Jayhawks Travel To Northern Illinois For Final Non-Conference Game Saturday
Sept. 18, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas (1-2 overall, 0-1 Big 12) will attempt to pick up its first road win under first year head coach Charlie Weis, when it travels to Northern Illinois (2-1, 0-0 MAC) on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 2:30 p.m. KU edged NIU in Lawrence in 2011, with wide receiver D.J. Beshears catching the winning touchdown with 14 seconds left in the game for the 45-42 Jayhawk win. The Kansas-Northern Illinois game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.
Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis
Charlie Weis (Notre Dame, 1978) is in his first season at the Kansas helm, after being named the University’s 37th head football coach on Dec. 9, 2011. Weis, who is 1-2 in his first season at the helm of the program, arrived at Kansas after spending the 2011 season as the offensive coordinator at the University of Florida. Prior to that he spent the 2010 season in the same position for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he helped guide the team to a playoff appearance and mentor three Chiefs players to Pro Bowl Honors. Weis came to KC after spending five seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, Notre Dame. During his five seasons in South Bend, Weis compiled a 35-27 mark, leading the Irish to back-to-back BCS Bowl Games in 2005 and 2006. Weis has coached 16 years in the NFL and owns four Super Bowl rings, three as the offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots (2001, 2003, 2004) and one as a defensive/special teams assistant with the New York Giants (1990).
Northern Illinois Head Coach Dave Doeren
Northern Illinois head coach Dave Doeren is in his second season as the leader of the Huskies. Doeren led NIU to a an 11-3 overall mark in 2011, including the MAC Championship and a win over Arkansas State in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. 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
Northern Illinois is 2-1 on the season with wins over Tennessee-Martin and at Army and a loss to Iowa on a neutral field. NIU is led on offense by junior quarterback Jordan Lynch, who is in his first season as the starter. Lynch is dangerous both on the ground and through the air as he leads the Huskies in rushing with 304 yards on 42 carries. He has completed 43-of-68 passes for 610 yards and five TDs with two INTs. Lynch has also scored five rushing TDs. Leighton Settle is the top running back for NIU with 158 yards on 36 carries, while Martel Moore is a dynamic receiver in the passing game. Moore has accumulated 229 yards receiving on 15 catches–three of which resulted in TDs. Tommylee Lewis and Perez Ashford are both leaders in the receiving corps and in the return game. Defensive back Jimmie Ward leads the NIU defense with 33 tackles through three games–including 18 solo stops. Ward has one interception and five pass breakups. Linebacker Tyrone Clark is right behind Ward with 31 tackles. Clark has recorded 4.0 TFLs for minus five yards. The NIU pass defense ranks seventh in the NCAA, giving up just 140.0 yards per game through the air. However, the Huskies’ rush defense ranks 112th in the NCAA, giving up 229.3 yards per game on the ground.
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 Kane is 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 sophomore halfback Tony Pierson (East St. Louis) and fullback Ed Fink (Belleville), redshirt freshman offensive lineman Luke Luhrsen (Wheaton) and freshman linebacker Dom Bickus (Long Grove).
Four Northern Illinois players are natives of the Sunflower state, including one player who hails from Lawrence in redshirt freshman linebacker Boomer Mays. Although he calls Lawrence home, Mays attended Eudora High School. Other Kansans on the Huskie roster include freshman defensive end Matthew Baltimore (Overland Park), sophomore tight end Luke Eakes (St. Mary’s) and senior offensive lineman Logan Pegram (Silver Lake). Additionally, the NIU roster features two Kansas City area players in redshirt freshman linebacker Videl Nelson (Staley HS) and sophomore defensive tackle Donovan Gordon (Raytown South HS).
-Sophomore HB Tony Pierson’s 26-yard reception in the second quarter was his first catch of the season and is also the longest of his career.
-Pierson had four receptions in the first half which surpassed the most by a KU running back for a game this season. Entering the contest, KU RBs only had three total receptions.
-Pierson ended the game with six receptions which surpassed the KU mark for most catches against TCU in the 29-game series (previous mark was four receptions by Jim Moore and Isaac Byrd vs. TCU in 1996). Daymond Patterson equaled the effort with six catches against the Horned Frogs.
-Sophomore Andrew Turzilli’s 17-yard second quarter reception was his first reception of the season. His 42-yard catch in the third quarter was the longest of his career and the second longest pass play of the season for Kansas (43 yarder from Dayne Crist to Kale Pick on the first offensive play of the season).
-Turzilli finished with three catches for 100 yards. The last 100-yard receiving performance for Kansas was by JaCorey Shepherd, when he had three catches 107 yards against McNeese State last season. His 100 yards receiving were the most by a KU player in the series history against TCU.
-Junior WR Chris Omigie caught his first pass of the season in the second quarter. Omigie had one catch last season and entered the game with eight career receptions.
-Omigie had three receptions for a career-high 51 yards. His previous game high was three receptions for 41 yards against Oklahoma State in 2010.
-Dayne Crist passed for a season-best 303 yards and became the first Kansas quarterback to pass for more than 300 yards since Jordan Webb threw for 316 yards at Oklahoma State in 2011.
-Senior DL Josh Williams’ fumble recovery on the opening drive was his second of the season and of his career.
-Junior S Bradley McDougald’s forced fumble in the first quarter was his first of the season and third of his career.
-Senior DE Toben Opurum’s fumble recovery on that fumble was his second of the season and for his career. Opurum also had a fumble recovery against Rice last week.
-McDougald finished the game with two forced fumbles after adding another in the fourth quarter, giving him four for his career. He also recorded a career-high 12 tackles, including nine solo stops.
-Opurum’s forced fumble of TCU QB Casey Pachall in the fourth quarter was his second of the season and third of his career.
-Junior DL John Williams’ tackle-for-loss in the third quarter was the first TFL of his career.
-Junior S Dexter Linton finished with a career-high six tackles. His previous career-high was three against Texas A&M last season.
-Senior LB Anthony McDonald tied for second on the team with six tackles in his Kansas debut. The six tackles marked a career-best for McDonald, who spent his previous three seasons playing at Notre Dame–where his career high for tackles in a game was three.
McDougald Again Honored By CFPA
Kansas senior S Bradley McDougald was cited by the College Football Performance Awards for the second time in three games in 2012 after his standout performance versus TCU. McDougald continues to play as one of the top safeties in college football as he had a career-best 12 tackles (9 solos) against TCU. McDougald had a sack for a loss of 12 yards and finished the game with 1.5 TFLs for minus 13 yards. Additionally, he forced two fumbles–both of which came in the red zone, preventing the high-powered TCU offense from scoring.
Defense Turning It Over
The Kansas defense is off to a good start in regards to forcing turnovers. KU ranks first in the Big 12 and tied for first in the NCAA with Alabama and Mississippi State with 12 miscues forced–five interceptions and seven fumbles. Eight different players have been involved in the turnovers forced as seniors S Bradley McDougald, DE/LB Toben Opurum and DE Josh Williams have each been involved in more than one of the turnovers forced. McDouglad has two interceptions and two forced fumbles. Opurum has two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries, while Williams has forced one fumble and recovered two. Other players having recorded an interception are CB Greg Brown, CB Tyler Patmon and CB Corrigan Powell. LB Anthony McDonald and CB Tyree Williams have each recovered a fumble and WR Josh Ford has caused a fumble through the first two games.
Red Zone Defense Stout
The Jayhawk defense has found a niche not only in forcing turnovers, but in slowing down opposing offenses in the red zone. Of note–KU became the first team to hold TCU to 20 points or less since the Horned Frogs’ 17-10 Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State (Jan. 4, 2010). TCU had scored at least 21 points in its last 27 contests prior to being held to 20 against the Jayhawks Saturday. Over the past two seasons, TCU averaged 41.2 points per game.
Punt Team Performing Well
KU’s special teams have showed improvement in several areas, in particular the punt team. Kansas junior punter Ron Doherty has performed well, booting the ball 11 times for an average of 43.5 yards per punt. He recorded a new career long punt with a 63 yarder in the first half of KU’s win over South Dakota State. Doherty ranks 29th in the NCAA in punting. Additionally, KU has only given up five punt returns for a combined zero yards. The Jayhawks rank 11th in the NCAA in net punting–which is also second best in the Big 12 behind only Texas.
Rushing Down The Field
Jayhawk halfbacks Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox each rank in the top 10 in the Big 12 in rushing through the first three games of the 2012 season. Pierson ranks 37th nationally and fourth in the Big 12 with 93.0 yards per game, while Cox is not far behind him ranking 58th in the NCAA and eighth in the Big 12 with 82.3 yards per game. Both players eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in the season-opening win over South Dakota State as Pierson had 124 yards and Cox had 121. Pierson turned in a second 100-yard rushing performance as he had 120 yards against Rice, while Cox had 79 versus the Owls and led KU on the ground versus TCU with 47 yards on 11 carries. The KU running game will be enhanced by the addition of junior RB James Sims, who will return to action against Northern Illinois after missing the first three games of the season due to suspension. Sims was KU’s leading rusher in both 2010 and 2011.
Tight Ends Playing Big In KU Offense
Despite entering the season without a player on the roster who had started at a game at KU, the Jayhawk tight ends are quietly having a successful 2012 campaign. Both of KU’s receiving touchdowns this season have been caught by tight ends Mike Ragone and Jimmay Mundine. Additionally, the KU tight ends–which also includes Trent Smiley through three games–have been instrumental in helping the Jayhawk running game have success. On the season, KU tight ends have combined for six catches for 55 yards and two TDs.
Turzilli and Omigie Give Jayhawks Added Dimension
KU wide receivers Andrew Turzilli and Chris Omigie each had impressive performances versus TCU. Turzilli, who started for the first time in his Jayhawk career, recorded his first 100-yard receiving game and became the first KU player to have 100 or more yards receiving in a game since the 2011 season-opening win over McNeese State. Turzilli hauled in three catches for 100 yards, including receptions of 42 and 41 yards. Omigie also had the top game of his career with three catches for 51 yards. Both receivers stand 6-foot-3 or taller, providing Jayhawk QB Dayne Crist with big targets in the passing game.
Kansas has had 18 players see game action for the first time in a Jayhawk uniform in 2012. Seven offensive players, eight defensive players and three specialists have made their way on to Kivisto Field first time in their KU careers. The following are the players who have made their official Jayhawk debut: Offense – Dylan Admire (OL), Taylor Cox (HB), Dayne Crist (QB), Josh Ford (WR), Aslam Sterling (OL), Tre’ Parmalee (WR), Mike Ragone (TE)–Defense – Anthony McDonald (LB), Ben Goodman (DL), Jake Love (LB), Schyler Miles (LB), Keon Stowers (DL), Jordan Tavai (DL), Josh Williams (DL), Tyree Williams (CB)–Specialists – Blake Jablonski (H/QB), Nick Prolago (K) and Reilly Jeffers (SN).
First Time Starters
Eleven Jayhawk players have picked up their first career start at KU in 2012. The following players have opened the game on the field in a game this season: Offense – Andrew Turzilli (WR), Dayne Crist (QB), Aslam Sterling (RG), Randall Dent (RG), Gavin Howard (RT), Trent Smiley (TE), Mike Ragone (TE)–Defense – Jordan Tavai (N), Josh Williams (DE), Ben Heeney (MLB) and Prinz Kande (SLB).
Opurum and Doherty Honored By CFPA For Play vs. Rice
Kansas senior DE/LB Toben Opurum and junior K/P Ron Doherty were honored for their play in KU’s game versus Rice. For their efforts, Opurum was honored by the College Football Performance Awards as an honorable mention defensive lineman of the week, while Doherty was cited by the CFPA as an honorable mention punter of the week. Opurum recorded three tackles in the game, including a sack for a loss of seven yards. He also forced and recovered a fumble on the sack. Doherty only punted twice during the game, but nailed both of them as he averaged 50.5 yards per punt versus Rice.
It had been nearly eight seasons since KU had recorded multiple blocks in the kicking game, but the Jayhawks came storming out of the gates in the special teams–recording two blocked punts in the 2012 season-opening win over SDSU. Junior WR Chris Omigie was able to get to the punter in the first quarter, while junior WR Josh Ford was able to block a punt in the second quarter and recover it at the SDSU seven yard line. Ford’s block and recovery led to a KU field goal just before the end of the first half. The Jayhawks scored a TD on the ensuing possession following Omigie’s block.
McDougald Honored By CFPA
Kansas senior free safety Bradley McDougald had an outstanding game in KU’s win over South Dakota State. For his efforts, McDougald was honored by the College Football Performance Awards as an honorable mention defensive back of the week. McDougald hauled in two interceptions in the win over the Jackrabbits, becoming the first KU player have more than one pick in a game since Darrell Stuckey grabbed two in KU’s season finale in 2008. McDougald also had six tackles, including five solo stops, and one TFL for minus one yard.
When halfbacks Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox each rushed for more than 100 yards versus South Dakota State, it marked the 18th time in KU history two or more players had hit the century mark in rushing in the same game. Pierson and Cox combined for 245 rushing yards, which ranks 10th among Kansas’ 18 games with multiple 100-yard rushers. On one occasion KU had three players rush for more than 100 yards. In 1975, Dennis Wright (113), Norris Banks (120) and Laverne Smith, Jr. (236) joined forces to account for 469 rushing yards in a win over Missouri.
On April 24, Charlie Weis announced the team captains for the 2012 season. This year’s permanent team captains include: on offense, QB Dayne Crist and LT Tanner Hawkinson and on defense, DE/LB Toben Opurum. All three players are seniors and Opurum is one of just 15 players at Kansas to be named a team captain for more than one season. Opurum was also named a team captain for the 2011 season. A fourth captain will be selected for each game–aside from the season opener–based on special teams play from the previous game.
Kansas football has seven players on its roster in 2012 who already have one undergraduate degree in hand. Three players have already earned a degree from KU, as Brandon Hawks, Trevor Marrongelli and Daymond Patterson each walked down the hill in either the spring or summer of 2012. Four other Jayhawks earned degrees at their previous institutions before arriving at KU–Notre Dame grads Dayne Crist, Anthony McDonald and Mike Ragone and Nebraska grad Josh Williams.
Jayhawks Making The Grade
The University of Kansas football team set a team record for the 2012 spring semester with a 3.0 grade-point average, and the department’s overall GPA of 2.99 was its fourth-highest in history. The football program’s previous high mark was a 2.75 in the spring of 2010. Four of the 35 KU student-athletes with a 4.0 were football players, heading the list of 36 football players who achieved a 3.0 or higher. Of those 36, 14 (including the four 4.0’s) earned head coach Charlie Weis’s designation of “Dean’s List” with GPA’s of over 3.5.
Strength of Schedule
Kansas’ 2012 schedule is widely considered one of the toughest in the NCAA. According to multiple media outlets, KU has one of the top five toughest schedules in the nation. The Jayhawks’ entire October schedule is filled with teams ranked in the preseason Top 25, while 10 of its 12 opponents are either ranked or receiving votes.
Hawkinson Anchors Experienced Line
Senior LT Tanner Hawkinson is returning to the left side of the offensive line after starting all 12 games at the right tackle position in 2011. After redshirting in 2008, Hawkinson has been a mainstay for KU’s line, starting 39-straight games entering Saturday’s contest versus Northern Illinois. He is joined by fellow seniors Duane Zlatnik (RG) and Trevor Marrongelli (C) as the veterans up front. Zlatnik has 24 starts and Marrongelli has 21 starts.
Four Jayhawks Awarded Scholarships
At the conclusion of 2012 Fall Camp, head coach Charlie Weis had a few scholarships remaining of the team’s total of 85 and he decided to reward a quartet of KU’s hard working walk-ons with one-year grants. Seniors Ryan Burton (RB) and Brandon Hawks (S) and juniors Justin Carnes (SN) and Shane Smith (DL) were each put on scholarship for the 2012-13 school year.
Son Of A Gun
Several members of the Kansas football team come from extremely strong football bloodlines. One Jayhawk is the son of a current collegiate head football coach and a second player’s father is an assistant coach at the collegiate level. Sophomore WR Connor Embree’s father Jon is in his second year as the head coach at Colorado. Additionally senior 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 Brey is the son of Notre Dame head men’s basketball coach Mike Brey, while Charlie Weis, Jr., student-manager/offensive assistant, is the son of KU head coach Charlie Weis.
Kansas head coach Charlie Weis, who has 16 years of NFL coaching experience, has an amazing record of sending his collegiate players to the NFL. Weis has had 24 of the players he coached collegiately get drafted by an NFL team. Additionally, one of his top players from his time at Notre Dame, Jeff Samardzija, was drafted in the fifth round of the 2006 MLB Draft and is currently a starting pitcher fo rthe Chicago Cubs.
The Jayhawks will have the first of two bye weeks on Saturday, Sept. 29. KU will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 6, when it travels to Manhattan, Kan., for the Sunflower Showdown.
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