News, notes and quotes on Kansas battle with K-State in the 112th Sunflower Showdown on Saturday in Manhattan at Bill Snyder Family Stadium at 3 p.m. on Fox Sports 1.
SNYDER TOUGH TO BEAT
KSU coach Bill Snyder is 18-4 against KU, including a 5-0 record since his 2009 return. K-State is also 10-1 at home against Kansas under Snyder and have won 10 straight in Manhattan with the lone loss coming in Snyder’s debut season in 1989. Since 1993 under Snyder, K-State is 17-1 versus KU.
Snyder has a career record of 186-92-1 in his 23rd season at KSU.
KU TOUGH IN RED ZONE DEFENSE
The Kansas defense ranks first in the Big 12 and 14th nationally in red zone defense. KU’s foes have gotten in the red zone 44 times, scoring on 32, good for 72.7 percent. The Jayhawks have only allowed opponents to score 18 touchdowns on their 44 trips to the red zone, good for just 40.9 percent.
KU interim head coach Clint Bowen talked about the Jayhawks' defensive prowess in the red zone.
“As a DB (defensive back) you can challenge people a little bit more knowing there's a limited amount of space they can run away from you, so you end up changing your red zone technique in that way,” Bowen said. “The whole field shrinks, so the over-the-top passes, those intermediate passes, become less of a factor because you can't get that little dead area right behind. It's one thing that we talk about, once we hit the red zone, we know that the game becomes in our advantage, and we believe that once a team enters the 15-yard line that we've gained a tremendous advantage as a defense, and we take pride in that, and we've had some success this year forcing some field goals.”
KU senior cornerback JaCorey Shepherd has had a banner season on and off the field. He leads the Big 12 and ranks second nationally with 19 passes defended. Sixteen have been pass breakups and three were interceptions. He had a career game in leading KU to a 32-20 win over ISU on Nov. 8 with five pass breakups and one pick. His six passes defended are a single-game high in the NCAA this year. Moreover, Shepherd has not given up a touchdown since the season’s opening game against Southeast Missouri State.
Off the field, he is one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS Award and one of three finalists for the Lee Roy Selmon Community Spirit Award. A three-time Academic All-Big 12 second-team honoree, Shepherd is active in Big Brothers/Big Sisters, while also volunteering his time to other meaningful causes in the community.
Bowen raved about Shepherd as a player and a person.
“It's kind of his whole character,” Bowen said. “He came here and had success as a young player, as a wide receiver. We made the switch to move him to corner, and he could have probably taken that a few different ways, a guy that's played wide out his whole life and done well as a freshman here. He moved over, jumped right in, started learning the techniques, learning the ins and outs of how to play corner. He obviously has physical skills, but there's a lot beyond that that he had to learn and master his craft, and he's taken pride in it, he's worked hard in it, and he's developed himself into a nice, solid corner playing in the Big 12, and then off the field, he's a tremendous young man involved in many outside activities, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and different deals that he's always giving his time to help others.
“Truly a special young man.”
MUNDINE LEAVES HIS MARK
KU senior Jimmay Mundine has left his mark as one of the best tight ends in KU history. Mundine, one of eight semifinalists for the John Mackey Award, recorded a career-best tying seven receptions for a career-high 137 yards and a touchdown in the Jayhawks’ near upset of No. 5 TCU on Nov. 15. Mundine’s 137 receiving yards is a school record for a tight end, while he leads all Big 12 tight ends and ranks No. 4 nationally among the position group with 564 receiving yards on 43 catches.
Mundine also ranks No. 1 at KU in single-season yards among tight ends, No. 2 in single-season receptions (Derek Fine is No. 1 with 46 catches in 2007), No. 3 in career yards with 1,062, No. 3 in career receptions with 84, and No. 1 in career receiving touchdowns with 11.