Jayhawks and Mountaineers Set to Meet at Memorial Stadium
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas will welcome West Virginia to Memorial Stadium for the first time ever as both squads vie for the win in a Big 12 Conference showdown Saturday at 11 a.m. The game will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Net.
Kansas and West Virginia have met two times in history, both Mountaineer wins in Morgantown, but the Jayhawks will look to change their luck and snap a six-game losing streak in the process. Kansas enters the game 2-7 overall and is winless in six Big 12 contests, while West Virginia enters the game at 4-6 overall and 2-5 in Big 12 play. Five of the Mountaineers’ seven Big 12 games have been decided by 10 points or less, including losses to Oklahoma, Texas Tech and last week’s overtime loss to Texas.
This Day In Kansas Football History
The Kansas Jayhawks are 8-10 all-time in games played on Nov. 16. Two of the top-20 single-game, rushing performances in Kansas history have come on this day, with June Henley’s 209 yards against Texas in 1996 serving as the 15th-best and John Riggins’ 189 yards against K-State in 1968 the 19th-best marks. During the game against the Wildcats, Riggins had an 83-yard scamper, the fifth-longest run in school history and longest run not resulting in a touchdown. Five different KU tailbacks have rushed for more than 100 yards on Nov. 16. On special teams, Nov. 16 has seen its share of action with Rob Dickerson punting 12 times against Nebraska in 1985, second-most in a single game for Kansas, and Bob Swift punting 11 times against Oklahoma in 1974, tied for fourth-most in a single game. On Nov. 16 in 1957, Duane Morris picked off three passes against Oklahoma State, which tied for the program’s single-game interceptions record.
Kansas-West Virginia Connections
Kansas does not have any players from the state of West Virginia on its roster. Mountaineer RB Dreamius Smith hails from the state of Kansas, having played at Wichita Heights HS. Smith committed to Kansas before spending two seasons at Butler County Community College in El Dorado, where he was teammates with current Jayhawk CB Dexter McDonald.
Shepherd Holds His Own in Battle of Kick Return Heavyweights
Last weekend’s game at Oklahoma State featured two of the top kick returners in the Big 12 Conference and the fight card didn’t disappoint. Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert returned the opening kickoff 100 yard for a touchdown to retain the top spot in the kick return average category at 27.2 yards per game, but Kansas CB/KR JaCorey Shepherd is right on his heels in second with 26.8 yards per return. That number also puts Shepherd among the top-25 kick returners in the nation. Against the Cowboys, Shepherd recorded a career-long 69 yard kickoff return and posted KU’s fifth-best, single-game return total with 169 kick return yards. This season, Shepherd has returned 16 kicks for a total of 428 yards and his return average is the highest for a Jayhawk (meeting qualifying minimums) since Marcus Herford averaged a school-record 28.6 yards per kick return (minimum 25 returns) in 2007.
Heeney Making up for Lost Time
It didn’t take long for Heeney to return to form after missing two games with an injury, as the junior LB recorded 20 tackles in the last two games, including two tackles for loss against Oklahoma State last weekend. Heeney vaulted back to the top of the KU tackling leaderboard with 63 stops this season, including 9.0 for loss, and ranks 12th in the country with 6.0 solo tackles per game. Heeney’s 1.3 tackels for loss per game rank 25th in the country and his 9.0 total tackles per game are 35th best in the nation. 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.
Still our Guy
Junior P Trevor Pardula may not be a semi-finalist for the Ray Guy Award, given annually to the nation’s top punter, but the snubbing hasn’t kept the KU specialist from churning out long, meaningful kicks for the Jayhawks. Pardula earned honorable mention from the College Football Performance Awards after punting nine times for 418 yards against Oklahoma State last weekend. Pardula averaged 46.4 yards per punt and placed four punts inside the 20, including one punt that was stopped at the two. Pardula’s teammates nearly stopped another at the goalline but the gunner’s toe was on the end line. Pardula’s 45.4 yards per punt this season are fifth in the nation and lead the Big 12 (using NCAA stats minimums). Pardula leads the nation with 338.2 yards per game and has punted for a total of 3,044 yards…nearly 1.73 miles.
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 leads the Jayhawks with four interceptions, including a two-interception performance at Texas. 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, is second among Jayhawks with 61 tackles, having started every game at safety for KU. His 0.4 interceptions per game lead the Big 12 Conference and are 14th 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.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
Kansas junior DB JaCorey Shepherd has made breaking up look easy – passes anyway. Through nine games the former wide receiver has nine break-ups and the first two interceptions of his career. Shepherd is third in the Big 12 and 24th nationally with 1.2 passes defended per game. Fellow junior DB Dexter McDonald is tied for seventh in the conference with 1.0 passes defended per game.
Junior BUCK Michael Reynolds brought down OSU QB Clint Chelf in Saturday’s loss at Oklahoma State to bring his season total to 5.5 sacks. That number is the most for a Jayhawk since the 2009 season, when Jake Laptad (6.5), current defensive graduate assistant Max Onyegbule (6.0) and Jeff Wheeler (5.5) led the Jayhawks in sacks. KU’s 16 sacks as a team is four more than last season’s total (12) and the most since the 2009 team had 30 sacks. Reynolds is fifth in the Big 12 Conference with 0.6 sacks per game.
First Time Charmers
The Jayhawks rank 45th nationally and fifth 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.
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 stepped up to the challenge. The junior college transfer has three of the Jayhawks’ top-10 offensive big plays this season, all in the last three weeks despite missing the game at Oklahoma State due to injury. 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
Kansas junior QB Jake Heaps needs 28 yards to reach 5,000 for his career, which includes two seasons at BYU and nine games as the signal caller for the Jayhawks. For perspective purposes, only four quarterbacks in KU history have thrown for more than 5,000 yards: Todd Reesing (11,194), Frank Seurer (6,410), Kelly Donohoe (5,382) and David Jaynes (5,132). In his career, Heaps has completed 470-of-848 passes for 4,972 yards, including 1,204 at Kansas, and has thrown for 31 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.
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 (36) and assisted tackles (20), tackles against the run (31), tackles against the pass (15), tackles for loss (6.5), sacks (1.5), tackles on kickoff coverage (1) and tackles on punt coverage (5). Simmons is third among Jayhawks with 56 tackles on the season.
Sophomore LB Jake Love leads the Jayhawks with seven tackles on punt coverage and is Kansas’ top special teams tackler. Junior NB Victor Simmons is second with six total special teams tackles (Total/Kickoff/Punt, 6/1/5) followed by junior WR Justin McCay (5/3/2), senior WR Josh Ford (4/0/4) and redshirt freshman LB Courtney Arnick (4/1/3).
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 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 eighth in the NCAA among active rushers for career 100-yard games. In all four seasons at KU, Sims has rushed for at least 700 yards.
- 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 27 games with the loss to Oklahoma State 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.
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.