Mangino Gives Jayhawks a Wake-Up Call

Four new starters, multiple new faces see time against Sam Houston State. Jim Williamson's Monday morning report, inside.

You knew something was up when the starters were announced Saturday night at Memorial Stadium.

You sort of expected Angus Wrigley to get a chance at running back. After all, he lead the team in rushing – not that that's anything to brag about this season. With the KU ground game ground to a halt, that seemed to make sense.
But starters Raimond Pendleton, Raymond Brown and Arist Wright?
Established starter Demon Briscoe, freshman sensation Raymond Patterson and senior team captain Mike Rivera watched the opening kickoff from the west sideline. Briscoe and Patterson eventually saw playing time on offense with Briscoe catching five passes and Patterson one. Rivera never did see the field on defense, however, just on special teams.
Mangino's wake-up call resulted in a 38-14 Kansas victory over the Bearkatz, a game one fellow media member said was “a turd in cleats.” Jayhawks head coach Mark Mangino was more then happy to explain the changes after the game. In fact, he sounded downright eager..
“We made those changes because we're not getting the kind of production and consistency that we need to have,” he said. “At KU, you have to play every play like it's your last. When you don't do that, you don't play. It's a privilege to play here; it's not a right.”
Mangino used his postgame presser to all but call out some players by name. He was asked how he felt his young corners performed relative to his expectations. The coach praised true frosh Corrigan Powell but took a shot at fellow cornerbacks Isiah Barfield and Ryan Murphy in the process.
Mangino said, “I don't mind going through growing pains, but we've got to be able to play some basic coverages with those young guys. The only one tonight that I thought – he made a couple of mistakes, but really had a grasp out of the young group of kids playing at the corner opposite Chris (Harris) was Corrigan Powell. He seems to be the guy who, as a true freshman, seems to be the most dependable right now.”
But then the coach went a little further: “We can't be get beat on a vertical every time someone runs a vertical. The first two series, they ran a vertical and ran right by the corner. I'd say, a couple of those plays, I coulda got underneath the coverage faster than the corner did.”
Perhaps the most pointed criticism, however, came at the expense of senior middle linebacker Mike Rivera. What made this especially interesting was that, well, no one had even said a word about Rivera, Arist Wright (his replacement) or the weak-side linebacker position.
“We're not having consistency at the will (middle) linebacker position, so we made a change,” Mangino said. “It doesn't mean we've given up on anybody or anything like that, but you gotta do the job here. It takes absolutely no talent to give effort; you've got to play hard every play here. We won't take anything less from any player.”
For a coach who needed to fire a couple of motivational shots across the bough. Mangino was fortunate in that he found himself with a clearly overmatched opponent, even with a legit big-time quarterback in Rhett Bomar, in Sam Houston State. The changes in personnel were about more than just sending a message to a few players who may be getting fat and happy. I've got to believe Mangino had a bigger goal in mind.
The Jayhawks are a team that needs a swift kick. They head into Big 12 conference play with an anemic rushing game, a pass defense that is becoming more and more suspect with each game and no real pass rush of their own to speak of.
The Jayhawks open conference play against Iowa State in two weeks and then return home to take on a  Colorado team that is growing in experience and confidence. Then they travel to play at Oklahoma. Texas Tech and Kansas State visit Lawrence. The home stretch of the schedule features Nebraska at Lincoln, Texas at home and Missouri at Arrowhead. The way the Jayhawks are playing right now, it's not a stretch to look at the remainder of the schedule and find just two wins (Iowa State and Kansas State).
Mangino said this week would be spent working on fundamentals and then next week, the team's attention would turn to Iowa State. With so many deficiencies left to address, this fundamentals week will be the most important week of the season. A good week could make the difference between 5-7 and 8-4.
Mangino said, “We've gotta improve. We've made some changes in the lineup, shook some things up here and there, and we'll continue to do that until we find the right pieces of the puzzle.”
If the pieces don't start to come together this week, KU football fans could be in for an unexpectedly long and somewhat disappointing season. Top Stories