Kansas has been looking to Oklahoma for a week

Wednesday, September 27th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NORMAN, Okla. – Kansas coach Terry Allen admitted using practice time last week to work on defending No. 14-ranked Oklahoma's spread offense. It's an idea OU's Bob Stoops can't really imagine.

"To me, that's an awfully big gamble," Stoops said Tuesday. "If you lose the [next] game, you've blown it. I've never done it."

Kansas managed to paste Southern Illinois, 42-0, despite looking past the Division I-AA Salukis.

Stoops, for sure, won't be looking past Kansas this week to next Saturday's date with Texas in the Cotton Bowl. He's already reminded his troops the Jayhawks have beaten OU three straight times.

"That is a factor," said Stoops. "Our players are aware of that. I can't believe that would sit well with any competitor."

Kansas' victories in the last two meetings, in 1996 and 1997, bordered on the bizarre. The Jayhawks won, 52-24, in '96 when 38 points were either set up or scored by Oklahoma's mistakes on special teams. Included were a 100-yard kickoff return, a 54-yard return of a blocked field goal and a 94-yard punt return.

Allen labeled his only encounter with OU, in 1997, as "very fortunate." The Jayhawks, in Allen's first year as head coach, won, 20-17, when Oklahoma put only 10 men on the field (six on the line of scrimmage) for Steve Daniels' tying 27-yard field goal. When the kick was retried at 32 yards, it was blocked.

The kind of mistakes made during the John Blake era at OU, however, have been largely absent during Stoops' reign.

Attention to detail is part of Stoops' philosophy and his teams, reflecting that trait, always have been prepared to play.

"As coaches, we're always overly critical," said Stoops. "Especially early in the season. You're constantly pushing to improve and get better."

Stoops was less than pleased with three turnovers in OU's 42-14 victory over Rice last week.

"Outside of that [and a cornerback allowing a receiver to run free on a play-action pass], we played pretty well," said Stoops. "I feel like we've made progress and, in the last two games, established consistency. But we need to improve."

Oklahoma ranks as the nation's No. 4 team in total offense (491.3 ypg) and No. 3 in scoring (47.3 ppg). Kansas ranks No. 1 in pass defense (84.0 ypg).

Kansas appears to have recovered from its 31-17 opening-game loss at SMU, where the Jayhawks fell behind, 24-0, in the first quarter due to, according to Allen, "snap and punt problems."

Charlie Smith is a free-lance writer based in Tulsa.