Jayhawks Look to Bounce Back Against Central Michigan

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas will look to bounce back quickly when it plays host to Central Michigan Saturday, Sept. 20, after dropping a 41-3 game at Duke. Kansas and Central Michigan will kick off at 2:30 p.m., at Memorial Stadium, with a live broadcast on FOX Sports Net. KU and CMU have previously met one time in program history, with the Jayhawks taking the first game, 52-7, in the 2007 season-opener.

  • Kansas owns a 577-590-58 all-time record.
  • Five more Jayhawks made their first career appearance in a Kansas uniform at Duke, bringing the total number of players debuting in 2014 to 26.
  • KU is 28-9 in its last 37 games against non-Big 12 opponents, including bowl victories against Houston (2005), Virginia Tech (2007) and Minnesota (2008).
  • Sophomore kicker Matthew Wyman scored the first points of the game for the Jayhawks at Duke with a 34-yard field goal with 2:18 left to play in the first quarter. The field goal gave KU a first-quarter score in two-straight games to open the season. KU got on the board in the first quarter only four times in 2013, while the most consecutive first quarter scores spanned three-straight contests.

Kansas is 5-4-1 all-time in games played on Sept. 20. The Jayhawks have won two-straight contests on this date in KU football history with wins over Jacksonville State (41-6 in 2003) and Sam Houston State (38-14 in 2008). Kansas faced TCU in each of its first three games played on Sept. 20, going 1-1-1 versus the Horned Frogs (1947, T, 0-0; 1952, W, 13-0; 1958, L, 0-42). Kansas has also gone up against Big 12 Conference opponent Texas Tech on Sept. 20, falling to the Red Raiders, 28-22, in 1969.

One Jayhawk player, sophomore kicker Matthew Wyman, hails from the state of Michigan. Combined, both teams have 22 players on their rosters from the state of Illinois. Central Michigan offensive coordinator Morris Watts previously served in the same capacity at Kansas in 1982. CMU head coach Dan Enos and KU running backs coach Reggie Mitchell have both served stints at two of the same schools, but never at the same time. Mitchell, (Western Michigan 1986, Michigan State 1999) and Enos (Western Michigan 2000-02, Michigan State 1991-93, 2006-09). Kansas defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt and Central Michigan assistant head coach Kyle Nystrom also coached at TCU during different time periods; Wyatt (1990), Nystrom (2002-04). Jayhawks safeties coach Scott Vestal and Chippewas defensive coordinator Joe Tumpkin were both on the coaching staff at SMU for the 2005-06 seasons. CMU tight ends coach Sherrone Moore is originally from Derby, Kansas and was on the offensive line at Butler Community College (KS) and eventually Oklahoma where they posted a 1-0 mark over the Jayhawks in 2008. 

The Central Michigan offense is averaging 20.3 points-per-game in 2014 and displays a balanced attack after gaining 52 first downs on the year, 24 rushing, 23 passing. The Chippewas average a first down every time they throw the ball evidenced by a 12.0 yard average per catch. CMU quarterback Cooper Rush has completed 44-of-76 total passes, with four touchdowns and only one interception, while the offense holds the ball for just over 30 minutes a game. The Chippewas are hard to keep off of the board when they get into the red zone, converting seven out of 10 attempts inside the 20-yard line this season. The third quarter is the CMU offense’s most productive period averaging just under a touchdown in three third quarters played. Rush’s favorite target is receiver Jesse Kroll who leads the team with nine receptions for 152 yards and one score, averaging 50.7 receiving yards per contest.
The Central Michigan defense is allowing 24 points per game and has given up 58 first downs on the year. The Chippewa defense is stout against the pass, only giving up 517 yards so far while snatching six interceptions. The defense gets penetration into the backfield and averages three sacks a game totaling 52 yards lost in 2014. CMU opens games strong defensively only giving up three total points in the first quarter throughout the first three contests, but in the second quarter opponents have racked up 37 total points followed by 19 in the third quarter. Linebacker Justin Cherocci leads the team with 30 tackles, while defensive back Tony Annese has grabbed two interceptions. Defensive end Joe Ostman has gotten to the opposing quarterback for two of the three total sacks the Chippewas have recorded this season.
Now in his fifth season leading the Central Michigan Chippewas, head coach Dan Enos is coming off of a six-win season after injuries decimated a promising year in 2013. Last season four Chippewas earned all-conference honors by the Mid-American Conference, increasing Enos’ track record to 23 players he has coached to All-MAC distinctions during his four years at the helm.  In 2012, Enos led the Chippewas to their fifth bowl appearance in program history where they defeated Western Kentucky in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, boosting their win total to seven games last season. In 2013, Enos also oversaw the development of the highest draft pick in the history of the program and MAC when All-American left tackle Eric Fisher was drafted first overall by the Kansas City Chiefs. Three other Chippewas also signed NFL contracts in 2013. Success has translated off of the field as well for Enos. In his tenure at CMU, he has had 16 Academic All-MAC selections, three of which were named Academic All-Americans. Before he took the CMU job, Enos spent four seasons at Michigan State coaching both the running back and quarterback positions, QB (2006), RB (2007-09). Enos has coached at 11 different institutions going back to his days as a graduate assistant at his alma mater, Michigan State, where he played quarterback from 1987-90. Enos has also been a part of six different bowl appearances during his coaching tenure. 
Kansas has faced seven current members of the Mid-American Conference and owns an 8-6 mark all-time versus the MAC. Kansas most recently faced Northern Illinois of the MAC, playing the Huskies in both 2011 and 2012, with each team claiming a win at home. Kansas senior wide receiver Nick Harwell spent his first three collegiate campaigns playing in the MAC as a member of the Miami (Ohio) team. Kansas holds an 8-6 record against MAC schools.

Kansas punter/kicker Trevor Pardula got his senior campaign off to a good start as he has handled both punts and kick offs for the Jayhawks in their first two games. The 2014 Ray Guy Award watch list honoree has punted 12 times for 595 yards–an average of 49.6 yards per punt. His 49.6 yards per punt average ranks him first in the Big 12 and second nationally. Pardula has already recorded six punts of 50 or more yards on the season, including two of more than 70 yards at Duke–giving him three of more than 70 yards in his 14 games as a Jayhawk. Pardula has dropped six of his punts inside the 20-yard line and has had five of his punts fair caught. Thanks in large part to Pardula, Kansas ranks second in the Big 12 and 16th in the NCAA in net punting. On kickoffs, Pardula has recorded three touchbacks on seven kicks, averaging 58.6 yards per kick. Pardula picked up his second-consecutive College Football Performance Awards honorable mention punter of the week after his performance against Duke where he averaged 51. 8 yards per punt.

A model of consistency, senior linebacker Ben Heeney has been his usual outstanding self through KU’s first two contests in 2014. Heeney, a preseason All-American and two-time All-Big 12 honoree, has led Kansas in tackles in each of its first two games. The Hutchinson, Kansas, native, turned in 11 tackles in the Jayhawks’ win over SEMO in the season-opener and then collected a career-high tying 15 total stops at Duke. He leads the Big 12 in tackles with 13.0 per game, which also ranks fifth in the NCAA. With his two double-digit tackling performances in 2014, he now has 13 in his career.

Prior to Kansas’ season-opening kick off versus Southeast Missouri State there was some skepticism on how the Jayhawk running game would fare. KU, 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 in the win over SEMO. 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 duo followed that up with another strong set of performances at Duke as Avery led the way with 87 yards on 16 carries, while Mann added 65 yards on 12 carries to go along with a 36-yard reception. 

KU senior cornerback JaCorey Shepherd faced off against one of the top receivers in the country in KU’s game at Duke, taking on the Blue Devils’ Jamison Crowder for much of the game. Shepherd held Crowder to just two catches for 14 yards–his receiving low since he had just 12 yards vs. Georgia Tech in 2012. Shepherd recorded three solo stops and a pass breakup on the day.

KU junior running back De’Andre Mann leads the Big 12 in rushing yards per carry at 6.89, while also ranking second in the conference in rushing yards per game at 93.0. Mann has carried the ball 27 times for 186 yards through two games, with six of his 27 carries going for 10 yards or longer.

Following Saturday’s game vs. Central Michigan, Kansas will open Big 12 Conference play at home against Texas. The Longhorns lead the all-time series with KU, 11-2, with the Jayhawks’ two wins both coming in Lawrence. Kansas won the first two games in the series in 1901 (12-0) and 1958 (19-18), but has since lost 11-straight. The game will also serve as KU’s annual homecoming game. The KU-UT kickoff is slated for 3 p.m., on FOX Sports 1.