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Hawk Talk: UTEP the Morning After


A look at news and notes about the game...

Denver's Take...

While the offense still ended up with nearly 600 yards in total output the defense was the story in El Paso and that is a very good sign.

Chris Harris back to corner, Justin Thornton to the Nickel spot and Phillip Strozier at safety seemed to solve any concerns in the defensive secondary and the coverage led to a few sacks up front. 

On the defensive line the front four to their credit was also making it happen themselves.  Maxwell Onyegbule and Jeff Wheeler the two most talked about defensive ends in terms of potential throughout their careers finally seemed to realize a little bit of that at the Sun Bowl.  

Sure UTEP shot themselves in the foot at times but regardless of who you are playing, when a team that can't break the century mark in total yards for the better part of three quarters you are doing something right.

Even the linebacking corps seemed solid with both Arist Wright and Drew Dudley providing excellent run support as well as playing pretty solid in coverage when called upon.  If you need a stat to show what these guys did, UTEP only put together 4 yards rushing and numerous times I saw Drew Dudley meeting the Miner backs in the holes or in the backfield.

Lastly on the defensive side of the ball the game plan itself was much improved, far less vanilla and at times did look to disrupt the rhythm of the UTEP offensive game.  All in all this was a big confidence builder on the defensive side of the ball and something we all needed to see. 

From an offensive perspective Jake Sharp and Dezmon Briscoe showed up to play, both having tremendous outputs.  The team as a whole as I said was near 600 yards but it still looked a mess at times.   Todd Reesing was battling some bad snaps at times which might have led to some of his questionable play making but I'll cut the guy some slack as he's usually a warrior out there for us.  It might have even felt good for him to know he didn't have to win every game for us.

Our two headed monster of Jake Sharp and Toben Opurum combined for 166 of the teams 255 rushing yards behind a modified offensive line that saw Thorson move back to center, Capra to LG and Trevor Marrongelli enter the game at right guard and count me among those impressed by this guy.  Ultimately I really want Hatch back in the game and his snapping concerns addressed but it's good to know we have some solid depth on the interior.  The competition in this area is stiff and it's going to get harder and harder for the coaching staff to keep a guy like Marrongelli off the field.

In terms of pass protection it did seem that Todd Reesing was scrambling less, most of his jitters in the pocket seemed more a result of either his own indecision or a lack of open receivers.  Tanner Hawkinson again protected the backside but Jeff Spikes did stumble a bit at the right tackle and at this point might be the one weak link up front that has shown through 2 games.

Finally, the third phase of the game on special teams.  Kick return game looked good as Daymond Patterson nearly broke two punt returns for touchdowns.  Jacob Branstetter and Alonso Rojas continue to look pretty solid in terms of kicking when it comes to the kind that determines field position.  The biggest concern that was exposed today was hands down the kicking accuracy of Branstetter.  It's early and I'm hoping those were jitters but right now this is an area that could lose a game for us and that's scary.

Overall, Kansas dominated this one and the reality is we still are far from putting together our best game.  Duke next week and then another decent test in Southern Miss before Iowa State and Big 12 conference play.  There's a lot of football to go but if there is one thing the first two weeks have shown it's that this year is wide open in the Big 12.  Put the pieces together and there's no telling what Kansas might accomplish.

Postgame Quotes and Notes after the jump...

- With the win KU: Started a season 2-0 for the seventh consecutive season... Won its fourth straight game dating back to last year... Stopped a three-game non-conference road losing streak... Improved to 18-2 in its last 20 non-conference games... Improved to 25-7 in its last 32 games overall...

- KU Head Coach Mark Mangino tied for second among KU coaches for career victories with his 47th win (47-41 overall).  He is tied with Glen Mason (47-54-1) and behind A.R. Kennedy (52-9-4).

- New starters from last week included RB Toben Opurum (first career start for the freshman as KU started two running backs) and WR Dezmon Briscoe on offense and DT Caleb Blakesley and S Phillip Strozier on defense.  Chris Harris started at cornerback this week after starting at nickel back in the first game.

- KU recorded three sacks in the first quarter to extend its streak of recording at least three sacks in a game to four straight dating back to last year.  The first-quarter sacks were by Max Onyegbule, Jeff Wheeler and Patrick Dorsey.

- Jake Sharp's 30-yard run from the KU six-yard line in the first quarter, was the second-longest rush of his career (47 vs. Kansas State last season).

- Sharp moved into 10th place on the KU career rushing list as he entered the game with 1,933 yards and moved past Kerwin Bell (1,970).

- Sharp tied for fifth place on the KU career rushing touchdowns list after entering the game with 20 scores on the ground.

- Sharp moved into third place on the KU career receptions by a running back list after entering the game with 54 career grabs.

- Sharp scored a rushing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in the same game for the fourth time in his career.

- Sharp recorded the fifth 100-yard rushing game of his career, including his second in two games this season (had 123 in opener against Northern Colorado).

- Sharp has rushed for 15 touchdowns in the last 11 games.

- KU junior Justin Thornton recorded his eighth career interception in the second quarter after a deflection by Daymond Patterson.

- WR Dezmon Briscoe recorded his fifth straight 100-yard receiving game dating back to last year and in fact had 121 yards by halftime.  It marked his eighth career 100-yard receiving game which tied Willie Vaughn for the most in KU history.

- Briscoe moved into third place on the KU career receiving yardage list as he entered the game with 1,903 yards and Richard Estell had 1,997.

- Briscoe has now caught at least two passes in 20 consecutive games.

- QB Todd Reesing moved into ninth place on the Big 12 career total offense list as he entered the game with 8,392 yards and Josh Freeman of Kansas State had 8,421 in his career.

- DE Maxwell Onyegbule had a career-high tackle total (had five vs. Texas last year).  His first five tackles were for loss, including two sacks.