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Hawk Talk...The Morning After(Sunflower Edition)

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A look at news and notes about Jayhawks and upcoming opponents...

My Thoughts...The morning after and the win feels just as satisfying as the day of.  While it seems like our true football rivalry is Missouri this game was a big win for the Jayhawks and their fans.  My only question is why the hell are there empty seats after halftime when we are handing our instate rival who we clearly have on the ropes an absolute beat down.  Enjoy the journey and don't get so wrapped up in the destination Jayhawk fans. 

Enough of that tangent how about a look at the game.  There has been recent mention of Ed Warriner changing his offensive blocking scheme from a zone block to man.  Clearly that is the right move.  Yesterday, I saw our offensive line dominating man on man throughout the game.  K-State players found their faces buried in the grass and I can count more than a few times where Jeff Spikes and Jeremiah Hatch our two newbie’s were on top.  Jake Sharp used this to his advantage in a big way.  Many of his big runs were off the right side behind Spikes and Sharp made the right reads hit the holes aggressively, got to the next level and then made guys miss.  Not to mention his touchdown where he outran the Kansas State safety.  Fact of the matter is Sharp proved a lot yesterday, and with consistent blocking he can be a very effective back for us.  The shovel pass that he broke for long yardage was probably his best example of reading and cutting off blocks all year.  Overall, kudos to the running game for being the focal point and not an afterthought this week.

Defensively it was hard not to be very happy with the scheme and effort.  Josh Freeman is a very good quarterback with a pocket and with time.  Under pressure he sometimes tries to do too much.  Clint Bowen's zone blitzing along with the decision to utilize James Holt as an end was huge in applying pressure and allowing our secondary to provide solid coverage.  The scheme also allowed Russel Brorson to pick off his 2nd and 3rd Josh Freeman passes adding to his one from last year’s game against Kansas State.  In the backfield Justin Thornton and Daymond Patterson both looked much more comfortable in their positions this week, which might have something to do with not playing Texas Tech, but nonetheless both looked improved.  Another crew that made a difference was our defensive tackles.  Caleb Blakesly was a warrior in the middle, while Jamal Greene and Darius Parish did an excellent job filling in for Richard Johnson and tied up blockers allowing our linebackers to run free.  Finally the leaders of this defense Joe Mortenson, Mike Rivera and Darrell Stuckey used their freedom to roam and stifle the running game holding Kansas State to a minimal 91 yards rushing. 

Even the special teams were improved.  Daymond Patterson had room to work on returns, Herford and Crawford looked more decisive on kickoff returns, Branstetter put a few in the end zone, knocked through a FG and made some great tackles.  The only low point was the blocked field goal, but then again Kansas State doesn't lead the nation in that statistic for nothing. 

From a mental standpoint Kansas definitely recovered from the haymaker that Tech threw their way a week ago.  The players showed they aren't done yet and next week against Nebraska, the Jayhawks have a chance to break a streak, lock up a seventh win and probably creep back into the Top 25 before facing a tough Texas Longhorn team in Lawrence.  Big win this week, another huge and difficult game next week but fans can rest easy as Kansas for the third year in a row defeated rival K-State in the sunflower showdown.

Press conference highlights after the Jump...some good stuff this week...


                                                                   Image Source: KUSports.com

Kansas Head Coach Mark Mangino:

 

On things that stand out from the game:

“First of all, our defense played really well today.  I liked the plan that we had on defense, but our coaches did a good job of getting our kids to bounce back and play really well. Our pass defense, including our pass rush, put some pressure on the quarterback for the better part of the day, we got some sacks, so I’m really pleased with that aspect. Offensively we noticed during the week that they were giving some opportunities to run the ball, and we felt that they played us on defense the way we expected. Our offensive line did a terrific job of getting off the ball and knocking the defensive line back a little bit, and gave Jake Sharp room, and Jake just had a great day.  He not only ran the ball well in space, but he took some viscous hits today and he jumped back up, and like I said before, Jake Sharp is a hard-charger. He’s a tough guy.” 

 

On the improvement of the program:

“Obviously we’ve made great improvement, but I still think it’s a great in-state rivalry (with K-State). This year and the last few years we’ve played very well and I’m proud of the way our kids have played.  Our program has made a lot of progress.  Our fans are elated that KU is winning some of these games in this Sunflower Series.  Overall, the credit goes to the kids.  They want to do it, they want to get better, and each and every year we seem to have kids that really play hard, play together, and have great resolve.  They are resilient; they bounce back from tough days.  I’m very proud of the players that play in this program.” 

 

On the success of the defensive pressure playing a part in the win:

“We put a great deal of pressure on the quarterback, or at least didn’t give him as much time as he would like to have. He’s a talented guy, he can hurt you, he made some very good throws today, you can see that he’s really a talented player. He made some tough throws. There were a couple of times I thought we had good coverage.  He put the ball in there. If you give him a lot of time to stand back there you’re going to have a long day, and we’ve learned some lessons about that in the past, so we didn’t want that to happen today.”

 

On Jake Sharp getting knocked around:

“He has proven to us he is exceptional.  Most guys his size cannot. But you cannot measure a guy’s heart.  You can measure how fast he runs, how high he jumps, the weights he lifts, but you cannot measure intestinal fortitude.  There’s no real measurement for it, and he has it.  He’s a tough customer, and he’s a great guy to be around. His teammates like him, he’s proven that he can play at the highest level of college football and be successful at it, and I think there were some people who questioned that at one point in time. I’m glad that we didn’t, because we’re glad to have him in our program.”

 

 

Kansas senior center Ryan Cantrell

On rushing for 280 yards:

“The results speak for themselves. Before I knew it, I looked up on the stat boards and saw that we had over 100 yards rushing before the end of the first quarter.  It was a good feeling. I think we had the right schemes. Jake (Sharp) ran his butt off today. I can’t say enough good things about the way he ran today. I wanted 300 yards (rushing), but we didn’t get that.  It’s a good feeling. It makes all the work you put into it, especially in the run game, worth it. It helps motivate you for the next time.”

 

On the progression of freshmen tackles Jeremiah Hatch and Jeff Spikes:

“Anytime you have young guys and they are both redshirt freshmen, you are going to go through some growing pains. Every week they mature more and more. We’ll go through film each day and see if they had any mistakes. And every week there mistakes get to be less and less.”

 

 

Kansas senior linebacker Mike Rivera

On winning three in a row against K-State:

“I can’t tell you how good it feels. It was a great game for us to win, and to win it handily. We did a really good job. Being from Kansas, it is one game that I mark on my calendar each year. I’m glad that we went out there and gave our best effort.  We had an awesome game and we put it all together.  It’s my second to last game at Memorial Stadium, so it was exciting.”

 

 

Kansas State Head Coach Ron Prince

Opening Statement:

“They were a good team; a team that needed a win. KU lost a game badly and came back well organized and very well coached and did a terrific job today. On the flip side, we were not well coached today and that is my responsibility and the people of Kansas State deserve better then this. It is about as bad of a loss that I have been associated with, particularly the way we played in the first half. A number of things come to mind. No. 1, the offensive line from an offensive standpoint. Number two on offense, the turnovers continue to plague us. When you look at the number of carries that Lamark Brown was able to get, he had the same carries that Jake Sharp had, but the outcome was tremendously different. KU did a terrific job and we failed to beat blocks and once again tackle. They got big plays and we had very few. Also despite some positive things that could have occurred in the kicking game they did a really good job of limiting any big plays.  When you are on the road and fall behind it is very difficult to keep balance in the game from a run or pass situation.  We had to get some quality stops in the second half in order to get back into it and we just never got those. So it was a thorough and complete defeat by a very good KU team and my hat’s off to them. It was a very poor one by myself and my coaching staff.”

 

On the Kansas running game:

“They did a really good job of running the ball inside and then they did a very good job taking the ball to the perimeter on the option.  We had some very specific things that we wanted to do to handle the option and we didn’t get them accomplished so therefore we had some plays that really looked uncontested, but they weren’t designed that way. As a coach I have to take responsibility for those.”

 

On the significance of the game:

“This is a thorough and complete beating and defeat there is no question about it.  I’m not one that’s going to try to mince words and try to spin anything. They did a great job, they were very well prepared for the game and it meant a lot to them. We were very well prepared coming into the game, but didn’t execute like we needed to and that’s my job to