Big 12 Media Days Preview: Kansas

SAN ANTONIO - Like many Big 12 coaches this season Kansas boss Mark Mangino has a decision to make at quarterback as Kerry Meier and Todd Reesing compete for the job. Meier is the slight favorite, but old school Mangino may be even more concerned about filling another spot in his starting backfield as tailback Jon Cornish is gone.

"Well, any time you have somebody to rush for over 1,400 yards in the Big 12 Conference and they graduate, you know, not many programs can find somebody, one person that's going to go in and duplicate that," said Mangino with some regret. "But what we feel like at this point in time is the running backs that we have are very good running backs and that we will probably put up the same kind of numbers in the run game, it just won't be one person doing it. It will be more than one.

"Brandon McAnderson is a veteran guy who we trust and we think that perhaps in the past we should have used him a little more carrying the football," continued the KU head coach. "But he will get carries this year. And Jake Sharp is an outstanding player - a tough, hard-nosed kid. There's some plays that he runs that fit his style. When you give him a ball on those plays he's dangerous.

"We have Angus Quigley coming off of an injury. Hopefully he'll be able to contribute, because he's a big, strong, talented guy but we've hardly seen him on the field throughout his career here because of injury. So I can't speculate on that. And I feel the position will be productive. But just more than one guy carrying the load."

One of the Jayhawks' biggest problems is finding away to win the close games. Last season Kansas got to six wins, but lost out on a bowl bid primarily because of their loss to Oklahoma State. Kansas also lost close games with Texas A&M, in overtime at Nebraska, and in overtime at Toledo .

"Well, one of the things we did as a staff, right after recruiting, is we went back and we broke down every play of every game offense, defense, special teams for the entire 2006 season," explained Mangino. "Then we went back and we studied fourth quarters of each game that we played in, the ones we won and the ones we did not win. And just like anything else, there's no simple answer.

"The particular situations we might not -- probably shouldn't have been in -- the call that we were in. There's situations where we had some physical breakdowns by players. Mental breakdowns. Coaching decisions. And we put it all together. We say you know we all share the blame for this thing; let's make it better. We went back and studied how we will handle situations as they arise again. And there's some things on the edge, I don't want to get into all the injuries and stuff. But last year I was pretty close to, what's that guy that can heal people and stuff, I was going to call him up."

Defense looks good at defensive tackle, at linebacker, and on the corners. The pass rush needs to improve and Stillwater native Russell Brorsen will be in part responsible for helping there. Mangino has nothing but good things to say about the former Stillwater Pioneer. That pass rush and winning close games could be pretty important as Mangino isn't on a hot seat now, but could feel it heating up if things don't come together in Lawrence.

GoPokes Top Stories