Tuesday Football Notes

Head coach Dan Hawkins met with reporters Tuesday during his weekly press conference. Inside, notes from the session.

Position and Player Issues
• With junior Stephone Robinson's struggles this season — including two fumbles vs. Oklahoma — the return situation is unsettled at this point, Hawkins indicated. Chapelle Brown and Chase McBride will get opportunities to prove they deserve to be punt returner this week in practice. Terry Washington and possibly Terrence Wheatley will get a look at kickoff return. Wheatley would be a punt return candidate, but his wrist issue makes it tough to catch punts.

• Senior center Mark Fenton will be back in the mix this week, beginning Tuesday. He's been out since the Georgia game with a fractured fibula. Coaches will determine later in the week whether or not Fenton will start or even play at Kansas. Bryce MacMartin has played well in Fenton's absence. His cardiovascular conditioning may be a question mark for a few weeks until he gets back into playing shape.

• Redshirt-freshman Paul Backowski got some snaps in the Oklahoma game, subbing for at tackle for Edwin Harrison who's had a sore ankle. Backowski played 25 snaps (his only other action this season was eight snaps vs. Arizona State), while Harrison played 19 snaps. "We struggled a little bit at that position and that's why we made the switch," Hawkins said. "Hopefully, Edwin's ankle will be on the mend and that'll help him out for this weekend."

• Sophomore safety Terry Wilson saw his first action in the secondary at OU (four plays). He subbed for Ben Burney who was dinged up.

• Senior defensive lineman Alex Ligon has battled a knee injury this season. He's been healthy enough to appear in just two games this fall. He's listed day to day, and will try and practice this week. But there's a possibility he won't be able to play any more this season. Hawkins said he wasn't sure if Ligon would be a candidate for a medical redshirt if he can't play any more this fall.

• Senior Terry Washington had perhaps his best day as a Buffalo in the loss at Oklahoma. Washington had eight tackles and a couple good plays on special teams. He had also taken veteran corner Lorenzo Sims' starting spot. Hawkins said Washington has always had the size and speed you like in a corner, it's just been a matter of understanding the schemes they run. Now that he's catching on, it's resulted in the increased role.

On Kansas
• Kansas has used two quarterbacks this season — senior Adam Barmann and redshirt-freshman Kerry Meier — and both have accumulated just about the same statistics. Both played in last week's loss to Baylor, and Meier is listed as the starter for this week's game. Hawkins said Meier is a little more physical than Barmann when he runs (he has 278 rushing yards), but that the Kansas offense really doesn't change much depending on who's under center.

• CU coaches are impressed with what they've seen of 6-0, 205-pound KU senior running back Jon Cornish. They think he may be the best back they've faced this season. "He'll run through you. You have to be a good tackler to get him down. He's got a nice combination of size and speed," Hawkins said. "He'll wear on you. He's a good back. I think he might be the best one we've seen this year." Cornish leads the Big 12 in total rushing yards (961), and is averaging 120 per game, 5.7 per carry.

• Kansas hasn't blitzed on defense as much as they have in the past. But Hawkins expects Kansas to blitz Saturday until Bernard Jackson proves he can handle what they throw at him.

Laying a Foundation
• A reporter asked Hawkins why it seems a different receiver crops up in the stat sheet every week. The reporter followed up with a question about Blake Mackey and why the senior hadn't played more this year. The questions led to Hawkins talking about how he and his staff are still laying a foundation of how they want things done, which they believe will eventually lead to success on the field.

He went through some of this at Boise State, too.

"That happens at every place," he said. "There are just certain things that you have to insist upon because that's what you believe in. You have to establish that because that's going to be the foundation for what you build things on."

Hawkins said he hasn't been tempted to shortcut any of this foundation building. Example: This past Sunday was a conditioning practice for the veterans. Two of them showed up not wearing jerseys. When Hawkins told them to go get their jerseys, the players reminded the coach they were only running that practice. But Hawkins wants players in a jersey whenever they're on the practice field for an official practice during the season, and made them go back up to the locker room and don their tops.

Another aspect of the foundation is getting players to practice more consistently. It something Hawkins has touched on often this season. But you can assume that if a veteran player isn't seeing a lot of playing time, it's likely because he hasn't shown the consistency in practice.

"Practice always determines what guys do," Hawkins said. "It's something that we get them to establish as a system thing and not just Hey I caught one ball or Hey I showed up one day. That's some groundwork that you have to lay a little bit -- that this whole idea of consistency is important.

"It's not about showing up one day or for one game or for one play. It's about showing up every day. You need to establish that."

He also understands the frustration of not getting to play. That's why he urges his assistants to "throw players a bone" every once in a while. Two cases in point recently are redshirt freshmen Jarrell Yates and Kevin Moyd. Both are still learning how to practice with consistency. But both were given opportunities in the Texas Tech game — Yates as a receiver and Moyd on special teams – and both made plays on game day.

Hawkins said Mackey is physically good, but added, "I think he would be the first person to tell you – since (last year's knee) injury he's not been that assertive kind of guy that he was before."

Not referring to Mackey in particular, Hawkins also said, "I believe this and my old coach used to say it: You win with achievers and you lose with potential. Whether it's size or speed or whatever, you've got to be able to translate that into productivity."

Still Playing for this Season...and next
• The 1-7 Buffs aren't mathematically out of the Big 12 North — and therefore, the Big 12 title and a bowl game. However, they'd need to run the table and have lots of help from teams playing Nebraska and Missouri to play their way into the Big 12 title game. Hawkins said he's not one to play for next year, in terms of sitting seniors who would otherwise start and playing younger players. "You're still going to play the best guys," he said. However, he added that he and his staff are always coaching for next year in that they devote Sunday practices to the younger, bench players and stress that those same players attend position meetings each week. "You're always working on developing guys for the future," he said.

Text Messaging
• The NCAA is considering implementing rules regarding recruiting and text messaging. A proposal is on the table that would limit text message communications between coaches and prospects to between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. on weekends. Hawkins and his staff use text messaging quite a bit. "I wear it out," is how Hawkins put it. He's not in favor of the proposed legislation because he figures another type of communication will crop up, and he thinks there are some who won't abide by the rule and will have an unfair advantage.

"There'll be something else, and then there'll be something else. That's the nature of technology," he said.

"I already know that there's plenty of guys out there with the rules that we have right now that they don't follow those rules," he added.

Hawkins questioned whether the NCAA could even monitor a text messaging rule.

"So then that becomes: The good guys follow the rules and the other guys don't follow them because no one's going to check on it, and it can't be monitored anyway," he said. "The good guys, they get restricted, and the bad guys, they get one more advantage."

Fans
• Hawkins said despite the team's 1-7 record, fans have been good to him this season.

"I think all the fans have been awesome," he said. "I've probably gotten more fan mail this year than I ever have. Everybody you meet have been awesome. Obviously, the crowds have been great and the students have been great.

"I think most people have an appreciation for what's gone on and what can happen here and what will happen here."


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