Monday, October 27, 2008

Five Reasons Kansas Could Lose

Many accused me of falling in love with some drunken hyperbole over the weekend calling the loss the worst in Kansas history. By no means have I gone back and researched this claim, but I'm still standing behind it for the time being. Given the expectations and opportunity present that kind of a beating was beyond embarrassing. Suffice it to say, a loss of any kind this week would be similarly demoralizing.

1. Pass defense: Like last week, this is really the only thing that matters here. We know KU can stop the run, but KSU can't run the ball anyway. And given what happened both in Lawrence and Manhattan Saturday, I can't imagine anyone coming up with a logical reason the Wildcats should run the ball even once.

Will it hurt us? If it doesn't, I know nothing (and will be happy for it). Mangino and the Jayhawks have had J-Free's number in the past. But this is a (slightly) different J-Free and a (much) different Kansas defense (apparently). And since we know he can carve up bad defenses, there is really no reason to think he won't have some success this week as well.

2. Coaching: Obviously we have the coaching edge when it comes to Mangino v. Prince. But right now, the Big Man is in a funk and he's making things worse. His controlling, know-all personality is wreaking havoc on this defense and is running dangerously close to ruining a promising season.

Will it hurt us? Remains to be seen. It sure did on Saturday. As long as he's remaining somewhat accountable in-house, then I'll believe that things can get better before they get worse. If that's not the case and he's blaming everyone but himself, then I'm afraid we're in for more of the same.

3. Josh Freeman: This is pretty much the same as numero uno, but possible #1 draft picks deserve their own distinction. He's really only thrown the ball around twice this year and both times it's been extremely productive from a yardage and scoring standpoint. He threw 42 times for 313 yards and 3 TDs @ Louisville and he threw 51 times for 478 yards and 3 TDs v. Oklahoma. Extremely good production.

Will it hurt us? Yes, but we don't know how badly. As good as the stats above are they fail to mention that all five of his INTs have come in those games as well. In two games against KU he has 9 turnovers (6 INTs, 3 fumbles), so it's not like we haven't forced him into any mistakes before. On the other hand, we used to be semi-good at forcing turnovers, yet haven't really forced one in two straight games in which the defense was on the field for 175 plays (I know Tech fumbled late, but I choose not to give much credit for that. Factor in that shifty little fucker Banks and a KU defense that looks slower than ever could be in for some trouble.

4. Impatience: I'm going to get a little long winded here, so get ready. Each of the last two weeks, Kansas' offense has started off looking balanced, productive and plenty capable of beating their (very good) opponent. Unfortunately, during this same time their defense has looked outmatched and unable to stop the opposing offense with any consistency. For some reason unbeknownst to me, Kansas' coaching staff has decided that the best way to counter this dilemma is to force a shootout. If anyone is aware of a logical reason for this, I would love to hear it.

As Nebraska has proven lately (especially in Lubbock), the best way to hide a bad defense is to keep them off the field. They don't have a great running game, so they've had to become a very efficient passing offense while mixing in plenty of runs for honesty purposes. This led to only allowing Tech 31 points in regulation and to what could have easily been a win had Ganz not reverted to form. Kansas, has a great passing offense that can put up points in a hurry and has plenty of potential to be efficient. Surprising as it may seem after their first few games, they also have a very good running offense. There might not be a better combination for effectively utilizing ball control and also scoring touchdowns in the process. Yet for some reason, each of the last two weeks, they have done exactly the opposite when it made zero sense to do so. I could have forgiven the massive mistake in Norman (why anyone would think a one score game in the third quarter is pass-only time is beyond me) had they learned from their mistake. But then Saturday happened. In the first quarter Jake ran 8 times for 51 yards or 6.4 per carry. Todd was 9/10 for 98 yards (9.8/attempt) and 2 TDs and the game was tied 14-14. Quite obviously, the balance was working very well. The rest of the game, Jake had 5 more carries (for 29 more yards) and only in the 4th quarter did he again carry it twice on the same possession. And you know the rest of the story.

Will it hurt us? If it happens, absolutely it will. For one thing, the Wildcats can't tackle, which incidentally makes them one of the worst defenses in the nation against the run. 105th, giving up 200 yards and nearly 5 per carry, to be exact. Meanwhile, in the last two weeks, Jake has carried 25 times for 183 yards (7.32/carry). Yet Kansas is 0-2 in those two games. Todd is an incredible quarterback that can carry this team. He's done it a whole lot this year. But there's no reason for him to do so. And more importantly, KU doesn't have the offensive line or defensive ability to win these types of games against good teams. From here on out, balance is key.

5. Psychology: It's not like KSU is riding high, but it's no secret that they were much more competitive last week than were the Jayhawks. Given how successful this team had been the last two years, it's pretty safe to say that confidence is at an all time low. Factor in the appearance of a team that quit on themselves early on last week and this seems like a team that's pretty fragile right now.

Will it hurt us? Same as above – if it happens. There are two ways to respond to the ass kicking they took last week. 1) Is to come out scared and nervous, playing not to lose (in which case they might) or 2) Is to come out and do what Methzou did to Colorado. Every expectation they had was shattered in full display of the public over the last two weeks and so they took it out on Colorado by humiliating them beyond a shadow of a doubt. There's no reason Kansas can't do the same, but as of right now it's by no means a foregone conclusion and maybe not even all that likely.

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