Soft early schedule a boon for Kansas in building program Print
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Wednesday, 10 October 2007 11:53
NCAAF Headline News

 OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -When it comes to the art of constructing a soft early schedule, Kansas coach Mark Mangino learned from the master.
Former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder, while turning the once-moribund Wildcats into a national power in the 1990s, routinely scheduled overmatched nonconference teams. The theory went that while posting easy wins, players develop confidence that pays dividends after the team enters conference play.
Mangino, an assistant at Kansas State and Oklahoma before becoming the Jayhawks' head coach in 2002, developed a schedule this season reminiscent of the Snyder years. Kansas opened with home games against Central Michigan, Southeastern Louisiana, Toledo and Florida International, outscoring that foursome 214-23.
Thus prepared, the Jayhawks visited the Wildcats on Saturday and beat then-24th-ranked Kansas State 30-24 - a week after the Wildcats had won at Texas. The loss vaulted Kansas to No. 20 in The Associated Press Top 25, the first time since 1995 the Jayhawks have been ranked.
``You have to reflect back a year ago. We were a 6-6 team (and) lost some tough games. There's several factors involved. We've addressed each and every factor head on,'' Mangino said Monday during the Big 12 coaches' teleconference.
``We felt like being 4-0 in nonconference play developed confidence for our players for Big 12 competition, plus it gave us a chance to really take a look at who we have. Do we have people in the right spots, and what adjustments do we need to make before we get to conference play?''
Baylor coach Guy Morriss, another coach trying to build a program, said other factors are involved in the Jayhawks' climb, most significantly the simple reduction of mistakes made by their players.
Morriss noted Mangino has recruited better players, and ``they do a good job scheduling to help their program and help them come out of the hole.''
Morriss said ``you don't have to'' play a soft nonconference schedule while building a program, ``but it sure does help. No question.''
Mangino said he doesn't think his players will become complacent this Saturday when they host Baylor (3-3).
``The good news with our team is we've got some really tough, aggressive kids who really understand the value of hard work,'' Mangino said. ``Their eyes have been opened in some of the games that have taken place across the country since the season began. This group here has a tough mental edge to them, but we need to continue to do that.''
``I tell our kids, when people are telling you you aren't any good, you don't need to listen to that. And when they tell you you're pretty good, you don't need to listen to that, either.''
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HEISMAN WORTHY: Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has hinted that two of his players, quarterback Graham Harrell and wide receiver Michael Crabtree, should receive consideration on Heisman Trophy watch lists, even as some critics claim their statistics are inflated due to the Red Raiders' pass-heavy offensive system.
Harrell leads the Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) in total offense at 450.2 yards per game - 50 yards per game more than second-place Brian Brohm of Louisville - and also is tops nationally in passing yards (2,726) and touchdown passes (28).
Crabtree leads the nation in receptions per game (15.34), receiving yards per game (179), overall receiving yards (1,074), touchdowns (17) and scoring. He set the NCAA record for touchdown receptions by a freshman against Iowa State on Saturday. The previous record was 14.
``Obviously, there's some people doing some pretty good things,'' Leach said of Harrell and Crabtree, suggesting that if the media is ``going to keep track of these things, and the rest, there doesn't need to be a vacuum'' on considering Texas Tech players for national awards.
He suggested that credit be given to ``our players or our coaches, or everybody combined ... because everybody else is trying to do the same thing.''
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BAYLOR BOOS: Baylor fans began booing in the first quarter of the Bears' 43-23 loss to Colorado on Saturday, and the boos became louder as the players exited the field at halftime. Morriss called it a ``sign of the times'' in college football.
``Nobody likes to get booed,'' Morriss said. ``It's just human nature. I don't know. They were probably booing me more than the kids, I guess. I don't know. But the kids hear it. Yeah, it affects them. They don't like to hear it.''
There is a difference between booing directed at a ``paid professional'' and a college athlete, he said.
``Let's don't forget, these are nothing but big kids,'' Morriss said.
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FIRST DOWNS: Mack Brown said that during his 10 years as Texas coach, the Longhorns have failed to force at least one turnover in a game only 10 times, but two of those times have come in the last two weeks in losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma. ... After a 42-17 loss at Texas Tech on Saturday, a computer glitch on Iowa State's charter plane stranded the Cyclones in Lubbock for almost four hours. A new plane was brought in to fly them home. ``It was one of those nights,'' coach Gene Chizik said. Texas Tech ``can make you have a long night.''
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LEAGUE HONORS: Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel, Oklahoma cornerback Reggie Smith and Colorado kicker Kevin Eberhart were named Big 12 players of the week.
Daniel was 33-of-47 for 401 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 72 yards and two more scores in the Tigers' 41-6 rout of Nebraska. Smith had six tackles, two pass breakups and a fourth-quarter interception in the Sooners' 28-21 win over Texas.
Eberhart tied a school record with five field goals in the Buffaloes' win over Baylor, connecting from 41, 44, 54, 42 and 30 yards. The 54-yard kick was the longest of his career.
 

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