A couple quick links before we get going. First up is a wonderful microcosm of what has happened to Iowa State's season ever since halftime of our visit to Ames. Secondly, we have for you a nice find from Orson on our good pal Chase. That guy has had a good couple of weeks. And in response to Ginger's link to the ref's tackle this weekend, the SEC thinks he did nothing wrong. Of course.
Lastly we have a few ESPN links. Brucie Feldman ranks Todd the best little guy in the country. Obviously. But he also continues to have little faith in this Kansas team, still pegging them for the Sun Bowl (v. Cal). Meanwhile, Schlabach has upgraded them to the Alamo Bowl (v. Northwestern) in this week's bowl projections.
Also, Double T Nation has posted their introduction to the game. It's an all encompassing look at the statistics of each team. Some other news came out of Lubbock as well. Take from that what you will.
1. The Mangino Effect: More times than not it feels like we have a distinct coaching advantage when we take the field. This was not necessarily the case last week and I think it showed, particularly in the third quarter. But among other things, Mangino seems to have a decent grasp on what Leach likes to do on offense. Obviously he won't admit this, but if you look back, the results are at least semi-conclusive.
Will it help us? Sure. Maybe not in the way I'm about to suggest, but having Mangino on our side is obviously a huge benefit. Pun intended. Optimistically, I like to think it will be even more so this week. In 2004, Tech averaged over 36 ppg (40 against teams other than OU and UT). Kansas finished this year 4-7, but held Tech to 31 points. Of course, they also led the game 30-5, before completely falling apart and ultimately allowing Taurean Henderson to run 70 yards for the winning score. The next year, Tech's offense improved, averaging nearly 40 for the year (52+ at home). Yet, KU went into Lubbock and only allowed 30 on the night (7 of which were scored by the defense). So while this hasn't translated into a win yet, it's pretty safe to say that I'll feel very good about our chances if Tech only scores 30 points.
2. Ball control: This was obviously a huge weakness a week ago and a big reason for the loss, but it has the potential to be a strength. With our newfound running game and Todd's accuracy, there is no reason this offense can't move down the field while simultaneously keeping Tech's offense off of it.
Will it help us? Assuming it's done, and that the drives are converted into touchdowns. Two weeks ago, Tech's offense obliterated Nebraska. They scored on all but 2 drives. They didn't turn the ball over. They averaged just under 9 yards per play. But they only ran 48 plays. Their season average is 74 (7.5 yards per). And Nebraska did absolutely nothing special except consistently move the ball while not turning it over (had it for over 40 minutes). It led to each scoring 31 on the way to overtime. After watching our pass defense last week, this is likely the best possible way to stop (or slow) Tech. And since it also leads to points for us and a worn down defense for them (NU scored TDs on their last 3 drives to force OT), it seems like a pretty sound plan.
3. Sacks: We mentioned yesterday that Graham Harrell has been sacked a mere 1 time this year. On 318 pass attempts. We also mentioned that this is a big reason why Tech has been successful as by far the easiest way to slow (or stop) them is to pressure, disrupt and/or rattle him. But Kansas is used to not being able to do that anyway, so maybe they won't be caught off guard by the fact that they're unlikely to have any success doing so this Saturday.
Will it help us? Probably not, but it's worth considering. We know we can't get pressure with four. They know we can't get pressure with four. So why not do everything from showing 7 and coming with 2 to showing nothing and coming with 6? If you're not going to get to him (with four), you might as well do everything you can to confuse him and/or catch him off guard.
4. Todd Reesing: Despite the un-Todd mistakes he made last week, he remains here for good reason. Straight from the University notes for this week, "has established 31 school records and is within reach of the career passing yards mark (needs 399)…Owns a 17-3 record as a starter. In starts he has thrown 50 TDs to 12 INTs…Has thrown for 300 yards five times this year and ten times in his career."
Will it help us? Of course. Yes, Todd made some mistakes last week; the goal line INT and fumble (recovered) down 31-24 and driving being the most costly. But he also dealt with constant pressure and still managed to go 24/41 for 342 with 2 TDs. He's still being asked to do too much and that's part of why his mistakes are up, but simply put; he gives this team a chance to win every single game.
5. Memorial Stadium: Strangely enough, Kansas hasn't looked a ton better at Memorial this year. But that's probably because Colorado was the best opponent. Not exactly thrill worthy. And still, facts are facts; they've won 13 in a row and 22/24 in Memorial. Equally beneficial is the effect it has on Tech as they too, are a much better team when they get to play on their home turf.
Will it help us? Sure. There is no aura around the stadium to win the game for us and the crowd isn't so crazy that Tech won't be able to run their offense. But on Homecoming and against an undefeated, top ten team, everyone is bound to be fired up. One can only expect that this will be a huge benefit to the Jayhawks. How much of one, we'll have to see. May I suggest everyone start drinking heavily no later than dawn so as to be extremely rowdy by kickoff? Rock Chalk!
As always, disagreements and additions are welcome. One big one I left off was Tech's struggling kicking game. I could see this being a huge factor as they are not only struggling on FGS, but PATs as well. I left it off, though, because solid as he has been, Branstetter has yet to make a kick from beyond 30 yards and missed his other two attempts from that distance. For that reason alone, I'm not yet ready to declare this a decided advantage. I hope I'm wrong though.