Panthers Pounded in Opener

One game, and already, a record broken. The 2007 season was the year of the record for Kansas football fans, as the Jayhawks set records in categories ranging from points scored to passing touchdowns and, of course, wins.

But none of those games drew the 52,112 fans that came to Saturday night’s 40-10 victory over the Florida International Golden Panthers. The fact that they came despite the fact that Kansas was playing a team that the Jayhawks blitzed 55-3 last season made it all the more impressive.

What did Coach Mark Mangino think of the turnout? Just another benefit of sawing wood.

“I understand it was a sellout,” Mangino said. “Somebody tapped me on the shoulder and told me it was a single game record. That’s good. That’s progress. (That’s) our program just keeping at it.”

What they saw was a Jayhawk team that showed a stingy defense and an offense that, while it didn’t produce gaudy numbers, capitalized on many of its offensive opportunities.

Much as they for most of 2007, the Jayhawks started slowly, fumbling away the ball on their first possession before punting on the second. Kansas broke through on the third one, driving 63 yards in eight plays. Jocques Crawford capped off the drive with the first touchdown of his Kansas career, bursting in from seven yards out.

From that point, the rout was on. The Jayhawks added the next 10 points on a short pass from Todd Reesing to Dezmon Briscoe and a 47-yard field goal by Alonso Rojas.

Then, Daymond Patterson happened. The 5-9 freshman wide receiver caught the football at the 25 and shot up the sideline on his way to a 75-yard touchdown and a 24-0 lead.

“I remember when he first came in,” Reesing said. “With his speed and quickness, he’s the type of guy who can change games. His athleticism is just off the charts.

“He looks like he should be playing Pee Wee football, but he can play with the big boys,” Reesing said.

FIU added its first score a few minutes later, also on a punt return, with their freshman T.Y. Hilton taking it back 74 yards to paydirt. The Golden Panthers never got any closer.

Reesing stuck with high percentage throws for most of the game, finishing 37 of 52 for 256 yards and three touchdowns, all to Briscoe. He also threw a late interception.

“We didn’t take a lot of chances downfield,” Reesing said. “I know the coaches wanted us to go out there and execute the offense and not make a lot of mistakes. We just tried to move the ball and move the chains.”

Briscoe and Kerry Meier each had nine catches, with Meier’s share going for 62 yards and Briscoe’s portion for 55. John Wilson added five catches for 60 yards.

Crawford and Jake Sharp started the game hot, but cooled off as FIU adjusted, putting more players in the box. The leading rusher was actually Angus Quigley, who rumbled for 47 yards in the fourth quarter. He also chipped in 24 receiving yards.

But the real story was the defense, which held FIU to 139 yards and 3 total points. Kansas had three sacks, 11 tackles for loss and forced three turnovers. Perhaps more importantly, the Jayhawks didn’t allow a defensive touchdown for the game. Jake Laptad led the charge with two sacks, one which he combined with Max Onyegbule. Caleb Blakesley and Mike Rivera also had two tackles for loss. Phillip Strozier had two interceptions.

“Our defense played exceptionally well,” Mangino said. “I thought we played great against the run, we stopped the pass pretty well … I liked the way our defense performed.”

Mangino said he would save his overall judgments until after he watched the film.

“We got a win, which is the most important thing, but I think we have room for improvement,” Mangino said. “In the first game, you find out a little bit about your team, who’s in the right spots and where you need to tweak things, so this will be good tape for us to study tomorrow. We’ll find where we fall short and where we are strong and continue to build in those areas.”

•    Injury watch: When asked about the status of Jeremiah Hatch, who didn’t play in the game, Mangino said he wouldn’t speak about injuries. Mangino did say that initial reports on Dexton Fields “weren’t serious” and said Crawford had been banged up a bit, but again, nothing serious. Mangino said Fields injured his foot when it was caught in the turf a bit. Top Stories