The Jayhawks nearly defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a tough battle last Saturday. Kansas showed its improvement defensively and held the Cornhuskers to 14 points in the game. In the three losses, the Jayhawks have lost by a combined total of 10 points.
Head coach Mark Mangino met with the media Tuesday to discuss some of the struggles the team has faced during the losing streak.
Mangino is pleased with the progress the defense is making half way through the season.
?Once again, we are improving on defense and becoming a more assignment-sound team,? Mangino said. ?We are playing with a tough mental edge. We had a good start with that this year and we need to continue to build on that.?
One glaring problem for the Jayhawks is the kicking game. After announcing that Scott Webb would become the full-time field goal kicker, Mangino decided to give Johnny Beck the opportunity to kick a 36-yard field goal in the second quarter against Nebraska. Beck nailed the field goal along with a 39-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Mangino is going to give the kicking game time to improve and he may use Beck as reliever for Webb.
?We have to be patient with both the kickers and decide later in the week who is going to kick the ball well. Let’s give credit to Johnny Beck. He was out there in the bullpen and wasn’t supposed to kick and I called on him and told him to go out and kick. Maybe he does better out of the bullpen,? Mangino said.
The next challenge for the Kansas defense is with in-state rival, Kansas State. The Wildcats have stumbled in games against Texas A&M and Fresno State. Even with the two losses, Kansas State boasts one of the most potent rushing attacks in the Big 12. Mangino expressed high praise for the Wildcats star at running back.
?Obviously, on offense they have Darren Sproles, one of the best running backs in the country,? Mangino said. ?If you don’t play good, sound defense, he can hurt you. He is strong, quick and makes a lot of plays. He is just a phenomenal player.?
The Jayhawks will have to excel offensively in order to gain its first conference victory of the season. However, the Wildcats present a young defense that the Aggies exploited last Saturday with 42 points.
?I’d say they are talented, but they are going through some changes. They’ve lost some talented guys on defense in the last couple of years and they are developing some guys some now. One of the things that Coach Snyder is known for is developing talent. Their defense will be better against us than it was against Texas A&M,? Mangino said.
After losing 11 straight meetings, Kansas hopes to gain a huge victory in front of a homecoming crowd Saturday night.