FROM THE HEARTH ROOM
The Jayhawks came at the Gophers in threes last night—Todd Reesing, Kerry Meier, and Dezmon Briscoe on one side and James Holt, Mike Rivera, and Joe Mortensen on the other side. One trio will return to terrorize Big 12 secondaries next year and the other cements its legacy with a dominating performance in an old-school game of tackle football.
Boy, it was beautiful to watch Rivera and Mortensen playing the game the way they were meant to play—running and smashing. Throw in Holt as Adam Weber's nightmare and it all makes Jayhawk football fans super happy. Hopefully, the NFL was watching their own network last because playing hurt all year against freak spread teams really doesn't show their strengths. Last night did and I sure hope all three at least get some attention from the NFL.
From the offensive side, the Jayhawks just have too many weapons and a chameleon-like ability to adapt. The Gophers went with throwing a ton of heat on Todd Reesing and had some success, but it didn't matter because Reesing again showed the five "d's" of minimizing a pass rush—dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge (I assume Patches O'Houlihan was a relative). And after avoiding that rush, the gunslinger always comes out firing. Of course, Dezmon Briscoe and Kerry Meier are a lot of fun to watch as they track down those bullets and usually turn up field for something we like to call YAC. Yep, the Gophers played hard, physical football, but the Hawks just had too many weapons.
Overall, the crowd looked small, but geez, I was pretty pleased with what seemed like a lot KU fans in the stadium. Gopher fans seemed to represent pretty well also. Really, it looked there just weren't many neutral Phoenix fans there.
I'll have to go with starting off the Fox/NFL Network HD broadcast with closed caption in the middle of the screen. Also, the back-to-back offensive three-and-outs after the goal line stand in the second half. The first one was somewhat understandable considering starting in your own end zone, but the second sure left our defense out on the field for a long time.
It's so hard not to think about next year. Of the three north contenders, KU is the only one with a returning QB and we get the Huskers in Memorial and the Tigers at a neutral site. Again, last night was about starting 2009 off on the right foot and consider that mission accomplished. In fact, all of the bowl games (except the "title" game on January 8) have the feel of early exhibitions for the following season. Maybe they should move them to August.
Signing day on February 4.