Jayhawks, Owls to Meet Saturday in Houston
Kansas travels to Rice for its 2013 road opener Saturday, Sept. 14. The Jayhawks will be looking to avenge last season’s 25-24 last-second loss to the Owls when they step on to the field at Rice Stadium. The game will be televised live on the CBS Sports Network and is set for a 6:30 p.m., kickoff.
>> Kansas is 574-580-58 all-time.
>> Kansas improved to 70-47-7 in season openers with its win over South Dakota State.
>> KU is 26-7 in its last 33 games against non-Big 12 opponents, including bowl victories against Houston (2005), Virginia Tech (2007 season) and Minnesota (2008).
>> The Jayhawks are 27-62-4 all-time against teams from Texas and have lost 13 straight to foes from the Lone Star State. KU’s last win against a Texas team was a 34-7 win at UTEP, Sept. 12, 2009.
>> Eleven Jayhawks made their first start in a Kansas uniform Saturday while 18 total players played in their first KU game.
>> Kansas threw for more yards than South Dakota (110-67) on Saturday, only the fourth time in the last 25 games that the Jayhawks have outgained their opponent through the air.
>> By holding the Coyotes to 67 yards passing, Kansas is second in the country in total pass defense behind defending National Champion Alabama.
>> Part of the successful pass defense Saturday was pressure on the QB. Kansas logged three sacks, tying the single game high from the last two seasons.
>> Kansas rushed for 280 yards as a team in week one, marking the sixth time in 13 games under Charlie Weis that the team has topped 200 yards on the ground.
>> Kansas special teams lived up to their name Saturday, as Matthew Wyman converted on KU’s longest field goal since 2009 and kickoff specialist Trevor Pardula drove three kicks into the end zone for touchbacks – nearly half of KU’s total from a year ago (7).
This Day In Kansas Football History
Historically the Jayhawks have never lost a game on Sept. 14th, posting a record of 5-0 dating back to a 1974 match-up against Washington State, which KU won 14-7. KU won home matchups versus Tulsa (23-17) in 1991, and TCU (38-20) in 1995. In 1996 Kansas traveled to Fort Worth and defeated TCU 52-17. Most recently in 2002 KU beat Missouri State 44-24 at Memorial Stadium.
Rice’s coaching staff is filled with former Jayhawks. Three of the Owls’ four graduate assistants are Kansas alums as Ryan Cantrell and AJ (Anthony) Steward serve as offensive GAs and Adrian Mayes serves as a defensive GA. All three former Jayhawks played on the offensive side of the ball during their KU careers–Cantrell and Mayes on the offensive line and Steward as a tight end. Rice offensive coordinator/running backs coach, John Reagan, was a member of the KU coaching staff for five seasons under Mark Mangino. The Owls’ roster has one Sunflower state native on it in freshman LB Joe Ballard of Manhattan.
Kansas has seven players on its roster from the greater Houston area: Keba Agostinho (Katy), Greg Allen (Houston), Ron Doherty (Klein), Zach Fondal (Houston), Nick Harwell (Missouri City), Tyree Williams (Stafford) and Darius Willis (Houston). Overall, the KU roster has 25 players from the state of Texas suiting up. The Rice roster is filled with former high school teammates of many of the 35 Texans on the Jayhawk roster.
Scouting The Rice Offense
Rice tallied more than 500 yards of total offense and had then-No. 7 Texas A&M sweating well into the second half before eventually dropping the 52-31 shootout on college football’s opening weekend. Rice quarterback Taylor McHargue was efficient in his 2013 debut as he completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 180 yards, while throwing for two touchdowns and two interceptions. McHargue showed he can do more than sling the football, running for 78 yards at a clip of 8.7 per carry against A&M. McHargue threw for 235 yards in last year’s meeting with KU in Lawrence. Rice running back Charles Ross had an impressive opener against the Aggies, running for 107 yards and two scores. Junior wide receiver Jordan Taylor continues to be McHargue’s most targeted wide receiver, catching seven passes for 68 yards and a touchdown in Rice’s first game. Taylor had a breakout performance with nine catches for 101 yards against Kansas last year and ended the season in a similar fashion with 153 yards and three scores in the Armed Services Bowl win over Air Force. While the trio listed above will get the most attention Saturday, Rice senior center Nate Richards may be one of the Owls’ most valuable offensive pieces and is a Rimington and Rotary Lombardi award watch-list member. Senior K Chris Boswell, who hit the game winning 45-yarder in Lawrence last year, had six field goals of 50-plus yards last season, the most in the FBS.
Scouting The Rice Defense
Rice returns 10 of 11 starters on the defensive side of ball, part of 19 returning starters overall. Senior safety Corey Frazier made a strong return to the Owls’ defensive backfield after missing most of the 2012 season due to injury, batting down two passes in the season opener against Texas A&M. Former walk-on Michael Kutzler was a menace to the Aggies while starting in place of the recovering Cameron Nwosu. The junior linebacker, who played primarily on special teams last year, led the Owls with 11 total tackles and recorded a sack for a loss of five yards. Sophomore defensive tackle Christian Covington logged a modest five tackles in the opener but two were behind the line of scrimmage. He was tabbed as an All-Conference USA preseason selection by the league’s coaches. Rice’s defensive leader is Preseason Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year Phillip Gaines, who was suspended for the opener for a violation of team rules. The senior corner was a consensus All-Conference USA selection after leading the league and finishing second nationally with 18 pass breakups in 2012.
Rice Head Coach David Bailiff
Bailiff led Rice to a second bowl victory in his sixth season as head coach when the Owls won the 2012 Armed Forces Bowl, making him only the second coach to lead the Owls to multiple bowl games. Bailiff, now 51-59 overall in seven years as a head coach, also guided the Owls to the 2008 Texas Bowl and finished 10-3 that season. Bailiff came to Rice after three seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, where he posted a 21-15 record while leading the Bobcats to their first Southland Conference championship and the semifinals of the NCAA Division 1-AA playoffs in 2005. Bailiff has previously coached at TCU and New Mexico in the collegiate ranks.
Like Two Peas in a Pod, No. 1 Alabama and Kansas Lead Nation in Pass Defense
It may be a small sample size, but the 2013 Kansas Jayhawks are among the nation’s leaders in passing defense, second only to two-time defending National Champion Alabama. After one game each, the Crimson Tide is limiting the opposing offense to 59.0 yards per game and the Jayhawks are close behind at 67.0 yards per game. Against South Dakota, the Jayhawks posted their best passing defensive effort since allowing just 66 yards through the air to K-State on Nov. 7, 2009. Last season, KU surrendered a program worst 289.2 passing yards per game and has allowed 220 yards per game or more in each of the last nine seasons. If one game made a season, Kansas’ 222.2 yards per game improvement would be the program’s largest improvement from one year to the next. A more modest improvement might be more realistic by season’s end, with the current largest single season improvement in pass defense of 85.4 yards from 1973 to 1974 as a target to beat.
You Mean We Can Win Without a 100-yard Rusher?
One seemingly necessary requirement in KU’s six wins from 2010-12 was a 100-yard rusher, namely James Sims. Sims topped the century mark in every KU win he played in during his first three seasons – five of the six total, missing only the 2012 season opening win during which teammates Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox eached rushed for more than 100 yards. Sims’ 94 yards and two touchdowns might be the equivalent of a 28-point, nine-rebound performance in basketball – not quite a double-double, or 100 yards in this case, but close enough to have the same affect as the statistical plateau. Kansas also rushed for 280 yards as a unit in Saturday’s win, but statistically speaking, was able to win for the first time in four years without having Sims, or any other Jayhawk, run for 100 yards.
Top Performers – Offense: Darrian Miller
In his first game action since November 19, 2011, redshirt sophomore HB Darrian Miller made an immediate impact in the KU running game as he produced 72 rushing yards on 14 carries in the Jayhawks’ season-opening win over South Dakota. Included in his 72 yards were a pair of 17-yard runs during a third-quarter drive that led to a Kansas touchdown. Miller’s yardage was his second-highest, single-game total in 12 games as a Jayhawk.
Top Performers – Defense: Keon Stowers
Junior DL Keon Stowers had an impressive performance in his first career start at KU. Stowers had four tackles in the Jayhawks’ win over South Dakota, which set a new career high. His most notable play of the game came in the second quarter as he recorded his first career interception. Stowers returned the pick 42 yards for a touchdown, but it was called back due to a penalty on the return. He was eventually credited for a 10-yard interception return.
Top Performers – Special Teams: Connor Embree
Junior H/F Connor Embree saw his first career action as a Jayhawk in Saturday’s season-opening victory against South Dakota. Embree returned four USD punts for 92 yards, averaging 23.0 yards per return. His 29-yard return late in the second quarter set up Kansas’ second touchdown of the game, while his top return of 42 yards led to a KU field goal. In one game, Embree eclipsed Kansas’ combined punt return yardage total from last season and ranks seventh nationally in punt return yards per game, while leading the Big 12 Conference in the same category. Kansas hasn’t had a punt return man amass 100 yards in a season since Daymond Patterson collected 168 in 2009.
Junior Jake Heaps won his Kansas debut, becoming the seventh Jayhawk QB to lead his team to victory in 16 total debuts since 2000. Previous Jayhawk quarterbacks to win their debut in the last 12 years include Dayne Crist (2012), Jordan Webb (2011), Todd Reesing (2007), Kerry Meier (2006), Brian Luke (2004) and Zach Dyer (2001).
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