Unbeaten KU to Face Colorado
Toben Opurum ((AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Toben Opurum ((AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Phog.net Senior Writer
Posted Oct 16, 2009


Kansas football is 5-0, one of nine remaining unbeaten teams in the land, and owners of a seven-game winning streak — the fourth longest streak at KU in the last 56 years and tied for the fourth-longest active streak in the NCAA.

Kansas also ranks third in the NCAA in total offense, fourth in scoring offense, and fifth in passing offense.

Yes, it sure seems a great time to be a Jayhawk as No. 17 (AP) KU heads into Boulder for a matchup with Colorado (1-4) this Saturday at 6 p.m. (CT) on FSN.

However, on the flip side, KU is coming off a horrendous defensive outing against Iowa State, where the Jayhawks gave up a whopping 512 yards of total offense. Some pessimistic KU fans even wondered if the ‘Hawks could win another game in the tough Big 12.

But rest assured, Kansas coach Mark Mangino believes his defense is fixable and will rise to the challenge in Boulder.

“I think we will rebound nicely and our defense will be able to feel a lot better about the direction we are going,” Mangino said.

He’s working on simplifying schemes that fit his personnel.

“I feel like we just need to play to our players’ strengths,” Mangino said. “I think in some areas we need to just have them do what they do best  ... I think more than anything, we, as coaches, have to know what our players are capable of doing and do that. We have a lot of good things in our package, but we have to do only what our players can do.”

Mangino also stressed the need for better tackling and communication on defense.

 I don’t think (the players) tell each other much what is going on,” Mangino said. “We are going to get our calls out sooner, when it is needed. That is something, strategically, you do not want to do all the time, but when it is needed, we’ll try to get our calls out sooner to give them a chance to get lined up and talk to each other.”  

If the defense can elevate its game, KU could be unbeatable with its high-powered offense. The Jayhawks racked up 34 first downs and 551 yards of total offense against Iowa State, including 442 passing yards by Todd Reesing.

KU hopes to continue to attack against the Buffaloes, who are coming off a 38-14 loss at Texas. However, CU led No. 2 Texas 14-10 at halftime. Colorado’s lone victory this season came against Wyoming at home (24-0) on Sept. 19.

“Colorado is a good football team at home,” Mangino said. “They always play well in Boulder and we understand the challenge there.”

The Buffaloes will be starting a new quarterback with sophomore Tyler Hansen taking over for the head coach’s (Dan Hawkins) son, junior Cody Hawkins. However, Hawkins will likely see action as well.

"He's still going to have a role, and I think there is a very good chance you could see both of them," coach Dan Hawkins said on Tuesday. "They will both be ready to go."

Hansen has played in just one game this year, completing three of five passes for 17 yards.

“We know that Tyler Hansen is similar in the passing game to Cody Hawkins in a lot of ways,” Mangino said. “They share a lot of the same characteristics. Obviously, [Hansen] is a little bit faster. Maybe a little quicker, better athlete, which brings a new dimension to their offense in running.”

Mangino added “they can be stellar at times” on defense, though the Buffs are allowing 389.6 yards of total offense per game. CU actually gave up 54 points at Toledo in its second game on Sept. 11.

KU, though, doesn’t seem to be overlooking the Buffs before heading into its big showdown with Oklahoma on Oct. 24 in Lawrence.

“It’s going to be tough to go to Boulder and pull out a victory there,” said freshman running back Toben Opurum, who may get another starting nod with the injured Jake Sharp a game-day decision.

“A win at Colorado would be big for us.”

Expect KU to march forward to 6-0 if the defense takes care of business. Like Mangino, senior nickelback Justin Thornton believes Kansas will rebound just fine on defense after its poor outing against ISU.

“We know that we can be a good defense,” Thornton said. “(Iowa State was) definitely a wake-up call for us and we’re going to make some changes and try and get things fixed. I promise we won’t turn in a performance like that the rest of the year.”


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