Football: Road to get Bumpier

<p>The long tough road this season for the Kansas football team is about to get bumpier for the final two games of the year.

The Jayhawks lost its second string quarterback Jason Swanson during a 31-20 loss to the Colorado Buffaloes Saturday. The team was poised to gain its fourth victory of the season after gaining a 14-10 lead at halftime. However, Kansas faltered down the stretch and was outscored 20-7 in the second half of play.

Head coach Mark Mangino met with the media Tuesday to discuss the costly loss to the Buffaloes and the final home game of the season for the Jayhawks this Saturday.

"From an offensive standpoint, we made some plays early in the game," Mangino said. "But we didn't make enough plays to win the game. Defensively, we played very well. We did a good job for most of the day. The defense continues to play very well and is strong at this point in time. Special teams gave up a big play, which we cannot allow. Those type of plays have been costly the last two games."

Kansas will sure have a strenuous task Saturday of trying to take down the No. 6 ranked Texas Longhorns. The Longhorns are fresh off a comeback victory in which the team scored 56 points to derail the Oklahoma State Cowboys. Texas features a dynamic duo at the quarterback and running back positions. Quarterback Vincent Young has thrown ten touchdowns on the season and Cedrick Benson has rushed for 159.9 yards per game this year.

Mangino feels Texas is a well-rounded team that will present a challenge for the Jayhawks.

"They (Texas) are playing at a very high level right now. You have to be impressed with the comeback against Oklahoma State, as they came roaring back to win. They play defense against the run and pass well. They are a very talented team," Mangino said.

Kansas will turn to quarterback John Nielsen to lead the team Saturday at 11 a.m. After injuries to Adam Barmann and Swanson, the senior Nielsen will start for the first time this season. Mangino is confident that Nielsen will grasp the offense and perform under the pressure of taking on a BCS team.

"He will manage the game well and now that he is getting repetitions on the practice field, he understands that he is the guy," Mangino commented. "He has taken on that role rather well."

Saturday will be a special day for the seniors, as they will put on the pads at home for the final time as Jayhawks. The senior class includes 19 players that could help the team earn a winning record at home this season with a victory over the Longhorns.

Mangino is proud of the graduating class and their accomplishments on the football team.

"They have given their all to make this program better and Kansas football will not forget them," Mangino said. "They will always be a part of the tough task that we have taken on and they helped make it better."

The Jayhawks will not have a chance to compete in post-season play but can play the role of the spoiler. Texas needs to defeat Kansas in order to vie for a quality BCS bowl game this season. The Jayhawks are not looking ahead to the season finale against the Missouri Tigers in Columbia but the fans would sure consider the season a success with two victories over rivals this year.


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