Entries from blogs tagged with “Tale of the Tait”
With just one game remaining in his college career — 11 a.m. Saturday vs. Kansas State at Memorial Stadium — senior running back James Sims needs 332 yards rushing to pass June Henley and take over first place on KU's all-time rushing list.
It's a long shot. At best. But given the way Sims has played throughout his incredible KU career, I'm not going to count the guy out until he's played his final snap.
There is precedent for a magical final day by a guy at the top of KU's all-time rushing list. It came in 1991, when senior Tony Sands ran all over Missouri in the season finale and set KU's single game rushing record with 396 yards on a whopping 58 carries.
Sands' monster day established an NCAA record that stood until LaDainian Tomlinson ran for 406 yards for TCU in 1999.
At the time, Sands already had claimed the top spot on KU's rushing list — earlier that season he passed Laverne Smith, who had held the top spot with 3,074 career yards — so while his big day did not vault him into the top spot, it did make it harder for Henley to track down a handful of years later. Sands finished his career with 3,788 rushing yards. Henley passed him in 1996 with 3,841.
Think about it. Back then, who in their wildest dreams would have given Sands a chance to run for nearly 400 yards against a hated rival?
Sims is no Sands in terms of running style, but he's every bit as prolific and he, too, will be facing a hated rival in his swan song.
Don't mistake this blog for me predicting that Sims is going to get the yards he needs. I wouldn't bet a dollar on it. But I thought the way his career is ending juxtaposed against the way Sands' career did 22 years ago was at least interesting enough to say Sims has a chance.
James Sims, though quiet and never flashy, has been one of my favorite athletes to cover at all levels and in any sport. He's one of those rock steady running backs who has simply shown up every day ready to get the most out of his body and give the most to his team.
If we've learned anything throughout his impressive four-year KU career, it seems that the most likely scenario is that Sims will not reach the 332 yards he needs, KU will not beat K-State and one of the greatest running backs the program has ever produced will slip away quietly and live on only in a name in tiny black print on a rushing list that, one day, someone else will try to climb.
For me, though, Sims will be a guy I'll never forget. I wish him nothing but the best in the future and hope he gets the chance he deserves in the NFL, be it with the Denver Broncos or any other team.
Heck, I'm such a big fan of James Sims the person, I'd probably still root for him if he wound up playing for the Raiders, Chargers or Chiefs.
Here's to a heck of a career. And one more for the road.
Late Wednesday evening, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis and offensive line coach Tim Grunhard released a joint statement confirming what we reported earlier in the day.
Grunhard is stepping down after Saturday's game against Kansas State following two seasons in Lawrence as the O-Line coach. Below are the statements from Weis and Grunhard, whom sources told the Journal-World will be replaced by Rice offensive coordinator John Reagan in the near future.
According to the source, Reagan will join the Jayhawks as the O-Line coach and offensive coordinator. Read the link above for more, if you haven't already.
Just wanted to make sure you didn't miss these statements.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
“Tim Grunhard and I had prepared a joint statement concerning his future that we intended to release on Sunday after the Kansas State game. We were trying to avoid being any distraction. Tonight we are releasing the statement.”
“Sunday, Tim Grunhard is stepping down as offensive line coach so he can spend more quality time with his family. We began talking about this a month ago. Next year, all four of his kids will be in the same high school at the same time. Tim and his wife, Sarah, are great parents, but Tim felt it wasn’t fair to put that all on her. We started as friends and that friendship has only grown stronger. I wish Tim and the entire Grunhard family happiness and success.”
“As of Sunday I will be leaving my position as offensive line coach at the University of Kansas. With the time commitment and challenges of major college football, I felt I was being delinquent in my responsibilities to my family. With three kids at Bishop Miege and one more attending next year, the burden was too great for my wife, Sarah, to handle on her own. I would like to thank Coach Weis and the rest of the Kansas football staff for teaching me the valuable lessons of loyalty and due diligence. I plan on continuing my relationship with the KU community that I have grown to love and respect.”
“We have already hired a replacement for Tim. When that coach becomes available we will provide more details.”
KU football coach just wrapped up his final Tuesday press conference of the 2013 season and, as expected, he spent a lot of time hyping up the fact that "It's K-State week!"
Beyond this week's match-up and what he's learned about the rivalry, Weis talked a little about the immediate future beyond Saturday, which, to no one's surprise, will include a heavy dose of time on the road recruiting reinforcements for the returning roster.
Here's a quick look at most of the topics he discussed:
• The updated depth chart lists Montell Cozart as this week's starting quarterback. Weis said it would've been easy to put Jake Heaps on top but he didn't want to risk Cozart going into the tank heading into the offseason and still likes the different dynamic the freshman brings to the field.
• Weis says Thanksgiving is his favorite holiday because of the significance it holds for being a holiday that allows you to reflect on all of the things you're thankful for and all of the blessings you have in your life. He'll encourage his players to really think about that and is doing that himself, too. Even took time to thank the media for doing jobs and covering the team. Genuine moment.
• Weis said this game — 11 a.m. Saturday vs. K-State — is all that matters right now because it gives KU a chance to end the season with a bang and some momentum heading into the offseason. There is no bowl game. This is it for KU. And that's how they're treating this week.
• Big reason K-State is so important: You're not playing just for football team and football program. Playing for fan base and Kansans and would love nothing more than to give fans a chance to go into work or grocery store on Monday in the position to get the last jba.
• Weis says he was never a part of Mizzou rivalry so he doesn't get that one. All his focus goes toward KSU. Says Notre Dame wanted to treat every game like it was the biggest but there it was always USC.
• Weis on K-State taking in walk-ons: I think that's always a mentality that can work and one he likes to do. He's always liked it and he's trying to get it going here at KU, too. Says the approach works well in Kansas... Having guys in state wanting to go to the state university is a great thing.
• As he's said in the past many times, Weis reiterates that he's tried to emulate, not steal, things from what Bill Snyder has done at Kansas State. Looking at how K-State had done it was one of first things he did and one of the biggest things he noticed was the heavy juco influence on Snyder's rosters. Snyder's been able to fill out his roster/lineup with juco guys — sort of picking his spots — as well as anyone in college football.
• Weis says Snyder does not get enough credit for being a brilliant offensive mind. One of best things he does is mess with O-Line splits. One play it'll be a few inches, the next it could be a few feet. Makes it hard on the defensive linemen and also on coaches to find tendencies in K-State offense. Also says Snyder is as good as anyone at power running game with quarterbacks. Not just zone read type guys who try to get to the edge, more like true running backs.
• With a young guy like Montell Cozart, you love 'em up at the end of a bad game, then you hammer 'em in the next day or two and then you love 'em up again. Weis said they're at the start of the second round of loving him up. Weis says Cozart's bad game at Iowa State would be a learning experience but he'd never
• Weis said Tedarian Johnson has been a pleasant surprise and added that Johnson juco teammate Andrew Bolton, who has red-shirted this year to rehab a knee injury also has made great progress academically. Both are equally important and Weis is encouraged by both.
• When asked about previous teams' success running the ball against K-State, Weis said: I just know we're gonna have to play a heck of a lot better than we have recently to have a chance to win the game. Weis also said the loss of safety Ty Zimmerman is significant for KSU. Said KSU has given up fewer points with Zimmerman in there and more points when he's sat out.
• Weis said he'll head out on the road to recruit first thing Sunday following K-State game and he'll be out there until Friday hitting it hard for Class of 2014 commitments.
• Weis said he'll go after some high profile guys and highly ranked guys (mostly juco) at positions of greatest need. Said that should be obvious, which, most likely, puts wide receiver at the top of the list.
• Weis said Nick Harwell has been as good as could be, both as a wide receiver and also as a teammate and member of the community. Even went as far as to say that he's reached the point where he's stopped worrying about him. Seems very pleased about the maturity Harwell has shown.
Bill Self live from Allen Fieldhouse previewing the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament:
• Self on the small setting of the court in the Bahamas: I got a picture of the court today and it looked pretty cool. Says it's in a large ball room and seats 3-4 thousand.
• Self on Frank Mason: He's a PG size and you can list him as a PG but he's never played point. He's a sponge, though, and he's so unselfish. He cares nothing about scoring, but we do want him in attack mode. He's done a nice job so far and was really good vs. Duke.
• Self on the Atlantis field: The field's good. Wake Forest is 5-0, USC & Villanova have talent and could be tournament teams. Tennessee's definitely a tourney team, Iowa's definitely a tourney team and Xavier should be as well. Said he saw where it was ranked as first or second in terms of collection of talent of all the preseason tourneys.
• Self said the Wake team under Jeff Bzdelik does not resemble the Colorado teams he coached. At least not through first five games. Wake Forest more conventional than those CU teams. Wake can score inside and out.
• Self: We haven't taken that many guarded looks, which has been a good thing. Mason, Tharpe Embiid and Selden are four best passers on team right now.
• Three-point shooting needs to improve. Self says team hasn't been very aggressive shooting them. Self: I can understand why they haven't. We've been good attacking the lane and good in transition, but I know there are going to be games where teams zone us and we're gonna have to step up and make shots.
• The way KU plays, they'll have, at most, three three-point shooters in the game. Self: Andrew White, Brannen Greene and Conner Frankamp are best three shooters, but if you play all three of those guys, you're taking minutes from someone else. Those guys could be good, especially shooting it, in spurts.
• Self said statistically the Jayhawks have been good rebounding but he doesn't see it as much in practice. Not a naturally gifted box out team. One reason could be the fact that teams are so scared of KU's transition that they don't attack the glass as hard and that makes KU look better in defensive rebounding numbers.
• Self on individual defensive grades: If you don't look strictly at stats and what the guy who they're guarding does, you look at these: Does he play to scouting report, can he use length to contest shots, can he make plays away from his own man, off the ball (Mario Chalmers), does he lock down his man and frustrate him (Travis Releford)...
• Self says he thinks Wiggins can become a guy that KU puts on other team's best scorer down the stretch when it counts.
• Self says depth can be a little bit overrated but it can help a ton this week in the Bahamas.
• Self on KU's defensive strengths: Not great at team defense yet and no lockdown guys on perimeter or in the post. Jack of all trades, master of none is the phrase he used.
• Self on the KU volleyball success and their game at Allen Fieldhouse: They've had a great year and they deserve support. Hope people turn out Tuesday night to watch them play Denver.
• Self again was asked about "Home of the Chiefs" during national anthem. Reiterates that he's not a fan because it's disrespectful to men and women of military and "We're not the Chiefs."
• Self on player free time in Bahamas: We'll give 'em some time on Wednesday and Sunday and Tuesday night when they get there, they can hang out. it's a business trip, though, and they're not concerned about anything other than winning games.
• Self on if going somewhere tropical is different: Oh yeah. Warm weather's always good when you live somewhere you don't have it. I think there's something nice about going somewhere warm, where you can hang out outside, walk around wearing shorts and all that. Doesn't think the climate has much to do with becoming a team or outcome of the games.
• Self on what he hopes defensive philosophy will become: One shot or less per possession; low FG percentage and toughness. Because teams that do well at the end when it counts usually hang their hats on those things.
Despite having four picks different last week, Keegan and I wound up tied after missing two different games each.
Seeing how I correctly picked the KU game and he did not, I lobbied with the ethics board for a bonus game, but to no avail.
So that brings us to our second-to-last week of picks, still all knotted up. If things remain that way after Week 12 (or maybe even if they don't) we may have to break the tie via bowl-game picks, but, for now, we'll move forward as is.
Both of us are feeling a KU victory this week in Ames, Iowa, where the 3-7 Jayhawks take on the 1-9 Cyclones in an environment that figures to seem more fitting of two bowl teams than the ninth and 10th place squads in the Big 12 Conference.
Should be interesting to see what happens. While we wait for kickoff – 7 p.m. tonight at Jack Trice Stadium — here's a look at all of our picks.
Tait: 7-3 in Week 10; 75-25 overall
Keegan: 7-3 in Week 10; 75-25 overall
WEEK 11 GAMES
Kansas at Iowa State
Baylor at Oklahoma State
Oklahoma at Kansas State
Missouri at Mississippi
Texas A&M at LSU
Nebraska at Penn State
Arizona State at UCLA
Wisconsin at Minnesota
Michigan at Iowa
Vanderbilt at Tennessee
Question: Now that Montell Cozart has taken over as KU's starting QB, it seems like a good time to ask which mobile, dual-threat-type quarterback is your favorite of all-time?
Kansas 24, Iowa State 16
Baylor 55, Oklahoma State 35
Oklahoma 31, Kansas State 27
Missouri 27, Mississippi 24
Texas A&M 41, LSU 31
Nebraska 28, Penn State 21
UCLA 33, Arizona State 26
Wisconsin 28, Minnesota 20
Iowa 26, Michigan 24
Tennessee 31, Vanderbilt 20
Answer: Because of the very nature of the position, I pretty much love all of these guys. From Michael Vick and Kordell Stewart to Vince Young and Robert Griffin III, I've always been fascinated by these guys' abilities to get something out of nothing, make throws that no one expects or thinks they can make and fill up highlight reels with mind-blowing runs and big-time plays. But of them all, one guy stands out above all others and it's a name I'd bet none of you are thinking of: Bradlee Van Pelt, Colorado State. During his days at CSU from 2001-03, Van Pelt was so talented, so dynamic and, best yet, so confident. Never one to shy away from sticking his head into trouble, Van Pelt always was the first guy to come up barking whether he had just had his bell rung or not. Those CSU teams were pretty good and Van Pelt was a big reason for it. His senior season, he came within a couple hundred yards of becoming the first college player to throw for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in the same season. In 2005, Texas' Vince Young achieved the feat, rushing for 1,050 and throwing for 3,036.
Kansas 21, Iowa State 17
Baylor 41, Oklahoma State 28
Oklahoma 28, Kansas State 24
Missouri 31, Mississippi 28
Texas A&M 35, LSU 31
Nebraska 24, Penn State 21
UCLA 31, Arizona State 28
Wisconsin 28, Minnesota 20
Iowa 24, Michigan 21
Tennessee 28, Vanderbilt 24
Answer: Built like a tight end, he ran like a wide receiver and it was so cold at his home games that you could see his breath every fast step of the way. As a minor league pitcher, he was wild but threw nearly 100 mph. After his minor-league manager was promoted to the majors, guy by the name of Tony LaRussa, the big lefty said nobody else believed in his baseball potential as much as LaRussa did. So Bobby Douglass stuck to football and stiff-armed his way to big runs. He threw the long ball well, but didn't know how to take anything off it, which led to some drops on short passes. I don't remember watching Douglass during his KU days, but he was one entertaining guy to watch playing for the Bears.
Former Kansas University running back Jon Cornish, the school's single season rushing leader (1,457 yards in 2006), continues to add to his case as the most decorated professional football player.
Cornish, a native of Canada and standout running back with the Canadian Football League's Calgary Stampeders, on Thursday night won the CFL's Most Outstanding Player and Most Outstanding Canadian awards following yet another stellar season.
Cornish is the first Canadian to win the MOP award since Tony Gabriel in 1978. Russ Jackson, who earned the honor in 1963, 1966 and 1969, is the only other Canadian to be named the league’s top player.
Cornish won his second consecutive rushing title this past season as he ran for 1,813 yards, the fourth-highest total in CFL history. He also led the league and set a new franchise record with 2,157 yards from scrimmage. Cornish led all running backs with an average of 7.0 yards per carry and was tops in the CFL this season with 14 touchdowns. His spectacular season featured nine 100-yard games — including five in a row to tie a franchise record — and a career-best 208-yard effort on Oct. 5 against Winnipeg. He won nine weekly CFL awards in 2013 as well as four monthly honors.
Before breaking his own CFL record this season, Cornish, who hails from Westminster, British Columbia and played at KU from 2002-06, set a CFL record by rushing for the exact totals — 1,457 yards on 258 carries – that he tallied to set the KU single season record.
Cornish ranks 10th on KU's career rushing list with 2,245 yards and third on KU's all-time yards-per carry list at 5.9, just 0.6 yards behind co-leaders Gale Sayers and Laverne Smith.
Cornish accepted the awards at a CFL banquet on Thursday night with his mother and girlfriend present.
This morning, he took to Twitter to reinforce his appreciation.
He wrote: “Took a bit of time to name every Stampeder offensive linemen but I wouldn't be MOP+MOC without my favorite big men. Thank you, everyone!”
Other recent Cornish updates from KUsports.com:
Former KU RB Cornish rushes to top of CFL: (July 2012)
They were torn apart when things were not going well, so now that the tables have turned a little bit, it's time to praise them.
We're talking about the Kansas University offensive line, of course, a group that, anchored by center Gavin Howard and buoyed by head coach Charlie Weis' willingness to keep tinkering until he found the right combination, has hit its stride during recent weeks and has allowed KU to return to an impressive identity of power football that, last week, led to the program's first Big 12 victory in three years.
There are plenty of people in the program who deserve credit for the line's resurgence. But the five guys who are out there playing most of the snaps and blowing open most of the holes deserve the most credit. So here's a quick, player-by-player breakdown of who they are and what makes them tick.
LEFT TACKLE — Riley Spencer —
6-foot-6, 305-pound senior from Hesston, Kan.
Spencer is one of those program players who has been in Lawrence for five years and suffered through repeated injuries while trying to find his place on the KU line. He missed 2009 to red-shirt and all but one game last season because of injury and played mostly as a back-up during the seasons in between.
Spencer also played basketball in high school, where he was an all-state selection on the offensive line. He earned Academic All-Big 12 first team honors in 2010 and is majoring in exercise science. He plans to be a firefighter after graduating from KU.
Future fireman Spencer fights off defenders, injuries to make impact for KU:
Will Riley Spencer and Damon Martin make a difference for KU's offense?
LEFT GUARD — Ngalu Fusimalohi —
6-foot-2, 310-pound junior from Daly City, Calif.
Weis recently called Fusimalohi the most consistent KU offensive lineman this season, from start to finish. Thrust into a first-string role during his first season after transfering from City College of San Francisco, the man who resembles a road grader is physical and nasty at the point of attack and seems to have been born to run block.
Rated the 90th best junior college prospect in the country last season, Fusimalohi was a part of the 2011 NJCAA national champions and earned first team all-Nor Cal Conference honors last season.
He's majoring in history.
Juco offensive lineman picks Kansas:
CENTER — Gavin Howard —
6-foot-4, 300-pound senior from Owasso, Okla.
Howard is another one of those program guys who has been around Lawrence for a long time and played a lot of snaps, mostly in a back-up role. Thrust into the starting center spot after KU had exhausted all other options, Howard has done a fantastic job of settling the line down and helping provide an identity of physicality, toughness and intelligence.
A gifted athlete who starred in basketball and football in high school, Howard is one of the smartest players on the roster and has spent a lot of time tutoring his teammates during the academic portion of their lives as KU football players.
Howard recently landed a job with Conoco-Phillips and will get his post-football career started on Jan. 13, making the next 10 days his final days as a football player, which, he said Wednesday, inspired him to give all he's got to the finish.
Center Gavin Howard completes cycle:
Kansas center Gavin Howard not approaching new position gingerly:
Howard helps KU reduce snap snafus:
RIGHT GUARD — Damon Martin —
6-foot-3, 300-pound sophomore from Arlington, Texas.
Widely regarded as one of the strongest players in the program, Martin, like Spencer, has helped bring back the physicality to KU's offensive line that has led to some strong rushing performances during recent weeks.
A third-year sophomore who red-shirted in 2011, Martin made such a rapid rise during 2012 that he wound up starting a game late in the season before falling off as quickly as he climbed up. Weis has said throughout his two years in town that consistency has been Martin's biggest issue and earlier this week Weis said he believed Martin had turned the corner.
A quiet guy during interviews, Martin is majoring in sociology.
August crucial for these five football players:
Will Riley Spencer and Damon Martin make a difference for KU's offense?:
Offensive lineman commits to Kansas:
RIGHT TACKLE — Aslam Sterling —
6-foot-5, 315-pound senior from Springfield Gardens, N.Y.
After being moved into the all-important left tackle spot following an offseason body makeover, Sterling struggled in his new role early and quickly was moved back to the right tackle spot he held down during his first season in Lawrence in 2012.
Big, strong, athletic and with his best days still ahead of him, Sterling provided a much needed dose of experience for KU's offensive line early in the season and, lately, has merely been able to return to a more anonymous role and focus on nothing more than getting the job done.
Arrived from Nassau Community College with a big frame and big expectations, Sterling has been solid during his time at Kansas and likely will get a shot at pro football next fall.
Majoring in liberal arts and sciences.
KU offensive tackle Sterling a changed man:
Lineman Aslam Sterling has huge potential:
Don't count out KU's new-look offensive line yet:
As the season slipped by and his offense continued to encounter road blocks, Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis did everything he could think of to try to find a spark.
From changing personnel to tweaking schemes and everything in between, Weis spent countless hours — often late into the night on Saturdays following losses — trying to find a magic formula that would lead to more points and better efficiency.
While the second-year KU coach tried just about everything that crossed his mind before turning to true freshman quarterback Montell Cozart and watching the offense explode for 31 points in a victory over West Virginia last week, there also were a couple of things Weis didn't try.
Tuesday, he detailed one of them and explained why.
“I was thinking about going up and calling the game from the press box,” Weis said of calling the offensive plays from the bird's eye view enjoyed by most offensive coordinators. “Because every week I've been trying to figure out what can I do different to try to get the offense going. And I thought long and hard about it. But the real reason I didn't go up there was because I thought that people would say I'm just bringing attention to myself.”
As you surely know by now, Weis is one of those guys who attracts attention from all corners of the country for even the smallest things. It's been that way since he was the head coach at Notre Dame and even was true to a smaller extent while he was coordinating in the NFL prior to leading the Irish.
Contrary to popular belief, Weis does not prefer it this way. He'd rather the focus be on his players and his program and the young men who work their butts off because he tells them it will work. But because of his big personality, his honest nature and the spotlight that some of his previous jobs have put him under, Weis is a popular attraction, even at Kansas and even while battling through a hefty rebuilding project.
Earlier this season, I asked Weis if he had considered calling plays from the coaches box upstairs. The reason I asked was because I remembered him talking fondly about how much easier the job of an offensive coordinator was up there, away from the distractions of the sideline and in a setting controlled by you and only you, which included every detail from the temperature in the booth to the amount of light shining down and the bodies around you.
In addition to the more favorable environment, it's obvious that it's easier to see what opposing defenses are doing from high above the field as opposed to down the line of scrimmage.
At the time, Weis said the fact that his offense included so many new and inexperienced players was the reason for staying on the sideline.
“That's when you need to be on the field,” he said. “The time when it's easier to call the game from upstairs is when you have a more veteran team. You know, because now you're just relaying information to them. When there's a lot of moving parts, that's where you're better off being on the field.”
Weis continued to back up his point with an example from his days with the New England Patriots.
“Hey look, I was in the box for a good portion of my career and (New England quarterback Drew) Bledsoe got hurt, and (back up) Tommy (Brady) had to go in,” Weis said. “He wasn't really ready to go yet and I went down there (to the sideline). At the end of the year, we ended up winning it all, and (Patriots coach Bill) Belichick said you're staying on the field. There's different pros of being on the field now, but one of them is we have a bunch of guys going in and out (and) you get a better feel for what you can do and what you can't do.”
The other element that factors into the equation now that he's the head coach at Kansas is the fact that he's more than just the offensive coordinator. Instead of solely focusing in on calling the plays every other series and looking for ways to exploit the opposing defense, Weis is in charge of several other tasks on game days, from conversing with officials and disciplining his players to looking into the eyes of his quarterback and assistant coaches to get a feel for what's going on and who's capable of what. Weis likes that part of it as much as anything and, beyond that, he doesn't want to do anything out of the ordinary that might give the appearance that he's trying to do it just to be different or just for attention.
“I've called the game from the field, I've called the game from the sideline,” he said. “You're the head coach, you're supposed to be on the sideline. Why would you go up there unless you couldn't walk. Even when I couldn't walk, when I got wiped out (by a collision on the sideline in) 2007 or whatever it was, I still went on the field.”
And it looks like that's where he'll be staying.
With the Kansas University football team knocking off West Virginia last week to snap its 27-game Big 12 losing streak, a lot of the talk early this week was much different than it has been in past weeks.
Here's a look back at the past couple of days worth of Twitter activity, which includes some KU hoops and volleyball chatter, as well.
RT ICYMI: Iona’s Armand: ‘I’m expecting to beat Kansas’ http://zagsblog.com/articles/ionas-armand-im-expecting-to-beat-kansas/
RT Kansas keeps climbing! Up to No. 11 in the RPI this week. #RockChalk
RT “@KUsports: Tom Keegan thinks it's time for Ben Goodman to give Benny Goodman a listen: http://bit.ly/1bzZ2Nq ” @B_Good_Man #KUfball
RT Hey KU fans, u've got to do better than this for your favorite volleyball/chem engineering major, Ms. Jarmoc. Vote? http://www.seniorclassaward.com/vote/volleyball_2013/
#KUfball Monday Rewind: The day almost crept by without me getting this in; Credit Weis for changing w/ times… http://ljw.bz/IdBrue
Weis said Tony Pierson is questionable and we'll get a new update tomorrow after Weis talks with team doctors again… #KUfball
Weis said there's no update on Darrian Miller's status… And that Brandon Bourbon should get some more carries again this week #KUfball
Weis said Gavin Howard was looking for help to dump the Gatorade bucket on him and couldn't find many volunteers… #KUfball
Weis said winning vs. WVU was nice hurdle to clear & he wants to go get a road win… Adds: It's gonna be tough sledding up there… #KUfball
Weis said it's an easy week for him b/c he can criticize players w/o worrying about them getting too low… #KUfball
Weis: it was Ben Goodman who blocked the WVU field goal… Official stats gave it to Agostinho & I heard @ least 1 other guy credited #KUfball
Weis said Sims wasn't just running hard on Saturday, "He was trying to punish people." Great way to put it… #KUfball
Weis said the high for Saturday in Ames is supposed to be 23º… Added: Factor in the wind chill and it'll probably be 0º at kickoff #KUfball
Weis said #KUfball will continue to add to passing game, but said: "If the line's continuing to control the line, there's no reason to do it
Weis said C Gavin Howard likes to talk a lot of trash on the field & had a lot of fun last week b/c can't talk trash when losing #KUfball
Weis: Damon Martin has really come along lately and looked good; Ngalu Fusimalohi has been #KUfball's most consistent lineman all season…
RT Athlon Sports and the @Big12Conference honor James Sims for his record-breaking performance: http://kuathne.ws/1aCe8of #kufball
RT It's a good week to be James Sims. @ESPN names Sims Big 12 Player of the Week http://kuathne.ws/17GO7pI #kufball pic.twitter.com/IzYcBy0bfW
Weis says scrimmaging other teams in off/preseason would be nice. Said ideal scenario would be #KUfball vs. MU at Arrowhead for charity...
"Better." #KUfball coach Charlie Weis on Hawk Talk radio show when asked by Bob Davis: How was your weekend?
RT Tyshawn Taylor puts up numbers for Brooklyn, Chalmers' elbow meets Dirk's face & more from Hawks in NBA blog #kubball http://ljw.bz/I1zcej
If you haven't heard: Kickoff for #KUfball vs. K-State on Nov. 30 is set for 11 a.m. Game will be shown on Fox Sports 1...
Bill Self audio from today's #KUbball press conference… http://ljw.bz/IcTUY1
Career day for #KUfball RB James Sims lands Player of the Week honors; sights now set on career mark… http://ljw.bz/17EbD1e
Weis: For the future of the program, you can't just say we're gonna win our home games. We know it'll be tough in Ames... #KUfball
Weis: Our defense, all year long, has played good enough to have won games. With Cozart on Offense, everything changes. #KUfball
Weis on Heaps: He's been great w/ Montell, but Jake is one of the most unselfish people I've ever been around… He's a competitor… #KUfball
Weis on Cozart: His athleticism helps hide some of our deficiencies… Montell's got a bright future & this was a good first step #KUfball
Weis: We still have 2 more opportunities to get rid of a couple other things on that list of things that could change the program #KUfball
Weis: Having won that game (WVU) helps us going forward and now we gotta focus on snapping road losing streak… #KUfball
Weis: As a coach, you learn that you can't have highs & lows… you gotta stay even keel. Just like players, though, you get a lift. #KUfball
Weis: Psychologically, I think WVU victory is a very, very big lift for our players. #KUfball
#KUfball RB James Sims named Big 12 co-offensive player of the week for his 211-yard, 3 TD performance vs. WVU... Shared w/ Baylor QB Petty
Didn't Tweet during the game but can't let tonight pass w/o props for former #KUfball LB Steven Johnson. Played big in a huge moment...
In an all orange auditorium tucked between Boone Pickens Stadium and Gallagher-Iba Arena a couple of weeks ago in Stillwater, Okla., Kansas University football coach Charlie Weis uttered a few words that hinted at the fact that he might be leaning toward changing his offense.
“I think we know where we'd like to go,” Weis said in reference to his offense, just moments after his team lost 42-6 to Oklahoma State and did so with true freshman quarterback Montell Cozart playing the entire second half.
Exactly one week later, Weis and the Jayhawks went there and the result was the program's first Big 12 victory since November 2010, a 31-19 whipping of West Virginia at happy-once-again Memorial Stadium.
The direction Weis has taken this offense — is less than two years in charge, remember — is about much more than just changing quarterbacks. It's about changing an old-school, ultra-successful, wildly accomplished ball coach's thought methodology altogether and making him squirm a little in the process.
When Weis arrived at Kansas, he brought with him years worth of success in the pro-style offense that features and makes stars out of drop-back passers like Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps and has put countless players in the NFL and worked wonders for many who already were there when Weis worked with them.
Because of that success and his confidence in his own ability, Weis spent the better part of two seasons believing that it could work at Kansas. But the Jayhawks do not have the offensive line nor the skill position players to make such a system work and, in the Big 12 Conference, where virtually every other team is throwing hay-makers week in and week out, Weis' inability to put points on the board put the Jayhawks in a hole.
Instead of being stubborn to the bitter end, Weis elected to change. If we've learned anything about the guy during his first two years in town it's that he's not afraid to check under every rock to see if he might find something, anything, that could help his team or heal his offense — all in the name of winning.
After tweaking the depth chart, moving players in and out of the lineup and replacing precious hours of sleep with more film breakdown, Weis reached the classic conclusion that states, “If you can't beat 'em, join 'em,” and then went on to have a heck of a good time last Saturday, one that several Jayhawks and Jayhawk fans won't soon forget.
Cozart was a big part of it; and his ability and maturity beyond his years seem to have KU well positioned to take this idea and run with it (no pun intended) into the future.
But, to me, the biggest tip of the cap here goes to Weis. Yes, the players made the plays — the O-Linemen blocked their tails off, Cozart was nearly flawless and James Sims once again looked like one of the best backs in the Big 12. But executing the game plan the coaches come up with is what these guys do, and, for most of them, it's easy — even if it's a total overhaul in a short time — because they're so hungry for something good to happen.
Swallowing your pride, discarding 30-plus years of offensive wisdom with a proven track record and joining the masses in the wild and crazy spread movement is not as easy. But Weis did it. And the Jayhawks won.
More important than that, it looks like he's willing to do it for a long time.
Bill Self's weekly press conference just wrapped.
Here's a quick look back at some of the highlights, as the Jayhawks prepare to take on Iona at 7 p.m. on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
• Self: It's not too early to have an idea of what kind of team you are, but it's too early to know what you have.
• Self: We didn't play great early, but I did like how our guys responded on big stage against Duke. I'm excited. I'm not thrilled where we're at, but I do see a lot of potential. I think you can use Duke game as a barometer because there's no question that Duke will be a Top 5 team when it's all said and done.
• Self: If teams are gonna shoot 50% against us, we've got no chance. There's a lot we can do to improve that. We've been fortunate because we've been exposed, but we've also won."
• Self: We've had a good week of practice. Took Sunday off. Guys are more confident and comfortable because of how they played — and the win — against Duke.
• Self: Tharpe has taken Mason under his wing. Naadir is one of Frank's biggest fans. Just like Tarik Black has taken Joel Embiid under his wing a little bit, as well.
• Self: If you've got a guy who can beat a guy off the bounce, you're probably ahead. And I do think we have some guys who can beat guys off the bounce.
• Self on Iona: We haven't gone against zone yet, so this'll be the first time we play a team that's predominantly a zone team. And they play faster than anybody we've played so far. They're also small, so we'll have bigs guarding on the perimeter.
• Self on Perry Ellis: I thought he got a lot of confidence toward end of last season and he's been terrific so far. I do think he needed that Duke game because that was against big-time guys and a big-time team. Especially true of the Parker-Ellis match-up. Those were two really good players going against each other.
• Self: If a guy played good in that game the other day, they're automatically a draft pick. I get a kick out of that. We're two games in and there are 90 guys who are going in the first round and their are only 30 teams. And that number will go to 120.
• Self on D: I'd really like to guard the ball better and our interior post D was really lacking against Louisiana Monroe. I think the mindset of not relaxing during possessions will be something we can improve on.
• Self on missing Withey: We miss Jeff. Of course, if the rules were the way last year that they are this year, a lot of fouls would've been called before they got to Jeff and it would've taken away a lot of his block opportunities.
• Self on Black: He's pressing. I do think you'll see a more relaxed and comfortable Tarik Black on Tuesday vs. Iona.
• Self: There's no stress in dividing minutes because I'm happy with who I'm starting. If anything, it's a good kind of stress because at least we have options. Do we know what we're gonna do 1-8, 1-9? No. We don't. A lot will depend on how guys play and it'll kind of clear itself out along the way. This isn't anything that unusual. We do have more guys, though.
• Self on Cliff Alexander: Without a doubt he's one of the best big men we've signed. His ceiling is remarkably high. If I say he's a monster then that'll be the headline: "Alexander a monster" so I'll say that he plays much more aggressive that most 18 year olds. Self said he's been recruiting Alexander since 9th grade and can remember seeing him run for conditioning in the halls of his school during winter months because it was too cold to go outside.
• Self on recruiting: We're really happy, but we're still recruiting. We're off to a good start because we've got two of the Top 10 guys (Alexander and Kelly Oubre) and that's a pretty good start.
• Self on latest poll, where KU is ranked No. 2: If you guys don't tell the guys, they won't know. Unless people are blowing them up on Twitter. How'd we move ahead of Louisville? That doesn't make any sense to me. But I like it.
• Self's Wayman Tisdale memory: Played together one time, didn't know who he was in their first game together, Self had 26 and Tisdale had 2. He remembered thinking, "Yes, I'm going to start getting recruited," but after the game not one coach talked to Self and Tisdale had a line 26 guys long waiting to tell him great game. It was like a receiving line at a wedding reception. It was recently announced that Self will receive the Wayman Tisdale Humanitarian Award at a banquet in April.
It was just one win and the Jayhawks still are 1-27 in their last 28 Big 12 Conference games, but there was just something about it that gave people the feeling that Saturday's 31-19 victory over West Virginia might have been the turning point for the KU football program.
Several things, actually.
The obvious items include the beginning of the ultra-promising Montell Cozart era, the fact that the Kansas offense finally threw up some legitimate points again and the continued impressive play of the KU defense.
But there are a few less obvious signs out there, too. And one of them slapped me across the face when I found it on my laptop Sunday evening.
According to the guys in Las Vegas, KU's next opponent, Iowa State, opens as a 6-point favorite over the Jayhawks, who will travel to Ames, Iowa, for a 7 p.m. kickoff next Saturday.
No big deal, right? Wrong. That Iowa State team that's favored over Kansas is 1-9 overall and 0-7 in Big 12 play.
Now I'm not saying that the Cyclones being favored is wrong. Believe me, I learned a long time ago that Vegas is a lot better at these kinds of things than I am. But I can't help but think about what a break this is for Charlie Weis and the Jayhawks. I mean, seriously. Could you have asked for anything more for the Jayhawks coming off of last week's emotional win?
Here they are feeling good about themselves, breathing easier and smiling brighter because that horrific 27-game conference losing streak is over, and, BOOM!, just like that, the odds makers give them an easy reason to put that huge chip back on their shoulders and move forward with the no-respect mentality.
Trust me. These guys don't really care who's favored or what the point spreads are. But I guarantee that being a touchdown underdog against a one-win team will be used as a major motivational tool this week, as the Jayhawks (3-7, 1-6) look to make it two victories in a row for the first time since opening the 2011 season with back-to-back wins and just the second time since 2009.
And I guarantee no one will like that more than Weis. OK, maybe junior linebacker Ben Heeney will come close, but I still think Weis will have more fun with it. Don't expect to hear about it, though.
We get great access to the Kansas University football team following its games on Saturday, but we don't get to go into the locker room. Our interviews take place in the auditorium and lounge at the Anderson Family Football Complex.
Thanks to the folks at KU Athletics, though, we were able to get a peek at the locker room celebration following yesterday's 31-19 victory over West Virginia.
Here's a look:
The Kansas University football team snapped a 27-game losing streak with a 31-19 victory over West Virginia on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Here are a few sights and sounds from the field following the victory, including the fall of the goal posts toward the end of the celebration.
As much as I'd like to think of it as a display of my genius when it comes to picking college football games, it's more likely that it was karma that cost Tom Keegan this week.
A 9-1 week by me and a sub-par 6-4 showing by Keegan evened us up in the overall standings, with three weeks to go.
The karma comes from him posting a photo of me sleeping on our drive to Stillwater, Okla., last weekend. I was only out 30 minutes max and we had gotten only 4 or 5 hours of sleep the night before since we were covering the men's hoops opener late into the night. But, still, as I nodded off for the power nap I needed, Nick Krug and Keegan pulled their shenanigans and posted a picture of me, lights out, on both Twitter and Facebook.
Nothing wrong with the photo, of course. And, to be honest, it was pretty funny. But karma came through for me and now it's anybody's ball game as we head down the stretch.
Here's a look at this week's picks, where one of us was bold enough to pick the Jayhawks.
Tait: 9-1 in Week 9; 68-22 overall
Keegan: 6-4 in Week 9; 68-22 overall
WEEK 10 GAMES
Kansas vs. West Virginia
Iowa State at Oklahoma
Oklahoma State at Texas
TCU at Kansas State
Texas Tech at Baylor
Stanford at USC
Georgia at Auburn
Florida at South Carolina
Michigan State at Nebraska
Miami (FL) at Duke
Question: Who wins this Sunday — the unbeaten Kansas City Chiefs or the 8-1 Denver Broncos?
Kansas 24, West Virginia 21
Oklahoma 30, Iowa State 13
Oklahoma State 31, Texas 27
Kansas State 35, TCU 17
Baylor 42, Texas Tech 24
Stanford 27, USC 20
Georgia 27, Auburn 23
South Carolina 23, Florida 21
Nebraska 26, Michigan State 24
Duke 27, Miami (FL) 20
Answer: Let's put it this way, if Peyton Manning's injured ankle was not in play, I'd pick the Broncos to blow the Chiefs out 38-13. But since it is, I'm going to go Broncos 35, Chiefs 19.
West Virginia 21, Kansas 20
Oklahoma 38, Iowa State 7
Oklahoma State 31, Texas 28
Kansas State 28, TCU 17
Baylor 44, Texas Tech 24
Stanford 24, USC 21
Auburn 35, Georgia 31
South Carolina 24, Florida 20
Michigan State 21, Nebraska 20
Miami 35, Duke 31
Answer: The Broncos' KU football connection will put them over the top against the Chiefs. I'm not 100 percent sure about this, but I think Broncos QB/OC Petyon Manning is the NFL's first player-coach since Tom Landry served as defensive back and defensive coordinator for the New York Giants nearly 60 years ago when Vince Lombardi was the defensive coordinator. Landry wore a helmet when he first started coaching, but switched to a fedora. The hat choice always looked more natural and fit better on Landry than on Lombardi. Fedora factories — or should we call them haberdasheries? — would have done well to sneak President John F. Kennedy a big wad of cash under the table to wear a fedora. The prez did not like wearing hats and when he was seen not wearing them, many others realized it was OK to stop wearing fedoras and they went out of stye. Now they're not customary, but are worn by some hipsters, perhaps because Johnny Depp has been known to wear them. Anyway, I digress. Back to JFK. I never believed any of the conspiracy theories and especially after watching a documentary with the late Peter Jennings serving as host, believed Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman. But after watching JFK: The Smoking Gun on ReelzChannel, I'm not so sure. It's based on Bonar Menninger's book, "Mortal Error: The Shot That Killed JFK," which highlights the research of a Howard Donahue, who theorized that a secret service agent in the car behind JFK's, after hearing Oswald's shot, picked up a rifle, turned toward the depository and accidentally clipped off a shot that killed our most charismatic president. The documentary is definitely worth a watch. Let me know what you think. What was the question again?
Moments ago, Cliff Alexander, the No. 4-ranked recruit in the Class of 2014, announced that he would play his college ball at Kansas University, giving the Jayhawks the fourth and 12th-ranked (Kelly Oubre) prospects in the class.
Alexander, a 6-foot-8, 240-pound power forward from Chicago's Curie High, chose Kansas over Illinois, DePaul and Memphis. He has been compared, by some, to former Jayhawk Thomas Robinson, and, averaged 21.3 points, 13 rebounds and 5 blocks per game as a junior.
I haven't watched a ton of film on him yet, but I have checked it out and it looks, to me, like he's not quite as explosive as T-Rob but definitely is as powerful.
I'm sure with the development he'll get at KU and from working with Andrea Hudy, his explosiveness will take off and, when you combine that with his raw size and power, you're looking at a player who could make a major impact in a hurry.
One thing I noticed on film that really stood out was the touch on his jumper. I'm sure he won't be asked to shoot jumpers too often at Kansas, but it's nice to see that the framework is there for them to develop that if needed.
Those of you who have followed this thing throughout probably already know that Alexander's girlfriend (Caelynn Manning-Allen) is on the KU women's basketball team and that he was in town for an official visit just last weekend.
Now that Cliff's officially in the fold, though, I know you guys probably want to know a lot more. So here ya go. Below is a collection of stories and video links regarding the latest prep star from Chicago to pick Kansas.
Alexander instantly fits into any lineup:
Alexander spent last summer working to improve his jumper:
In August, Alexander's AAU coach explained why he liked KU:
Here's DraftExpress.com's player profile on Alexander:
Alexander workout video:
Alexander breaks backboard at age 16:
This one's called “Beware of Cliff Alexander:
This one calls Cliff Alexander the class' most powerful dunker:
There's been a lot of message board chatter lately about KU football coach Charlie Weis' contract — how much money he makes, how much he's worth and how much KU would owe him if the two sides chose to part ways before reaching the end of his contract, which runs through 2016.
Before I go any further, let me say that moving forward without Weis, in my opinion, is a bad idea for the program. Beyond that, I can't see it happening. He hasn't even made it through two seasons yet and, although the offense has left something to be desired, progress has been made in many areas — defense, special teams, off the field, etc. Moving forward without Weis starts the process all over again and keeps Kansas from building any kind of upward momentum. Give the guy a chance to tweak things this coming offseason, whether that means installing a new system, hiring an offensive coordinator, bringing in some new faces or all of the above, and see if Year 3 (the year many inside the program have been pointing to all along anyway) can be the year when things start to turn around.
OK. Now back the salary talk.
Weis came to Kansas with a $2.5 million price tag for three reasons: 1. His NFL pedigree and strong reputation. 2. Some savvy negotiating. 3. The debacle that was Lew Perkins' hire of Turner Gill.
Think about it. If Perkins had merely doubled Gill's Buffalo salary ($450,000), KU could have gotten away with paying Gill right around $1 million per year. He still would've come, because the opportunity to coach in the Big 12 is not offered up every day, and more than doubling his salary to the six-figure range surely would've sounded plenty sweet.
Had that happened, not only would KU have saved a boat load of money — Gill would've earned $2 million instead of $4.2 and been bought out for $3 million more instead of hauling in a final sum of $6 million to go away — but the bar also would have been substantially lower for the next coach, be it Weis or whomever.
At that point, the negotiation could have started with a much smaller number, say with KU athletic director Sheahon Zenger offering Weis in the $1.3-$1.5 million a year range and perhaps the two sides would've settled at or just under $2 million a year instead of $2.5 million.
For a program desperately wanting to move forward with plans to upgrade and renovate its football stadium, any kind of savings would be gold, especially when such a domino effect would've (or at least could've) saved Kansas close to $7.5 million during that time.
(This might be a good spot to set the record straight and remind you that neither Gill nor Mark Mangino are still being paid by Kansas)
This is not intended to be a knock on Zenger or Weis or Gill or even Perkins. Each man did what he thought he had to do and, beyond that, what's done is done.
One of the more interesting things about the whole situation, though, is that even those who believe Weis makes too much dough for what he's done at Kansas so far (personally, I think the man deserves the full five years to prove his worth) might be surprised to learn that he still ranks just seventh in the Big 12. Given his incredible season and recent contract extension dished out to Baylor coach Art Briles, along with the strong first-year showing from Texas Tech's Kliff Kingsbury, Weis may soon fall to ninth.
Call me crazy, but I don't think paying your head football coach the ninth highest salary in a 10-team league is unreasonable.
Remember, we now live in the age of football-driven conference realignment and, if anything, I would think that athletic directors everywhere would darn sure want their football coaches to be paid in the top half of their leagues.
Just last week, USA Today released its collection of the salary numbers for college football coaches across the country, and it revealed that Weis' $2.5 million annual haul ranks 31st nationally.
The whole thing is relative and each university faces its own unique set of circumstances that determine how — and even why — coaches are paid what they're paid.
Perkins paid Gill what he wanted the job to be worth instead of paying Gill what he deserved, and that one move forever changed the KU football salary structure.
Regardless of how things wind up with Weis, whether he wins and goes on to make more money or loses and is eventually replaced, KU is going to have to spend money to get better and spend even more to stay there.
That's a given. And, in many ways, it makes the actual figures irrelevant. The only real question is how long will it all take?
BIG 12 COACHING SALARIES:
1.Mack Brown, Texas --- $5.45 million per year (2nd nationally)
2.Bob Stoops, Oklahoma --- $4.77 million per year (5th)
3.Mike Gundy, Oklahoma State --- $3.45 million per year (11th)
4.Gary Patterson, TCU --- $3.12 million per year (16th)
5.Bill Snyder, Kansas State --- $2.80 million per year (19th)
6.Dana Holgorsen, West Virginia --- $2.63 million per year (24th)
7.Charlie Weis, Kansas --- $2.50 million per year (31st)
8.Art Briles, Baylor --- $2.43 million per year (34th)***
9.Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech --- $1.86 million per year (53rd)
10.Paul Rhoads, Iowa State --- $1.71 million per year (59th)
*** Briles' extension, which was announced Wednesday and will run through 2023, will vault him into third place on this list, at right around $4 million per season.
I'm sure our own Gary Bedore is all over this and will have more throughout the week, but since he's in his hometown of Chicago getting ready for tomorrow night's KU-Duke game, I figured I'd post this quickly so you guys were in the loop.
It looks like Friday will be a huge day for KU basketball recruiting, as three of the top prospects in the Class of 2014 reportedly will be announcing their decisions at 3 p.m.
They are Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Cliff Alexander. KU is in the running for all three of them and each made a visit to KU's campus at some point during the process, with Alexander being the most recent to hit Lawrence, as he was here this past weekend.
The announcements will take place at their respective high schools and, as always, we'll have all kinds of coverage and reaction right here at KUsports.com when the deals go down.
It's hard to say exactly what will happen here. Okafor and Jones have spoken often of wanting to play college ball together and Alexander's as talented as anyone, but it's hard to imagine all three of them will pick the same school. Then again, you never know. And the timing of their announcements — same time, same day — certainly adds to the intrigue around their decisions.
Okafor, a 6-10, 270-pound center from Whitney Young High in Chicago, is ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 1 player in the class. Jones, a 6-1, 171-pound point guard from Apple Valley (MN) High is ranked fifth and the potential packaged deal represent two of KU's top targets.
Alexander, a 6-8, 240-pound forward from Chicago's Curie High, is ranked 4th in the class and has a final five of Kansas, Illinois, Michigan State, DePaul and Memphis.
Okafor's final four is believed to be Baylor, Duke, Kansas and Kentucky, while Duke, Kansas and several others are in on Jones, as well.
All three are five-star prospects.
When it became clear during the offseason that junior-college transfer Chris Martin would not be around this fall to intimidate offenses, wreak havoc off the edge of the defensive line and give the Kansas University football team its first true pass rushing threat with double-digit sack potential, the focus shifted to fellow juco transfer Andrew Bolton.
No one really talked about Michael Reynolds.
And maybe that was a good thing. See, for years, we've talked about Reynolds as a natural pass rusher and called him one of the Jayhawks with the most potential, but during his first three seasons in Lawrence — the Wichita native red-shirted in 2010 — he didn't show much more than potential.
That isn't the case any more. With Martin gone and Bolton red-shirting while overcoming an injury, Reynolds has stepped into an important role for the Kansas defense and currently finds himself leading the team in sacks with 5.5.
The number is not one that will set the college football world on fire, but it's significant around here. And it's significant for a couple of reasons. For one, Kansas, as a team, managed just 12 sacks all of 2012. For two, it validates all of that talk about Reynolds being the kind of guy who could make a difference for a defense.
The pass-rush specialist did just that during KU's 42-6 loss at Oklahoma State last Saturday. His effort did not do much to keep KU in the game, but it did allow a pretty solid season to keep rolling. And it's indicative of what this whole defense is about right now — great effort, legitimate improvement, not much to show for it.
Reynolds' sack of OSU quarterback Clint Chelf in the third quarter gave him a sack in four of KU's past five games. During the rest of the game, Reynolds added another tackle, recorded a career-high two pass break-ups and consistently got close enough to Chelf to make him get rid of the ball just a tick earlier than he probably would have liked. That was reflected in his 19-of-37 passing numbers, which included several balls thrown prematurely that either missed the mark or were dropped by wide receivers not quite ready for them.
Like Ben Heeney finishing third in the Big 12 in tackles in 2012, Reynolds' strong season likely will be overlooked, perhaps even forgotten, because of all of the losing. And there's no doubt that Reynolds and the rest of the guys in that KU locker room would trade any and all of their individual statistics for a couple more tallies in the win column.
Until those start to come, though, efforts like the most recent one from the emerging Reynolds are all the Jayhawks have to celebrate.
Three games left to change that.
For the sixth consecutive week, the Kansas football team is facing an opponent that prefers up-tempo football as its offensive attack of choice.
Oklahoma State, which enters the game ranked 14th in the country with a 7-1 record (4-1 in Big 12 play), has averaged 77 plays per game and run most of them at rapid-fire pace.
By now, the fast flow is nothing new for the KU defense or for de facto defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, who has a ton of experience facing these types of attack, both from his days in the Big 12 and elsewhere.
“If they got in a huddle, that may be confusing,” Bowen joked. “That's the reality of where we're at in the Big 12.”
While the Cowboys like to go fast like the rest of the Big 12's offenses, they are more balanced than most and are a threat to run as often as they throw.
“It does kind of fit the mold of what we've seen, which, week in and week out in the conference is about the same,” Bowen said. “They've all kind of put their little twists on it, and they all use tempo to their advantage.”
For the Jayhawks, tempo has not necessarily been an issue this season. In the 54-16 loss to Texas Tech in October, it was the volume of plays (100), not necessarily the pace that put KU's defense in a bind. And, a couple of weeks ago against Baylor, the Jayhawks simply ran into a buzz saw and, believe it or not, actually held the Bears to around or below their offensive averages.
Asked to explain the pressure that up-tempo offenses put on defenses, Bowen went into detail about the alignment, the snap and the mismatches that come with the quick pace. But one of the biggest issues Bowen said defenses face is the fake counts. Think Peyton Manning invades college football.
“If they're going to sprint to the ball, at that point in time when the QB's up there selling it, you have to be aligned and ready to play in what you're gonna play.” Bowen said. “When they're going fast and they give the fake count, their eyes in the sky get to see exactly what you were going to do on that snap. Now, of course we have our counters to when they catch us there and we change the call and do some things and we've had a lot of success playing the cat and mouse game with 'em.”
Occasionally, though, the ruse works and the offenses are able to audible and catch KU (as well as others) in a bad spot. That happened a time or two in the recent loss to Texas.
“Last week (at UT), it was virtually every snap,” Bowen said. “They were leaning heavily on it.”
All in all, though, Bowen and the KU coaching staff have been pleased with the Jayhawks' progress in handling the tempo, something which the KU defense struggled with mightily during the past three seasons.
“Tempo hasn't been an issue in our games,” Bowen said. “I believe in the system that we've put into place to handle tempo and I think our kids have a very good understanding of it.”