Reesing leads KU over Sam Houston State
LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—Todd Reesing stepped up in the pocket, then backpedaled, sidestepping a defender. He ran around another defender, rolled to his right and set his feet, heaving a pass that hit Dezmon Briscoe perfectly in stride for a touchdown.
The running game still struggling, Kansas got by on Reesing’s arm—and feet.
Reesing threw for 356 yards and scrambled to hit Briscoe on a 57-yard pass for one of his two touchdowns, leading No. 19 Kansas to a 38-14 victory over Sam Houston State on Saturday night.
“I don’t even know what to say about that,” said Reesing, who ran for another score. “I guess I just pulled a rabbit out of a hat there.”
It’s a good thing he did.
Kansas (3-1) figured to breeze through its final nonconference game, particularly after the chaos Hurricane Ike caused Sam Houston State (1-1).
The Bearkats hadn’t played in three weeks—last week’s game against Prairie View A&M was postponed—and couldn’t practice until Tuesday because of the cleanup and power outages. They spent the week sleeping in the school’s field house, getting their first crack at a real bed Friday night at a hotel in Overland Park.
With every reason to roll over, Sam Houston State instead made it tough on Kansas, stifling its running game, repeatedly finding seams in its defensive secondary, keeping the score close even into the third quarter.
“I was very pleased with their effort,” Sam Houston State coach Todd Whitten said. “We had a little bit of confusion at times with our substitutions. It was like playing an opening game. All in all, we were very proud of our players.”
Kansas survived for its 12th straight home win—17th straight in nonconference—though has to be concerned about its struggling ground game.
The Jayhawks ran on eight of their first 10 plays and 48 times overall, hoping to improve on a 105-yard per-game average that ranks 101st in the nation.
Clearly, there’s still some work to be done before the Big 12 season starts in two weeks.
The Jayhawks had 161 yards—a 3.4-yard average—and got pushed back trying to get an inch in the second quarter, turning it over on downs when Reesing lost a yard on fourth down at the Kansas 37. That set up an 8-yard touchdown run by Rhett Bomar, cutting the Jayhawks’ lead to 14-7.
“Our running backs did an adequate job tonight, but in the offensive line we’ve got to get better at creating some creases and finishing blocks in the run game,” Kansas coach Mark Mangino said. “That’s an urgent need for us.”
Good thing Reesing was around.
The junior was at his scrambling best on the touchdown to Briscoe after earlier hitting Kerry Meier in stride for a 68-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Reesing opened the second half by marching Kansas quickly down the field, setting up a 2-yard touchdown run by Jocques Crawford that put the Jayhawks up 28-7.
Reesing also came away unscathed after defensive lineman John Goree ripped off his helmet on a tackle in the fourth quarter, finishing 23-for-38.
Mangino’s only criticism of his quarterback? He left the pocket a little too much, taking off a few times when he didn’t have to. Scramble when you need to, not just because you can, the coach told him after the game.
“Obviously, we don’t want to be scrambling around too much, we want to be able to sit in the pocket and execute our offense and throw the ball,” Reesing said. “The main thing is knowing when there’s a chance to make a big play scrambling and when I need to tuck the ball and run, not have a bad thing happen.”
That’s what happened to Bomar.
The former Oklahoma quarterback had his moments, finishing 26-for-46 for 340 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown to Justin Wells in the third quarter to get the Bearkats to 28-14.
Bomar doesn’t have the same supporting cast as Reesing, though, and tried to do too much at times. He threw three interceptions and nearly had three others by forcing balls into coverage.
The first interception came on an underthrow from the end zone in the second quarter. Kansas safety Darrell Stuckey returned it to the 1, setting up Reesing’s dive for a touchdown on the next play.
Bomar had another interception on the next drive when the ball bounced off Catron Houston’s hands to Kansas cornerback Isiah Barfield. Meier scored three plays later on a deep post route to put Kansas up 14-0.
“We came out firing the first half,” Bomar said. “We just shot ourselves in the foot with penalties and my interception (by Stuckey). That was a forced throw. I was trying to make something happen. As a whole, we played really well against a good team.”
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