Southern Miss Awaits

KU coach Turner Gill knows how his Jayhawks handled adversity. After losing to lower-division North Dakota State in the season opener, Kansas rebounded and shocked then-No. 15 Georgia Tech with a 28-25 victory last Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

"We had to bounce back," senior running back Angus Quigley said to cheering fans while running off the field. "It was us against the world."

Now, Turner Gill will find out how his team deals with prosperity as the Jayhawks (1-1) head to Hattiesburg Friday night to play Southern Mississippi (1-1) at 7:00 (CT) on ESPN.

The nation will be watching to see if KU is for real. The Jayhawks are energized to prove they are after their victory over Tech.

"The team is doing well," junior tight end Tim Biere said Tuesday. "I thought we came out Sunday (at practice with) a lot of fire. Coming off a big loss there is certain motivation but there are still certain motivations (after a win) to keep going and keep building this (season) into something special."

Southern Miss lost its season opener at South Carolina, 41-13, but bounced back at home last Saturday and crushed Prairie View A&M, 34-7. USM features a spread offense and potent big-play passing attack. Junior quarterback Austin Davis completed 31 of 43 passes for 238 yards against South Carolina. Eleven players had a reception, the most number of players to catch a pass for Southern Miss in 28 games in coach Larry Fedora's tenure.

While Kansas held off USM, 35-28, last season in Lawrence, the Jayhawks will face a stiffer challenge Friday evening playing their first road game this season at a hostile environment at Roberts Stadium ("The Rock"). The Golden Eagles have a nine-game home winning streak dating back to 2008, averaging 40.3 points per game during that stretch.

"I know that they play well at home," Gill said. "They do a fantastic job at their home stadium. I've coached there on one other occasion ... and there will be an issue with crowd noise, particularly it being a Friday night game on ESPN.

"From a player's standpoint, they have very good athletes on every side of the ball. They have a great return guy (Tracy Lampley) on punts and kickoffs that really is going to be a person that we have to stop."

KU will also have to contain star receiver DeAndre Brown, who recorded his seventh 100-yard game with five catches for 100 yards against Prairie View last weekend. Brown is one of the top receivers in the nation.

"(He's an) outstanding player, has size and speed and is a big-play guy," Gill said. "He's somebody we have to limit. We're not going to shut him down, but we do have to limit his big plays. ... They will throw the ball down the field quite a bit and we cannot allow them to have big plays in the passing game. They also do some pretty good things in the running game with their quarterback and they also have some good running backs."

On defense, Southern Miss returns nine starters, led by star linebacker Korey Williams, one of the premier defensive players in the country.

"Their defense is extremely solid," Gill said. "They all can run and are dynamic players, so we are going to have our hands full there."

Gill said some keys to the game are playing with "tenacity" and the "same type of execution, passion, and confidence that we played with last week."

KU's confidence was boosted last Saturday with the emergence of redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Webb and true freshman running back James Sims. Webb started his first college game, completing 18 of 29 passes for 179 yards and three touchdowns, while Sims rushed for 101 yards and one TD on 17 carries, becoming the first Jayhawk freshman to break the 100-yard mark in his first game.

Look for Sims to get even more carries this Friday night with senior running back Angus Quigley questionable with a leg injury.

Sims and the Jayhawks are ready for battle.

"It's our first road game and everyone is excited to go on the road," Biere said. "We haven't done it in a while and we get to play somewhere that most of us have never been. Most of us have not heard much about Hattiesburg, but know it has a great atmosphere and I think it is going to be a fun night."

It will be an especially "fun night" if Kansas can respond well to prosperity and win its second consecutive game under the lights on national television.

Check. KU wins a thriller, 27-24, as Webb passes for 242 yards and three touchdowns while junior wide receiver Daymond Patterson has seven receptions for 92 yards.

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