1 and 0! KU football team starts season with a "W"
The perfect opening-game scenario for Kansas University’s true freshmen must have looked something like this: Darrian Miller runs hard all night and has every carry but one go for positive yardage; Tony Pierson picks up a touchdown and delivers a few electrifying runs; and JaCorey Shepherd, the wide receiver teammates said all summer was nearly unguardable, picks up a TD in his first game.
Bing, bang, boom.
Led by three stellar showings from three of the Jayhawks’ youngest players, KU ran past McNeese State, 42-24, Saturday at Memorial Stadium. In doing so, head coach Turner Gill’s squad not only exorcised the demons from last year’s nightmare loss to North Dakota State, but also served notice that all the talk about how the team was improving was not lip service.
“I knew they had talent,” Gill said. “But (I didn’t) know if it was gonna come to fruition in this ballgame. But it was great to see it. When they got their touches, they produced. They didn’t get scared about the bright lights or playing on the big stage and all those things, and it was good to see those guys produce for us.”
“Produce” is putting it mildly. Running hard inside all night, Miller gained 63 yards on 13 carries. In eight fewer carries Pierson finished with 73 yards and a touchdown, including a 47-yard sprint in which he made two moves near the line of scrimmage that might have been missed if not for the replay on the video board.
And then there was Shepherd. All he did was catch three passes for 107 yards and two TDs. His 56-yarder in the first half was the longest by a KU receiver since Dezmon Briscoe in 2009, and his 100-yard receiving night was the first by a KU freshman since 1997.
“I actually thought it was gonna take me a little while to adjust to the speed of the game,” a humble Shepherd said after the win. “But I actually came out and played pretty well.”
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