Big 12: Jacob Branstetter

Kansas struggled on its opening drive, giving up a pair of sacks and punting on a three-and-out.

But down 14 early in the second quarter, Kansas has reached Missouri territory twice. Both times it has left with no points. Kicker Jacob Branstetter pulled a 42-yard kick wide left, and quarterback Jordan Webb's pass for quarterback-turned-receiver Kale Pick fell incomplete on 4th-and-3 at Missouri's 41-yard line.

Missouri's going to keep scoring, and running back Kendial Lawrence answered with a 31-yard touchdown run that has Missouri up 21-0 in the second quarter.

Kansas' offense has struggled for most of the year, and it has to take advantage when it gets opportunities against an offense like Missouri's. It could be 14-6 or even 14-10. The Jayhawks' failed execution instead has Kansas looking like it's on its way to a season-ending blowout loss to the rival Tigers.

That's exactly what coach Turner Gill didn't need heading into the offseason after a disappointing debut season.

Lunch links: 5-7 Texas could go bowling

November, 18, 2010
11/18/10
12:00
PM ET
You cheated on me with choreography, and that is the worst kind of way.
Kansas ranks dead last in the Big 12 in scoring defense this year, but the Jayhawks don't seem to care in the first half against Iowa State.

Iowa State's only points came on a 62-yard Josh Lenz punt return, and Kansas used three Jacob Branstetter field goals to take a 9-7 lead at halftime.

Kansas is clearly trying to ride that defense today, with a third-string quarterback in Quinn Mecham making his first career start. Instead of taking a shot at the end zone near the end of the half, Turner Gill elected to send out the reliable Branstetter, who booted a 38-yarder to send the Jayhawks to the half with a lead for the first time in conference play.

Iowa State's Alexander Robinson has found some holes in the Kansas defense, running for 68 yards on just seven carries, but quarterback Austen Arnaud has just 39 yards passing, completing 5-of-11 attempts.

The Revolving Door: Kansas

April, 8, 2010
4/08/10
10:30
AM ET
Here, we'll take a look at a couple of key players going, staying and coming for each team in the Big 12.


Going:

Todd Reesing, QB

Reesing entered Kansas undersized and underrecruited. He left as the most prolific passer in school history and an Orange Bowl champion. His 11,194 career passing yards are fifth-most in Big 12 history. A logjam of six candidates, currently led by Kale Pick, Jordan Webb and Christian Matthews, will vy to be Reesing's replacement next fall.

Dezmon Briscoe, WR

A first-team All-Big 12 performer a season ago, Briscoe was a big-time receiver for his final two seasons in Lawrence. As a junior, the 6-foot-3, 200-pounder caught 92 passes for 1,407 yards and 15 touchdowns. His encore last season featured 84 catches for 1,337 yards. That was good enough for ninth in the nation in receptions per game.


Staying:

Bradley McDougald and Johnathan Wilson, WRs

McDougald and Wilson might not be the next Meier and Briscoe, but both posted solid numbers in 2009 and will need to see those numbers grow to support a new starter at quarterback. Wilson caught 35 passes for 449 yards and McDougald caught 33 passes for 318 yards.


Drew Dudley, LB

Dudley, with 88 stops a season ago, is the Jayhawks' leading returning tackler. On a defense devoid of big-time talent, he's the most likely candidate to emerge as a household name on defense.

Runner-up: Jacob Branstetter, K. A two-year starter, Branstetter booted a 57-yard field goal last season against Oklahoma.


Coming:

Brandon Bourbon, RB

Never mind his automatic qualifier on the All-Name team. Bourbon is a balanced running back, running a 4.48 40-yard dash at 6-foot-2 and 208 pounds. His time could be coming soon, but he could earn at least a few carries in his first season on campus.


Keeston Terry, WR

Terry isn't coming from far away, only a few miles east across the state line in Blue Springs, Mo., but the 6-foot-2, 179-pound receiver could give the Jayhawk receivers some additional depth. Missouri and Kansas State were both after one of the top receivers in the state of Missouri. Turner Gill got him.

More Revolving Door

Kansas settles for field goal after penalty

November, 28, 2009
11/28/09
7:02
PM ET
Any kind of defensive stop in a wild offensive battle like tonight's Kansas-Missouri game is huge.

That's why the intentional grounding call against Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing at the end of the last Jayhawk drive was critical.

The Jayhawks settled for a 39-yard field goal by Jacob Branstetter which gave them a 39-36 lead with 5:10 left.

Now, it will be up to the Kansas defense to shut out the down the Missouri offense again. The Jayhawks got a three-and-out on their last drive after Missouri had scored on their first four drives of the second half.

Kansas' bowl hopes will be depending on it.

KU-KSU game marked by missed opportunities by both teams

November, 7, 2009
11/07/09
1:13
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The first quarter of the Kansas-Kansas State game has been a testament to blown chances.

Both teams have blown scoring opportunities in a 0-0 deadlock.

Jacob Branstetter misfired on a 30-yard field goal after the first Kansas possession. And quarterback Todd Reesing's struggles have continued with another interception.

But Kansas State couldn't make anything of Emmanuel Lamur's interception. Grant Gregory overthrew a wide-open Lamark Brown on a fourth-down play that could have easily resulted in a touchdown.

Both teams are struggling early in this pivotal North Division battle.

Ranking the Big 12's special teams

September, 3, 2009
9/03/09
6:22
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin


I know this makes me sound like a coaches, but I actually think that special teams really does account for a third of a team's success. And I think that solid play in all facets is especially critical in the Big 12 because of the small margin of error in most games.

Here's a look at how I rank the special teams in the conference, giving each team a master rating including all facets of the kicking game.

1. Texas: The best combination kicking game in the league with two-deep talent at both kicker and punter and Jordan Shipley to take care of the returns. The Longhorns always have fast, talented athletes covering kicks as well. And I'm curious to see if Justin Tucker really will be able to produce rugby-style punts with both feet.

2. Oklahoma State:The Cowboys have the best kickoff/punt returners in the conference in Dez Bryant and Perrish Cox. Special-teams coach Joe DeForest always does an outstanding job, although he’ll be in tough spot replacing Matt Fodge as his punter this season.

3. Nebraska: Alex Henery was the best kicker in the conference with a knack for making huge kicks. It's curious that Nebraska coaches would risk that success by having him double up as a punter this season. But he actually came to college as a walk-on punter. Niles Paul will get the start as both punt returner and kick returner. And Adi Kunalic led the nation in touchbacks as a kickoff specialist.

4. Kansas State:I’m basing this as much on past success as anything else -- Ron Prince’s team blocked four punts for touchdowns last season. Brandon Banks is a threat to break a big return on every play and he’ll be doubling as a kick and punt returner this season. Even with Bill Snyder taking over, I’m still thinking this will be a productive unit as they break in new kicker Josh Cherry and new punter Ryan Doerr.

5. Baylor: The Bears have the most consistent punter in the conference with Derek Epperson. Look for improvement from kicker Ben Parks. One key will be boosting punt returns with new returner Krys Buerck after ranking only 118th nationally as a team last season.

6. Iowa State: I think that Jack Trice Stadium might be the toughest facility in the conference because of its swirling winds. Paul Rhoads has some confidence with Grant Mahoney back at kicker and Mike Brandtner at punter. Leonard Johnson is one of the most effective kickoff returners in the conference. But the Cyclones need a boost on punt returns and in covering kicks.

7. Oklahoma: For a team with as many athletes as the Sooners, I was surprised with their difficulties in covering kicks last season. That’s the immediate concern for them. DeMarco Murray was a threat on every return, but I doubt he plays there much because of his recent injury problems. Dominique Franks, Ryan Broyles and Cameron Kenney are expected to contribute in the return game. And Kenney might even push Tress Way for punting duties. Coaches have also been impressed with the improved range of kicker Jimmy Stevens. We’ll see if that holds up when the season starts.

8. Texas Tech: The story about Matt “Lynwood” Williams was one of the best in college football last year as he emerged from an in-game kicking contest to win most of the kicking honors for the Red Raiders. Donnie Carona was a disappointment as a kicker, but may emerge as a punter along with Ryan Erxleben (yeah, he’s the son of former Texas punter Russell Erxleben) as the Red Raiders wait for Jonathan LaCour to come off a Big 12-mandated suspension. Edward Britton and Jamar Wall will be involved in returning kicks, along with many others.

9. Texas A&M: Here’s a stat that shows how far Texas A&M’s once vaunting kicking game has fallen in recent years. The Aggies haven’t converted a field goal of 50 yards or more since 2000. Randy Bullock is back as the kicker and freshman Ryan Epperson and Ken Wood are still battling for the punting job. Christine Michael inherits the kickoff return duties, but look for heralded junior-college cornerback Coryell Judie to be involved some way.

10. Missouri: No Jeremy Maclin and Jeff Wolfert means that the Tigers will rebuild one of their strongest units last season. Their net punting figures to improve after Jake Harry’s strong start. Grant Ressel won the kicking job in a tight battle, but might be pushed this season. Gary Pinkel is sorting through his options in the return game but won’t have anybody nearly as gifted as Maclin. And they need to do a better job covering kicks after allowing a kickoff return for a touchdown for the first time last season.

11. Kansas: The Jayhawks desperately need some improvement in this category. Jacob Branstetter converted 75 percent of his kicks, but his longest was only 34 yards. Punter Alonso Rojas’ net average was only 33.9 yards. And the Jayhawks ranked 118th nationally in kickoff returns as Marcus Herford accounted for most of the returns. They showed some strong improvement late in the season when Dezmon Briscoe took over.

12. Colorado: The Buffaloes had the worst field-goal percentage in the country as they converted only 29 percent last season. They also lose Josh Smith, who set a school record for total kick return yards. Coaches think that Andre Simmons will be able to help here, but I’ll take a wait-and-see attitude before I get too excited.

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