Jayhawks Continue Big 12 Slate at TCU Saturday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Jayhawks travel to Fort Worth for the first time since 1996 in a meeting between a pair of teams hungry for their first Big 12 win of the season. Kansas dropped its conference opener to Texas Tech a week ago and TCU has lost two league contests entering the 11 a.m., meeting at Amon G. Carter Stadium, a game to be televised regionally on FSN.
The match-up will serve as the Horned Frogs’ Homecoming and the Jayhawks would very much like to play the role of the rude guest, just like the Red Raiders did in Lawrence last Saturday. To do so, Kansas will have to do what only five teams have been able to do in the last 35 trips to Fort Worth as the Horned Frogs have an impressive 60-11 mark at home under head coach Gary Patterson.
TCU used a stifling defensive effort and a 10-0 run in the second half of last year’s game in Lawrence to win the first meeting between the two schools as Big 12 Conference mates, 20-6. That snapped a three-game KU winning streak which saw the Jayhawks win three out of four against the Horned Frogs in the 1990s.
TCU was picked to finish fifth in the league race this season and dropped its conference opener on the road to upstart-Texas Tech (Sept. 12) before losing a close game on the road last weekend at then-No. 11 Oklahoma, 20-17. All three of the Horned Frogs’ losses have come to teams currently ranked in the Associated Press’ Top-20.
This Day In Kansas Football History
Kansas is 8-7 all-time in games played on Oct. 12, with the first game dating back to a 1907 contest against St. Mary’s at home, which KU won 14-2. Most recently, Kansas dropped a 53-29 decision against Colorado on Homecoming during the 2002 season, Mark Mangino’s first year as head coach.
Kansas and TCU share a number of player and coach connections. On the coaching front, TCU linebackers coach DeMontie Cross spent one year on KU’s staff under Charlie Weis, spending last year in the the same role for the Jayhawks. In a changing of allegiances the other way, Kansas defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt was a four-year letterman (1986-89) for the Horned Frogs.
Kansas senior LB Prinz Kande and TCU junior wide out Brandon Carter both hail from Euless, Texas, and went to Trinity High School. KU senior Christian Matthews is one of three Jayhawks from Arlington, Texas, and shares the same high school (James Bowie HS) as a pair of TCU young pups, Kolby Listenbee and Steve Wesley. Kansas redshirt freshman defensive back Greg Allen graduated from Houston’s Alief Taylor High School, as did TCU freshman tailback Trevorris Johnson. Kansas senior RB James Sims hails from nearby Irving, Texas.
Additional Kansas connections include the Horned Frogs’ leader, TCU head coach Gary Patterson, who was born in Larned, Kan., and is a native of Rozel, Kan. He is a 1983 graduate of K-State, where he played for two seasons. Two Horned Frogs hail from the Sunflower State, offensive guard Brady Foltz (Rose Hill)?and quarterback Tyler Matthews (McPherson). Conversely, Kansas has 25 players on its roster from Texas.
Scouting the TCU Offense
To say that TCU’s 2-3 overall record is deceptive would be an extreme understatement as the Horned Frogs have dropped three games to teams currently ranked in the Associated Press’ Top 20. If the Horned Frogs have struggled in any area, it’s been on offense where the team ranks last on the Big 12 passing charts at 193.2 yards per game and second to last in rushing offense at 128.2 yards per game. All said, TCU compares fairly evenly to the Jayhawks on paper with KU outgaining the Horned Frogs, 331.8 to 321.4 yards per game overall. Part of the woes on offense can be attributed to losing expected QB starter Casey Pachall (broken arm) in the season-opener against LSU. In his place, Trevone Boykin has thrown for 158.2 yards per game, completing better than 60 percent of his passes but has just four touchdown tosses through five games. Boykin is a threat to leave the pocket, carrying 59 times for 176 yards, the third-highest total among Horned Frogs. Brandon Carter and Cam White have been the top targets with 13 catches each and Carter leading the way with 156 total receiving yards. Carter is also a threat on special teams with 11.7 yards per return on nine punts. BJ Catalon is TCU’s top rushing threat with a team-best 222 yards and four TDs and has also stood out on special teams with a 28.7 yard per return average on kickoffs, including a 100-yard TD return.
Scouting the TCU Defense
TCU’s strength, as it is annually, is limiting opposing offenses. The Horned Frogs have allowed just 22.2 points per game, again against three top-20 teams, and rank fourth in the Big 12 Conference in total defense (354.0). One of the defense’s keys early on has been getting to the quarterback with a league best 18 sacks. That pressure has helped the Horned Frogs to a tie for the conference lead in interceptions (9) and total turnover margin (+7). Sam Carter and Chris Hackett have each picked off three passes. Carter, a junior safety, is a Thorpe Award watchlist member and was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week after forcing a fumble and intercepting two passes against SMU, one he returned 66 yards for a touchdown. Hackett, a sophomore safety, hasn’t missed a beat after a stellar freshman season, providing two sacks in addition to his interceptions and leads TCU with 35 total tackles. In all, five TCU players have logged two or more sacks, led by Terrell Lathan (3.0) and Jon Lewis (3.0). It’s scary to think that reigning Big 12 Freshman Defensive Player of the Year Devonte Fields, who had 10.0 sacks a season ago, is not among those players. The sophomore defensive end has been limited due to both suspension and a foot injury.
TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson
Patterson, who helped TCU usher in its Big 12 era in 2012, became the Horned Frogs’ all-time winningest coach with a 56-0 win over Grambling State in the season opener. One of just seven active coaches with at least 100 victories at their current school, Patterson has produced at least 10 wins in eight of the last 10 years, including seven seasons of 11 or more victories. He has led the Horned Frogs to seven conference titles and 14 bowl games in 15 years. Prior to his arrival in Fort Worth, Patterson spent two seasons as the defensive coordinator and safeties coach at New Mexico and previously spent one season as Navy’s secondary coach. Patterson’s defensive acumen dates back to his own playing days at Kansas State, where he played strong safety and outside linebacker for the Wildcats in 1980 and 1981. He served as a graduate assistant in 1982 and received his bachelor’s degree in physical education in 1983. He took the linebacker coaching position at Tennessee Tech while earning a master’s degree in educational administration in 1984. Patterson has been part of 17 bowl staffs, including one each with Kansas State, Utah State and New Mexico. The other 14 have come at TCU. Aside from being an accomplished Division I head coach, Patterson is also a skilled guitar player. On several occasions, Patterson has entertained TCU fans with his guitar skills at pep rallies around the Fort Worth area.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
Kansas junior cornerback Dexter McDonald has made breaking up look easy – passes anyway. Through four games the Kansas City, Mo., native has eight break-ups and coupled with his first career interception at Rice, McDonald leads the Big 12 Conference and is second in the nation in passes defended with 2.3 per game. Kansas junior corner JaCorey Shepherd batted away three passes against Texas Tech and is tied for third nationally with 2.0 passes defended per game. Both have keyed an improved KU pass defense, giving up 54.7 yards per game less than it did a season ago.
Passes Defended G PBU INT TPD Avg./GM
1. Tim Bennett, Indiana 5 14 0 14 2.8
2. Dexter McDonald, Kansas 4 8 1 9 2.3
3. D’Joun Smith, Florida Atlantic 6 9 3 12 2.0
Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Nebraska 5 6 4 10 2.0
Devin Bass, Ohio 4 7 1 8 2.0
JaCorey Shepherd, Kansas 4 8 0 8 2.0
Turnovers Shrink the Field
Stopping the high-powered offenses of the Big 12 is a hard enough task without giving the opponent a short field. In last week’s loss to Texas Tech, the Red Raiders scored 38 of their 54 total points on drives that started at the 50 or inside KU territory, including four drives of 16 yards or less. On the season, Kansas has allowed 19 scoring drives, eight of which have started at the 50 or inside Kansas territory and one more score on a interception return for a touchdown. Kansas’ special teams have provided a needed cushion for the defense on kickoffs and punts, but five fumbles have resulted in an average drive start at KU’s 37 and five interceptions have resulted in an average drive start near KU’s 35.
Special Teams Extend 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 24.0 yard line on kickoffs and the 28.1 yard line on punts – 5.6 and 1.8 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 16 kickoffs and 24 punts, Kansas opponents have faced 132.8 additional yards through three games thanks to his consistent kicks and good coverage by the special teams.
Kansas scored 10 points in the first quarter against Texas Tech, the Jayhawks’ first points in a game’s first 15 minutes this season. Kansas has tallied 64 of its 74 total points (86 percent) in the second quarter or later, with the even frames being the most productive. Kansas has scored a team-best 26 points in the fourth quarter and 24 points in the second quarter. As the season enters its second quarter (5th of 12 games), the Jayhawks are looking to become more productive, having scored their lowest point total through four games since scoring 63 to start the 1997 season.
Many Happy Returns
A lack of depth at the cornerback position has kept JaCorey Shepherd from getting many reps in the return game, but the former wideout turned defensive specialist made the best of his first opportunity Saturday with a career- and team-season-long 35-yard kick return. On the punt return team, Connor Embree continues to be one of the best in the Big 12. The former walk-on, who was awarded a scholarship in fall camp, is second in the Big 12 Conference and 11th in the nation with 15.9 yards per punt return. Embree’s 127 punt return yards through four games are more than KU’s combined total in each of the past three seasons and the most by a KU individual since Daymond Patterson logged 168 return yards in 2009.
It Takes a Village
Kansas’ passing totals are nearly identical in its two wins (194.5) and two losses (195.0) and reliable senior runningback James Sims has contributed a little more yards in wins (86.0) than losses (68.5). The Jayhawks’ biggest difference statistically in games won vs. games lost is the supporting cast in the rushing attack. In its two wins, Kansas has seen four different rushers average at least 37 yards, compared to just two over that total in losses. The spread out totals ammount to 198.5 rushing yards in games won and just 75.5 rushing yards in games lost.
Step Right Up Folks, See If You Can Out-Drive the Amazing (Football) Whacker Guy
Kansas junior punter Trevor Pardula leads the Big 12 Conference and is second in the nation in punting with 47.5 yards per punt. Miami (Ohio) punter Zach Murphy leads the nation at 47.7 yards per punt.
Taking a New Crew to the Stockyards
The task doesn’t seem any smaller than it was when he was just a kid (freshman) facing the No. 4-ranked team in the nation with the future starting quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals across the field, but Kansas junior quarterback Jake Heaps will get a second chance against TCU. Heaps completed 14-of-30 passes for 91 yards and threw two picks as BYU’s starter against the Horned Frogs in a 31-3 loss at Amon Carter Stadium Oct. 16, 2010. TCU QB Andy Dalton threw for 273 yards and four scores before eventually being selected in the second round of the NFL Draft by Cincinnati and earning Pro Bowl honors after a record-setting rookie season.
Big Kicks Net Big Awards for Pardula
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. The kick is tied for the fourth longest in the NCAA this season. Pardula’s leg has made an immediate impact for the Jayhawks. He has a total of eight punts of more than 50 yards, tying last year’s season total, and on kickoffs Pardula has 10 total touchbacks through four games, three more than 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 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 11th-longest make in the NCAA this season and is one of 22 field goals of 50+ yards in NCAA Division I this season. Three of Wyman’s four made field goals this season have been longer than KU’s longest field goal during the last two seasons (37).
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.
Piling up the Sacks
Kansas had three sacks in each of the first three games this season. That number tied 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 10 total sacks, one away from matching last season’s total (11).