The Good Guys...
Note: I'm going to keep any of the "Rumble at Mount Oread" pieces out of Hawk Talk this week, not because I'm ignoring the issue but because I think we've covered it and linked most articles pertaining to it. This was a stupid and embarrassing incident for the Jayhawk Athletic department but my opinion still hasn't changed. What this was simply put was a juvenile immature event. What it is not though is a sign of the apocalypse and impending doom in Lawrence as some elsewhere have suggested. I trust this is going to be resolved internally and I'm fine with that course of action. I guess I'm just not sure why some of the world is so obsessed with Kansas punishing every transgression out in public for all to see. Anyway moving on.
- Kale Pick has performed well in clean up duty early and looks to have a bright future for the Jayhawks.
- Offense needs to improve as the competition get's stiffer.
- Kansas has been slow out of the gates in it's first three games.
- Southern Miss. is Kansas' second sellout of the year.
- Rell Lewis ready to step up if called upon.
- Kansas secondary to be tested by the Golden Eagles.
- The Jayhawks looking for a 4-0 start just like in 2007.
- Kansas vs. Southern Miss. Preview.
- Patterson adjusting well to new position after a full season now in the role.
- Cornerbacks often face the toughest scrutiny.
- Max O. continues to impress in 2009.
- Former Jayhawks turn to coaching.
- Scheduling getting more difficult as Kansas program improves.
- Kerry Meier: A New Kind of MVP
The Bad Guys...
- Jayhawks prepare for "The Eagle" formation against USM.
- Kansas is a Statement Game for the Golden Eagles.
- A look at the Golden Ealges backfield.
- USM defense looking forward to a big test with Kansas.
- Southern Mississippi Safeties producing for the Eagles Defense.
- Eagles Players eyeing an upset.
Well, here we go. The next phase of the 2009 season kicks off today with the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. USM is a dangerous team who much like Kansas has the ability to score points in a variety of ways on offense and has shown a stout defense early in the season.
The temptation is to say this one is going to be a shootout. Neither team has played a true offensive power so surely the defenses will be exposed for what they are, right? I'm not so sure about this, I think defense might be the determining factor.
The USM defense will be looking to slow Kansas early, gain some confidence on defense and put the pressure on Kansas down the stretch. Where things could get dangerous is if the Kansas defense also fails to rise to the challenges the USM offense will present. Regardless of if they do or don't, I do think the score is lower than the potential shootout being suggested and I'm not certain Kansas covers the 14 point spread in the end.
On the Kansas side the offense needs to come out strong, keep the game balanced and this is the defenses chance to potentially turn some heads. The wildcard factor this week is the challenge of overcoming all the distractions of the week
Overall I'm confident but far from overlooking a tough USM team that could prove difficult.
In the end though I think it's the Kansas DEFENSE we're talking about on Sunday as they respond and prove to their doubters that they getting closer to handling the challenges laid in front of them week in and week out.
Final Score: Kansas 38 USM 28
Notes and more things to look for after the jump...
FORCING TURNOVERS -- In the last two years the Kansas defense forced a combined 60 turnovers (35 in 2007 and 25 in 2008). That total was the ninth best in the nation in that span.
KU VS. CONFERENCE USA -- Kansas is meeting a Conference USA opponent for the second time this season as the Jayhawks won 49-7 at UTEP on Sept. 12. The Jayhawks are now 17-9 against current members of the league all-time with a 4-0 mark vs. UAB, 3-0 vs. Houston, 1-0 vs. Rice, Tulane and UTEP and 5-5 vs. Tulsa. Before this season the last time KU played a Conference USA team was a 42-13 win against Houston in the 2005 Fort Worth Bowl. The last previous regular season meeting before this year was a 21-3 win against Tulsa to open the 2004 season.
KU-USM CONNECTIONS -- Kansas does not list any players on its roster from the state of Mississippi... USM OL Kyle Burkhart is from Kinsley, Kan. and played at Dodge City (Kan.) CC, while DL De'Anthony Bandy is from Kansas City, Mo... USM Head Coach Larry Fedora is familiar with the Big 12 after spending time as an assistant coach at Baylor (1990-96 [the Big 12 was formed in 1996]) and Oklahoma State (2005-07)... KU was 1-1 against OSU when Fedora was there and did not play against Baylor...USM associate HC/OC Darrell Wyatt was an associate HC/OC/WR coach at Kansas from 1997-2000... USM OL coach Chris Kapilovic was a graduate assistant at Kansas from 1999-2000. -- Kansas is 6-1 (lost to Texas Tech last year) when wearing red jerseys in the Mark Mangino era. Prior to the Mangino era, KU last wore red jerseys in the 1947 Orange Bowl.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR AGAINST USM
- KU is looking to start a season 4-0 for just the eighth time since 1920 (2007, 1995, 1981, 1976, 1968, 1952, 1930) (started 4-0 19 times between 1890 and 1920).
- KU has recorded at least three sacks in each of its last four games dating back to last year and has had 11 in the last two games combined.
- Reesing (8,384) needs 416 passing yards to pass Brad Smith of Missouri (8,799) for sixth on the Big 12 career passing yardage list
- Reesing has thrown a touchdown pass in an NCAA active player-best 21 consecutive games.
- WR Dezmon Briscoe (2,174) needs just 93 receiving yards to pass Willie Vaughn (2,266 from 1985-88) and become the KU career receiving yardage leader.
- Briscoe (149) needs seven receptions to pass Mark Simmons (155 from 2002-05) and become the KU career receptions leader.
- Briscoe has produced six straight 100-yard receiving games.
- Briscoe has caught at least two passes in 21 consecutive games.
- WR Kerry Meier (1,518) needs 30 yards to move into 10th place on the KU career receiving yardage list.
- Meier has caught at least two passes in 26 consecutive games.
- LB Drew Dudley has recorded a sack in three straight games.
- DE Jake Laptad has been in on a sack in three straight games.
DID YOU KNOW? -- KU has outscored the opponent 51-0 in the second quarter this season.
DID YOU KNOW? -- Sure Todd Reesing has been very good in his third year as a starter, but do you know that other Jayhawks who have thrown passes in the last three seasons are a combined 34 of 39 (87.2 percent) for 454 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
DID YOU KNOW? -- It was announced on Monday morning that the Kansas vs. Southern Mississippi game is an official sellout. That gives KU it sixth straight sellout and 10th in its last 12 home games at Kivisto Field at Memorial stadium. In the season opener KU set a single-game attendance record when 52,530 fans were on hand for the Jayhawks' victory against Northern Colorado. Last week KU drew 50,101 for the victory against Duke.
BEHIND THE LINE -- The Kansas defense has found its way behind the line of scrimmage this year as the Jayhawks rank fourth in the NCAA in sacks (4.67 per game) and are tied for sixth in tackles for loss (9.00). Last year KU averaged 2.2 sacks and 6.3 tackles for loss. Through three games KU has limited opponents to just 57.67 rushing yards per game to rank eighth nationally and just 8.67 points, sixth in the country.
NOT BEHIND THE LINE -- On the offensive side of the ball, Kansas has not allowed many tackles behind the line of scrimmage, KU's young offensive line (two juniors, two sophomores and one freshman) has allowed just 0.67 sacks (T-11th in NCAA) and 2.67 tackles for loss (T-5th in NCAA) per game. KU's backward rushes include 17 yards lost by QB Todd Reesing, seven by RB Toben Opurum and a six-yard team loss.
BALANCED OFFENSE -- Kansas is the only school in the country to rank in the top 25 in the NCAA in both rushing offense and passing offense. The Jayhawks are 14th nationally in rushing at 245.00 and 16th in passing at 292.67. KU is third in the nation in total offense at 537.67 per game behind only Texas A&M (589.50) and Arkansas (538.00).
500-300 CLUB -- Kansas is one of four schools to average 500 yards per game on offense and limit the opponent to less than 300 yards per contest this season. KU has averaged 537.67 yards per game offensively
and has held opponents to just 282.67 per game. Other schools with 500-plus yards on offense and less than 300 yards allowed on defense include Florida, Cincinnati and Alabama.
NO POINTS ALLOWED -- Kansas has allowed just 26 points in the first three games. That is the second-best three-game total in the last 12 seasons (16 points in 2007), as well as the fourth-best three-game total in the last 28 years behind 16 points in 2007, 17 in 1997 and 24 in 1992.