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November 6, 2013

Notebook: Players prepare for Cowboys

The Jayhawks started the same offensive line for four weeks but going into the Oklahoma State game that streak will be broken. On the latest depth chart it shows Damon Martin will get his first start at left guard and Riley Spencer will start next to him at tackle.

One constant has been Aslam Sterling who moved from left tackle to right after a few weeks. Sterling has seen all of the changes on the line and said they are doing whatever they can as a unit to help the offense.

"I think it is easy for us to stick together because we have been with each other for a while," Sterling said. "Everyone knows each other and we're just trying to get the best five guys on the field. Nobody can get mad at that."

Charlie Weis is still searching for the right mix on the offensive line. Sterling has started every game and admits he feels more comfortable at right tackle where he started eight games last year.

"I do feel more comfortable on my right side and I think I've been playing okay the last couple of weeks," he said. "It has felt good moving back to right tackle."

Last week against Texas, the offensive line faced two of the most athletic, defensive ends they will see in the Big 12. They are getting ready for another match-up that features a Cowboy line built around physical play and good athletes.

"I think they are real strong inside with their two tackles," Sterling said. "They have athletic guys on the outside. They do a lot of movement and we have to be able to contain."


Another week of up-tempo offense for the defense

Getting ready for fast offenses is nothing new for the Jayhawks. In the Big 12 you face offenses that push the tempo. The schedule has played out they have faced the fastest paced offenses in consecutive weeks.

Last week Oklahoma State got their ground game going against Texas Tech rushing for 281 yards. They used quarterback Clint Chelf several times in their zone read scheme.

"They have a really good scheme offensively," said defensive lineman Kevin Young. "They execute what they do very well and it is going to be on us to be in the right position and minimize the mistakes and mental errors. We have to be in the right position at the right time. Across the board they are a really good team."

If Oklahoma State uses the same offense against Texas Tech the linebackers will have a busy day. The quarterback will read the defense and decide whether to keep it or hand it off. The Jayhawks haven't faced a lot of zone read teams that utilize the quarterback run game this season.

"They're very balanced and they run the ball awfully well," said linebacker Jake Love. "Just being able to be on your keys and being able to read run/pass and being able to get out in coverage is what we have to do. In practice we work hard on making sure we are making the right reads and your eyes are looking in the right spot."

The scout team is trying to prepare the defense for what they will see. Both T.J. Millweard and Jordan Darling have been running as the quarterbacks on the scout team. Millweard arrived in fall camp after transferring from UCLA.

"From what I can see he is a legit player," Young said of Millweard. "He has a good arm on him and makes good decisions in the pocket."


Going back home for Love

Love grew up in Tonkawa a little less than an hour away from Stillwater. He led his team to the state title game which was played in Boone Pickens Stadium. He has looked forward to playing back close to his home.

"This is a game that I've been looking forward to pretty much ever since I got into college," Love said. "My brother and sister went to Oklahoma State and where I grew up. That is the closest school to my home town. Being able to go back and play in front of everyone who watched me throughout high school is going to be fun."

Love said Oklahoma State showed interest in him but said he was too small to play linebacker.


Pardula back on track

When Trevor Pardula started kicking outside once he arrived in Lawrence he realized it was a whole different situation than California. Pardula had to adjust to the cold temperatures and the swirling winds. He said the winds can affect punts in California but nothing like has seen in Kansas.

"There is definitely a lot more wind here and it is colder," he said. "I was here during the winter in January so I had an opportunity to get used to it. Since I've been here I have been kicking into the wind a lot. In California the weather doesn't get too cold and the average wind there isn't as high."

Pardula had a strong start to his Kansas career since transferring from DeAnza Junior College. He is sixth in the nation in punting averaging over 45 yard per punt. The only tough outing came against Oklahoma when he had to do most of his punting into a strong wind.

Since the game against the Sooners he has returned to his big numbers. He recalls that Oklahoma game and said he worked hard not to have a game like that.

"That whole week after that game I was angry and focused," he said. "That whole week sucked. The next week I was focused on having a good game. We didn't switch up anything it was just a bad week. The wind up high was tough and their (Oklahoma) guy was struggling getting into it as well. I only had two punts with the wind and the rest were against it. It was rough punning into that. You just hit the ball and it dies."


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