September 11, 2015

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) Kansas coach David Beaty and Memphis counterpart Justin Fuente have known each other for years, dating to the days when Fuente would stop by MacArthur High School on the recruiting trail to check out one of Beaty's prep prospects.

Their relationship is a professional one rather than personal, but that hardly diminishes how much respect Beaty has for the way Fuente has turned around the Tigers program.

After all, it's precisely what he's trying to do with the Jayhawks.

''It's absolutely no surprise he's been as good as he's been at the Division I level,'' Beaty said. ''I was the one standing in line trying to steal what he's doing schematically because he's a brilliant, brilliant offensive mind.''

That was evident in the early 2000s, when Fuente was a young offensive coach at Illinois State and Beaty was coaching Texas high schools. It became even more clear after Fuente's arrival at Memphis, which had won three games total over the previous two years.

Last season, his third at Memphis, he led the school to a 10-3 record and a bowl game.

''He has always been a creative guy and they continue to do that,'' Kansas offensive coordinator Rob Likens said. ''Their offense is very complicated within its simplicity. You can tell they know exactly where they are headed with everything. They repeat plays but with a lot of different formations and motions. It creates problems for defenses.''

The Jayhawks had enough of those in a Week 1 loss to South Dakota State. They dug a 31-7 hole by the second quarter, and a frantic second-half rally came up short in a 41-38 defeat.

Still, Fuente saw enough of Beaty's new look to be concerned.

''We're going to get challenged in a lot more areas this week,'' said Fuente, whose team rolled to a season-opening 63-3 win over Missouri State. ''It's one of those games where you have to be prepared to play the whole game regardless of the circumstance.''

The Jackrabbits failed to do that and it nearly cost them.

As the Jayhawks and Tigers prepare to meet Saturday, here are some things to know:

SPEED PLAYS: The Jayhawks feature what Fuente called a ''pedal-to-the-metal'' offense that ran 90 plays against South Dakota State. Often, there was just a handful of seconds between them. Only six Division I schools ran more plays in the opening week. ''They will run it and throw it as fast as humanly possible,'' Fuente said. ''They're never out of a game.''

BIG QB: One thing that stood out on film to Beaty was Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, and for good reason: He is 6-foot-7, 245 pounds. But he also has a big arm, having thrown for more than 5,100 yards since becoming the starter two years ago. ''He's a big dude,'' Beaty said. ''He can sling it but he can also run. He's done as much damage with his feet as with his arm.''

SPEAKING OF RUNNING: The Jayhawks may run the ''air raid'' offense, but they showed they can run the ball a bit, too. Ke'aun Kinner had 157 yards rushing against the Jackrabbits, the most by a Big 12 runner last week. ''I knew I was going to get the ball,'' he said, ''just not that much.''

KINNER'S COUNTERPART: Memphis running back Jarvis Cooper ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns against Missouri State. But what really pleased Fuente was the way he approached special teams late in the game. ''He flew down there and blew the wedge to pieces. To me, that's team football,'' Fuente said. ''I'm just as proud of that as how many yards he had.''

STREAKING: The Tigers carry an eight-game win streak into Lawrence, fourth-best in the FBS, while the Jayhawks are trying to snap a three-game skid. Kansas has dropped nine of its last 10 overall. ''Right now, it is all about us,'' Jayhawks defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said. ''It is about us doing the things we are capable of controlling.''

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