Kansas hosts Longhorns for Senior Day
Freshman safety Mike Lee leads the team with 5.4 solo stops per game, that ranks fourth in the Big 12 Conference.
Nov. 19, 2016
REMAINING HOME GAMES
Tickets Texas (Nov. 19)
Snapchat @ku_footballLAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas football team wraps up its home slate Saturday, November 19, when the Jayhawks play host to Texas at 2:30 p.m. for Senior Day on ABC/ESPN2.
Kansas (1-9, 0-7 Big 12) and Texas (5-5, 3-4 Big 12) have met just 15 times dating back to November 23, 1901, where the Jayhawks shutout the Longhorns, 12-0. Since then, UT has won 13-of-14 games including 13-straight since Big 12 play began in 1996.
Prior to kickoff, the Jayhawks will recognize their 25 seniors for their contributions on and off the field during their tenure at KU.
The heart and sole of the Kansas defense, senior safety Fish Smithson plans to end his career on a high note. The veteran picked off his third pass of the season against Iowa State (Nov. 12) to push his career total to five. To bolster his defensive effort, Smithson leads the team with 70 tackles, ha broken up six passes, forced two fumbles, tallied 1.5 tackles-for-loss, posted one sack and recovered a fumble. He is one of two players in the Big 12 Conference to have at least one TFL, one sack, one interception, one PBU, one fumble recovery and one force fumble. The other player is Texas Tech’s freshman defensive back Douglas Coleman (18 tackles, 1.0 TFL, 1.0 sack, 1 INT, 4 PBU, 1 FR and 1 FF).
PRIMED TO TAKE OVER
After starting the last six games beside senior Fish Smithson in the secondary, freshman safety Mike Lee put himself in a great position to take over that role after soaking up all the knowledge he can in the final two games of the season. Against Iowa State, Lee posted a career-high 12 tackles and is right on Smithson’s heels for the team lead. Since seeing significant playing time at Texas Tech (Sept. 29), Lee has averaged 7.4 stops in seven games and leads the team with 5.4 solo tackles per contest ranking him fourth in the league and 22nd in the nation. Lee is also the youngest DB in the FBS to average 5.4 solo stops per game or more. The only other freshman ranked ahead of the rookie is Texas State linebacker Bryan London (6.8 solo/game).
Continuing the Fish Smithson and Mike Lee trend, the duo has combined for 126 of the team’s 651 tackles, accounting for 19.4 percent of the Jayhawks’ production – they are ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the KU tackling chart. More impressive is that through 10 games this season, Lee has turned in almost identical numbers to Smithson, who leads the team with 7.0 stops per game. Not bad for a should-be-senior in high school.
SIMS HITS SEVEN
Sophomore wide receiver Steven Sims Jr., hauled in his seventh touchdown reception of the season against Iowa State (Nov. 12) in the first quarter. Those seven touchdowns are the most in a single season by a wide receiver since Kerry Meier (8) and Dezmon Briscoe (9) in 2009.
DEFENDING ITS AIRSPACE
With such an inexperienced squad in 2015, Kansas allowed its opponents to rack up 318.3 yards per game through the air while completing 68.6 percent (240-of-350) of their passes through 10 games. As a result, the Jayhawks ranked dead last in the Big 12 Conference and No. 126 out of 127 in the FBS while having only 20 pass breakups and six interceptions. Fast forward to 2016 and KU has drastically improved upon that effort ranking third in the league and 77th in the FBS allowing 237.3 passing yards per game – an 81-yard improvement. If that is not enough, the secondary has broken up 44 passes – 24 more than last year at this time – and held opponents to a completion percentage of just 58.9 percent (188-of-319).
21-STRAIGHT FOR THE SOPHOMORE
Since 2006, sophomore wide receiver Steven Sims Jr., became the fourth player to catch at least one pass in 21-straight games he has played in. Dexton Fields, Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier are the only other three to accomplish the same feat during their careers.
In a pass-heavy offense, Kansas managed to gain 244 yards on the ground against Iowa State (Nov. 12), thanks in large part to the 152-yard effort by senior running back Ke’aun Kinner. That 100-plus yard game was the fourth of Kinner’s career, as he was just three yards shy of setting a new personal best. The 244 yards rushing as a team for the Jayhawks were the most since the 2015 season opener when KU ran for 285 yards. Those 244 yards were also the most rushing yards in a conference game since Kansas splurged for 315 yards on the ground against West Virginia (Nov. 16) in 2013.
Kansas closes out the regular season when the Jayhawks travel to in-state rival Kansas State, Saturday, November 26. Kickoff against the Wildcats is slated for either 11 a.m. or 2:30 p.m. with the broadcast designated to Fox Sports 1.
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