Todd Reesing (Steve Puppe, file photo)
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
Mangino said he would save his overall judgments until after he watched
“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.