Kansas Prepares for Wildcats

Kansas looks to avenge the soggy defeat it endured at the hands of Northwestern in last year's home opener.

Date: Sept. 18, 2004
Kickoff: 1 p.m.
Stadium: Ryan Field in Evanston, Ill. (47,130, Natural Grass)

After opening the season with back-to-back wins at home, Kansas makes its first road trip of the season on Saturday when the Jayhawks matchup against Northwestern. The Wildcats claimed a 28-20 victory in last season's rainy opener in Lawrence. NU recorded 235 yards rushing in the contest, including 196 yards from senior running back Jason Wright.

Both the Kansas coaches and players are taking the first road challenge very seriously.

"We have to prepare. We started (Tuesday) by looking over Northwestern. We have to prepare well and then just go out and play hard," said safety Tony Stubbs.

"Northwestern is by far a very good team. I played against them when I was with the University of Minnesota and I know we have to come prepared," agreed defensive lineman Charlton Keith.

Northwestern lost to Arizona State 30-21 last week in the Wildcats' home-opener. In the team's first game of the year, the Wildcats missed 5-of-6 field goal tries and fell to TCU 48-45.

"They lost to a good TCU team in overtime. They played a tough Arizona State team at home and lost, so it is very deceiving. We are not fooled by that. We think Northwestern is a good football team," said head coach Mark Mangino.

Northwestern returns a load of talent from last year's squad including two-year starting quarterback Brett Basanez and the entire offensive line.

"Their quarterback is outstanding. This will be the third week in a row we are playing against a top notch quarterback," said Mangino.

"He has a lot of games under his belt, and he knows where he wants to get the ball. They have a couple of good receivers and a powerful running back who can break tackles, so we will have to do a good job of wrapping him up."

On the Kansas side of the ball Adam Barmann will quarterback the team this Saturday. Barmann earned his first win in a Kansas uniform after completing 14-of-31 passes for 91 yards and a touchdown against Tulsa on Sept. 4. He also carried the ball 11 times for 21 yards and scored KU's final touchdown against the Golden Hurricane on a 1-yard run. This past week against Toledo, Barmann played even better as he completed 24-of-34 passes for a career-best 310 yards and four touchdowns.

This season, NU is averaging 179.5 rushing yards and 370.5 passing yards per game. Basanez has completed 60 percent (60-of-100) of his passes and has thrown four touchdowns -- three to junior wide receiver Jonathan Fields who averages 117.0 receiving yards per contest. Junior wideout Mark Philmore leads the Northwestern receiving corps with 18 catches on the season and also averages more than 100 yards receiving per game.

"They are very physical on the offensive and defensive lines. They are veterans on both sides in the trenches," explained Mangino.

"On the defensive side, their defensive line consist of 300-pounders that attack the line of scrimmage. They have a couple of good linebackers that run to the ball," added Mangino.

The Jayhawks are coming off two wins and are looking for their first 3-0 start since the 1997 season. The Kansas defense has led the team so far this season -- holding Tulsa to just three points in the season-opener and forcing five turnovers last week against Toledo.

The 63 points scored by KU against Toledo last week were the most by the Jayhawks against a Division I-A team since 1968. In addition, KU's 49-point margin of victory was the largest since it defeated Cal-State Northridge by 57 points in 1999. The Jayhawks also tied a school record by lighting up the scoreboard with 49 points in the first half against the Rockets.

"This is a good test for our kids, and I believe that we are ready to play on the road," said Mangino.

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