Thursday, August 28, 2008www.kansan.com
32008 kansas jayhawks football
By B.J. Rains
Just talk to a Kansas football player for a few minutes about the upcoming season and you’llnotice something different.It’s hard to pin-point exactly what it is, butthere seems to be a different feeling around theprogram these days. And why not? Comingoff the best season in school history, it’s only natural that players and coaches seem to havea little more bounce in their step as they walk to meetings or to the practice field.“We have that swagger,” safety DarrellStuckey said.And as the Jayhawks look to repeat the suc-cess of last year’s record-breaking year, they are doing it with a different kind of ‘swagger’that hasn’t been seen around this town in along time.“We have a lot of confidence in ourselves,”quarterback odd Reesing said. “Not that welacked confidence before, but we really expectto be on the big stage now.”he Jayhawks will definitely enter the bigstage this fall, entering the year ranked 13thin the ESPN/ USA oday Coaches poll andanywhere from 10th to 20th by anyone andeveryone that put together a pre-season poll.ESPN2 has already picked the Jayhawks for anationally televised Friday night game at No.21 South Florida in week three.“We’re excited by that,” Reesing added. “ohave the opportunity to play in big games andplay on national television, it’s exciting forus, because it’s somewhere that this programhasn’t been in a while.”A year after just wanting to get enoughwins to make it to a bowl game, the Jayhawksand their fans have much higher goals thisseason. No longer does the thought of a Big12 Championship or high-profile bowl gameseem like that much of a dream.It’s a big difference from when coach Mark Mangino arrived at Kansas in 2002. hen, theprogram had no expectations, and the gameswere merely a way for the basketball-crazedJayhawk fans to pass the time until hoops sea-son got underway.“hat was a terrible feeling,” Mangino said.“It was bad for the players, the coaches, whennobody expects you to be successful. hat’s nota great feeling, and after experiencing that thefirst few years, we embrace any expectationsthat people have for us now.“Nobody outside of this program has higherexpectations for this team than the kids thatplay here. hey have high expectations. hey want to win. hey set the bar high for them-selves.”hose expectations might be as high thisyear as they have ever been when it comes toKansas football. It’s been a while since oppos-ing teams looked at their schedule to see whenthey were playing Kansas, knowing that itwould be one of the toughest games of theirseason.“As we started to win more games duringthe season, we started to get everybody’s bestshot,” Mangino said. “We will get it from thefirst game this year all of the way through.We’ll get everybody’s best shot if we continueto play at a high level, but I told our players thetop teams in the country are used to that, usedto getting every team’s best shot and if we can’thandle that then we’re not going to be as goodas we want to be.”And while Mangino said he wasn’t in thebusiness of making predictions for the upcom-ing season, even he knows that it could beanother special season for his squad.“We think we’re going to have a pretty goodfootball team again,” Mangino said.Just one of many who seem to think thesame thing.
Jayhawks say they have a newswagger as this season startsand expect a repeat rom lastyear, when they went 12-1and won the Orange Bowl
Tey’ve never felt like this before
KANSAN FILE PHOTOKANSAN FILE PHOTO
Above: Safety Justin Thornton celebrates
with Mike Rivera, let, and Maxwell Onyegbule, right, ater picking of a pass inKU’s 24-21 Orange Bowl victory against Virginia Tech.
Left: Darrell Stuckey and the Jayhawks’ only loss in an otherwiseperfect season
came against Missouri and its quarterback Chase Daniel.