No, that won’t happen. If there was any chance KU might take Louisiana Tech lightly, that disappeared after the Bulldogs upset defending Liberty Bowl champions Mississippi State, 22-14, last Saturday on national television.
The Jayhawks (1-0) and Bulldogs (1-0) meet at 6 p.m. (CST) at Memorial
Stadium. This game will be nationally televised on FSN and broadcast
nationally on Westwood One.
Yes, Louisiana Tech may sound like a cupcake team from the WAC. But
make no mistake, they are for real.
“They beat a good Mississippi State team and they did it by
playing good hard-nose, fundamental football,” said KU coach
Mark Mangino, whose Jayhawks are coming off a 40-10 season-opening
victory over FIU. “On defense, they were able to secure five
turnovers. Their defense is very speedy and athletic. Their corners are
very good, their safeties are very good, their linebackers are active
and they have a very good defensive line.”
Some of the Bulldogs’ premier defensive players include
first-team All-WAC safety Antonio Baker (he led the team with 118
tackles last season, ranking No. 34 in the nation), defensive lineman
D’Anthony Smith (he recorded 43 tackles in 2007, including
seven for loss and three sacks), and linebacker Quin Harris, who ranked
second on team with 101 tackles last year. His 11 pass deflections were
the most among any linebacker in the FBS.
On offense, Louisiana Tech may not have the services of alumnus and
Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw, but the Bulldogs sport some
impressive weapons. Senior running back Patrick Jackson ranked 44th in
the nation last season in total yards per game (138.8), including 950
rushing yards, which ranked 10th all time for a single season in Tech
history. Speedy senior Philip Beck led all Tech receivers with 30
catches for 359 yards, while also ranking fifth in the country in punt
return average (17.39 yards). Then there’s big play sophomore
receiver Phillip Livas, who paced Tech in receiving yards with 504 and
Senior Taylor Bennett takes the helm at quarterback after transferring
from Georgia Tech, where he started every game last season and led the
Yellow Jackets to the Humanitarian Bowl. Bennett, though, struggled in
the season opener against Mississippi State, completing just 14 passes
in 40 attempts for 175 yards and one touchdown. He also threw an
Mangino doesn’t expect Bennett to have two straight sub-par
“He can make throws and can do a lot of things,”
The KU coach said the Jayhawks will have to play their best to win.
“This is a very good Louisiana Tech team,” Mangino
said. “They are progressing very well and it is going to be a
game where we have to be very sharp, and we will be.”
The KU-Louisiana Tech series is tied at 1-1. KU defeated the Bulldogs,
34-14, at Memorial Stadium in 2005, while Louisiana Tech beat Kansas,
16-11, in Lawrence in 1987. The Jayhawks are 4-1 all time against
current members of the Western Athletic Conference.
KU hopes to improves on its showing versus FIU last Saturday. The
Jayhawks, who racked up 384 yards of total offense, were led by Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe, who each had a career-high nine receptions.
Meier was named KU’s offensive player of the game.
While KU’s passing game was clicking (Todd Reesing completed
37 of 52 passes for 256 yards), KU struggled with its running game.
Junior starter Jake Sharp rushed nine times for just 29 yards, while
junior backup Angus Quigley led the ‘Hawks with 47 yards on
Despite the low numbers, Mangino isn’t at all concerned about
KU’s rushing attack since FIU “didn’t
want us to run the football.”
“When you take chances at trying to stop the run game there
is a possibility that you will give up yardage in the other
areas,” Mangino said. “Their philosophy was to come
in and stop the run and force us to throw the ball, which is probably
something that you shouldn’t do with us. We will throw the
ball effectively under pressure and against zone coverages. That is the
approach that they took so we aren’t going to beat our heads
against the wall.”
Expect KU’s running game to get back on track versus the
“If you look at the stats from last year, you will see that
the team went as our running game went,” senior center Ryan Cantrell said. “We have to run the ball, and I think that
will be a major emphasis this week as we go and get prepared.”
KU will need its offensive line to improve as well. Despite
Reesing’s impressive stats, the O-line didn’t give
him much time in the pocket last week. Redshirt freshman tackle
Jeremiah Hatch should help that cause. He was injured and
didn’t play last Saturday, but is expected to possibly start
against the Bulldogs.
KU, though, will be without star wide receiver Dexton Fields, who
suffered an injury against FIU.
The Jayhawks are certainly looking forward to the challenge in playing
this upstart Louisiana Tech team, which went 6-7 last season in head
coach Derek Dooley’s first year. Kansas wants to punish the
“We want go get more turnovers,” said senior
linebacker Joe Mortenson. “We are trying to lead the nation
in turnovers. We got three last week, so four or five would be nice. We
also want to get some big hits.”
Despite the big game versus South Florida the following weekend, KU has
its eyes focused squarely on the Bulldogs.
“I think it is pretty easy to stay concentrated,”
Mortenson said. “Coach Mangino keeps us level so we
don’t get a big head. I think we are always really
concentrated for the next game and the next game is always the most
important game, as he always says. We just try to focus on
Jayhawks Won't Take La Tech Lightly
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