Jayhawks Set To Host Northern Illinois On Fox College Sports Saturday
Sept. 6, 2011
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas will look to move to 2-0 on the season when it takes on Northern Illinois (1-0) here Saturday, Sept. 10, at 6:10 p.m. The Jayhawks, fresh off a 42-24 win over McNeese State in their first game of the 2011 season, are 0-1 all-time versus the Huskies. The KU-NIU game will be televised live on Fox College Sports with Steve Physioc and Yogi Roth on the call. An audio broadcast of the game is also available on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access or Sirius Satellite Radio channel 113.
What To Watch For …
– Kansas (1-0 overall, 0-0 Big 12) will look to put together back-to-back wins for the first time under second-year head coach Turner Gill (4-9 at KU, 24-39 overall), when it hosts Northern Illinois on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6:10 p.m.
– Kansas has faced Northern Illinois just one time in its 122 years of college football. The Huskies defeated KU, 37-34, in Lawrence, on Sept. 3, 1983.
– Kansas is 7-6 (.538 winning percentage) all time versus teams from the Mid-American Conference. The Jayhawks have faced each of the eight teams in the league at least one time.
– The Jayhawks boast an all-time record of 571-559-58 (.506 winning percentage).
– Kansas has four players on its roster from the state of Illinois, and likewise, the Northern Illinois roster features four players who call Kansas home.
– KU has won 23 of its last 25 non-conference home games dating back to the start of the 2003 season.
– KU is 22-7 in its last 29 home games, including its win over McNeese State in the season opener.
– KU is 23-4 in its last 27 games against non-Big 12 opponents, including bowl victories against Houston (2005), Virginia Tech (2007 season) and Minnesota (2008).
– KU is 2-2-1 all time in games played on Sept. 10 with wins over Michigan State (1994) and Appalachian State (2005).
Kansas Head Coach Turner Gill
Turner Gill(North Texas, 1990) is in his second season at the Kansas helm, after being named the University’s 36th head football coach on Dec. 13, 2009. In his first year at Kansas, Gill took over a team that had lost its last seven games of the 2009 season. After a season-opening loss, Gill guided the Jayhawks to a 28-25 upset victory against then-No. 15 Georgia Tech. KU would win three games in his first year, including a thrilling 52-45 victory against Colorado in a game that KU trailed 45-17 in the fourth quarter. Gill came to Lawrence after spending the previous four seasons as the head coach at Buffalo (2006-09) where he turned a down program into a conference champion in his third year. Gill was a highly successful player and assistant coach at Nebraska for a combined 18 seasons before spending one year with the Green Bay Packers and then taking over at Buffalo.
Northern Illinois Head Coach Dave Doeren
Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doerenis in his first season as the head coach of the Huskies and picked up his first career head coaching win in last week’s win over Army. The Shawnee Mission, Kan., native served on successful coaching staffs at Wisconsin (2006-10), Kansas (2002-05), Montana (2000-01), USC (1998-99) and Drake (1995-97), his alma mater. He began his coaching career at Shawnee Mission Northwest High School. During Doeren’s time at Wisconsin, the Badgers posted a 49-16 overall record and played in the Champs Sports Bowl (twice), Outback Bowl, Capital One Bowl and the Rose Bowl. His UW defenses were consistently ranked in the national top 25 in NCAA defensive categories. The 2010 Wisconsin defense ranked 20th in the country in total defense and was in the Top 30 in both rushing and scoring defense.
Northern Illinois Scouting Report
On the heels of NIU’s 11-3 season and Humanitarian Bowl victory over Fresno State, the Huskies opened 2011 as the only Mid-American Conference team to receive votes in the preseason Associated Press and USA Today Coaches’ polls. NIU earned first-year head coach Dave Doerena win in his first game as a head coach with a 49-26 triump over Army. Led by record-setting quarterback Chandler Harnish, the Huskies have a potent offensive attack. Harnish’s 3,366 yards of total offense in 2010 broke a record that had stood for 47 years as he completed 189 passes in 292 attempts with just five interceptions and 21 touchdowns. He completed 64.7 percent of his passes and his effi ciency rating ranked 11th in the nation. Harnish is threatening the school career records for touchdown passes, passing yards, attempts and completions. The Huskies are led on the other side of the ball by defensive end Sean Progar, linebacker Pat Schiller and safety Tommy Davis, who are the most experienced NIU defenders in terms of starts.
As previously mentioned, NIU head coach Dave Doeren served on the Kansas staff for four years, working with the Jayhawk linebackers under head coach Mark Mangino. Former KU standout and 2006 graduate, Kevin Kaneis now the coach of the Tight Ends and Fullbacks at NIU. Kane was a part of three bowl teams during his time at KU. He played in the Tangerine Bowl (2003) and the Fort Worth Bowl (2005) and was a student assistant in 2007 when the Jayhawks won the Orange Bowl.
Four KU players call Illinois home in freshmen running back Tony Pierson (East St. Louis) and offensive lineman Luke Luhrsen (Wheaton), redshirt freshman full back Ed Fink (Belleville) and sophomore offensive lineman Tom Mabry(Belleville).
Four Northern Illinois players are natives of the Sunflower state, including one player who hails from Lawrence in freshman deep snapper Boomer Mays. Although calling Lawrence home, Mays attended Eudora High School. Other Kansans on the Huskie roster include freshman quarterback Devin Rose (Overland Park), redshirt freshman tight end Luke Eakes (St. Mary’s) and junior offensive lineman Logan Pegram (Silver Lake). Rose attended Blue Valley West High School with Kansas players Dylan Admire, Connor Embree and Pat Lewandowski.
Follow Kansas Football on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access
Kansas fans will be able to watch the Jayhawks’ football season-opener vs. McNeese State on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access, the first of more than 200 events to air in 2011-12 on KU’s online network via kuathletics.com. This marks the eighth consecutive year that AT&T Jayhawk All-Access will broadcast Kansas Athletics events either with video, audio or both. In addition to the football season opener, Kansas football fans who subscribe to AT&T All-Access can also see: – Turner Gill’s weekly press conferences – Football weekly television show KU Football Fans who subscribe may also listen to: – The complete radio broadcasts of KU football, including the Jayhawk Network pre-game show, which starts 30 minutes prior to kickoff, and the 30-minute post-game show which includes an interview with Head Coach Turner Gill – Hawk Talk with Turner GillKansas football fans can subscribe to Jayhawk All-Access by going to www.kuathletics.com and clicking on the AT&T Jayhawk All-Access button on the right. Jayhawk All-Access subscriptions are only $9.95 per month or $79.95 per year.
First Time Starters
Several Kansas players made their first career starts in last week’s win over McNeese State, including FB Nick Sizemore, DE Keba Agostinho, LB Darius Willis, LB Tunde Bakare and FS Keeston Terry.
Saturday’s win over McNeese State served as a debut for 17 Jayhawks. In addition to first-time starters FB Nick Sizemore, LB Darius Willis and LB Tunde Bakare, the following players played for the first time in their Kansas careers: TE Trent Smiley, WR JaCorey Shepherd, RB Darrian Miller, RB Tony Pierson, RB Brandon Bourbon, LB Ben Heeney, DE Pat Lewandowski, CB Dexter McDonald, LB Isaac Wright, S Tyler Hill, S Ray Mitchell, LB Malcolm Walker, PK Alex Mueller and LS Tanner Gibas.
Johnson Dominates on D
Jayhawk senior LB Steven Johnsonopened the 2011 season right where he left off at the end of the 2010 season, collecting double figures in tackles. Johnson was credited with a career-best 15 tackles versus McNeese State, including nine solo stops. He also had 2.0 TFLs for minus three yards and forced a fumble. Johnson now has four double-figure tackle games in his career, including 13 in the 2010 season finale versus Missouri, giving him 10 or more tackles in back-to-back games for the first time in his Kansas career. After one week of play, Johnson ranks eighth in the NCAA in tackles.
Kansas second-year head coach Turner Gill has gone on the record in saying this year’s Kansas team will feature a more explosive, speedy attack and in its first game of the 2011 season, the Jayhawks backed up his words. KU recorded five plays of 20 or more yards in its season-opening win over McNeese State. WR JaCorey Shepherd had TD catches of 56 and 48 yards, respectively, while fellow WR Daymond Patterson caught a 25-yard TD pass. On the ground, KU churned out a 30-yard run by RB James Sims and also had a 47-yard carry by RB Tony Pierson. Of KU’s five plays of more than 20 yards, three resulted in TDs. The Jayhawks only managed 31 plays of more than 20 yards during the entire 2010 season, with only five of those plays going for touchdowns.
Kansas recorded 301 yards on the ground in its season-opening win over McNeese State, marking its first 300 yard rushing game since it tallied 334 yards rushing in the 2008 season opener versus Northern Colorado. Kansas rushed 55 times for 301 yards against McNeese State, marking the most rushing attempts by the Jayhawks since Nov. 16, 2002, when KU attempted 56 rushes for 182 yards against Oklahoma State. The KU rushing offense ranks first in the Big 12 and seventh nationally after one week of action.
Sims Leads Stable of Backs
Jayhawk sophomore running back James Sims turned in his fourth career 100-yard game as he amassed 104 yards on the ground in the season-opener versus McNeese State. Sims had 19 carries in the game, one of which was a career-best 30 yard run that set up Kansas’ first touchdown of the 2011 season. The Jayhawks are now 4-0 when he eclipses the century mark in rushing. Sims is not the only capable runner, though, as freshmen teammates Tony Pierson (73 yards) and Darrian Miller (63 yards) each contributing to Kansas’ 301 total rushing yards. Sims and Pierson each had a TD on the ground, as did quarterback Jordan Webb.
Newcomers Put Up The Points
Of the six true freshmen who made their career debuts in KU’s season-opening win over McNeese State, three scored points in the game. WR JaCorey Shepherd led all KU players with two TDs, while RB Tony Pierson scored a TD and PK Alex Muellerwas a perfect 6-for-6 on PATs. Out of Kansas’ 42 points, 24 were scored by true freshmen.
Kansas freshman WR JaCorey Shepherd had an outstanding game versus McNeese State as he caught three passes for 107 yards to lead the Jayhawks in receiving yards and tie for the team lead in receptions. Shepherd caught a 56-yard touchdown pass from Jordan Webb in the third quarter, which marked the longest pass play for the Jayhawks since 2009, when Dezmon Briscoe caught a 74-yard touchdown from Todd Reesingagainst Missouri. Shepherd’s 107 yards receiving made him the first Jayhawk freshman to record 100-plus receiving yards in a game since 1997 (Termaine Fulton, 138 vs. Texas).
Turning Up The Pressure
The Jayhawk defensive put the pressure on McNeese State in the season-opener, recording three sacks in the win. Junior DE/LB Toben Opurum, sophomore LB Darius Willis and redshirt freshman DE Pat Lewandowskieach were credited with a sack in the game. Kansas only tallied 14 sacks during the entire 2010 season.
Kansas junior DE Toben Opurumearned honorable mention Defensive Linemen of the Week honors by the College Performance Awards for his efforts against McNeese State. Opurum tallied 11 tackles, including seven solo stops versus the Cowboys. He led KU with 3.5 TFLs for minus eight yards, which included one sack for minus two yards. Additionally, Opurum was credited with two quarterback hurries. Opurum’s 3.5 TFLs leads the Big 12 and ties him for second nationally in the category.
Punt Team Shows Improvement
After struggling for much of the 2010 season with with the punt team unit, Kansas opened the 2011 campaign with a great performance in that phase of the game versus McNeese State. Led by sophomore punter Ron Doherty, the Jayhawks lead the Big 12 and rank 11th nationally in net punting averaging 45.0 yards per punt. Additionally, KU redshirt freshmen Ray Mitchellwas named the team’s Special Teams Player of the Week for his performance on both punt and kick off coverage.
Son Of A Gun
Several members of the Kansas football team come from extremely strong football bloodlines. Two Jayhawks are the sons of current collegiate head football coaches and a third player’s father is an assistant coach at the collegiate level. Redshirt freshman WR Connor Embree’s father Jon is in his first year as the head coach at Colorado, while fellow redshirt freshman LB Jake Farley is the son of Mark Farley, who is beginning is 11th year as the head signal caller at Northern Iowa. Additionally sophomore RB Ryan Burton’s father, Ron, is the defensive line coach at Air Force. Also to be noted is special teams quality control coach Kyle Breyis the son of Notre Dame head men’s basketball coach Mike Brey.
On August 28, Turner Gill announced the team captains for the 2011 season. This year’s permanent team captains include: on offense, C Jeremiah Hatch and TE Tim Biere and on defense, LB Steven Johnson and DE Toben Opurum. Hatch, Biere and Johnson are seniors, while Opurum is a junior.
Wounded Hawks Return
A number of veteran players did not play, or saw limited action due to injury in 2010, but returned to the Jayhawk line up in 2011. The following are capsules for those players:
– RB Rell Lewis… Injured leg in 2010 preseason and sat out all season.
– OL Trevor Marrongelli… Started first four games of 2010 season at OG this year before suffering season-ending injury.
– OL Jeff Spikes… Missed all of 2010 due to off-season lower leg injury after starting 23 games first two years.
– LB Huldon Tharp… 2009 freshman All-American missed all of 2010 with a lower leg injury.
Early TV Slate
The time for Kansas’ first three games of the 2011 season have been set by the Big 12 Conference office. Kansas’ season-opener versus McNeese State was not televised, but was streamed live on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access. The Jayhawks’ Sept. 10 game versus Northern Illinois will also have a 6 p.m., start time with a live broadcast on Fox College Sports. KU will then kick-off at 11:30 a.m. (Central), when it plays at Georgia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 17. The KU-Georgia Tech game will be televised live on selected Fox Sports Net affliates.
Kansas fields one of the youngest rosters in the country in 2011 as it counts 71 one of its players as underclassmen. The 71 players who are either freshmen, redshirt freshmen or sophomores account for 70 percent of the squad. Of the 22 players listed as starters on offense and defense, seven Jayhawks are underclassmen, including sophomores DT Kevin Young, DE Keba Agostinho, LB Darius Willis, QB Jordan Webb, RB James Sims and FB Nick Sizemore along with redshirt freshman S Keeston Terry.
The Jayhawks will travel to Atlanta to face Georgia Tech on Saturday, Sept. 17 on regional Fox Sports Net Affiliates. Kansas and Georgia Tech will kick off at 11:30 a.m. (Central), at Bobby Dodd Stadium in downtown Atlanta. The all-time series between the two schools is tied 1-1 after KU upset the then-15th ranked Yellow Jackets, 28-25, last season in Lawrence.