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Lzen
11-28-2005, 09:11 AM
Published Sunday, November 27, 2005

Caywood: Senior Luke leads storybook finish

By Kurt Caywood
The Capital-Journal

LAWRENCE -- It was the first Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation of the Christmas season. It was every sports book in your grade-school library.

Athlete succeeds. Athlete fails, miserably and publicly. Athlete is reviled by fickle fans. Then in dire circumstances, athlete emerges from obscurity to lead miracle comeback in season-saving overtime win.

"I think it's perfect," Kansas coach Mark Mangino said.

Too perfect for real life, except this time it is real life.

Six weeks after his first two passes against Oklahoma were interceptions and five weeks after he was unceremoniously relegated to the sideline, Brian Luke re-entered at quarterback and led KU past Iowa State, 24-21 in overtime, and back to the postseason for the second time in three years.


Kurt Caywood
"His poise and his dedication to this team are unbelievable," senior linebacker Banks Floodman said. "I love having him a part of this team."

Sometimes it's been tough love.

Luke and Floodman are two of seven seniors who have been at Kansas five years. They signed with Terry Allen, now ISU's assistant head coach. They survived the character-building process in Mangino's early years. They lived the highs and lows of a program's grind toward respectability.

Luke has been the hero. He got it done last year at Missouri in his first start. He brought the Jayhawks back earlier this year at Texas Tech to claim the job as his own.

But he also has been the goat. This season, he claimed the starting job because he was the first among mediocre equals. He was ineffective against K-State and head-shakingly horrible against OU.

"I definitely didn't want KU fans' remembrance of me," he said, "to be the Oklahoma game."

Photos
Kansas vs. Iowa State
It nearly was. He played three possessions at Colorado, his team went minus-4 yards and he was gone, not to be seen again.

Until Saturday.

Kansas was down eight in the fourth quarter needing a win to make a bowl game when Jason Swanson went down.

Basketball season, right? Not on the KU sideline.

"There wasn't much fanfare," Mangino said. "When Swanny was lying down I just said, 'Hey Brian, you'd better go get your helmet; you're probably gonna need it.'"

Nonchalant is the wrong word, but after what Luke had lived through, he definitely felt a sense that there was nothing to lose.

"To tell you the truth," he said, "I had a sense of calmness come over me. I just said, 'All right, let's go to work.'"

He did. On fourth-and-goal from the 1, he snuck KU to within two, then threw a conversion pass to tight end Derek Fine for the tie.

"I was thinking to myself, 'That's the Brian Luke I know,'" Floodman said. "That's the guy I always see in practice. That's the guy I've known for five years, the poised quarterback who makes great throws.'"

Luke made another great throw on fourth-and-14 from the ISU 30 that would have tied it again at 21 had it not been dropped. He slumped to his knees, dejected.

Then as he had done throughout his career, he rallied.

"I didn't realize how much time was left on the clock," he said. "I thought that was our drive. Once we got to the sideline, I realized there was still time left to get some stuff done."

Sure enough, Floodman and the defense came through again, KU got the ball back at its own 42 with 1:49 remaining and, 44 seconds later, Luke put them into overtime.

The guy who lost his job for misfiring on more than 60 percent of his passes against Big 12 competition finished the day 9-for-12 with a touchdown.

"It's all a blur right now," he said.

It was in perfect focus for his teammates and his coach, who already were counting on getting plenty of mileage out of Luke's storybook ending.

"I told the kids, 'You have to be able to deal with both adversity and success,'" Mangino said. "Brian Luke understands. Brian Luke has accepted the hand dealt to him, and what he did today is a lesson for all our players. When you least expect it, the call's gonna come. Are you prepared? He was prepared."

Kurt Caywood's column regularly appears Mondays, Fridays and Sundays. He can be reached at (785) 295-1288 or kurt.caywood@cjonline.com.

Link (http://hawkzone.cjonline.com/stories/112705/haw_luke.shtml)

Lzen
11-28-2005, 09:13 AM
I gotta give this guy props. As much as I've been dogging him all season (and deservedly so), he came up huge on Saturday. Perhaps he is just one of those guys who plays much better as the backup. You know, can't handle all the pressure of being the starter, but he can come in as a backup and perform well. I hope that's it. Swanson didn't look too good on Saturday. We may very well need another performance like this from Luke in our bowl game (assuming we go to a bowl).

Skip Towne
11-28-2005, 10:05 AM
Have you got any idea which bowls may be interested in KU? If not, I can ask Psicosis, he knows everything.