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September 14, 2013The Jayhawks have 27 players from Texas on their roster and many of them will get a chance to play in front of family and friends against Rice.
It is the first of three trips to Texas.
Kansas right tackle Zach Fondal lives the closest to Rice's stadium. His house is just 20 minutes away from where the Jayhawks will play on Saturday night.
"It is not that far away," Fondal said. "My mom, my aunt, and my uncles will be there. I am ready to show them all of the hard work that I've put in to get here. I hope I play well in front of all of my family and friends."
Ben Goodman is another player that didn't grow up far from Houston. He attended West Brook High in Beaumont.
"It is about an hour away," Goodman said. "This is the closest I will ever play to my home in college. This is like a home game for me. I have a lot of people coming to the game. I am expecting about 40 people to be there. I'm excited to go play in front of all of my family and friends."
Then there are players like James Sims who live in the Lone Star State but a good distance away. The three-and-a-half drive won't keep Sims family away from watching him play.
"My mom, my grandma, my aunt, my cousin, my brother and sisters will all be there," Sims said. "It will be good. Just knowing they will be there will have me more ready to go if anything."
Slowing down the Rice offense
The Owls put up 510 yards of offense against Texas A&M in their first game. They rushed for over 300 yards. The Rice offense has been clicking since the middle of last season and it all starts with their quarterback Taylor McHargue.
"Their whole offense revolves around the quarterback," said linebacker Ben Heeney. "He is a good quarterback. He can definitely run the ball and one of his strengths is making something out of nothing. He will scramble to find 15 yards here or 20 yards there. They are a speed option team and zone read team, but it all revolves around their quarterback like last week against South Dakota. We need to get the quarterback down and make sure we have him under control."
Last week Ben Goodman debuted at the buck linebacker position. The buck was installed last spring and the players are asked to do everything from rush off the edge to drop back in coverage.
In fall camp the defense worked against a fast tempo offense to get ready for this type of game.
"We really have to focus on the tempo of the game," Goodman said. "We know that it will be fast. We watched on film their first play of their last game and right when the play was over they all jumped right up and their coaches were signaling in plays right away. We know they will go really fast and we need to work on that. We need to work on the details and what type of formations and personnel they are in."
Goodman could have a busy night since his position moves around the field and has different responsibilities. All of the players lining up at the buck position will have to keep an eye on McHargue.
"They have a lot of quarterback run," Goodman said. "So the buck has to be conscious of the quarterback were on but most of all do our responsibility."
More thoughts and quotes
• The Jayhawks enter the game close to a touchdown underdog. For most of the week the point spread has gone in Rice's favor. Although the game is played out on a field and not a Vegas board, Heeney said he has noticed all of the talk favoring Rice.
"Obviously it bothers us that we are predicted to lose but I don't see us as an underdog by any means," Heeney said. "People are going to predict who they want to and I am not worried about predictions at all. We're going in to play our game."
• Against South Dakota the Kansas running backs all got in the action. Sims led the way with 16 carries followed by Darrian Miller. Taylor Cox got six rushes but had the best average per carry. It helps to keep putting fresh running backs in the game.
"We feel fresh knowing that we will all get touches during the game," Sims said. "Knowing that there will be fresh legs out there at all times is a positive. We won't have to worry in the fourth quarter about being down because with me, Taylor, and Darrian we are rotating in."