Wideouts empty in the end zone

Two hundred and ninety-seven passes have been attempted by the Jayhawks since the start of the 2012 season. Kansas receivers have caught 81 of those, good for 978 yards.

Yet none of those catches have come within the ten yards that make up each end zone. In fact, you have to go back to Oct. 22, 2011, to find the last time a Kansas wide receiver took a pass to the house.

Ashleigh Lee/KANSAN
Senior wide receiver Kale Pick catches a pass from freshman quarterback Michael Cummings during the Oct. 27 game against Texas for the 100th anniversary homecoming game in Memorial Stadium.

That day it was D.J. Beshears who caught a 13-yard pass right before halftime against Kansas State to bring the Jayhawks within 14 points of the Wildcats.

When quarterback Dayne Crist was brought in, the idea was that he would keep the ball flying toward the end zone, but that plan was nixed after a series of miscues in the passing game and the emergence of the Kansas backfield.

The receiving corps has seen a significant shift because of it. Instead of focusing on routes, the wide receivers have been working on their blocking. For senior Daymond Patterson, it isn’t something he hasn’t done before.

“My first year in high school we blocked a lot,” Patterson said. “We ran a spread offense, but we started running so much that we went back to a power offense. I’ve been a receiver who blocks. It doesn’t bother me.”

The blocking has allowed running back James Sims to close in on 1,000 yards rushing for the first time in his collegiate career. It will be present on Saturday as Sims tries to exceed that mark.  West Virginia knows what is coming.

But that could actually help Kansas.

“Everybody knows we like to run the ball,” Patterson said. “We can get them playing a little closer to the line and try to take advantage of them from there.”

Against a West Virginia offense that averages 40 points per game, the Jayhawks will need every advantage they can get. Like Baylor, the Mountaineers can put up a heap of points in a hurry.

Yet Kansas coach Charlie Weis won’t change his offense to score the Jayhawks points.

“I am not going to all of a sudden come out and begin no-huddle and try to throw it on every down,” Weis said. “I think that you have to do what you do, and hopefully you do it a lot better, and that would give you the best chance.”

It’s not that scoring a touchdown is weighing down Kansas’ wide receivers. But none of them are strangers to their statistics.

“It would give them confidence,” senior receiver Kale Pick said of the wideouts’ scoring. “We’ve had a few called back this year. I know I’m definitely thinking about it.”

Don’t be mistaken; Kansas has scored through the air. Running back Tony Pierson has two receiving touchdowns, as does tight end Jimmay Mundine. Only the wideouts have come up empty in the end zone.

Quarterback Michael Cummings is working on fixing that.

“I would like to get all the receivers a touchdown in the red zone,” Cummings said. “I just try to look for who’s open and stay within the offense.”

Cummings isn’t the only one. Two weeks ago the Jayhawks brought back Dayne Crist to open up the passing game. Crist connected for 156 yards on 9 completions. Weis says he’ll be used again at West Virginia.

Whether Crist or Cummings finds an open receiver in the end zone, however, won’t affect how Patterson looks at his senior year. He’s working on getting something just as elusive, but way more important.

“One touchdown, two touchdowns, it’s not going to change what’s happened in the past,” Patterson said. “If we don’t score a touchdown this year, or if we score five this next game, we just need to do what we can to help this team win.”

  • Updated Nov. 27, 2012 at 11:21 pm
  • Edited by Lauren Shelly