Jayhawks Meet No. 20 Texas Tech to Open Big 12 Conference Play
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas will open Big 12 Conference play by welcoming the up-start, undefeated (20/22) Texas Tech Red Raiders to Memorial Stadium for a Homecoming showdown on FS1 Saturday at 11 a.m. A much improved Kansas pass defense will face its toughest challenge to date as the Red Raiders roll into Lawrence as one of the top passing attacks in the country. Two memories remain fresh in the mind of the Jayhawks – a last second field goal win over Louisiana Tech in the team’s last game, and last year’s 41-34 double overtime loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock. The past and present collide Saturday as the two programs meet for the 15th time, with the Red Raiders holding a 13-1 all-time lead in the series, including a 7-0 mark against the Jayhawks in Lawrence.
This Day In Kansas Football History
Kansas is 13-4 all-time in games played on Oct. 5, with the first game dating back to an 1895 match-up against Midland at home, which KU won 56-0. Most recently, Kansas dropped a 35-32 decision at Baylor during the 2002 season, Mark Mangino’s first year as head coach.
Kansas-Texas Tech Connections
Connections between the Jayhawks and Red Raiders start at the top as TTU head coach Kliff Kingsbury played for KU head coach Charlie Weis in the NFL with the New England Patriots. Between the lines, both teams boast Texas-heavy rosters and have turned to the junior college ranks for talent, where most of the connections come from. Dexter McDonald (CB) played at Butler (Kan.) Community College with current Red Raiders Jacob Hurla (WR) and Dennell Wesley (DL). Jayhawks Marcus Jenkins-Moore (BUCK) and Brandon Holloman (DB) both played with TTU’s Martin Hill (DB) and Austin Stewart (DB) at Pierce (Calif.) College in Los Angeles. TTU’s Demetrius Alston (DL) played at Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, as did KU’s Michael Mesh (K) and Beau Bell (LB). The only high school connection is KU’s redshirt-freshman Greg Allen and TTU junior offensive lineman James Polk, who played together at Alief Elsik High School in Houston. Hurla hails from the Sunflower state and graduated from Seaman High School in Topeka, Kan. Kansas has 25 players on its roster from Texas.
Scouting the Texas Tech Offense
Despite starting a walk-on, freshman quarterback (Baker Mayfield), the TTU’s offense ranks fourth in the nation and sits at No. 3 in the national rankings for passing yards with 408.5 yards per game. It’s perhaps no surprise that the offense has been the star of the show after Texas Tech introduced new head coach Kliff Kingsbury, who spent the last year as the OC for Texas A&M. In 2012, Kingsbury guided then-freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel to a Heisman Trophy. His current pupil, Mayfield, is ranked No. 15 in in the nation and No. 1 in the Big 12 for passing yards, averaging 280 yards a game. He leads the Big 12 as well in passing touch downs (8) and completions per game (24.75). Tight end Jace Amaro has stepped into the national spotlight and become the target of choice, averaging nearly 92 yards per game and is ranked No. 29 in the nation for yards receiving. Amaro is also No. 16 in the nation for receptions per game and No. 1 in the Big 12 with 7.3 catches, only one of few tight ends in a sea of wide receivers.
Scouting the Texas Tech Defense
The Kansas offense will have its hands full with Texas Tech’s front seven led by Kerry Hyder and Will Smith. Hyder is ranked No. 4 for tackles-for-loss in the Big 12, averaging 1.25 a game and has taken back 19 yards for the defense with those stops. An early standout for preseason accolades, Hyder is on the Lombardi Award, Outland Trophy and Bronko Nagurski watch lists along with being tabbed as No. 20 in preseason College Football News’ Big 12 Top Players. Smith shines on the Red Raider defense with a team-best 26 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss. The senior also recorded a career-high nine tackles in the Red Raiders’ season opener against TCU and scored on a fumble-recovery against Texas State in TTU’s last contest. Terrence Bullitt leads the secondary with six pass break ups, but the Red Raiders aren’t afraid to blitz with the senior as he also has 2.0 tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry. Texas Tech has been particularly stingy on third downs, holding opponents to a 30 percent conversion rate. The defense also stiffens up in the red zone, limiting opponents to a 56 percent success rate overall and has allowed just two touchdowns in nine opponent trips.
Texas Tech Head Coach Kliff Kingsbury
Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech’s second all-time leading passer, is off to a hot start at his alma mater with a perfect 4-0 record as the Red Raiders’ leader heading into Saturday’s game against Kansas. At age 33, Kingsbury is the youngest head coach in a BCS conference and the second youngest in the FBS behind Toledo’s Matt Campbell. Kingsbury spent a season as the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M, guiding the offense that saw then-freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel win the Heisman Trophy. Under his leadership, the Aggie offense finished third nationally in total offense by averaging 552.3 yards per game. The Aggies ranked 14th nationally in passing offense and 13th nationally in rushing offense. For the second consecutive year Kingsbury was named the national offensive coordinator of the year. Kingsbury made the move to Texas A&M from the University of Houston where he played a key role in the Cougars’ record-setting 13-win season in 2011. Kingsbury had served on the Houston staff in some capacity since 2008, following an eight-year professional football career. A sixth-round draft pick in 2003 by the New England Patriots, Kingsbury played for five NFL teams and also saw action in the Canadian Football League and the All-American Football League.
Top Performers – Offense: Tony Pierson, Jr., H/F, 5-10, 180, East St. Louis, Ill.
Pierson hauled in a career-best nine receptions for 82 yards in Kansas’ 13-10 win over Louisiana Tech. Pierson had a critical reception on KU’s final drive that help set up Matthew Wyman’s game-winning field goal. He also had five carries for 27 yards in the game.
Top Performers – Defense: Ben Heeney, Jr., LB, 6-0, 230, Hutchinson, Kan.
Heeney was again outstanding in leading the Jayhawk defense as he collected 10 tackles, one interception, one pass breakup and 0.5 TFLs for a loss of one yard. The interception was the first of Heeney’s career. Heeney’s 10 tackles marked his second-straight double-figure tackling game and seventh of his career.
Top Performers – Special Teams: Trevor Pardula, Jr., K/P, 6-5, 212, San Jose, Calif.
Pardula set a new Kansas record for punting average in a game after averaging 57.6 yards on five punts. Additionally, three of his five punts were downed inside the 20. Pardula broke his previous career-long punt twice against LA Tech. Pardula leads the Big 12 and ranks first nationally in punting average at 49.7 yards per punt.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
Kansas junior cornerback Dexter McDonald has made breaking up look easy – passes anyway. Through three games the Kansas City, Mo., native has seven break-ups and coupled with his first career interception at Rice, McDonald leads the Big 12 Conference and is the national leader in passes defended with 2.7 per game. McDonald has been a key component to the Jayhawks’ pass defense, which ranks in the top-20 nationally in passing yards allowed per game (178.0) and 11th in team passing efficiency defense (93.08). With McDonald’s help, the Kansas defense is giving up 111.2 yards per game less than it did a season ago.
|1.||Dexter McDonald (KU)||3||7||1||8||2.7|
|2.||Tim Bennett (Indiana)||4||10||0||10||2.5|
|3.||D’Joun Smith (FAU)||5||9||3||12||2.4|
|4.||Stanley Jean-Baptiste (NU)||4||5||4||9||2.3|
|5.||Bradley Roby (Ohio State)||4||6||2||8||2.0|
|Devin Bass (Ohio)||3||5||1||6||2.0|
Extending the Field
Kansas punter and kickoff specialist Trevor Pardula turned heads against Louisiana Tech with a 78-yard punt and added another kick of more than 60 yards in the game, but he’s meant a lot more than a couple big bursts. Jayhawk opponents, on average, are starting at the 23.5 yard line on kickoffs and the 25.7 yard line on punts – 6.1 and 4.2 yards further, respectively, from their target end zone than they did a season ago. The numbers may seem small in comparison to Pardula’s long drives, but multiplied by 12 kickoffs and 16 punts, Kansas opponents have faced 140.4 additional yards through three games thanks to his consistent kicks and good coverage by the special teams.
|Opp. Starting Field Pos. (2012)||Opp. Starting Field Pos. (2013)||Net|
|Kickoffs (No./Yd. Line): 47 / 29.6||Kickoffs (No./Yd. Line): 12 / 23.5||-6.1|
|Punts (No./Yd. Line): 62 / 29.9||Punts (No./Yd. Line): 16 / 25.7||-4.2|
He’s Going to Need A Bigger Trophy Case
Kansas kicker/punter Trevor Pardula was rewarded for his game-changing performance in the Jayhawks’ win over Louisiana Tech as he was named the Ray Guy Award Player of the Week, College Football Performance Awards Punter of the Week and the Special Teams Player of the Week by the Big 12 Conference. Pardula, a native of San Jose, Calif., came up huge for the Jayhawks in their win over Louisiana Tech. He set a Kansas record for punting average in a game after averaging 57.6 yards on five punts in the game. He recorded a career-long 78-yard punt in the third quarter, which tied for eighth-longest in school history and was the longest Jayhawk boot since Rich Reith hit a 78-yarder on Oct. 18, 1986. His 78-yarder is tied for the fourth longest in the NCAA this season. Though he has only played in three games in his Kansas career thus far, Pardula’s presence has made an immediate impact for the Jayhawks. He has a total of seven punts of more than 50 yards, one short of last year’s season total of eight and on kickoffs Pardula has seven total touchbacks through three games, the entire season total for the Jayhawks from a year ago.
Long Range Field Goal Nets Wyman Groza Award Weekly Honor
Kansas redshirt freshman kicker Matthew Wyman was named one of three Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award “Stars of the Week” after booting the Jayhawks to a 13-10 win over Louisiana Tech. The Jayhawks never led in the game against the Bulldogs until the only time that matters, as Wyman’s 52-yard field goal attempt sailed through the uprights as time expired for the walk-off win. The Bloomfield Hills, Mich., native also connected from 39 yards and converted the point after try on the team’s only touchdown. The 52-yarder was the longest by a Jayhawk since 2009 and marked the first time Kansas has won on the final play of the game since 2005. Wyman’s game-winning field goal is tied for the seventh-longest make in the NCAA this season. He’s one of 18 NCAA Division I athletes to hit from 50+ yards this season. All three of Wyman’s made field goals this season have been longer than KU’s longest field goal during the last two seasons (37).
Heaps Just Warming Up?
Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps seemed to be hitting his stride in week three against Louisiana Tech, doubling several statistical category totals from the first two games during one, four-quarter span. Heaps completed a career-high 28 passes against the Bulldogs, five more than he had completed in the first two games combined. He also threw for 279 yards – the third-highest total in his career – which surpassed his total of 267 through two weeks. Kansas saw just one game of more than 200 yards from a quarterback during the 2012 season, a mark Heaps has matched in his third start for the Jayhawks.
Piling up the Sacks
Kansas has three sacks in all three games this season and reaching back to the final game of 2012, the team has logged three sacks in four straight. That number ties the team’s single-game high from the last two seasons. The last time Kansas logged three or more sacks in three consecutive games was 2009, during a season-opening stretch against Northern Colorado (3 sacks), UTEP (6 sacks) and Duke (5 sacks). This year’s Jayhawks have nine total sacks, two away from matching last season’s total (11).
Weakest Link Now the Strongest?
The Jayhawks’ secondary was torched for a program-worst 289.2 passing yards per game last year but has been a much improved unit through three games. Kansas ranks among the nation’s top-20 pass defenses at 178.0 yards per game and is 11th in team passing efficiency defense. Kansas has allowed 220 yards per game or more in each of the last nine seasons but appears on track for a major turnaround, allowing 111.2 yards less per game in 2013. Kansas’ largest, single-season improvement in pass defense was 85.4 yards from 1973 to 1974. KU limited South Dakota to 67 yards through the air in the season-opener, the best passing defensive effort since allowing just 66 yards passing to K-State on Nov. 7, 2009. Kansas has logged four interceptions, including one from the defensive line, one from the linebackers group and two from the secondary.
Fear the Beard
Kansas junior LB Ben Heeney leads the Big 12 with 10.7 tackles per game and is among the top tacklers in the country. Against Louisiana Tech, Heeney proved he was more than just a tackling machine by logging his first career interception, and he’s batted down three passes this season. Heeney, KU’s top returning tackler and a 2013 Rotary Lombardi Award watch list member, burst onto the scene in 2012 with 112 tackles in his first season as a starter for the Jayhawks. His tally included 66 solo stops and he led KU with 12.0 tackles-for-loss with one sack. Heeney earned second team All-Big 12 honors following the 2012 season from the conference coaches, the Associated Press and Phil Steele Magazine. He was listed as a preseason first team All-Big 12 member entering the 2013 season by Athlon, Lindy’s and The Sporting News. Additionally, Heeney was named to the College Football Performance Awards watch list for the top linebacker in the NCAA.
Sims Dominates In Big 12 Play
If last season was any indication of what Big 12 play will hold for Kansas HB James Sims, things are about to get even more interesting for the talented tailback as the Jayhawks open conference play against Texas Tech this weekend. Sims dominated Big 12 defenses on the ground last season and led all Big 12 players in conference-only games with 115.2 yards per contest. He carried the ball 200 times for 922 yards and seven touchdowns. Listed below is Sims’ game-by-game production vs. Big 12 opponents:
|Sims Game-by-Game Rushing vs. Big 12 in 2012|
|at Kansas State||115||1|
|at Texas Tech||127||2|
|at West Virginia||57||1|
Junior quarterback Jake Heaps, junior linebacker Ben Heeney, senior running back James Sims and junior defensive lineman Keon Stowers were selected by their peers as the 2013 team captains, while nine other players were appointed as members of the team leadership council. Kansas conducted a players vote on August 18 during fall camp and head coach Charlie Weis announced the results at his weekly press conference on August 19. Members of the newly created leadership council include Jimmay Mundine, Christian Matthews, Tony Pierson, Pat Lewandowski, Keba Agostinho, Cassius Sendish, Dexter Linton, Darius Willis and Blake Jablonski.
Sims Continues Climb up Several KU Charts
KU senior HB James Sims had an outstanding 2012 season as he ranked first in the Big 12 and 17th in the NCAA in rushing yards per game. Sims also ranked third in the Big 12 and 33rd in the NCAA in all-purpose yards. Sims rushed for 100 yards or more in six games last season. After missing the first three games of the 2012 campaign, Sims eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in six-of-seven outings vs. Big 12 foes. In 2012, Sims recorded a career long rush of 64 yards (vs. Texas), a career-long reception of 51 yards (vs. Oklahoma) and a career-long TD run of 59 yards (vs. Baylor). Additionally, he logged his career-best rushing game with 176 yards vs. Texas. Against Rice, Sims notched his 12th career 100-yard rushing effort to tie Jon Cornish on KU’s career 100-yard games list. With two touchdowns this season, Sims also moved into second on the KU career rushing touchdowns list. Here’s a look at where he ranks on the career charts:
|Sims and the KU Record Book|
|Career Rushing Yards||Att.||Yards||Avg.||TDs|
|1.||June Henley (1993-96)||823||3,841||4.7||41|
|2.||Tony Sands (1988-91)||778||3,788||4.9||28|
|3.||Laverne Smith (1973-76)||472||3,074||6.5||21|
|4.||James Sims (2010-pres.)||623||2,763||4.4||29|
|5.||Clark Green (2002-05)||641||2,754||4.3||13|
|6.||Gale Sayers (1962-64)||412||2,675||6.5||19|
|7.||John Riggins (1968-70)||518||2,659||5.1||19|
|Career Rushing Touchdowns||TDs|
|1.||June Henley (1993-96)||41|
|2.||James Sims (2010-pres.)||29|
|3.||Tony Sands (1988-91)||28|
|1.||Tony Sands (1988-91)||17|
|2.||June Henley (1993-96)||13|
|Laverne Smith (1973-76)||13|
|4.||Jon Cornish (2003-06)||12|
|James Sims (2010-pres.)||12|
|6.||Gale Sayers (1962-64)||11|