Tangerine Bowl: A look back

<strong>ORLANDO, FLA</strong>.-The Kansas defense completed an up and down season in the basement on Monday night.&nbsp; North Carolina State racked up over 650 total yards of offense which included 475 passing yards from Wolfpack senior quarterback Phillip Rivers which is a Mazda Tangerine Bowl record.

Mark Mangino did not try to sugarcoat anything afterwards.  "We didn't get anything done on defense.  We did not play well at all."  Mangino felt his defensive unit was in better shape heading in, "There's no excuses.  We should play better, we should tackle better, and we should cover better."

Sophomore linebacker Banks Floodman describes what the defense can take from the 56 to 26 setback.  "The fact that we don't ever want to lose in a bowl game again."  NC State averaged nearly ten yards per play, which is almost unheard of regardless of the level of football.

With the rapid turnaround Kansas accomplished offensively in 2003, it's reasonable to believe Mangino's staff will make strides on the defensive side of the ball in the near future.  KU has received verbal or national letters of intent from seven players slated to play on "D".  The Jayhawks are searching for immediate help in a number of areas which usually means Junior College transfers.

However, the football program has only three commitments from players with college experience.  Defensive end Jermail Ashley will head to Lawrence from Tyler Community College, his teammate at Tyler Theodore Baines will contribute in the secondary.  Safety Rodney Harris is the third Juco player who plans on coming to Kansas.  Harris will be a sophomore next season after playing this year as a red shirt freshmen from San Bernardino Valley.

Additional players seems like the most logical way to beef up the defense, but Floodman feels the current personal can make progress.  "We need to get to work, we need to get bigger, faster, and stronger.  We're going to take a lot of momentum into the off season from this."  KU will get a chance to improve soon, the Hawks begin conditioning practice on January 23rd.


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