Coaching investigation...check. Coaching search...check. Coaching hire...check. Recruiting...ongoing. The holiday's are upon us and there is some sense of stability in our football program once again. The preference would obviously be to spend these next couple weeks looking at Kansas' bowl matchup and discussing the great performances of the season. With one of those off the table, we can still do the other.
Those of you who were around last year might remember our "Top 10 Performances of 2008" series. While this year as a whole left a bit of a sour taste, we'll be renewing the series for 2009. Amidst all of this we'll still be talking Kansas basketball as we creep closer to real competition. RCT will also continue covering the coaching additions and recruiting activities of Coach Turner Gill. Lastly, who could forget the RCT Readers Choice Award which will also be voted on and awarded following the Top 10 and bowl games of the holiday season. Who knows, there might even be a few new categories to ring in the new year.
All that said today we start off our Top 10 countdown with #10 on the list. Finishing 5-7 clearly the Jayhawks didn't have as many standout performances as they might have last year, but there were still some notable efforts and not too surprisingly some commonalities in opponents in a lot of instances. #10 though goes to a new face on the Jayhawk roster. A new face putting in a big performance against the Jayhawks toughest non-conference opponent Southern Miss.
(Cue your best John Facenda NFL Films Voice while reading)
Toben Opurum signed with the Jayhawks out of high school and immediately the expectation was there to potentially start. RCT talked to Toben on multiple occasions and the ability to play early and often at Kansas was a prime selling point, as was his opportunity to play as a primary runner in the Kansas spread offense.
Southern Mississippi came calling on September 26th for the Jayhawks final game of the non conference schedule. Due to injury, Toben would get the start against the Golden Eagles and he would pack a punch in the Kansas backfield providing that grind it out style we've come to expect from Opurum.
Statline on the day stacks up like this for Toben. 28 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown, Toben also was on the recieving end of 2 passes including one touchdown reception from Todd Reesing.
Toben's first touchdown would come in the 2nd quarter on that reception as the Jayhawks faced a third and one from the 12. A wheel route out of the backfield and a well thrown ball by Reesing placed Toben in the endzone where he would come down with the ball after taking a shot just across the goaline.
Toben would find pay dirt for a second time in the game when in the third quarter the Jayhawks faced a 4th and goal from the 2. After a handoff out of the shotgun from Reesing to Opurum, Toben would lower his shoulder and barrel into the endzone over an overmatched pair of Southern Miss defenders.
The game would mark Toben's first time eclipsing the 100 yard mark on the ground. His contributions were key to controlling the ball against a Southern Mississippi offense that was pretty potent at the time. Toben provided Kansas the ability to grind it out and play keep away late and the defense stepped up on three straight occasions to secure the win.
Something tells me this might not be the last top 10 Toben will end up on in his career, but in his first year he checks in at #10 for his efforts against the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles.