It hurts oh so bad to say this, but if I didn’t I couldn’t truly call myself a fan of college football or more importantly, Kansas, so here it goes…Hats off and good luck to Methzou. For the next six days that is. I know many Jayhawks will not agree with me here, but the harsh reality is that in order to make a BCS bowl instead of the Cotton, OU can’t win the conference. (Click for larger image) So Tiger fans, get your sartorial splendor and your TransAm ready for a road trip to San Antonio. You have my reluctant support. And to the Methzou d-bags who posted comments last night at 12:21am and 4:17am...get a life. Your football team plays admirably and wins the biggest game in the history of what you call a University and you party animals celebrate by posting comments on rival blogs. Wow.
As for the game last night, I am still in shock. If you had told me at this time yesterday that Kansas would lose the turnover battle by two, miss two easy field goals, and be outgained both rushing and passing, I would have probably assumed the fetal position and been slightly less enthusiastic heading into Arrowhead. Yet that is exactly what happened and still, they were right there at the end. As I said, hats off to Methzou, they did exactly what I said Kansas would and that’s why they won the game. They were able to not only run effectively themselves but also basically eliminate the Kansas ground game. I blame a great deal of the latter on Kansas’ play calling (more on this later), but the fact of the matter is that Methzou took away something Kansas wanted to do and the Jayhawks could not return the favor.
And because of that, the jorts will be rampant throughout the River Walk next weekend. Quite frankly, as long as Pinkel is not allowed to make any decisions, I have to think Methzou has the upper hand. First, it’s incredibly hard to beat a time twice in a season. Secondly, they have all the momentum in the world. And third, they’re healthy. I didn’t see the OU game yesterday - and from the stat line (150 yards, 4TDs, 1 INT) Bradford was solid – but Murray is still missing. But if Booger can take care of the ball as well as he does his goatee and they can limit the run enough to make Bradford beat them, I don’t see how Methzou doesn’t win this game. As you may remember from the Tech game, the OU secondary is shoddy at best and getting 30 should not be a problem. Remind Pinkel that running fake field goals is not required.
Now for the real post mortem. I will not complain too much because I firmly believe coaching is as big a reason as any that Kansas is where they are. With that said, they called this game not to lose instead of to win. For 11 games they played how they wanted by being the aggressor, yet adaptive. Last night, they were tentative and stubborn. And because of that they fell behind 21-0. Sure they have always tried to establish the run (and they were right to last night as well), but there is no excuse for not getting more imaginative. Was it a surprise that they were able to shut down B-Mac? Of course. But if that’s the case, use the balance that got you where you are and utilize any number of alternatives. Most noticeably, Jake Sharp (1 carry) and by rolling out Hot Toddy A LOT more. And where was the Kerry Meier option. Maybe they would have defended it perfectly but there’s only one way to find out. And we never did.
Defensively, I only have one true complaint. Obviously the pass rush was not good, but that was to be expected. That hasn’t been a specialty all year and with McClinton hobbled and the Methzou tight ends commanding attention, I didn’t expect much here. However, I do not understand why their receivers were given such an enormous cushion. Other than Maclin, there was really no danger in getting beat deep, so why not jam them at the line and try and disrupt their timing. Lest we forget a huge part of the spread offense is based on timing. Because of this Booger was able to complete 40/49 passes for over 360 yards. Even if you’re terrified of succumbing to the big play, obviously they had figured out how to nickel and dime that defense so something different would have at least been a change of pace and put the onus on them.
And lastly, we come to special teams. First off, great work Kyle Tucker. You had three very solid punts and shed a blocker to tackle Maclin and save an early touchdown. We couldn’t have asked for much more. If only Scott Webb had eaten those same Wheaties. I don’t want to dwell on this too much, because you can’t point to first half miscues as excuses for losing. But it doesn’t take anything more than a Methzou degree to know that missing those 2 field goals was the difference in the game as it was ultimately played. Now, there is no reason to think that Methzou would have been trying to burn clock late if Kansas had 6 more points, but Kansas would have been able to play much differently as well. But we’ll never know and it doesn’t matter. Since that was simply execution, I am more questioning why the coaches did not adjust the kick return unit at some point. Obviously they did not want to kick to Marcus Herford – and for good reason. But why would Kansas not alter their return formation by, say, shifting everyone forward 7 yards. Three things can happen here. 1) They still kick short and you have the same situation but now Herford has the ball. 2) They kick it deep and if it stays in, you set up your return just as you normally will (though Herford may not have the same forward momentum). 3) They kick it deep and it rolls into/goes through the end zone. When you’re behind and needing a spark, I can’t think of any argument against this adjustment.
But alas, it has been a great regular season, despite the sour note it ended on. And now we must (gulp) root for Methzou to power through next week. From there, we will hold out hope hope that Pinkel can’t resist coaching in the national championship and they are humiliated ala Ohio State last year. It certainly looks like they will either be playing West Virginia or the aforementioned Buckeyes (neither are great) but if 2 in the Pinkel and 1 in the Stinkel is involved, a collapse is always possible.
Meanwhile, Kansas could still get an invite to either the Fiesta or Orange Bowl. Obviously this all assumes Methzou and WVA win next week and advance to the BCS Championship.
Rose: Ohio State v. USC
Sugar: LSU (or Tenn.) v. Georgia (I’m not sure how common it is to match conference opponents but this would be a great game and would draw huge fan support)
Fiesta: Kansas v. Arizona State
Orange: VaTech/BC winner v. Hawaii
If Methzou can’t prolong their inevitable Pinkel induced collapse for one more game and blows it this week, Kansas will likely be sent to Dallas for the Cotton Bowl. I can’t imagine WVA won’t be able to beat Wannstache with this much on the line.
Cotton: Kansas v. Tennessee
Rose: USC v. Georgia
Sugar: LSU (or Tenn) v. Hawaii
Fiesta: Oklahoma v. Arizona State
Orange: Methzou v. BC/VaTech winner
NC: WVA v. Ohio State
In the meantime, Kansas plays Arizona at the Fieldhouse tonight, so try and conjure up some more energy and help send them back to the desert.