Jayhawks Continue Big 12 Play on the Road at No. 11 Oklahoma State
Kansas will face its fourth top-25 ranked opponent in the last six games when the Jayhawks travel to Oklahoma State for a Big 12 Conference match-up with the No. 11 Cowboys on Saturday. The 3:05 p.m., contest at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1.
The Jayhawks, who have lost six straight, are looking to return to the win column but will face another tall task against a team averaging more than 40 points per game and nearly 450 yards per game. Kansas played top-25-fringe-dweller Texas tough on the road last week, but a 14-point surge late in the third quarter that included a defensive touchdown put the game out of reach.
Oklahoma State has put up more than 50 points in each of its last two games, includiing a, 52-34, win last week against then-No. 15 Texas Tech, and has won four straight Big 12 games after stubbing its toe at West Virginia to open conference play. Oklahoma State is 7-1 overall and ranked 14th in the BCS rankings.
Oklahoma State has won three straight against Kansas, and eight of the last nine in the series that sits at 32-29-2 in favor of the Pokes. Kansas doesn’t have to reach too far back for memories of success in Stillwater, however, having won 43-28 at Boone Pickens Stadium in 2007.
This Day In Kansas Football History November 9 has historically been a tough day for the Jayhawks as KU has gone 3-14 on the date, including a 32-0 win over Doane in 1895 – the program’s first game on the ninth. Most recently, Kansas dropped a 45-7 decision to Nebraska in 2002, Mark Mangino’s first year as head coach. Nov. 9 has been memorable for some positive reasons, however, as Gale Sayers ran for a NCAA record 99-yard touchdown against Nebraska in 1963. Sayers finished that game with 144 yards rushing. Laverne Smith (182 vs. Colorado, 1974) and Isaac Byrd (178 vs. Kansas State, 1996) each posted 100-yard receiving efforts on Nov. 9. On this date, Kansas also saw one of its top tackling performances ever as Emery Hick tallied 21 total tackles against Oklahoma in 1968, the ninth-best, single-game effort by a Jayhawk.
Kansas-Oklahoma State Connections Kansas has two players on its roster from Oklahoma, sophomore LB Jake Love (Tonkawa) and senior OL Gavin Howard (Owasso). Oklahoma State has three players from Kansas on its roster – freshman CB Jerel Morrow (Emporia), redshirt freshman RB Raymond Taylor (Wichita) and sophomore DE Trace Clark (Wichita). Howard was a high school teammate of Oklahoma State OL Brandon Webb and WR John Goodlett at Owasso HS. Oklahoma State senior DB Tyler Patmon has played in all eight games this season, including two starts, after playing in all 12 games for Kansas last year. Patmon played in 35 contests at KU with six career interceptions. Kansas defensive line coach Buddy Wyatt coached at Oklahoma State during the 1996 season and was on the defensive staff at Texas A&M with OSU cornerbacks coach Van Malone.
He’s Adjusting Just Fine Isaiah Johnson started his collegiate career as a wide receiver at Western Carolina and caught one pass against Georgia Tech before suffering a season-ending injury. The sophomore is still catching passes from quarterbacks, except now the KU safety is wearing the opposite uniform. Johnson earned honorable mention honors from the College Football Performance Awards after intercepting two passes at Texas on Saturday and leads the Jayhawks with four interceptions this year. That total is the most for a Jayhawk in a single season since Darrell Stuckey – now a member of the San Diego Chargers – picked off five passes in 2008. Johnson, a Cary, N.C., native, leads the Jayhawks with 58 tackles, including 3.0 tackles for loss. His 0.5 interceptions leads the Big 12 Conference and is 10th nationally. Johnson, who played both ways in high school, switched to defense for spring ball at WCU in 2012 before logging eight interceptions as a redshirt freshman at Iowa Western Community College last year.
First Time Charmers The Jayhawks rank 30th nationally and third in the Big 12 Conference with 10 interceptions, reaching double-digits for the second-consecutive season after a high of eight in the previous three seasons. Not bad for a bunch of kids who had never intercepted a pass before. All five players responsible for the aerial takeaways intercepted their first pass in a KU uniform. In all, Kansas has generated 18 turnovers this season, which ranks 21st in the nation and fourth in the Big 12.
Coleman Emerges as Deep Threat The Jayhawks were in desperate need of a wide receiver who could stretch the field and junior WR Rodriguez Coleman has stepped up to the challenge in the last two weeks. The junior college transfer has four of the Jayhawks’ top-10 offensive big plays this season, all in the last two games. Coleman logged a career-best 45-yard reception and his first career touchdown on a 30-yard strike from junior QB Jake Heaps against Baylor, then followed that performance up with catches of 43 and 42 yards against Texas. In all, his last four receptions have netted 160 yards, an average of 40.0 yards per catch.
A Heaps of Yards Like any well-versed quarterback, Kansas junior Jake Heaps will tell you he’d rather have wins than yards, but the BYU transfer is nearing a neat milestone for his career. Heaps needs 84 yards to reach 5,000 for his career, which includes two seasons with the Cougars and eight games as the signal caller for the Jayhawks. For perspective purposes, only four quarterbacks in Kansas history have thrown for more than 5,000 yards in their careers: Todd Reesing (11,194), Frank Seurer (6,410), Kelly Donohoe (5,382) and David Jaynes (5,132). In his career, Heaps has completed 466-of-840 passes for 4,916 yards, including 1,148 at Kansas, and has thrown for 31 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
Who’s House? Ron’s House There are a lot of kickers on Kansas’ stage but senior P/K Ron Doherty headed the bill against Texas when he busted the most field goals in the Lone Star state. The Klein, Texas native (born three years after Run DMC’s hit single) converted both of his field goal attempts, from 21 and 27 yards. The makes marked his first field goal since last year’s game at Northern Illinois (9/22/12). Doherty had previously lost starting duties to redshirt freshman Matthew Wyman, who has missed three straight. Doherty has converted 10-of-16 field goals in his career with a career-long of 37.
Legatron Still Kicking KU has been able to consistently flip the field with special teams this season and did so again in a big way against Texas with a 68-yard boot from junior P/K Trevor Pardula. It was the junior college transfer’s third punt over 65 yards this season- and career-long 78 yarder against Louisiana Tech. Pardula leads the Big 12 in punting with 45.3 yards per kick, a number that ranks sixth nationally. Pardula has been called upon to drive the ball a long way this season and has responded with 19 punts of 50 yards or more, but he can also pin an opponent deep if necessary. Pardula has 16 punts inside the 20, with seven of those kicks landing inside the 10.
It’s Not You, It’s Me Kansas junior DB JaCorey Shepherd has made breaking up look easy – passes anyway. Through eight games the former wide receiver has nine break-ups and the first two interceptions of his career. Shepherd is second in the Big 12 and 13th nationally with 1.4 passes defended per game. Fellow junior DB Dexter McDonald is tied for fourth in the conference with 1.12 passes defended per game.
Sacked! Junior BUCK Michael Reynolds sacked Case McCoy Saturday for the Jayhawks’ 15th sack of the year, three more than last season’s total (12) and the most since the 2009 team had 30 sacks. The Kansas defense is on pace to finish well above its previous three-year average of 12.0 sacks (2010-12), and could be close to matching the three-year average of 28.33 (2007-09) from the prior three years. Reynolds leads Kansas with 4.5 sacks and ranks sixth in the Big 12 Conference with 0.6 sacks per game. In all, 10 different Jayhawks have brought down the quarterback this year.
Tackling Bingo for Simmons Junior NB Victor Simmons has been all over the field and the stat sheet for Kansas in his first year as a starter, but he’s not letting his new status affect his auxiliary duties. If there was a version of football tackling bingo, Simmons’ board would be full. Including the free space, Simmons has recorded solo (35) and assisted tackles (18), tackles against the run (29), tackles against the pass (15), tackles for loss (6.5), sacks (1.5), tackles on kickoff coverage (1) and tackles on punt coverage (4). Simmons is second among Jayhawks with 53 tackles on the season and is tied for 17th in the Big 12 Conference with 6.6 tackles per game.
Special Tacklers Sophomore LB Jake Love leads the Jayhawks with six tackles on punt coverage and is Kansas’ top special teams tackler. Junior NB Victor Simmons is second with five total special teams tackles – one on kickoff and four on punt coverage – followed by junior WR Justin McCay (four – three kickoff, two punt), senior WR Josh Ford (four, all on punt) and redshirt freshman LB Courtney Arnick (four – one kickoff, three punt).
Little Margin for Error Kansas is +5 in turnover margin for the season, having turned the ball over 13 times and forced 18 turnovers through eight games. KU ranks 30th in the nation and fourth in the Big 12 in turnover margin per game (0.6). The Jayhawks have finished even or better in seven games and, outside of the loss to Baylor, have played relatively close in those contests, losing by nine points to Rice (E, 2/2), 10 to TCU (+3, 2/5), 15 to Oklahoma (+2, 0/2) and 22 to Texas (+1, 1/2). Texas Tech showed how ugly things can get when the margin is not in KU’s favor, turning the Jayhawks over four times while surrendering the ball just once in a 38-point rout.
Heeney Brings the Hammer Kansas junior LB Ben Heeney returned to the lineup against Texas after missing the last two games with a knee injury and tied for the game-high with nine tackles. Heeney remains among the Big 12’s leader in tackles per game and ranks third with 8.7 per contest. That mark puts him just outside the top-50 in the nation. The 2013 Lombardi Award watch list member is still third among Jayhawks with 52 total tackles and is tied for second on the team with 33 solo tackles. The Hutchinson, Kan., native, has also secured his first two career interceptions and is tied for the second on the team. Heeney 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.
Many Happy Returns 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 13th in the nation with 13.9 yards per punt return. Embree’s 153 punt return yards through eight 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. Sophomore RB Darrian Miller is second in the Big 12 with 24.3 yards per return and is followed closely in third by junior CB JaCorey Shepherd, who ranks third in the Big 12 with 23.5 yards per kick return.
Sims Continues Climb up Several KU Charts Senior RB James Sims became the fourth player in KU history to rush for 3,000 yards with his 129-yard effort against Oklahoma and moved into third place on the Jayhawks’ all-time rushing chart last week against Texas. The 100+ performance against the Sooners was the 13th of his career, moving Sims past Jon Cornish (12) into a tie with June Henley and Laverne Smith for second on the KU career charts. Sims is tied for sixth in the NCAA among active rushers for career 100-yard games.
Team Captains Junior QB Jake Heaps, junior LB Ben Heeney, senior HB James Sims and junior DL 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. 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.
- It hasn’t been a quarter of a century in terms of time, but it has been a quarter of a century in games since the Jayhawks won a Big 12 Conference contest. Kansas’ conference losing streak hit 26 games with the loss to Texas last week – a streak the second-year Kansas players and staff would love to end before the end of the 2013 season. KU’s last conference win was Nov. 6, 2010 vs. Colorado (52-45).
- QB Jake Heaps threw a touchdown in each of the first seven games this season, the longest streak by a KU quarterback since Todd Reesing ended a three-year, 24-game TD streak in week seven of the 2009 season.
- Kansas recorded an interception in each of the first six games of the season, including two against Rice and TCU, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since the Jayhawks logged an interception in six consecutive games near the end of the 2002 season. Including an interception in last season’s finale, the Jayhawks had interceptions in seven consecutive games, the team’s longest streak since picking off a pass in eight straight games during the 1995 season.
- WR Josh Ford blocked his second punt of the season against Oklahoma (10/19) after also blocking a kick in the season opener against South Dakota. Ford’s two blocks are the most by a Jayhawk since Ronnie Amadi blocked two punts during the 2005 campaign. Ford has made a significant impact on special teams with three career blocked kicks in 20 games.
- TE Jimmay Mundine caught a touchdown pass in four straight games – LA Tech, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma – the longest streak for a Jayhawk since Kerry Meier’s four-game streak in 2009.
- CB JaCorey Shepherd earned honorable mention by the College Football Performance Awards (10/14) after he herded in his first career interception when he picked off TCU’s Trevone Boykin and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown. Shepherd followed that up with a forced fumble on the very next TCU offensive play.
- Texas Tech scored 38 of its 54 total points on drives that started at the 50 or inside KU territory, including four drives of 16 yards or less.
- 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).
- QB Jake Heaps completed a career-high 28 passes against Louisiana Tech (9/21), 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 includes two seasons at BYU.
- K Matthew Wyman booted a walk-off, 52-yarder to lift Kansas over Louisiana Tech (9/21). The field goal 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. For his efforts, Wyman was named one of three Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award “Stars of the Week”.
- P/K Trevor Pardula set a new Kansas record for punting average in a game after averaging 57.6 yards on five punts agaisnt Louisiana Tech. Additionally, three of his five punts were downed inside the 20. Pardula broke his previous career-long punt twice against LA Tech, including a 78-yard kick.
- K Matthew Wyman nailed a 45-yard field goal in the season opener – the longest by a Jayhawk kicker since Jacob Branstetter’s 46-yard make at Kansas State on Nov. 7, 2009.
- Kansas went without a TD catch from a wide receiver throughout the 2012 season, but QB Jake Heaps and WR Justin McCay ended that streak in the 2013 season-opener against South Dakota with a five-yard connection in the second quarter.
- QB 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).
- QB Jake Heaps had good reason to be raring to go as his first start at Kansas on Saturday, Sept. 7, 2013, came 658 days after his last collegiate start on November 19, 2011 as BYU’s starting quarterback. A lot can happen in 94 weeks, including birthing an elephant, which at roughly 645 days counts as the longest gestational period for any mammal.
- Kansas entered the 2013 campaign looking to replace three veteran offensive linemen who combined to start 109 games along the offensive front. In comparison, Kansas’ sum total of starts for every offensive lineman on the 2013 roster was 25, or 27 if counting Pat Lewandowski’s two starts at defensive tackle.
- RB James Sims became the 11th player in program history to surpass the 1,000 yard mark in a season during the 2012 campaign, needing just eight games to get there. The 1,000-yard plateau has been reached a total of 13 times, including two 1,000+ efforts by Tony Sands (1989, ’91) and June Henley (1993, ’96). This year, Sims will look to join that exclusive two-man club and become the first Jayhawk to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. Sims’ total rushing yardage last season (1,013) was the 13th-best, single-season effort and his 112.6 yards per game ranked as the fifth-best per game mark in KU history.
The Kansas Jayhawks will again feature one of the most talented scout team offenses in the country with quarterback transfer T.J. Millweard (UCLA) and wide receiver transfer Nick Harwell (Miami (Ohio)) sitting out due to NCAA transfer residency requirements. KU starters Jake Heaps and Justin McCay built repoire and tortured the first team defense while running the scout team last season. Millweard was slated to be the back-up in Westwood after redshirting as a freshman in 2012. The former top-100 Texas recruit from Colleyville, Texas, will be a redshirt sophomore in 2014 and have three seasons of eligibility remaining. Harwell, a 2011 Biletnikoff Award Watch List member and All-MAC First Team selection, brings an impressive resume to Kansas with 229 career receptions, 3,166 yards and 23 receiving touchdowns over three seasons with the Redhawks. The Missouri City, Texas native will have one year of eligibility remaining for next season.
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