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By: CUBuffs.com
KU coach Mark Mangino says he knows the 'strong suits' of new CU starter Tyler Hansen (9).
Brooks: KU Dials It Back On 'D'
Release: October 13, 2009
By: B.G. Brooks, Contributing Editor
BOULDER - This should sound familiar: "Simple is better sometimes."

Colorado defensive coordinator Ron Collins uttered words to that effect in the wake of Toledo's torching of his unit (umm, yes, 54 points and 624 yards of total offense qualifies as a torching) last month in the Glass Bowl.

But the most recent Big 12 Conference coach to snuggle up to the KISS theory (Keep It Simple, Stupid) is Kansas' Mark Mangino, who on Saturday watched Iowa State roll up 512 yards of total offense against his Jayhawks.

KU, though, came out far better against ISU than CU did against its Mid-American Conference opponent. Largely because of Todd Reesing's 442 passing yards and four touchdown passes (more on Reesing later), the Jayhawks won their shootout with the Cyclones 41-36. (If your memory needs jogging, CU lost 54-38 to the Rockets.)

Still, Mangino isn't comfortable with his defense surrendering so many points and yards. Thus, changes are in store before No. 15 KU visits Folsom Field on Saturday (5 p.m. MDT, FSN).

Mangino, whose team remains unbeaten (5-0 overall, 1-0 Big 12), said on Monday's Big 12 coaches teleconference that the Jayhawks "played pretty good defense against two highly respectable offenses (UTEP and Duke) early in the year . . . we held them pretty well in check."

Not so much, though, against the Cyclones, who entered the game averaging 379 yards (it's up to 401 now) in total offense.

Defensively, Mangino believes KU "may be doing a little too much . . . we need to be more concerned with what we're communicating to our players and that they're able to communicate it to one another on the field.

"I think we've got to do the things in our package that are really good for us - try not to get to fancy or too sophisticated. Simple is better sometimes (but) we're not going to simplify too much because we have a lot of things in there that have been good to us over the years.

"But I think we've got look at what our players can do, how we can get them to play at a high level without having them over-think things. Let 'em loose and let 'em play."

That was Collins' and his staff's theory, and since the simpler route has been taken, the Buffs have recorded one shutout (24-0 against Wyoming) and been more respectable overall on defense in road losses at West Virginia (35-24) and No. 2 Texas (38-14).

Of the Longhorns' total, Collins' defense allowed but 17 of those points.

Still to be eradicated, though, is CU's disturbing penchant for yielding "explosion plays." The Buffs allowed the Longhorns a 39-yard touchdown pass, a 74-yard punt return and a 92-yard interception return.

The finest (and simplest) defenses in the game usually can't compensate for that.

REESING FOR HEISMAN? Mangino believes his senior quarterback should be getting that kind of recognition, and the big guy might not get any rebuttal from anyone in the CU camp.

In three previous games against the Buffs, Reesing truly can claim ownership rights. He debuted against CU three seasons ago, having his redshirt pulled to guide a second-half comeback victory (20-15). And he's continued to push KU past CU in the pair of succeeding games (19-14 in 2007, 30-14 in 2008).

Reesing's three-game stats against CU: 22 carries for 207 yards, 54-of-74 passes completed for 515 yards and four TDs.

Basing his argument on current, not past, numbers, Mangino said Reesing "merits the right to be part of the Heisman conversation. You have to see him play. He's got great leadership, he's in control, and he can take a minus yardage play and turn it into a big gain."

A no-nonsense, no-hype guy, Mangino has made Heisman campaigning taboo for his sports information types.

"And I've kept my word, there's been no Heisman campaign," he said. "But when you watch him play . . . you walk away saying that kid's a pretty doggone football player."

Reesing is second in the Big 12 in passing efficiency (157.6), passing (315.8 yards a game) and total offensive touchdowns (16, with 13 passing), and third in total offense (336.0 yards a game).

At the moment, he's arguably the league's hottest QB - Texas' Colt McCoy included.

BUFFS' NEW FACE: CU sophomore Tyler Hansen, his redshirt again in tatters, will start at quarterback against Kansas. Mangino calls preparing for the Buffs' sudden change of pace at the position "a challenge, but it's not anything that's overwhelming."

Mangino has a handful of 2008 game tapes from which to scrutinize Hansen, as well as whatever he can glean from Hansen's fourth-quarter duty at Texas.

"You always like to prepare for a team that has had the same quarterback in there for a while because you're always going to play to the strengths of your quarterback," Mangino said, adding he and his coaches "know a little bit about Hansen and his background - what his strong suits are."

Mangino said he would "reserve judgment until I do a close study of him."

Hansen, more mobile than Cody Hawkins, played in five games last season - Kansas wasn't one of them - after his initial redshirt was burned against Kansas State.

FOUR GOOD HANDS: They belong to two seasoned Jayhawks receivers - junior Dezmon Briscoe and senior Kerry Meier. Between them, they have made 73 receptions for 994 yards and eight TDs. (Briscoe averages 129.2 air yards a game, Meier 95.4.)

The duo ranks among the top three in most Big 12 receiving categories, and Briscoe, who also returns kicks, is first in all-purpose yardage (178.8 yards a game).

Mangino is as high on that pair as he is on the guy who gets them the ball: "When it comes to the pitching and catching business, I think we can compete with anybody in the country. It's as good as any combination out there.

"They complement each other so well, they've done this together for a number of years. They're all on the same page, they just really know the strengths and weaknesses of each other."

Contact: BG.Brooks@Colorado.EDU

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