LAWRENCE — Usually, Kansas wide receiver Kerry Meier doesn't pay much attention to an opposing team's defensive tackle when he is watching film. But this is Nebraska week, which means Meier couldn't avoid having his eyes wander over to that big guy in red who wears No. 93, Ndamukong Suh.
"You know, it's hard not to watch him," Meier said. "At wide receiver, I try to focus on what the secondary is doing. But it seems that every play you watch, that quarterback is on the move and running out of the pocket. He disrupts a lot of things — a lot of things that offensive coordinators and people have to worry about. The guy's impressive on film, and I'm anxious to see what he's like live and in color this year."
Last year when Nebraska and Kansas met, you didn't need high-definition to see the impact that Suh, Nebraska's 6-foot-4, 300-pound defensive tackle, can have on a football game. He amassed 12 tackles, 2 1/2 sacks, a 2-yard receiving touchdown and could have brought down half of the buildings in downtown Lincoln with his sheer impact.
This year, it has been more of the same. Suh was so good in Nebraska's win at Missouri — he forced a fumble on a sack, intercepted a pass and had six tackles — that he was mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate.
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Suh is second on the team with 53 tackles, 13 for a loss and five sacks, and he has blocked three kicks. Teams are devoting so much attention to containing him that his counterpart, defensive tackle Jared Crick, has topped him with 57 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and nine sacks.
KU coach Mark Mangino said Suh's success involves more than brute strength.
"He is as fundamentally sound a football player as there is in the conference," Mangino said. "He jumps the ball, his hands are up, he is working to the football and he is controlling the guy in front of him. He is strong. He is quick. He is hard to get off his feet because he has a real low center of gravity. He seems to be a very smart player. You cannot fool him. People have tried to fool him with various blocking schemes, and he is not fooled."
So if the Jayhawks can't fool him, they'll actually have to block him. For a group that has struggled to block everyday college football defensive linemen, is it even possible? Last week, Mangino moved left guard Brad Thorson to right tackle to replace Jeff Spikes. Sal Capra moved over to left guard from right guard, making redshirt freshman Trevor Marrongelli the new starter at right guard, which just so happens to be right across from where Suh lines up every play.
All KU offensive coordinator Ed Warinner could do was chuckle when asked about that reality. Certainly, there is no way to prepare young Marrongelli for what is coming.
"We don't have one of those guys walking around right now to throw in there against him," Warinner said. "No one on the scout team."