No. 14 Jayhawks Handle FIU, 40-10

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Junior quarterback Todd Reesing connected with Dezmon Briscoe for three touchdown passes, while Daymond Patterson had 75-yard punt return for a touchdown to lead the 14th-ranked Kansas football team to a convincing 40-10 victory over the FIU Panthers Saturday night in front of a record crowd of 52,112 at Kivisto Field at Memorial Stadium.

Reesing completed a career-high 37 passes on 52 attempts, amassing 256 yards and three TDs and one interception. Briscoe finished the night with a career-best nine catches for 55 yards. His three touchdown grabs also tied a career high set against Nebraska in 2007.

It took almost two-thirds of the first quarter for the Jayhawks to get going, but once they did they didn’t look back.

With the game still scoreless late in the first quarter, Reesing gave the Jayhawks life by commanding an eight-play, 63-yard drive in which he completed all seven of his passes for a total of 56 yards. The drive was capped off by Jocques Crawford’s first touchdown as a Jayhawk, a seven-yard scamper with 5:09 to play in the first quarter.

FIU proceeded to go three and out on the ensuing possession, and Patterson followed with a a 19-yard punt return to the KU 44. Eleven plays and 56 yards later, Reesing hit Briscoe for a three-yard touchdown on the first play of the second quarter to give KU a 14-0 lead.

Alonso Rojas added a field goal for the Jayhawks with 9:29 to go in the half to push the score to 17-0 in favor of the Jayhawks.

Another three and out by FIU on the following drive forced the Panthers to punt, and Patterson made them pay.

He took the punt at his own 35 and raced down the right sideline, leaping over an FIU defender en route to an electrifying, 75-yard punt return for a touchdown. Patterson’s huge play put the Jayhawks up 24-0 with 7:41 to play in the first half.

The freshman form Mesquite, Texas, had four returns in his first collegiate game that covered a total of 135 yards. FIU’s T.Y. Hilton answered the bell with a 74-yard punt return for a TD of his own to cut the KU lead to 24-7 with 2:59 to play in the first half, but that was as close as the Panthers would get.

Reesing and the Jayhawks came right back as the junior from Lake Travis, Texas, directed a 12-play, 65 yard drive that was capped off by his second TD hook-up with Briscoe, a four-yard strike with just 0:32 remaining in the opening half. Grady Fowler’s point-after attempt was no-good, leaving KU with a 30-7 lead.

KU forced two turnovers on as many FIU possessions to start the second half, turning them into 10 points and effectively putting the game out of reach.

On a third and 10 from the the Panther 37, linebacker James Holt jarred the ball loose from FIU’s Junior Mertile, and fellow linebacker Joe Mortenson jumped on the ball to set KU up first and 10 at its own 49-yard line.

After a KU field goal, Panther quarterback Paul McCall was intercepted by Phillip Strozier. The sophomore corner back also collected an interception in the fourth quarter.

It took seven plays and a fourth-down TD pass to cover the 19 yards, but Reesing found Briscoe for the third and final time for the game’s final points, increasing the KU lead to 40-10 at the 3:15 mark of the third quarter.

Kansas will face Louisiana Tech next Saturday at Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. CST.

Kansas’ win over FIU…
…Gives Kansas its fifth-straight win in season openers.
…Marks KU’s fifth-straight win in home openers.
…Makes Kansas 16-2 in its last 18 home openers.
… Marks KU’s 10th straight home victory, the second-longest streak in school history
…Is Kansas’ 15th-straight win against non-conference opponents in Memorial Stadium, dating back to the 2003 season.
…Improves Kansas’ record to 22-5 in non-conference games during the Mark Mangino era.
…Makes head coach Mark Mangino 38-36 in his seventh season at Kansas.
…Makes Kansas 556-538-58 all-time.

Game Notes
— The Jayhawks lost a fumble on their first possession of the game. Last year KU did not commit a turnover until the third game of the season, against Toledo.
— Five different Jayhawks made their first career starts, including two freshmen: OT Jeff Spikes and DT Richard Johnson. Other first-time starters included: TE Bradley Dedeaux, WR Johnathan Wilson and DE Jeff Wheeler.
— Junior TB Jocques Crawford scored on a 7-yard touchdown run for his first score in a Jayhawk uniform.
— Sophomore WR Dezmon Briscoe matched a career high with three touchdown receptions in Saturday’s game. Briscoe also caught three TD passes in last year’s win over Nebraska.
— Briscoe’s 10 career touchdown catches moves him into 10th place all-time at KU. The second-year receiver caught seven TDs as a freshman last year.
— Briscoe’s nine catches in the game set a career high, surpassing his previous career best of seven catches against Missouri last year.
— Junior QB Todd Reesing completed three touchdown passes to WR Dezmon Briscoe, giving him 39 career touchdown passes, the most in KU history.
— With a four-yard pass to Johnathan Wilson, Reesing moved into sixth-place at KU in career completions, passing Bill Whittemore (310). Reesing finished the game with 327 career completions. Chip Hilleary is fifth all-time at KU with 335 completions.
— Reesing set a career high with 37 completions in Saturday’s game. His previous career high was 30 completions against Nebraska last year. He also set a career high with 52 pass attempts.
— Reesing threw an interception in the fourth quarter. Last season, he did not have a pass picked off until the fourth game of the season, which also happened to be against FIU.
— Freshman PR Daymond Patterson’s 75-yard punt return for a touchdown was KU’s fifth special teams touchdown since the start of last season, and first punt return for a touchdown since Raymond Pendalton’s 77-yard return against Central Michigan last year.
— Junior WR Kerry Meier had five catches in the first quarter to best his career high, which he set twice last season.
— Meier finished the game with nine catches for 62 yards.
— TE Bradley Dedeaux made his second career catch Saturday. His first catch also came against FIU on Sept. 22 last season.
— FIU PR T.Y. Hilton returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown late in the first half. It marked the first time that KU and an opponent have each returned a punt for a touchdown in the same game since at least 1985, according to the information available in the press box.
— Sophomore CB Phillip Strozier collected his first career interception in the third quarter Saturday. Last season, 11 different Jayhawks recorded at least one interception.
— Later in the game Strozier picked off another pass, making him the first Jayhawk to record two interceptions in a game since Anthony Webb turned the trick against Kansas State in 2006.
— Sophomore PK Grady Fowler connected on his first extra point attempt for his first career point.
— Sophomore PK Alonso Rojas kicked a 47-yard field goal in the second quarter for his first career points. Rojas’ kick was the longest field goal by a Jayhawk since Scott Webb hit a 48-yard kick at Colorado last year.
— Kansas converted on a fourth-and-goal play in the third quarter. Last season KU converted on 60 percent of its fourth-down plays (12-for-20).
— Kansas held FIU to just 2 of 14 on third-down conversions. Last season, the Jayhawks held their opponents to just 32 percent on third down.
— KU’s 40 points marked the eighth consecutive game at Memorial Stadium where the team has scored 40 points or more – all KU wins.
— Saturday’s game drew a KU home record 52,112 fans to Memorial Stadium.

Kansas Quotes
Head Coach Mark Mangino
On the first game of the year:
“We got a win, which is the most important thing, but I think we have room for improvement. In the first game you find out a little bit about your team, who’s in the right spots and where we have 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.”

On today’s special teams performance and the 75-yard punt return:
“That aspect I thought was good and we put a lot of time and effort in the punt return unit. Hopefully we can be consistent, but tonight was a big night for us with punt returns. There are areas of our special teams that need attention, and there will be some personnel changes for us this week on a few units.”

On Alonso Rojas’ performance today:
“We like Alonso. We think he’s a talented guy. He has a strong leg and a little bit of a swagger about him; (he) doesn’t let too much bother him. That’s why I wasn’t all in knots about the kicking game. Still, we have to improve in that area, but certainly we got off to a good start.”

On defensive performance today:
“Our defense played exceptionally well. Except for the drive before the half, we played very well on defense. I thought we played great against the run, we stopped the pass pretty well, and came in tough situations on defense and got three and out. I liked the way our defense performed.”

Junior Quarterback Todd ReesingHis thoughts of the game:
“I thought we did a decent job on offense executing our plays. We threw a lot of passes and were able to get drives going. I think we could have been a little bit sharper. We made too many mental mistakes and had too many penalties that killed some drives. I made a few poor reads. But overall I felt that we accomplished what we wanted to for the first game.”

On the sellout crowd:
“It was unbelievable to play the first game of the season with the place filled up. Having the crowd loud and behind you is something special. I don’t think there has been a first game here in a while that has been sold out. It was a lot of fun and a good way to start the season.”

On what the team can improve upon:
“We could have been sharper. The first game out some things weren’t as crisp as we would like them to be. It’s a good place to start and I thought we executed fairly well. I would like to see the running game get going a little more. We need to utilize Jocques (Crawford) and Jake (Sharp) because they both have a lot of talent and we want the ball in their hands a little bit more.”

On the lack of big plays:
“We didn’t take a lot of chances downfield. I know that 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. I think there were some opportunities for some more big plays. They were there but that is solely on our shoes.”

On wide receiver Dezmon Briscoe:
“That is what Briscoe can bring to the table for us. He is a tremendous athlete and he has a great feel for going up and catching the ball. I just kind of threw it to the back of the end zone and he went up and made an amazing catch.”

Junior Safety Darrell Stuckey
On the game:
“We did a lot of things well, but we also have a lot of things we can improve upon. We went out there and played hard. We were able to correct any mistakes we made on the field. The next play was always the best play. We just kept moving and a lot of things great today.”

On winning the first game of the season:
“It’s always good to get the first one out of the way. There are a lot of jitters in the first game and a lot of new faces. It’s good to get the wrinkles ironed out early.”

On what encouraged him the most about the defenses performance tonight:
“Turnovers. We made big plays and we got pressure in the pocket with just four rushers and that’s always a big deal. Our (defensive) lineman got after it.”

On holding FIU to 2-of-14 on third down conversions:
“We (were) efficient. That means we are doing our job. We’re out there playing hard and locking-and-loading every time we go out there. We’re not laying back on third down.”

Sophomore Punter Alonso Rojas
On his performance:
“It felt good to be out there and doing everything possible to help us be successful and gain a victory today.”

On handling both the field goal kicking and punting duties:
“I was prepared for it. The coaches warned me that I was going to get a lot more playing time than I was expected to at the beginning of camp. I don’t think too much about it. I just try and go out there and do my job.”

On making his first attempt:
“It felt good. Everyone was expecting me not to make it. They were thinking ‘he is a punter, and he just got the job.’ I wanted the crowd to know that I’m here to help out the team. I felt like I hit that ball pretty well.”

Freshman Wide Receiver Daymond PattersonOn having a lot of family in town for his first collegiate game:
“It was pretty special. I just wanted to give a good showing for my family and the fans and help the team in any way possible. I felt good after the game.”

On having the butterflies before his first collegiate game:
“I was pretty nervous before my first return. Before every game I am nervous, but especially this one because it was my first college game. But after that first return I was feeling pretty good.”

On feeling that he may return a kick for a touchdown:
“I felt that I was going to get one. The punt return team was blocking real well and we have been working on it all week. The last two years we have returned a touchdown in the first two games, so we had to keep that going.”

Senior Linebacker Mike Rivera
On the game:
“I felt good that the guys were just doing a good job of running around. The communication seemed like we were all on the same page, and I am excited to see what we are going to do this year. I am just excited to see guys flying around, hitting people, and getting after it.”

On the defensive line:
“They were awesome tonight. They did a great job. They were getting pressure on the quarterback with a four-man rush. It helps us in coverage because we don’t have to cover as long. We are proud of them.”

Junior Wide Receiver Kerry Meier
On being labeled a possession receiver:
“Right now I am just going out there and catching balls. That’s for the coaches and media to decide. I will do whatever the team needs me to do. If they are looking for me on third down or looking to me to make a play, I will be ready for it.”

On converting 11 of 18 on third-down attempts:
“When teams are getting a lot of third downs it really takes a toll on the defense. From talking to the guys on the defense, I know they hate giving up third down conversions.Over the course of a game, third-down conversions can really take a toll on a defense mentally as well as physically.”

Florida International Quotes
FIU Head Coach Mario Cristobal
On FIU’s second-half performance:
“We played tough and obviously we’re never going to compromise. We’re getting better, especially against a great football team. There were way too many opportunities given to them, things we could have prevented. But then we came back and showed improvement with T.Y. Hilton’s punt return. There’s a lot of stuff that we can benefit from as a team and as players and as coaches. That is stuff that hurts, and it has to hurt and it better hurt. We have some work to do.”

On switching quarterbacks:
Wayne (Younger) earned some playing time, so that was something that wasn’t designed by us. He was going to get in there. Paul (McCall) earned the starting spot. He started and then he came out in the second half and played as well, and that was something by design that I had nothing to do with. They had some good plays, but we have to improve at the quarterback position as well.”

On the freshmen’s performance:”They’re good football players, they really are. T.Y. (Hilton) obviously showed what he can do against a Top-10 team like Kansas. Junior (Mertile) had an opportunity but the ball got popped out of him. In high school you might get away with something like that, but in college you have to tuck away the football. Other guys stepped up, some of those defensive linemen – James Jones and Jonathan Jackson. Five months ago those guys were still in high school, and they did some good things. When you watch the film, they’re going to realize how much better they could have done. We’ll learn from it and press on and get better.”

FIU senior cornerback Robert Mitchell
On his team’s turnaround from last year:
“I think that we have grown up a lot, we are very mature. However we still have a lot of growing to do.”

On the performance of Kansas compared to last year:
“It is hard to say, but I think that we played a lot better than we did last year.”

On whether or not he took satisfaction on their defensive performance in the second half:
“No satisfaction at all. We are a defense and we feel like we should not be scored on. No disrespect to them, it is just that we feel that we are better than that.”

On what the most disappointing thing about the game other than the loss was:
“It is hard to say. The loss is the most disappointing thing. There is no other disappointing thing, that is the only thing that matters.”

On whether or not FIU will be better this year than last: