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Norris has paid his dues

The Capital-Journal

LAWRENCE -- Moran Norris is not, all of a sudden, the centerpiece of Kansas' offense. But darned if he isn't on the table to stay.

Much has been made of Norris' emergence since he was pressed into duty as a ballcarrier against Kansas State. In the last three weeks, he has carried 36 times for 165 yards.

He may not average a dozen carries the rest of his career, but unlike his first two-plus seasons, when he worked his way into the role of a blocking fullback, he will run the football from now on.

"He's earned those (carries), and not only has he earned them, it's given us a little more dimension," KU coach Terry Allen said.

Tailback David Winbush continues to improve after suffering knee and ankle injuries against SMU, and Mitch Bowles still offers too much big-play potential to keep him on the sideline.

But the 6-foot-2, 245-pound Norris packs something new and different.

A wallop.

"He doesn't change direction in space like your typical back sometimes," Allen said. "He doesn't change on a dime -- more like a manhole cover -- but he's got some great quicks." Earning time, Part II

Inside linebacker Dariss Lomax, who suffered a strained ligament in his right knee on the third play of last week's game, has improved and may play against Nebraska.

Even so, look for sophomore Marcus Rogers to start.

The 6-1, 235-pound Rogers has seen his playing time increase over the last few weeks and was on the field for most of the game against Missouri.

"He's taken advantage of the situation when he's been in there," Allen said. "We consciously said, 'We need to play that guy more.' " No woe is Nebraska

As Nebraska's starting I-back, Dan Alexander is following in the footsteps of some of college football's greatest runners.

He's averaging 72.7 yards a game

"They have diversified their offense, so the I-back is not the numbers guy he's been in the past," Allen explained.

The Huskers are second in the conference in rushing and sixth in total offense, but their defense, which ranks third in the nation, has picked them up. NU is allowing just 11.7 points, 78 yards rushing and 160 yards passing per game.

Allen compared them favorably with Kansas State, which is the nation's fourth-best defensive team.

"They're very similar," he said. "They have a lot of the same style. The thing Nebraska might gave over Kansas State is the secondary with the Browns (rover Mike and cornerback Ralph). Kansas State might have it a little over Nebraska in linebacker play." Offensive lineman commits

Richard Pope, a 6-6, 275-pound offensive lineman from Evanston, Ill., has given a verbal commitment to Kansas, choosing the Jayhawks over Georgia Tech and Kentucky, both of which had offered scholarships. He also was being recruited by UCLA and Miami.

Pope, who visited KU on Sept. 10, was a former teammate of KU sophomore linebacker Algie Atkinson at Evanston Township High.

"I just wanted to be a Jayhawk," Pope told the recruiting service Big 12 Blitz. "KU is an up-and-coming program."

Pope is the fifth player, and the fourth lineman, known to have committed to Kansas.

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