LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP)—Itching to compare unbeaten Kansas with the 2007 team that rolled up 12 victories and vanquished Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl? Don’t do it, says coach Mark Mangino.
The Kansas coach is seeing too many little mistakes and too much of a leadership vacuum with this team.
“I don’t now how many games this team will win,” Mangino said. “This team has a completely different personality than the 2007 team. … That 2007 team had a little bit more maturity. If you eliminate (Todd) Reesing, (Kerry) Meier and (Darrell) Stuckey and (Jake) Sharp from the equation, it’s really not a mature football team. Those four guys kind of lead it and pull it along, where we had a bunch more guys, leadership guys, especially on defense (in 2007).”
A 44-16 victory Saturday by the No. 22 Jayhawks over undermanned Duke may offer hints, and not just the two-play, 87-yard drive the Blue Devils pulled off on their first possession.
Kansas’ mistakes were evident, especially an uncommon number of dropped passes. Todd Reesing’s 338 yards would have approached 400 yards if Dezmon Briscoe and Johnathon Wilson had managed to hang onto a couple of perfectly thrown spirals.
As the Jayhawks were stuck in a 7-7 deadlock against an ACC team they were favored over by 22 points, Kansas failed on a third-down play and Reesing kicked at the turf in frustration.
Although the Jayhawks eventually got rolling, the Blue Devils hounded Kansas’ offense much of the game.
Reesing agreed it’s too early to start making comparisons with 2007.
“We did have a strong senior class that year, and we did have some vocal guys on defense, which is something we may not have as much this year,” he said. “I think we need some more guys who step up vocally and let some people know they’re out there. It’s early. We’ve got time to improve.”
This week the Jayhawks wrap up their nonconference schedule by hosting Southern Mississippi. But perhaps the greatest concern is whether this team is ready to venture into the tough neighborhoods of the Big 12.