Jayhawks Flock to Duke for Non-Conference Matchup
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas looks to go 2-0 for the first time in the Charlie Weis era when it travels to Duke Saturday, Sept. 13. KU will have its hands full with the Blue Devils as Duke enters the contest 2-0 in 2014 and fresh off a 10-win season in 2013. Game time is slated for 2:30 p.m. (CT) at Wallace Wade Stadium.
- Kansas owns a 577-589-58 all-time record.
- Kansas improved to 71-47-7 in season openers with its win over SEMO.
- The Jayhawks also notched their fourth-straight season-opening win, giving head coach Charlie Weis a perfect 3-0 record in season-opening games at KU.
- Five Jayhawks made their first start in a Kansas uniform Saturday while 21 total players played in their first KU game.
- KU is 28-8 in its last 36 games against non-Big 12 opponents, including bowl victories against Houston (2005), Virginia Tech (2007) and Minnesota (2008).
- Kansas’ 24 points in the first quarter vs. SEMO were the most in a single period since scoring 35 points in the fourth quarter against Colorado on Nov. 6, 2010.
- The 24 tallies also marked the most points scored in the first quarter by a Kansas team since the Jayhawks scored 28 to open the game against Toledo, Sept. 11, 2004.
- Kansas’ 24 first half points were the most scored by the Jayhawks since Sept. 5, 2009, when they put up 28 in the first half against Northern Colorado in Memorial Stadium.
- The Jayhawk defense’s three interceptions vs. SEMO were the most since they tallied four against South Dakota State on Sept. 1, 2012.
- The Kansas defense forced five consecutive three-and-outs to start the game.
- Kansas’ win over SEMO featured the first female official in Big 12 Conference history when Center Judge Cat Conti officiated in the game.
THIS DAY IN KANSAS FOOTBALL HISTORY
Kansas is 2-2-1 all-time in games played on Sept. 13. The Jayhawks have won two-straight contests on this date in KU football history with wins over Missouri (15-7 in 1997) and at Wyoming (42-35 in 2003).
Duke has no players on its roster from the state of Kansas, but instead boasts 19 players from North Carolina. The Jayhawks have only two members from the ‘Old North State,’ in juniors safety Isaiah Johnson who hails from Cary and wide receiver Nigel King who is a Raleigh native. KU and Duke have three players from the same hometown, but neither pair attended the same high school. Johnson and Duke sophomore tight end Dan Beilinson – Cary. Duke senior defensive end Jonathan Jones and Kansas senior safety Cassius Sendish – Waldorf, Maryland. Kansas kicker John Duvic and Duke offensive guard Jake Brodner – Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Before a preseason injury to Duke linebacker Kelly Brown, he and Kansas senior linebacker Ben Heeney were two of only six active linebackers in the country to have over 200 tackles and over 20 tackles for loss in the last two seasons.
SCOUTING THE DUKE OFFENSE
The Duke offense has scored a combined 86 points over its first two games of the season averaging 43 points per contest. The Blue Devils’ offensive attack is a balanced game plan after establishing both the run and the pass game the past two weeks collecting 27 first downs rushing and moving the chains 29 times through the air. The offense also takes good care of the ball, not losing any possessions to turnovers yet in 2014. Duke is averaging exactly six yards per play and has only been forced to punt six times on the season. The second quarter is the Blue Devil offense’s most productive period exploding for 42 points in two second quarters played this year. The 42 second-quarter points are more than each of their two opponents has scored in the whole game combined on the year. Quarterback Anthony Boone leads the team in passing averaging 257.5 yards-per-contest completing 66 percent of his passes for 515 yards and five touchdowns. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder is the Blue Devils’ most explosive receiver with 14 catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns, while receiver Issac Blakeney is close behind him with nine catches for 135 yards and three touchdowns.
SCOUTING THE DUKE DEFENSE
A stout Duke defense has held its opponents to only 30 points so far this season. The defense does its job and gets off of the field on third down a majority of the time allowing opponents to move the chains only 12 times on 31 tries. Opponents have gotten the opportunity to run quite a few plays; in two games this year the Duke defense has been on the field for 146 plays and given up 724 yards. The front seven of Duke does well establishing the line of scrimmage after recording nine tackles in the backfield, including five sacks, for a loss of 40 yards in two games. The further along in the game, the tougher the defense gets to move the ball on only giving up 10 points in the second half of games in 2014. Defensive back DeVon Edwards leads the team with 21 tackles and one TFL.
DUKE HEAD COACH DAVID CUTCLIFFE
David Cutcliffe, the 2013 National Coach of the Year who has earned both ACC and SEC Coach of the Year honors in a distinguished career that includes the mentoring of Super Bowl MVP quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, was named Duke University’s 21st head football coach on December 15, 2007. In 2013, Cutcliffe guided the Blue Devils to a school record 10 wins, including the ACC Coastal Division championship and an appearance in the 46ths-annual Chick-fil-A Bowl where Duke’s matchup with Texas A&M registered nearly nine million viewers to rank as ESPN’s most-watched non-BCS bowl game. For his efforts, Cutcliffe was named the National Coach of the Year by five outlets — American Football Coaches Association, Bobby Dodd Foundation, Maxwell Football Club, Sporting News and Walter Camp Foundation — while earning his second consecutive ACC Coach of the Year citation. Duke’s ascension to the top of the division standings has been spearheaded by Cutcliffe, who took over the program prior to the 2008 campaign after the Blue Devils had won just 10 total games in the previous eight seasons. The 2013 season included an eight-game winning streak (Duke’s longest since 1941), the program’s first appearance in the BCS standings and final national rankings in both polls (22nd by USA Today/Coaches & 23rd by Associated Press) to mark Duke’s first showing in a final poll since 1962. Cutcliffe, who in 2013 directed the Blue Devils to a school-record four fourth-quarter victories as well as, for the first time since 1971, two wins over nationally-ranked opponents, also became the first coach in Duke history to guide the Blue Devils to bowl games in consecutive seasons.
KU VS. ACC FOES
Kansas has faced 11 current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference and owns a 9-27 mark all-time versus the ACC. In addition to their previous win over Duke, the Jayhawks have also defeated Florida State, Georgia Tech, Syracuse and Virginia Tech. KU’s win over Virginia Tech came in the 2008 Orange Bowl as the Jayhawks topped the Hokies, 24-21, in Miami.
KANSAS-SOUTHEAST MISSOURI STATE LEFTOVERS
- Freshman running back Corey Avery found the endzone in the middle of the first quarter to become the first true freshman running back to record a rushing touchdown since James Sims did so on Sept. 11, 2010, against No. 15 Georgia Tech.
- Junior running back De’Andre Mann also followed in Sims’ footsteps by rushing for 100 yards in his debut as a Jayhawk. Mann eclipsed the 100-yard mark with 121 while Sims ran for 101 on Sept. 11, 2010, against No. 15 Georgia Tech.
- With 4:06 remaining in the first quarter, sophomore quarterback Montell Cozart found senior wide receiver Nick Harwell in the end zone to take a 16-0 lead. The pass marked the first career touchdown pass for Cozart, while the catch was Harwell’s first reception and touchdown in a KU uniform.
- After hauling in his second touchdown reception with four seconds left in the first quarter, Harwell became the first Kansas player to catch two or more touchdowns in a game since D.J. Beshears snagged two touchdowns on Sept. 10, 2011, against Northern Illinois.
- With 10:17 left in the third quarter, Cozart dropped back and found senior wide receiver Tony Pierson for a 67-yard touchdown pass down the sideline for both the longest completion and touchdown pass of his career.
- After the touchdown pass to Pierson, Cozart became the first Kansas quarterback to throw for three touchdowns since Jordan Webb found the end zone three times against Texas Tech on Oct. 1, 2011.
- Cozart set new career-high passing numbers in attempts, completions and yards going 12-for-24 for three touchdowns on the night.
- Senior wide receiver Justin McCay hauled-in a career-long 26-yard catch near the end of the first quarter.
- In the Jayhawks’ second defensive series, freshman cornerback Matthew Boateng intercepted a tipped pass to become the first Kansas freshman to record an interception since redshirt freshman Tyler Patmon had two total picks in 2010. Bradley McDougald was the last true freshman to have an interception against Texas Tech on Oct. 31, 2009. Both players have seen time with NFL squads.
- With the Kansas defense backed up in its own end zone, senior cornerback Dexter McDonald picked off his third-career pass and returned it a career-long 62 yards to the SEMO 38-yard line.
- McDonald put on an encore performance in the middle of the third quarter picking off his second pass of the contest. The senior became the first Jayhawk since teammate Isaiah Johnson intercepted two passes at Texas on Nov. 2, 2013.
- McDonald also broke up two passes – in addition to the two interceptions – to set a new career-high with four passes defended in the game.
- Senior linebacker Ben Heeney played his way to 11 tackles on the night. Heeney had 10 or more tackles in six games last season.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
- Sophomore kicker Matthew Wyman’s 43-yard field goal on the opening drive gave Wyman his third career successful field goal of more than 40 yards.
- Senior punter Trevor Pardula averaged 45.2 yards on four punts. Pardula booted a 51-yarder that was fair caught in the third quarter, his 26th punt of 50 or more yards in just his second season as a Jayhawk.
WHEELS OF STEEL
Prior to Kansas’ season-opening kick off versus Southeast Missouri State there was some skepticism on how the Jayhawk running game would fare. KU, who was tasked with trying to replace the program’s third all-time leading rusher in James Sims, had lost its top two returning running backs to season-ending injuries during fall camp in seniors Brandon Bourbon and Taylor Cox. A pair of newcomers in junior De’Andre Mann and freshman Corey Avery helped put those fears at ease as the duo combined for 212 yards and a touchdown on 34 carries. Mann led the way with 121 yards on 15 carries (8.1 ypc), while Avery turned in 91 yards and a score on 19 touches (4.8 ypc).
The Kansas receiving corps got off to a hot start in 2014. Led by two receiving touchdowns by senior Nick Harwell and a third by fellow senior Tony Pierson, the Jayhawks opened the 2014 campaign with three touchdown receptions by the pass catchers after the position group only accounted for four in all of 2012 and 2013 combined.
Kansas senior cornerback Dexter McDonald completely shut down his side of the field in KU’s season-opening win over SEMO. McDonald, who tallied two interceptions and 13 passes defended in 2013, started where he left off a season ago plucking off two interceptions versus the Redhawks. In addition, he recorded two pass breakups and two solo tackles. Following McDonald’s second interception early in the third quarter, SEMO rarley threw his way as he had shut down the left side of the field.
HARWELL WORTH THE WAIT
Jayhawk senior wide receiver Nick Harwell was forced to sit out the 2013 season after transferring to Kansas following a highly successful three years at Miami (Ohio). The Missouri City, Texas native was forced to go 653 days between games before he got to suit up for the first time as a Jayhawk. He proved to be worth the wait for Kansas as he hauled in four receptions for 46 yards and, most importantly, two touchdowns in his first game playing for Kansas. Harwell’s two receiving touchdowns were the most for a KU player making their debut since JaCorey Shepherd recorded two scores in his first game in 2011. The Biletnikoff Award watch lister now has 234 catches, 3,202 yards and 25 touchdowns to his credit as a collegiate receiver.
T.J. THE BOUNTY HUNTER
Kansas junior defensive lineman T.J. Semke was one of five Jayhawks to pick up their first career start in the season-opening win over Southeast Missouri State. Semke, who joined the team as a walk-on in the spring of 2013 before being put on scholarship at the start of fall camp, fared well in his first start totaling four tackles and 0.5 tackles-for-loss. Semke, whose part time job during his walk-on days was serving as a bounty hunter for a family friend’s bail bonds business, is now finding success chasing down offensive players as opposed to offending civilians.
MCDONALD NAMED BIG 12 DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Kansas senior cornerback Dexter McDonald was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week following his standout performance in the Jayhawks’ season-opening win over Southeast Missouri State. McDonald, a native of Kansas City, Missouri, led the Kansas defense with the first multiple interception game of his career. He first picked off SEMO quarterback Kyle Snyder in the end zone and returned it 62 yards to keep the Redhawks scoreless in the first half. He then grabbed a second interception off of Snyder five minutes into the third quarter, returning it 10 yards. Additionally, McDonald was credited with two solo tackles and two pass breakups, giving him four passes defended in the game. McDonald is the first Kansas player to be honored by the Big 12 Conference in its weekly awards since running back James Sims picked up the weekly offensive award on Nov. 18, 2013. He is the first Jayhawk to pick up the conference’s defensive honor since Justin Springer was tabbed for the weekly award on Sept. 11, 2010.
Following Saturday’s road-opener at Duke, the Jayhawks will return to Memorial Stadium to host Central Michigan on Saturday, Sept. 20. The Jayhawks and Chippewas will kick off at 2:30 p.m., and the game will be broadcast live on FOX Sports Net Regional Networks. Kansas leads the all-time series with CMU, 1-0, with a 52-7 win to its credit as the two teams squared off in the 2007 season-opener.