Jayhawks Roll the Bearkats, 38-14

Todd Reesing (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)

Neither Kansas nor Sam Houston State played Saturday night's game under ideal conditions.

For the Bearkats, the problems came in the form of a hurricane, canceling their last game and depriving the town of electricity. The players were forced to sleep on the floor in the campus fieldhouse – Kansas Coach Mark Mangino said the first time Bearkat players slept in beds in the past week came Friday night at the team’s hotel in Overland Park.

At the same time, the cancelations stopped the Jayhawks from compiling tape on the Bearkats, whose only game was a 58-14 victory against East Central Oklahoma that saw many of the first-teamers sitting at halftime.

So it shouldn’t have come as any surprise that both teams appeared sloppy at times in a 38-14 Kansas victory. Sam Houston State lost three turnovers and allowed 528 yards of total offense to the Jayhawks. At the same time, Kansas’s offense bogged down at times, and the Jayhawks allowed the Bearkats to pass for more than 300 yards.

“We had to do a lot of coaching on the fly,” Mangino said. “…I thought that first of all, Sam Houston State did a good job of coming here and being prepared. They played really hard and really well. I thought we played OK. I don’t think there was anything that was remarkable about our play tonight.

“I think we got a win, which is the key thing, but we still have areas that we must improve in before Big 12 Conference play,” Mangino said.

Angus Quigley came out as the starting running back to applause from the fans, and the coaching staff wasted no time putting him to work, giving him eight first quarter carries. Quigley responded by running for 47 yards in the opening period.

But the Jayhawks didn’t score until the second quarter, following a Darrell Stuckey interception return to the one-yard line. One play later, Todd Reesing dove into the end zone on an option play.

The Jayhawks’ second score also came after an interception – this one courtesy of Isiah Barfield, who hauled in a tipped pass later in the quarter. On a third-and-12, Reesing found Meier open deep down the middle, and hooked up with the former quarterback for a 68-yard touchdown and a 14-0 lead.

Sam Houston State stopped Kansas on the Jayhawks’ next drive, holding Reesing short on a fourth-and-one quarterback sneak. Four plays later, quarterback Rhett Bomar scrambled up the middle from eight yards out.

But then, Reesing struck again. After a personal foul on Jeremiah Hatch pushed the Jayhawks into a third-and-25 situation, Reesing had another “Shades of Doug Flutie” moment, eluding several pass rushers before flinging the ball 57 yards downfield and hitting Dezmon Briscoe for the score right before the end of the half.

Briscoe set up the Jayhawks’ next score on a 31-yard catch and run down to the two yard line. Jocques Crawford took over from there, bursting in from the two.

The Bearkats pulled back to within 14 on a 47-yard touchdown pass from Bomar to Justin Wells on their next drive, but they would never get any closer. Kansas increased its lead with a 24-yard field goal from Jacob Branstetter, followed by a one-yard Angus Quigley touchdown dive.

Reesing had his third consecutive 300-yard passing day, finishing with 356 yards and two touchdowns, plus another score on the ground. Running backs Crawford and Quigley combined for 104 yards rushing and two scores. Crawford added a 29-yard catch as well. Meier led Kansas with eight catches for 136 yards and a touchdown, while Briscoe had five catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.

The defense struggled through much of the game to keep a handle on Bomar. The former Oklahoma Sooner passed for 340 yards and a touchdown, while he ran for another score. But much of his damage was done between the 20s – Sam Houston State put up just 14 points, while Bomar threw three interceptions. His leading pass catcher was Justin Wells, who finished with 111 yards on eight catches, though three other receivers finished with more than 50 yards. James Aston led the Bearkats with 33 yards rushing on seven carries.

“I thought the defensive performance overall was average, it was just average,” Mangino said. “They threw for too many yards. They converted too many third downs.”

The Jayhawks are off next Saturday. In two weeks, they will travel to Ames to take on the Iowa State Cyclones.

“I’m not overly concerned or in a panic, no,” Mangino said. “But there are areas we need to make an improvement in. We need a good fundamental week.”

Scoring Summary:
Kansas – Todd Reesing 1 run (Jacob Branstetter kick), 10:24 2Q
KU – Kerry Meier 68 pass from Reesing (Branstetter kick), 7:02 2Q
Sam Houston State – Rhett Bomar 8 run (Taylor Wilkins kick), 1:57 2Q
KU – Dezmon Briscoe 57 pass from Reesing (Branstetter kick), 0:47 2Q
KU – Jocques Crawford 2 run (Branstetter kick), 13:46 3Q
SHSU – Justin Wells 46 pass from Bomar (Wilkins kick), 12:58 3Q
KU – Branstetter 24 FG, 3:09 3Q
KU – Angus Quigley 1 run (Branstetter kick), 9:24 4Q

Notes:
“I think we’ve gotta improve,” Mangino said. “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.

“We made those changes because we’re not getting the kind of production and consistency that we need to have,” Mangino 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.”

Briscoe and Patterson both came in a bit later, though Patterson didn’t see much offense after he fumbled the ball over to the Bearkats in the first quarter.

It was a different story with Rivera, who saw his first defensive plays in the second quarter and played sparingly the rest of the way. He did see time on the punt unit. He ended the game with zero tackles.

“We’re not having consistency at the WILL 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.”

Youngsters Dakota Lewis, Olaitan Oguntodu and Ryan Murphy all saw time in the first quarter as well, while Rivera, a normal starter, played only on the punt unit.  Other players to see time included Corrigan Powell, who played some cornerback, and could be in the mix to play more if injured starter Kendrick Harper isn’t ready by the Iowa State game.
  • While Todd Reesing’s scramble-and-pass to Dezmon Briscoe may soon become part of YouTube lore for Jayhawk fans, it’s not necessarily what Mangino wants out of the 5-foot-11 junior. Mangino said Reesing broke contain too often in Saturday’s game, including times when he had a pocket set up.
“I just want him to play quarterback,” Mangino said. “And I don’t want him to feel like he has to do everything. Obviously he believes that somewhere, somebody told him that he needs to be the whole show. He doesn’t.”
  • Mangino said he also wanted better production out of the offensive line, and said that many of the problems didn’t stem from freshmen tackles Jeremiah Hatch and Jeff Spikes.
“I thought the perimeter was better in the run game,” Mangino said. “I think the offensive line still needs work, and we’re not just talking about the freshman guys here. We’re talking about veteran guys, and I told some of those guys that they need to get it moving, or we’re going to have to find some younger kids that will get in there and create some creases in the run game.”

Mangino said the running game went well at the start of the game before tapering off.

“The running backs did an adequate job tonight, but in the offensive line we’ve got to get better at creating some creases and finishing blocks in the run game,” Mangino said. “That’s an urgent need for us.”

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