have done a good job of bringing pressure from different places to force opposing quarterbacks into quick throws. You can’t call those defensive plays and blitzes, though, when it’s second-and-5 or third-and-1. KU needs to do better on first down so that it can play to its biggest strength defensively, which is second- and third-and-long situations.
Red zone success rate — 37th (.377)
Red zone PPP — 81st (.575)
• Much like the run defense statistics above, the Jayhawks have been feast or famine in the red zone. Teams aren’t very efficient against KU in the red zone (37th nationally), but they are getting their fair share of big plays (81st nationally). Teams that go for the big play in the red zone instead of trying to grind it out have had more success against the Jayhawks so far this season.
Let’s take a quick look at Colorado to break down today’s game.
Quarter 1 S&P — 82nd (.725)
Quarter 2 S&P — 111th (.597#)
Quarter 3 S&P — 79th (.701)
Quarter 4 S&P — 105th (.619)
• There you have it. If the statistics hold true, Colorado will not score in the second quarter. It’s a matchup of the Big 12’s best second-quarter defense (KU) against the conference’s worst second-quarter offense (CU). Isn’t it interesting as well that CU’s best quarter (third) is also KU’s weakest? If you’re a KU fan, you probably want to see your team have at least a touchdown lead at halftime, as you can assume that the third quarter will probably be the worst for the Jayhawks’ defense.
1st Down S&P — 92nd (.7007#)
2nd Down S&P — 115th (.5891#)
3rd Down S&P — 103rd (.784#)
• This is just ugly and shows the true struggles of CU’s offense. How can a team be last in the Big 12 in first down, second down AND third down S&P? Notice this, though: CU has been at its best on first down, which as I previously mentioned, will be a significant down for KU's defense today.
Quarter 1 S&P — 110th (.927#)
Quarter 2 S&P — 64th (.746)
Quarter 3 S&P — 32nd (.643)
Quarter 4 S&P — 93th (.831)
• Something has to give in the first quarter, as KU’s worst quarter on offense also is CU’s worst quarter on defense. Also notice that CU’s defense has been pretty darned good in the third quarter, which once again could be a bit scary for KU fans if the game is close at halftime.
1st Down S&P — 67th (.753)
2nd Down S&P — 95th (.831#)
3rd Down S&P — 85th (.784)
• KU should be able to continue its success on second downs, as the Buffs rank last in the Big 12 in the category. If you get the chance, pay close attention to KU’s second downs today to see if the Jayhawks are able to continue their prosperity on that down.
Interesting Colorado offensive stats
Close success rate — 105th (.371#)
Close PPP — 115th (.230#)
Close S&P — 113th (.601#)
• This highlights one of the biggest problems for the Buffs all season: They haven’t been able to produce offensively when the game is within reach. CU’s offense is neither efficient nor explosive, which is a horrible combination to have.
Run close S&P — 107th (.230)
Pass close S&P — 111th (.563#)
• At least the Buffaloes are equal-opportunity bad on offense. Remember, though, that all of these numbers are affected by the tough schedule that CU has played thus far.
Passing down success rate — 102nd (.244)
• We’ve already established that KU is strong defensively in passing-down situations. This just confirms how important it will be for KU to force those scenarios. Not only are the Jayhawks good in that category, the Buffs are almost equally as bad. This shouldn’t be surprising, as CU’s inconsistent passing game has made it tough to pick up long third downs. Perhaps new quarterback Tyler Hansen can help the Buffs in this area.
Interesting Colorado defensive stats
Close success rate — 46th (.392)
Close PPP — 103rd (.411#)
Close S&P — 84th (.804)
• Well, at least we know which side of the ball deserves more of the blame for CU struggling early in games. Especially with the tough early schedule, the Buffs’ close S&P of 84th actually isn’t as bad as you might think. The other two statistics perhaps show how KU should attack CU’s defense. Teams don’t have a very high success rate against the Buffs (39.2 percent), but they are getting tons of explosive plays (CU ranks 103rd). The lesson here? KU might be rewarded like other teams if they test the CU cornerbacks with deep passes down the field.
Run close success rate — 27th (.366)
Run close PPP — 104th (.357#)
Pass close success rate — 80th (.497)
Pass close PPP — 107th (.478)
• See a pattern here? The Buffs have been inconsistent in both passing and rushing defense, stopping teams much of the time only to later give up large chunks of yardage via the big play. The spread is especially noticeable in run success rate (27th) and run PPP (104th). Jake Sharp, as I mentioned in a previous pregame story, doesn’t have as many long runs as you would expect a speedy guy like him to have, but his presence still might be a big help for KU in this game if he can play. Going against a run defense that gives up lots of big plays, I’d much rather have a quick guy like Sharp than a 235-pound bruiser like Toben Opurum. That’s not to say that Opurum can’t or won’t have a big game; it’s just that, according to what the Buffaloes’ usually give up in the running game, it probably would be to the Jayhawks’ advantage to get their speediest guy in at the RB position.
Passing downs PPP — 117th (.479#)
Passing downs S&P — 112th (.809#)
• Another instance where a KU offensive strength meets a CU defensive weakness. Even when the Jayhawks get themselves in a hole offensively, they have been able to produce big plays on second- and third-and-longs. Conversely, even when the Buffs’ defense has forced second- and third-and-longs, they haven’t been able to keep teams from getting first downs. Expect KU to at least match its impressive third-down conversion percentage from this season (50.72 percent) in today's game against CU.
For more analysis of the KU-CU game, along with keys to the game and predictions, be sure to check out my live game blog on KUsports.com before gametime.
Here is the Cliff's Notes version of Kansas men's basketball coach Bill Self's comments at media day today.
• This year's team is not quite as athletic and fast as the 2007-08 team, but it is probably bigger and deeper. Deeper isn't always a positive because you can only play so many guys. The depth could help overcome a key injury, though. This team could not beat the 2007-08 team at this point. This team also will have to rely on newcomers, whereas the the 2007-08 team did not.
• Self only wants to play nine players, maybe 10 early. Four bigs and five guards would be ideal.
• Guys on the bench should want to be out there. Redshirts are possible on two or three guys, too. Self hasn't talked to one guy about red-shirting yet. Once practice starts, the minutes have a way of figuring themselves out.
• Self feels his players are unselfish on the basketball court. The coach also is happy with his team's athleticism. He doesn't know how tough his team is, but he thinks his team can get there.
• Thomas Robinson brings the team a motor. Robinson will force the Morris twins to be more consistent.
• Xavier Henry and Robinson are different because they have the bodies of 22-year-old men. Robinson might be the best-looking physical body of an incoming freshman that Self has had since he's been at KU.
• Xavier Henry is a natural scorer. He's going to have good and bad times, because he's still figuring things out.
• Without hesitation, Self likes the preseason No. 1 national ranking. The advantages far outweigh the negatives. You're not going to be ranked high if you don't have good guys. A target on your back is a good thing. It forces a team to be more battle-tested. KU is going to get everyone's best shot. Self thinks that is healthy for a ballclub, especially when one game can mean the end of your season in March.
• Sherron Collins will still have a lot of freedom this year. Self believes Collins is a guy that doesn't care who shoots it in the first 30 minutes, but he wants to take shots in the final 10 minutes. He doesn't envision Collins putting up enough shots to average 20 points per game this year.
• The key to this year's team is Collins and Cole Aldrich being as good or better than they were last year. Aldrich amazed Self last year with his improvement.
• Last year was Sherron's team. This year, Sherron will welcome it to be Sherron and Cole's team. Sherron will be the most vocal, but Cole is becoming more of a leader.
• Distributing minutes could be a challenge, but Self has never been worried about that aspect going into a season. The bigger issue will be getting a rotation down and having everyone know their role.
• Marcus and Markieff's bodies have improved. They've both gotten stronger. Marcus is a talented guy. He's a skilled four-man, or a big three. Self could see putting a big team out there with Marcus at the three, or small team with Markieff at the four.
• C.J. has already impacted the team from a leadership standpoint because he's not scared of his voice. He's not scared about what he says. He's got talent. He's still not in 100-percent shape health-wise.
• Self told the team to shave all facial hair today to look sharp for media day.
• The hits are legitimate from the last few weeks. They've gotten more attention than they would have at a lot of places. It hasn't affected Self except from a disappointment standpoint. It's the same thing with your own children. Just because you are disappointed in them doesn't mean you care about them any less. There's no excuse for the guys making poor decisions and being in bad situations, but the team has faced up to it and moved on. The team can learn from this.
• Brady Morningstar would probably have been in the rotation early without the suspension. The team has other guys that are pretty good, though, that might take advantage of an opportunity.
• The team's most talented guys are the old guys and the foundation are the old guys. There is no doubt as to who the players will look to as leaders. That wasn't the case with the 2008 team, where the most talented players were the young guys. Self thinks this group has some program guys like Russell Robinson and Sasha Kaun as well.
• The veterans have an advantage early in the season, because they know how Self likes to play defense. You don't always play the best players early, you play the guys that give you the best chance to win.
• The basketball practice facility is the nicest that Self has been in. A court and a half is perfect. Self said the team has no excuse if it can't attract and train players.
• Mario Little is like C.J. Henry regarding injuries. Self has seen C.J. play more than Mario, just because he saw some of C.J.'s games early in his career. Self thinks Little will find his way. He's going to finally be healthy. Self thinks playing Little last year was absolutely the right decision. He was able to test to see if he could play at this level and also helped KU win games. If Little isn't healthy, he could still redshirt this year.
• KU's situation is unique because a lot of players don't come from a driving distance, so they can't get home in a car. The players' strongest support should come from teammates. Self said he hasn't had one player say he didn't enjoy playing at KU during his time here.
• Self does not talk about minutes with players' parents. He'll talk about anything else regarding the player, though.
• Travis Releford has improved a lot. Self thinks he's going to be a good player. But you can only play so many guys, and if he's better than those in his position, he'll play. Releford has had a great offseason, and Self thinks he could score 1,000 points before his career is over.
• Playing with Team USA gave Tyshawn Taylor a lot of confidence. The trip gave him confidence that he was one of the best players out there.
• Players of the game, voted on by the coaching staff: Offense: Todd Reesing; Defense: No selection; Special teams: No selection; Defensive scout team: Dexter Linton; Offensive scout team: Riley Spencer.
• Quarterback Tyler Hansen brings a new dimension to Colorado's offense with his speed.
• Jake Sharp once again will be a gameday decision.
• Mangino has seen different approaches to try to stop KU's passing game, including eight-man drops and exotic blitzes. Reesing is doing a good job of managing that.
• As Mangino watched tape, he still feels like the team needs to play on defense to his players' strengths. Some good, sound schemes don't fit KU's personnel. Communication on the field needs to get better as well. The defensive calls need to get out sooner, too. The coach also believes his team needs to tackle better.
• KU doesn't play a lot of man coverage on defense — some, but not a lot.
• The maturity of his team's group, especially on defense, has not developed the way he would have liked. Some of that comes back to fundamentals. Some guys aren't understanding why the team is trying to do some of the things it is doing. Some guys are reverting back to the ways they've always done things instead of carrying out their assignment. The 2007 defense made plays when it had to. If you do that, you have a chance.
• If your team is well-conditioned, the elevation is not a factor. Conditioning has been a high priority the past few years at KU.
• Vernon Brooks has not progressed as well as the team would have liked. He needs to make a commitment to the team, or he's going to get lost in the shuffle.
• KU misses James Holt most in the linebacking core, as he could play in space and bring pressure from the edge. Mangino doesn't see a major dropoff in the inside linebacker spots from last year to this year. The versatility of James Holt is something the team has to make up for.
• Mangino isn't obsessed with Reesing for Heisman chatter, but after watching a lot of college football, he believes Reesing should be in the conversation. For Todd to be in the talk, though, Mangino realizes KU has to win a lot of games. KU's athletic department will start to get out some information to media sources about Reesing to inform them more about him. If KU keeps winning, the coach thinks Reesing would have a legitimate chance at the Heisman. Though highlight videos haven't been made to be sent out, Mangino said he would consider that if things kept progressing the way they are now.
• A Heisman winner would be great because KU has never had one even with the great players it has had in the past. But the team has "a lot of wood to saw," Mangino said with a laugh. If it does happen, Mangino said, "We'll be a bunch of happy dogs."
• Iowa State is a disciplined team and plays to its strengths.
• The bye week is good for all young players because you have time to assess what they've done so far instead of worrying about a game plan for the next week.
• Right now, Mangino thinks the offensive line is ahead of schedule. A lot of that has to do with the intelligence of the group. The guys also are coachable. There are bigger challenges for them ahead, but Mangino likes the track they are on now.
• Last year's Iowa State game has been used as an example of, "This is what happens in college football when you take things for granted." The team did a great job of coming back, but if you take your opponent for granted, you're going to get stung.
• Jake Sharp has not progressed as well from his injury as the coaches originally thought. By Thursday's practice, if he can execute everything at full speed and 100 percent, then the coaches will play him. If Sharp shows any signs of not being OK, then he will not play. His quickness and his speed are his greatest asset, so if he's not healthy, Mangino will be hesitant to use him in a limited role.
• Mangino on kicker Jacob Branstetter: "I think the world of the kid. He's competitive." Branstetter gets told by coaches how high and where each kickoff should go to best fit KU's coverage. Mangino said Branstetter is so competitive that if it doesn't go where he's supposed to kick it, he races down the field to try to save the day (much like Superman or Underdog, Mangino said) with a tackle. Branstetter also put on 15 pounds in the offseason. "Now he's really cocky," Mangino joked.
• Mangino told his players at halftime last year against Iowa State, "This is a good test of your courage."
• Mangino said that last year's team perhaps heard too many times about its similarities to the 2007 team. "What you need is to get spanked a few times," the coach said. Mangino said the South Florida game and the first half against Iowa State humbled his players and helped re-focus them.
• Mangino said you have to be practical on field-goal attempts and understand weather and field conditions. Assistant coaches tell Mangino what Branstetter's cutoff point is with and against the wind for each game based on his warmup kicks. Mangino said he wouldn't hesitate to let Branstetter try a 48-yard field goal attempt.
• Defensive lineman Quinton Woods has picked it up a little bit. In the last couple weeks, he's realized there's a certain standard of work ethic that he needs to meet. The demands on a player at KU are probably a little bit higher than in junior college. Mangino thinks Woods made some big strides this week. He's also a likable guy. "I look for him to contribute here before it's all said and done here this year," Mangino said.
Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska have now played four non-conference games each. The question still remains, though. Who is the favorite in the Big 12 North?
Here are some links from folks sharing their thoughts on what they've seen so far in the Big 12 North and how they believe the division will play out.
• The Lincoln Journal Star's Steve Sipple: "Above all, the 25th-ranked Huskers showed they should be considered the clear-cut favorites to finish first in the Big 12 North. Yes, clear-cut. Let's make that distinction now."
• The (University of Missouri) Maneater's Matt Gerstner: "There is no Big 12 North team that looks BCS-worthy right now. Hell, they don't look Cotton Bowl-worthy."
• The University Daily Kansan's Tim Dwyer: " ... if (the Jayhawks) start to defend the pass, they have a legitimate shot at running the table — only Texas and Oklahoma are ranked above the Jayhawks and left on the schedule."
• Denverjhawk on Rock Chalk Talk: "One thing is for certain whoever does come out of the North will have earned it. In reality Kansas is going to need some help. Even if Kansas takes care of business in the North they might need someone to go into Lincoln or Columbia and get a win when it isn't expected."
• J.D. Schaller of Bleacher Report: "The fact of the matter is that over the past three games against semi-quality teams, KU's offense and defense never seem to be clicking at the same time, or in any consistent sort of fashion at all, really."
• Peter Fleischer of Bleacher Report: "I have to pick the Cornhuskers if I’m going to bet on a team to win the North. I could easily see Missouri or Kansas sliding in and filling the role of champ, but Nebraska just looks too good."
• And, last but not least, Phil Steele has updated his predictions for the college football season based on results of games each week. The updated predictions have KU going 2-6 in the Big 12 North, with its only wins coming against Iowa State and Kansas State. By the way, his computer projection also has Kansas and Colorado both losing in their game on Oct. 17.
If you're a Kansas fan, it's time to look at the glass-half-full side of things regarding this year's football team.
For one, the Jayhawks are 4-0, and no matter how well they played each week, their record couldn't be any better than that.
And, for two, the Jayhawks have already had more than their fair share of pleasant surprises from this year's team.
The following are my top 10 biggest surprise players for the KU football team this year through the non-conference part of the schedule. The rankings will take into account performance, statistics and how much was expected of that player before the season began.
Let's get started.
10. Ryan Murphy
It seems like he's been at KU for six years already, but Murphy in fact is only a redshirt sophomore. He's seeing more time on the field in passing downs and made a huge play against Southern Miss, scooping up an Austin Davis pass for his first interception. I don't think it will be long before Murphy is complimented by KU coach Mark Mangino for sticking with things and being a "program guy." Murphy just edges out Jeff Wheeler for the 10th position.
9. Tanner Hawkinson
Hawkinson had a lot of pressure thrown on him this offseason, as after making the switch to left tackle, he immediately became the frontrunner to start at that position. So far, Hawkinson has to receive an extremely high grade. Though he has gotten beaten on pass protection on occasion, he's still been part of an offensive line that has, for the most part, kept KU quarterback Todd Reesing upright. Even Reesing admitted Saturday that many of Southern Miss' five sacks came simply because he held on to the ball a tick too long. It's hard to know where this team would be offensively had Hawkinson not improved so quickly at the position.
8. Patrick Dorsey
Patrick Dorsey didn't even letter last season. In fact, he didn't even get on the field as a backup defensive tackle in 2008. So when the redshirt sophomore started in KU's first game against Northern Colorado, a few eyebrows raised for sure. Dorsey has been a staple of a solid rotation of defensive linemen for KU, though, posting seven tackles and one sack through KU's first four games. Not bad for a guy buried on the depth chart in '08.
7. Kale Pick
When Kerry Meier wasn't switched to a full-time receiver this season, I think many KU fans feared that Pick's development at quarterback wasn't going well. The redshirt freshman has showed in limited action, though, that fans might not need to worry about Year 1 A.T. (After Todd). Pick has displayed great speed and good vision on his runs, and it showed in the Big 12 statistics, as after two weeks, Pick was ranked 10th in the conference in rushing. We'll have to see more of his arm strength and decision-making to know for sure that he's the guy to lead the Jayhawks in 2010 and beyond, but so far this year in mop-up time, Pick has given KU fans reason to be excited (or at least not scared) about the team's future at quarterback.
6. Drew Dudley
Though he wasn't even listed as a starter on KU's preseason depth chart, Dudley has been the Jayhawks' most consistent linebacker through four games. The junior is second on the team with 28 tackles, tied for first on the team with 5.5 tackles-for-loss and tied for second in the team in sacks with three. Though KU's coaches still probably would like more contributions from their linebackers, they can at least take comfort knowing that Dudley has been solid in the middle linebacker position.
5. Sal Capra
All offseason, we kept hearing about KU's talented redshirt freshman guards Trevor Marrongelli and John Williams. It was almost assumed that one of them would slip into Capra's starting spot sooner rather than later. Capra, though, has taken hold of the position and has never let it go. Not only that, do you remember hearing about him this season for a penalty? Or a blown assignment? No one has talked about Capra, and that's just the way you want it if you're an offensive lineman. He also has to be given props for KU's improved rushing game this season. Remember, last year at this time, the big story was that the Jayhawks were struggling to run the football. This year, the Jayhawks are second in the conference in rushing, averaging 209.2 yards per game.
4. Bradley McDougald
Chris Omigie, Erick McGriff and Bradley McDougald were the three most touted true freshmen receivers that arrived at KU in the spring. And though Omigie and McGriff will most likely have bright futures still, McDougald early on proved that he was ready to play Division-I football right away. Mangino seemed to heap praise on the freshman immediately in preseason practices, saying: "I have not really had a true freshman come in and do what he could do since I've been here." McDougald has earned that praise through four games this season.
Though he played mostly running back and defensive back in high school, McDougald has shown great instincts and has looked like a natural at receiver. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has 18 catches for 180 yards and showed flashes against Southern Miss of being a spectacular kickoff returner. If Daymond Patterson continues his somewhat questionable decision-making on punt returns, don't be surprised if McDougald gets a shot there as well.
3. Toben Opurum
I keep asking myself this question: "Where would KU be if Toben Opurum had not signed with KU last year?" It's a tough question to answer, but I think we know this much for sure: The Jayhawks coaching staff is sure glad that T.O. is on campus now. Much like McDougald, Opurum has shown great maturity for his age. Nothing seems to rattle him, and Mangino has been impressed with his ability to improve week to week. Opurum has gotten the tough yards for KU inside, rushing 69 times for 320 yards and a 4.7-yard average. He also has shown the ability to make tough catches and also block. Opurum's emergence gives KU two solid options in the backfield when Jake Sharp returns from his injury.
2. Chris Harris
After being named the Big 12's defensive newcomer of the year in 2007, Harris took a huge step back in 2008. Many began to question if his 2007 season was legitimate. Was he good, or was his success a product of getting help from cornerback Aqib Talib in 2007? This season, Harris has set out to prove that 2008 — and not 2007 — was the fluke year.
The junior is leading the Jayhawks in tackles (32), third in tackles-for-loss (3.5) and also has three pass breakups and a forced fumble. When KU fans hoped for an improved secondary coming into the year, I'm sure few of them believed that Harris would be a main reason for it.
1. Maxwell Onyegbule
Maxwell Onyegbule seemed to follow the same pattern in his years at KU: start with a good offseason, get the coaches' attention in preseason, then struggle to contribute during the season. We heard more good things about Onyegbule this preseason, but I wasn't shocked when many folks believed that this was much of the same for Onyegbule and that he wouldn't contribute once gamedays arrived.
Well, simply put, Onyegbule has been dominant so far for KU. In four games, he has three sacks, 4.5 tackles-for-loss, an interception return for touchdown, two pass breakups and 14 tackles. He also earned co-Big 12 defensive of the week honors after posting two sacks and six total tackles against UTEP. Most importantly, he has given KU another threat at rushing the quarterback besides the dependable Jake Laptad.
Onyegbule might be the single most important player for KU in the second half of the season. When Onyegbule was pressuring the quarterback in KU's first three games, the Jayhawks defense turned into a solid if not spectacular unit. Without Onyegbule's pressure against Southern Miss (he had just two tackles and a half tackle-for-loss), KU's defense looked somewhat ordinary once again in the first three quarters. If the Jayhawks are hoping to at least slow down some of the Big 12 offenses coming up, they'll need Onyegbule to continue playing like the biggest surprise on this year's squad.
Late last night, we saw the 1,000,000th comment posted, which brings our contest to an end.
It's been a great ride, but now it's time to put this contest to bed, and announce who will receive the prize package that includes KU-NU tickets, concert tickets, some stuff as well as a dinner.
All told, we received 150 entries, 16 of which guessed within 24 hours of the correct time the comment was posted.
Here are the six users who guessed closest to the actual winning time, identified only by their username, except for the winner who has agreed to allow us to recognize her by name.
Megan is from Wichita, registered with the site just in time to enter the contest.
The contest was close, but somewhat strangely the three finishers closest to winning were all from out of town. Everyone from Lawrence was nine or more hours off from the correct prediction. If not for the KU football-basketball brawl Wednesday, someone from Lawrence might have been the winner. Strange how that happens.
I also should recognize Jayhawk1952, our 1,000,000th commenter. He's the retired Rev. Garry M. Wright, 69, of El Dorado, Kan. He signed up to post a comment about the KU football-men's basketball mess, and saw the entry about the countdown. He has four children and 20 grandchildren, a Jayhawk fan for 57 years. He was last in Memorial Stadium in the 50s, when his high school band played as part of Band Day. He's been a follower of KUsports.com, but never posted until Wednesday.
Congratulations to Garry, and also to Megan. And thanks, again, to everyone who made this contest a blast.
09-23-09 at 23:28:15.
That's the moment when comment 1,000,000 was posted.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised that in the end the 1,000,000th comment came so quickly.
I was watching the numbers spin by and then went to take a nap (it really was a long day today) with about 300 to go before we hit the milestone, only to get up 25 minutes later to celebrate the accomplishment.
Jayhawk1952, posting on KUsports.com, had the 1,000,000th comment. Appropriately enough, he was commenting on the commenting contest. How many of you predicted the milestone would come as people talked about the contest itself? I can think of a few.
I've got to be honest, I'm pretty relieved comment 1,000,000 didn't have to be removed — and wasn't posted by a banned user. I'm a bit disappointed though, that one of our most dedicated users didn't have the honor.
In the end, along with breaking all kinds of traffic records today, we probably also had one of our biggest days for comments ever. More than 2500 comments were posted — most on LJWorld.com, a bunch on KUsports.com and some on lawrence.com — today, on topics ranging from the closing of Vermont Street BBQ to the latest rumblings between the KU basketball and football teams and even witty captions for a photo of Barack Obama with a light saber.
This 1,000,000th comment contest has been fun for me to watch and I hope it's been fun for you to take part in. It was also gratifying to see the community come together and have fun around something like this.
In the morning, I'll pull out the entries for the contest and figure out who wins the grab bag of goodies for predicting closest to the date and time the milestone occurred. I've also sent an e-mail to Jayhawk1952, hoping to learn a little about who he (or she) is.
I need to tip my hat to Christian Metts, who built the counter that made this so easy to track — and infinitely more fun.
Meanwhile, I want to thank all of you who make this online community a true community as well as everyone else who passes by our site and comments every day. You make this place work and I'm glad we could do something to celebrate a Lawrence milestone in online journalism.