Jayhawks to Watch


The Associated Press

Kansas running back James Sims (29) is tripped up by Oklahoma State defensive end Cooper Bassett (80) during the second half of a game in Lawrence, Kan., Saturday, Oct. 13. Kansas quarterback Michael Cummings (14) was blocking on the play. Oklahoma State defeated Kansas 20-14.

Matt Warden

James Sims:
On an offense that ranks No. 117 in the country, consistency is difficult to find. Junior running back James Sims appears to be a source of light however. Sims has rushed for 446 yards and five touchdowns in the four games he has appeared in this season. His 4.4 yards per carry is impressive for a back at any level, but the statistic is bolstered when the competition is considered. Although Kansas is winless in Big 12 play, against three perennial powerhouses in Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, Sims’ 28 carries and 118 yard averages are nothing to scoff at. In a game that the Jayhawks nearly pulled out against Oklahoma State, Sims ran for a season-best 138 yards with a touchdown. Sims has also shown the ability to catch the ball, hauling in seven receptions for 122 yards on the season.

Tony Pierson:
Pierson fits a type that has become prevalent in the players to watch column over the last few weeks: small and elusive. At 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, Pierson is a guy who does a lot of things for Kansas with his quickness. He is second on the team in rushing behind Sims with 386 yards and two touchdowns. He is also one of the leading receivers on the team with 15 catches for 198 yards and a touchdown. Although the sophomore running back isn’t used frequently as the primary option in the Jayhawk offense, his 97 yards from scrimmage per game prove he is a critical part in their scheme. If Sims has a tough time running the football, expect to see Pierson get an opportunity to break off a big run and flash the speed that makes him a big threat in this offense. He won’t be the primary back in this game, but his number will be called and the Longhorns should beware of another little guy who could burn them if they aren’t careful.

Bradley McDougald:
Compact and efficient, small and savvy; whatever you want to call McDougald, he is the most consistent and versatile defender at Kansas. The senior safety has amassed a team-leading 58 tackles on the season to go along with a sack and two interceptions. At 6-foot-1, 209 pounds, he is a smaller defender who uses his technique and speed to make plays. McDougald has a punt return for a touchdown this season, adding some versatility to his decent production on the defensive side of the football. The Longhorns offense hasn’t had much difficulty scoring points this season, but McDougald appears to be a guy who could give them some issues if not respected. In a game that will most likely be a blowout, McDougald seems to be the only defender to keep an eye out for.