Jayhawks Travel To West Virginia For Season Finale Saturday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas (1-10 overall, 0-8 Big 12) will travel to new Big 12 Conference member West Virginia (6-5, 3-5 Big 12), on Saturday, Dec. 1. The Mountaineers lead the all-time series 1-0, but the two teams have not met since 1941. KU and WVU will meet up at 1:30 p.m. (CT), at Milan Puskar Stadium in a game that will be televised on Fox Sports Net.
What To Watch For ...
• Kansas HB James Sims continues to put together an outstanding season. Sims leads the Big 12 and ranks 14th nationally in rushing with 119.5 yards per game.
• Sims needs just 44 yards to become the 11th KU player to record 1,000 yards in a season and the first to do so since Brandon McAnderson went over 1,000 yards during the 2007 season.
• KU OL Tanner Hawkinson can set the school record for games started as he is schedule to make his 48th career start on Saturday vs. West Virginia. Hawkinson has started every game of his Jayhawk career and recently set the KU school record for consecutive games started--a record he will extend on Saturday.
• KU is 1-1 all time in games played on Dec. 1. KU first played a game on Dec. 1 in 1951, claiming a 41-28 win over Missouri. KU’s last outing on Dec. 1 came in 1956 with a 15-13 loss at Missouri.
• Saturday’s game versus West Virginia will mark KU’s 11th-straight national broadcast as the game will air on Fox Sports Net. The game will also be KU’s seventh-straight outing on FSN.
• The Jayhawks have an all-time record of 573-580-58 (.497 winning percentage).
Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis
Charlie Weis (Notre Dame, 1978) is in his first season at the Kansas helm, after being named the University’s 37th head football coach on Dec. 9, 2011. Weis, who is 1-10 in his first season at the helm of the program, arrived at Kansas after spending the 2011 season as the offensive coordinator at the University of Florida. Prior to that he spent the 2010 season in the same position for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he helped guide the team to a playoff appearance and mentor three Chiefs players to Pro Bowl Honors. Weis came to KC after spending five seasons as the head coach at his alma mater, Notre Dame. During his five seasons in South Bend, Weis compiled a 35-27 mark, leading the Irish to back-to-back BCS Bowl Games in 2005 and 2006. Weis has coached 16 years in the NFL and owns four Super Bowl rings, three as the offensive coordinator with the New England Patriots (2001, 2003, 2004) and one as a defensive/special teams assistant with the New York Giants (1990).
West Virginia Head Coach Dana Holgorsen
West Virginia’s Dana Holgorsen is in his second year as the head coach of the Mountaineer football program and has compiled a 16-8 overall mark. Under his direction in 2011, the Mountaineers finished with an overall record of 10-3, earned their sixth BIG EAST Conference championship since 2003 and seventh overall and was awarded the league’s BCS Bowl bid for the third time. The 2011 first-year head coach of the year honoree by the Football Writers Association of America was one of seven first-year head coaches to lead his program to a BCS Bowl game. Holgersen was just one of three first-year head coaches to win the BCS bowl game and the only first-year WVU head coach to win a BCS Bowl game. Before coming to Morgantown, Holgorsen spent the 2010 season as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State. He was a finalist for the 2010 Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant football coach, and also named the rivals.com Offensive Coordinator of the Year. Prior to OSU, Holgorsen was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Houston. Before his two-year stint with the Cougars, Holgorsen was a member of the coaching staff at Texas Tech from 2000-07, serving as the inside receivers coach from 2000-04, before being elevated to co-offensive coordinator in 2005 and offensive coordinator in 2006-07. Holgorsen also spent time at Valdosta State (1993-95) as the quarterbacks, receivers and special teams coach, Mississippi College (1996-98) as the quarterbacks, receivers and special teams coach and at Wingate (1999) as the quarterbacks and receivers coach. During his coaching career, his teams have earned 11 bowl appearances.
West Virginia Scouting Report
West Virginia enters Saturday’s game with a 6-5 overall mark and a 3-5 ledger in Big 12 action. The Mountaineers are coming off of a win at Iowa State that snapped a five-game losing streak. WVU is one of the most dynamic offenses in the country as the Mountaineers rank sixth nationally in passing offense and 11th in the NCAA in total offense. Senior QB Geno Smith leads the charge. Smith has completed 327-of-466 passes on the season, good for 3,597 yards and 37 touchdowns. Smith has a pair of outstanding receivers to throw to in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey. Austin has hauled in 106 receptions, tops in the NCAA. Austin has 1,149 receiving yards and 12 TDs. He has also rushed for 521 yards on 49 carries, including a 344-yard rushing performance vs. Oklahoma. Bailey ranks third in the NCAA in receiving yards with 1,342 yards on 95 receptions. He has 21 TDs. J.D. Woods has caught 52 passes for 513 yards and three TDs. Austin also leads WVU in punt returns with an 11.0 yards per return average. Additionally, he is the top Mountaineer kick returner averaging 26.4 yards per return. Austin has one 100-yard return to his credit in 2012. Free safety Karl Joseph leads the West Virginia defense with 88 tackles on the season. Joseph has 6.5 TFLs to his credit, five pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Linebacker Isaiah Bruce has 85 tackles, 6.5 TFLs and two fumble recoveries, while linebacker Terence Garvin has 66 tackles, 7.5 TFLs and an interception.
Kansas-West Virginia Connections
Kansas does not have any West Virginia natives on its roster, and likewise, West Virginia does field any Sunflower State natives on its roster. West Virginia assistant director of strength and conditioning, Mark Smith, served as in a similar capacity for football at Kansas in 2002-03.
Toughest Schedule In College Football
Kansas officially has the toughest strength of schedule in the NCAA according to the Sagarin rankings. Each of the Jayhawks’ 11 BCS opponents have gained bowl eligibility and their lone FCS opponent, South Dakota State, is currently preparing for the second round of the playoffs.
Rushing Highlights Jayhawk Offense
Behind a stable of top-notch runners, the KU rushing attack is ranked 19th in the NCAA. Led by the Big 12’s top rusher in junior HB James Sims, Kansas is averaging 216.6 yards per game on the ground, second in the Big 12 to Baylor (217.0). Sims is turning in 119.5 yards per game, while sophomore HB Tony Pierson adds 73.0 ypg and junior HB Taylor Cox is picking 41.9 ypg.
Sims Dominates In Big 12 Play
Jayhawk junior HB James Sims has dominated Big 12 defenses on the ground. Sims leads all Big 12 players in conference-only games with 123.6 yards per game. He has carried the ball 182 times for 865 yards and six touchdowns. Listed below is Sims’ game-by-game production vs. Big 12 opponents:
James Sims’ Game-By-Game Rushing Totals vs. Big 12
at Kansas State 115/1
Oklahoma State 138/1
at Oklahoma 102/1
at Baylor 126/1
at Texas Tech 127/2
Iowa State 81/0
Pierson Flashes His Speed
Kansas sophomore HB Tony Pierson quickly turned a broken play into a 55-yard score in KU’s game vs. Iowa State. Pierson was about to hand off to KU QB Dayne Crist for a flee flicker, but the speedster read the defense and decided to keep the ball after faking the pitch and darted through the ISU defense for the touchdown. Pierson’s 55-yard dash marked the fourth-straight game he and HB James Sims had turned in a rush of 55 yards or longer.
Back In The Groove
Kansas sophomore HB Tony Pierson was back to his old self at Texas Tech after dropping the protective brace on his elbow he had worn for three-straight weeks. Pierson turned in a career-best rushing performance with 202 yards on the ground at Texas Tech on just 16 carries. He gashed the TTU defense with runs of 69 and 49 yards. Overall, Pierson used his speed to churn out seven runs of 10 or more yards in the game. Pierson’s 202 yards mark just the third time in 2012 a Big 12 player has rushed for more than 200 yards (Andrew Buie of WVU, 207 yards at UT and Tavon Austin of WVU, 344 yards vs. OU). For his efforts, Pierson was named honorable mention running back of the week by the College Football Performance Awards.
100 x 10
KU HBs Tony Pierson and James Sims each eclipsed the 100 yard rushing barrier in Kansas’ game at Texas Tech on Nov. 10, giving KU 10 such performances on the 2012 season. The 10 100-yard performances matches the school record set in 1974. Against Texas Tech, Kansas had two 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since the South Dakota State game when Pierson and Taylor Cox both gained 100-plus yards.
Jayhawk HBs Tony Pierson and James Sims teamed up for a 200-100 combination on the ground with Pierson going for 202 yards and Sims collecting 127 yards at Texas Tech. The 200-100 feat has only been accomplished one other time in KU history as Dennis Wright (113), Norris Banks (120) and LaVerne Smith (236) turned in a 200-100-100 outing vs. Missouri in 1975.
Hawkinson Sets Record, Aims For Another
Kansas senior OL Tanner Hawkinson set the KU record for consecutive starts in a career in the Jayhawks’ game vs. Iowa State. Hawkinson has started all 47 games of his Jayhawk career surpassing former Jayhawk Hessley Hempstead, who started 46-straight games from 1991-94. Hawkinson is also ready to take over the KU record for starts in a career. He currently has 47 with one game left to play and the KU record is currently 47 set by Bob Whitaker from 2003-06. The following are the career records for starts at KU:
Most Consecutive Starts By A Jayhawk
47 Tanner Hawkinson (OT) 2009-Pres.
46 Hessley Hempstead (OG) 1991-94
44 Christopher Perez (OL) 1988-91
44 Chip Budde (OC) 1987-90
42 Darrell Stuckey (S) 2006-09
41 Hassan Bailey (DB) 1989-92
Most Career Starts By A Jayhawk
47 Tanner Hawkinson (OT) 2009-Pres.
47 Bob Whitaker (OL) 2003-06
46 Jeremiah Hatch (OC) 2008-11
46 Hessley Hempstead (OG) 1991-94
Sims A Workhorse For Jayhawk Offense
KU junior HB James Sims hit the ground running after missing the first three games of the 2012 season due to a suspension. Sims has rushed for an average of 119.5 yards per game in the eight games since he returned to action. If he was permitted in the NCAA and Big 12 rankings (must have participated in 75% of team’s games to be included), Sims would rank 13th nationally and first among Big 12 players in rushing. He had a career-best rushing performance in KU’s loss to Texas as he turned 28 carries into 176 yards, including a career-long 64 yard dash in the second quarter. He became the first player in KU history to eclipse the 100-yard rushing mark in six-straight games. Sims needs just 44 yards to go over 1,000 yards in a season for the first time in his career. He would become the 11th player and mark the 13th 1,000 yard performance if he gets more than 44 yards vs. West Virginia.
Kansas Defense Tightens In Red Zone
The Jayhawk defense is holding its opponents to just 75% on their trips to the red zone. Kansas’ defense has allowed its opponents to enter the red zone on 56 drives, but has given up 32 touchdowns and 10 field goals. Kansas ranks 23rd nationally in red zone defense. The Jayhawks’ red zone defense ranks first in the Big 12.
McDougald Goes Solo
KU senior safety Bradley McDougald has been one of the top players in the Big 12 all season and currently ranks 15th in the NCAA and third in the conference in solo tackles. McDougald, who ranks second on the team in overall tackles with 80, has registered 66 solo stops on the season for an average of 6.0 per game. McDougald also has three interceptions, two forced fumbles, 3.0 TFLs for a loss of 15 yards, 1.0 sack for a loss of 12 yards and one pass break up to his credit. McDougald’s three interceptions rank him eighth in the Big 12 and 58th in the NCAA.
Brown Delivers On Pass Breakups
Jayhawk cornerback Greg Brown has been a force in the KU secondary. Brown ranks third on the team in tackles with 72 stops. He is fourth in the Big 12 and 21st in the NCAA with 14 pass breakups on the season--good for an average of 1.27 per game. Two of Brown’s break ups on the season came in the form of interceptions.
Heeney Making Plays
Starting MLB Ben Heeney has put together several strong performances for the Jayhawk defense. The sophomore from Hutchinson, Kan., recorded a then career-best 11 tackles at Northern Illinois and followed that up with a new personal best 14 tackles at Kansas State. Heeney had 11 solo stops to his credit versus the Wildcats and also had 2.0 TFLs for a loss of four yards and a forced fumble. He then turned in a nine-tackle performance for the KU defense vs. Oklahoma State. Heeney had a game-high 13 stops, 1.0 TFL for a loss of six yards and quarterback hurry at Baylor and had a team-high nine stops at Texas Tech. He also had 2.0 TFLs vs. the Red Raiders. In KU’s last game vs. Iowa State, he led all players with 13 stops in the contest. Heeney ranks first on the KU defense with 104 tackles on the season, which ranks 31st in the NCAA and third among Big 12 players. He has five double-figure tackling games on the year.
KU Keeping The Flags To A Minimum
Kansas ranks second nationally in penalty yards per game, being flagged for an average of 26.36 yards per game, which is tops in the Big 12. It also ranks second nationally in penalties per outing with 3.36 flags thrown per game against KU--also first in the Big 12.
Cox Stepping Up In Return Game
Kansas HB Taylor Cox has manned the kickoff return duties for KU for the last three games and has shown that he is capable of making good decisions and helping provide KU good field position to start its drives. Cox has had eight returns that have gone for a total of 174 yards or 21.8 yards per return. Cox recorded a long return of 42 yards at Baylor and was just one defender shy of taking it to the house. In addition to his return duties, Cox has rushed the ball 88 times for 461 yards and three touchdowns.