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
“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
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.
Mangino Gives Jayhawks a Wake-Up Call
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