Kansas secondary takes a step back

Nebraska QB Ganz throws for 324 yards against beleaguered backfield

? Just a week after it seemed to have things figured out, Kansas University’s football secondary looked young and confused once again in Saturday’s 45-35 loss to Nebraska on Saturday at NU’s Memorial Stadium.

The Jayhawks, after giving up just 207 passing yards the week before to Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman, were torched for 324 yards by Nebraska quarterback Joe Ganz.

“(NU) played good enough to win the game, but at the same time, all of us feel like we let ourselves down,” KU cornerback Justin Thornton said. “We felt like it was more that we made too many mistakes. You can’t do that against a good team and quarterback like Joe Ganz.”

Most alarming for KU were the blown coverages.

Often, NU receivers seemed to be running across the field without anyone around them.

One example was Chris Brooks’ 25-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter on a third-and-10. After getting by the linebackers, he found a huge hole in the middle of KU’s defense.

It was only the third catch of Brooks’ career.

“We had a lot of coverage busts and mental mistakes, things you just can’t have against good quarterbacks,” Thornton said. “We’ve learned in the Big 12 you can’t make mistakes like that because all the quarterbacks, most of them are good.”

KU coach Mark Mangino also was disappointed with NU’s last touchdown, a 14-yarder from Ganz to Nate Swift on a third-and-13.

On that play, KU’s Anthony Davis was the only defender close, and he trailed Swift by a good five yards.

Mangino admitted after the game “that should not have happened.”

“There’s some young guys getting a baptismal. They’re learning a trial by fire,” Mangino said. “I guess that’s the best way for it to happen sometimes.”

KU’s secondary was forced to field inexperienced players in the second half, as Daymond Patterson left the game due to an undisclosed injury. He did not return.

“Sometimes, grooming (players) on the practice field is not the same as playing in a game,” Mangino said. “Some of those younger guys are getting repetitions and are getting beat on some plays, but we’re going to live with it. It’ll pay off for us.”

Thornton refused to make injuries an excuse for the struggles in the secondary.

“We have guys that are capable of stepping in for whomever on defense,” Thornton said. “When your number is called, you’ve got to be ready, and you’ve got to come out and make plays. That shouldn’t have been a problem. A guy goes down, the next guy’s got to be ready.”

It won’t get any easier for KU’s pass defense. The Jayhawks will go against one of the leading Heisman candidates (Texas’ Colt McCoy) and also a preseason Heisman favorite (Missouri’s Chase Daniel) in their next two games.

“Guys are going to be focused because this one hurts a lot,” Thornton said. “I think after a loss like this, guys are really going to get the picture.”