Jayhawks host Colorado in a game they need to win
LAWRENCE, Kan. ” Amid all the excitement about standout quarterbacks in the Big 12, it’s hard for Colorado’s Cody Hawkins to get much attention.
To John Larson, that’s unfair.
“There are a lot of great names in the Big 12 this year. I’m sure he’ll get there,” the Kansas defensive end said.
“He’s a very poised quarterback. He’s still developing. He’ll make his reads and all that. He sits back in the pocket with good presence. He can get them going if he needs to.”
Before an expected sellout crowd at Memorial Stadium on Saturday, Larson and his teammates will get a great opportunity for an up-close look at the man he deems under-appreciated in a quarterback-rich league.
The No. 16 Jayhawks (4-1, 1-0 Big 12) host Hawkins’ Buffaloes (3-2, 0-1) in a game they absolutely have to win if they’re to have a big season. Looming down the road on a brutal schedule for the Jayhawks are No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 5 Texas, No. 3 Missouri and No. 7 Texas Tech.
But first things first, and that includes finding a way to slow down Hawkins.
Working behind a young offensive line, the son of Colorado coach Dan Hawkins has passed for 926 yards and 10 touchdowns in his sophomore season while being intercepted only four times. He has what Kansas coach Mark Mangino calls “great football instincts.”
“He is a tough kid who takes a lot of hits,” Mangino said. “In the Texas game last week, he took some vicious hits and got right back up. When you have that kind of leadership at the quarterback position you have an opportunity to be successful.”
The Buffaloes will have their hands full with Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing. Second in the Big 12 in yards passing only to Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell, Reesing has thrown for 1,724 yards and 14 touchdowns while being intercepted just three times.
In a hard-fought 19-14 win at Colorado last year, Reesing and the rest of the offense struggled.
“Last year they held us to our lowest point total of the season ” that is enough said right there,” Reesing said. “So obviously they did something last year that gave us a lot of problems. I would assume they would want to take a similar approach, because we struggled moving the ball at times and our passing game was rather ineffective last year.”
The Buffaloes did have some success last week in a 38-14 loss to Texas, intercepting Colt McCoy twice. But Colorado knows Kansas will not forget how much trouble the Longhorns gave them last year.
“They’ve got a nice offensive package; Todd is playing really well,” said Dan Hawkins, who recently signed a contract extension that could keep him at Colorado through 2012. “They’re good.”
Oddly, the man who used to be Reesing’s main competitor has now become his favorite target. Kerry Meier, the multitalented senior Reesing beat out as starting quarterback last year, has reinvented himself as a top wide receiver and ranks second in the NCAA with 8.8 receptions per game.
“He’s one of those guys who’s very smart, knows what’s going on, and he has a great feel for where to get on his routes,” the Colorado coach said of Meier. “He’s a good athlete, then he has the intangible part, too, where he’s really smart. He’ll run routes and he and Todd will be on the same page, and be able to adjust just enough to find a crease or find an edge or get a little leverage and get the ball to him.”
Although players and coaches will no doubt be occupied with other things at the time, Kansas officials will have ears cocked and fingers crossed the first time the Jayhawks kick off.
The school administration, getting complaints from all fans and alumni, is pleading with everyone to drop a profane chant, taken from a line in the Adam Sandler comedy “The Waterboy,” that’s become popular in the student section.
It’s been going on for several years and students have generally ignored administration protests.
But this time, Mangino will make a personal plea. A video of the coach asking for the chant to be stopped was to be e-mailed to the student body on Thursday. Then it will be replayed on the stadium video board before the game on Saturday.
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