Redskins

No. 7 K-State, Kansas meet in Sunflower Showdown

201210021430522529803-p2.jpeg

No. 7 K-State, Kansas meet in Sunflower Showdown

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) Charlie Weis wanted to give his team a lesson in the Sunflower Showdown ahead of his first game against Kansas State, so the new Kansas coach figured he'd better bone up on it himself.

``I had to go back and find out all about the Governor's Cup,'' Weis said this week, ``see how this has all gone, and read about how it used to be the Governor's Trophy.''

He read about the recent history, too.

While Kansas owns a decisive advantage in a series that stretches to 1902, the Wildcats have dominated it for more than two decades, ever since the arrival of Bill Snyder in Manhattan prior to the 1989 season. There was a stretch of 11 straight victories, and currently three in a row.

``Any time you play an in-state rival, there's something to play for, and the players have to understand there's something to play for,'' Weis said. ``Since Coach Snyder has gotten to K-State, things have gone big-time their way. He's 16-4 in the series himself.''

Most people don't figure the outcome Saturday will be much different.

The seventh-ranked Wildcats (4-0) are rolling after beating Oklahoma on the road two weeks ago, while the Jayhawks (1-3) have blown two fourth-quarter leads this season.

Both teams were off last week.

Kansas State is led by a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Collin Klein, a defense that has gotten better with age, a steady ground game and evolving passing attack.

The Jayhawks' only victory came against lower-division South Dakota State.

So, yes, Weis knows the deck is stacked against him.

``Starting with the head coach, that might be their biggest advantage. Absolutely,'' he said this week. ``Even with all that being said, OK, you still play the game. Not to be sarcastic, I'm just stating the facts. This is who they are. So what you do as a head coach, and this trickles down to the other roles I play, what you then do is say, `What are we going to do about it.'

``You can't just say, `Let's go in there and keep it close. Let's keep it close for the fan base,''' Weis added. ``I'd rather lose by a hundred, trying to win.''

Some years, it looked like Kansas State would win by 100.

Three straight during Snyder's first tenure, the Wildcats piled up at least 50 points against the woebegone Jayhawks. The following year, they merely won 40-6, before a 64-0 win in 2002 that remains the most lopsided game in the history of the series.

Even the years Kansas has been good have been difficult against the neighbors to the west. The Jayhawks were 7-0 and ranked No. 6 when they took the familiar trip down Interstate 70 in 1995, only for the 14th-ranked Wildcats to pin a 41-7 victory on them.

Kansas finally broke through under former coach Mark Mangino, beating the Wildcats in 2004 and then rattling off three straight once Snyder stepped away for a brief retirement.

But things have gotten back to usual ever since the silver-haired fox returned. Snyder beat Kansas in his first year back, one of only six wins by the Wildcats that season, and has shepherded his team to victories the past two seasons by a combined score of 118-28.

``Every game means everything,'' Snyder said. ``This is significant because you've got a lot of youngsters who are from the state, and they talk about bragging rights, etcetera, got to go home in the summer time with the same youngsters who play for Kansas, and it's true for both sides.

``They're all highly motivated,'' he said. ``You get 12 games a season, maybe 13. That's 12 times for a competitive young guy to really be competitive, and that's 12 out of 365 (days). That's it. There isn't any more. How could you pass up the opportunity to do what you love to do and be as competitive as you love to be in any game that you play? I think they all feel that.''

The importance Kansas State places on the rivalry is evident the moment you walk into the football complex, where the Governor's Cup sits in a case in the middle of the room. The rest of the program's hardware, from Big 12 titles to bowl games, is in a separate trophy case.

Kansas hasn't looked at the Wildcats the same way, at least not historically. Sure, it's a game that the Jayhawks always want to win, but their bitter rival has always been Missouri.

Now, with the Tigers off to the SEC, the Sunflower Showdown is the biggest game in town.

``We always felt like it was more important to them, and when you are going into a fight and somebody feels like it is more important to them, that shows,'' said Kansas wide receiver Daymond, a Texas native who has learned to appreciate the rivalry. ``Going into this year, it's mutual.

``You're our rival and we're your rival, so let's get it on.''

Quick Links

5 questions facing the Redskins as the Case Keenum/Dwayne Haskins QB battle begins

5 questions facing the Redskins as the Case Keenum/Dwayne Haskins QB battle begins

The Redskins have a quarterback battle. Repeat, the Redskins have a quarterback battle. This is not a drill. It is an open competition. 

When the team gathers in Ashburn on Monday for offseason training activities, it will be the first time that veteran passer Case Keenum and first-round rookie Dwayne Haskins will be on the field at the same time. Incumbent backup QB Colt McCoy should be present as well, but not active as he works back from multiple leg surgeries this offseason. 

The team has plenty of questions for the 2019 season, and the answers will start coming as early as this week. No question is bigger than the signal caller though.

  1. QB Battle - Every major factor in the Redskins organization has been clear that Haskins will get a chance to compete for the starting job. That means every throw between Keenum, the presumed starter after the 'Skins traded for him in February, and the Ohio State rookie will be over analyzed. If McCoy was healthy, he would have a jump start in the competition because he knows head coach Jay Gruden's offense. McCoy isn't healthy though, and that means more reps and work for Keenum and Haskins. This battle will be ongoing throughout the summer, but on Monday with the media present, it will be very interesting to see what player gets more work with the first-team offense.
  2. Who's still hurt - Speaking of the first-team offense, a number of players will be working back from offseason surgery. Will Paul Richardson be out there? Trent Williams? How healthy is Jordan Reed, and what about Derrius Guice? Brandon Scherff? There are a lot  of questions, and some of them will be answered simply by seeing guys run around. Second-year wideouts Cam Sims and Trey Quinn both finished the 2018 season on the injured reserve; will they be ready to go? There are a lot of people to watch out for. 
  3. STARTING DEFENSE (LATIMER VOICE*) - Landon Collins was the prize of free agency, and Monday he will be on the field barking directions at teammates. How will he fit in with Josh Norman, and how does Quinton Dunbar look? When Dunbar went down with a leg nerve injury last season, the Washington defense fell apart. If he is all the way back would be big news for Greg Manusky's defense. There's also Reuben Foster. This will be the first time for the media to see Foster on the field in a Redskins uniform after his controversial acquisition last November. Presumably Foster will answer questions after the OTA session, stay tuned for that.
  4. Camp is over for the rookies - Beyond Haskins, the Redskins have nine other draft picks taking part in OTAs. The rookies went through their own private minicamp last week, but this will be quite different. Rookie minicamp is about letting the new players get acclimated to the new facility and team; OTAs are about real work. Will Montez Sweat take the field with the Redskins first-team defense? What about the two rookie receivers in Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon? There will be hiccups for the rookies, that's inevitable, but now is the time to prove they belong. With all the injuries on the offensive line, Wes Martin has the inside track on a starting job. 
  5. Absent, but not hurt - Never forget that OTAs are voluntary for players, and usually a handful of guys don't show up. That will likely happen tomorrow and some fans might react negatively. Don't be one of them. 

* If you don't get that reference, go watch The Program. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS

Quick Links

Potential coaching staff changes rocket into discussion for Wizards

Potential coaching staff changes rocket into discussion for Wizards

We can begin free agent watch with the Washington Wizards way before July 1.

This isn’t about players. Coaching changes can happen whenever.

News broke Saturday out of Houston that the Rockets would not retain associate head coach Jeff Bzdelik. Considered one of the league’s top defensive minds, Bzdelik’s relationship with Scott Brooks along with comments made by the Wizards head coach at the NBA Combine makes this transaction interesting.

Bzdelik, 66, gave Brooks his first NBA coaching job when the then Denver Nuggets head coach hired the former player in 2003.

"I'm thankful for coach Bzdelik," Brooks told the Houston Chronicle in 2016.  "He gave me my first NBA coaching start. One of the best coaches I've ever been around. He has great understanding of the game, both ends of the floor.”

Fast forward to Thursday inside Chicago’s Quest Multisport facility. Amid 5-on-5 games involving 2019 draft prospects, players holding court with media members and the general convention vibe that comes with the NBA Combine, Brooks spent a few minutes chatting with reporters.

Among the non-draft or general manager search topics, whether any changes to the coaching staff were forthcoming.

"I’ve talked to Ted. I definitely talked Ted,” Brooks began his reply, referencing Wizards owner Ted Leonsis. “I have a lot of respect for our organization. I have to get better, first and foremost…Will the staff remain the same? Every year, staffs change. Every year staffs change. We're probably going to make some changes. I don't know if it's for sure. Everything is still up in the air.”

Brooks also noted change could come from members of his staff seeking opportunities elsewhere. Tony Brown, Brooks’ lead assistant during his three seasons with the Wizards, became a coaching free agent following Washington’s 32-50 season, according to NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller.

Two days after Brooks’ comments came news of Bzdelik’s exit in Houston.

Bzdelik, a former Bullets assistant from 1988-94 and three-time college head coach, retired following the 2017-18 season. He returned to the Rockets in November following Houston’s slow start. The associate head coach is credited with guiding the team’s defensive improvement as the Rockets rose up the Western Conference standings.

The Houston Chronicle reported Bzdelik, whose contract expired after this season, remained uncommitted to returning. The Rockets announced Saturday they would not renew his deal.

The Wizards do not want a repeat of their defensive struggles. Only the Atlanta Hawks allowed more points per game than the 116.9 Washington surrendered last season. The Wizards ranked 28th in opponent field goal percentage (48.0) and 27th in 3-point shooting percentage (37.0).

It’s unclear how the Wizards fix those defensive concerns based solely on personnel. The current roster with five healthy players does not include any forwards or mobile big men. Point guard John Wall is expected to miss the majority of the upcoming season following February’s surgery for a ruptured Achilles. Wall, an erratic defensive presence in recent seasons, was previously selected to the NBA’s all-defensive team in 2015.

Coaching strategies could become the primary driver of change on the defensive end. The man who brought Brooks into the coaching fraternity would make for an obvious addition if both sides are interested.

"The accountability that [Jeff] taught me with the coaching staff and the players is second to none,” Brooks told the Chronicle in 2016. “I learned about work. I learned how to transfer my playing career into a coaching career with his help."

News of the next front office leader likely comes before coaching staff tweaks.

Nuggets President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly was offered the same position with the Wizards Saturday after Denver granted Washington permission to meet. In the interim, the Wizards sent a contingent of scouting personnel along with Brooks to Chicago as the team conducted player interviews and watched scrimmages.

“Ted is going to make a decision and I trust that I going to be the best for the program moving forward,” Brooks said Thursday. “As of right now, (interim GM Tommy Sheppard) is doing a great job leading the group. We all feel comfortable with what’s going on. Hopefully, things work out and we move forward as an organization. We all have to get better, myself included.”

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: