After somewhat dropping the ball this week, we are proud to present the Rock Chalk Roundtable, featuring denverjayhawk and KennyGregory from Rock Chalk Talk (where there's a great post on the rookie debuts of each Jayhawk -damn Mario!), dj from Hawk Digest, and myself. As always, your answers are welcomed, especially if they differ greatly. Everyone loves a debate.
1. In one word, describe how you felt after last week's game.
denverjayhawk: Frustrated...you didn't really want one word did you...To explain this game was extremely frustrating because going in win or lose this felt like an opportunity to validate what we've all been thinking. To come out and get beat the way we did and feel so helpless to stop anything coming at us brought a lot of questions to my mind and while I have had a chance to calm down Saturday was concerning.
DJ: Disengaged -- mirroring the team. They just don't seem to be up for football this year.
KennyGregory: Depressing. I knew going into the game that this would likely define the 08 Football Jayhawks. If they pulled out a win, they were a very strong Big 12 North team with two "good" losses and a damned impressive win. Instead, we now realize that this simply isn't a top tier team. KU faces every single one of the best teams in the best conference in the country this year. And it will likely lose every single one of those games. We all knew that this team probably wasn't as good as last year's squad. But to have that fact slapped in your face on national television really sucked. I faded in and out in the fourth- did I really see Rob Stone interviewing some drunk kid on the Hill at one point?
Hiphopopotamus: Confused. Since no one else stuck with one word neither will I. I was confused why the coaches did so much moving around on D. I was confused why they weren't trying to control the clock (especially with the running game). And I was confused why Todd kept throwing it to the wrong team.
2. Was that the worst Kansas loss you can remember? If not, when and why?
denver: Absolutely, Sure we've been beaten bad before but I can't remember a time when the expectations were this high and the performance was this low.
DJ: Well, I can put it this way. It was the first game I've walked out of and I've been going since roughly 1991.
KG: No. Mizzou last year was worse. This game was embarassing, but there wasn't nearly as much on the line. If we could snap our fingers and make their major issues go away, the Jayhawks are still tied for first in the Big 12 North, and still control their destiny towards making a conference championship game that is in our backyard. On the other hand, just remember how heady the days were pre Thanksgiving. We were two wins away from the National Championship a season after not even making a bowl game. The team was straight out of Central Casting- a group of undersized, scrappy and smart players defying the odds in a Dream Season. It all came down to a battle royale with our most hated rival, and we came up two field goals and a stupid safety short. True, everything worked out for us in the end, but man was it depressing at the time.
HH: I think so. I'm by no means the senior authority on this one, but nothing else comes to mind. The game at Arrowhead was obviously awful, but at least we fought back and brought it to one score with a "chance" to win. Here, we had a chance to take a huge step on the public stage and were pushed down and pissed on for three straight hours. Just an awful game by every standard.
3. Speaking of disgraces, you've likely heard about the mouthing off that KSU has been doing. Your thoughts?
denver: When will they ever learn?...obviously I am a little more hesitant based on last weeks performance to declare this a win, but I've got to believe between the embarrassment of the Tech game and the complete lack of respect by those wearing purple Kansas will be ready to go.
DJ: Bold and daring. It hasn't really panned out the past two years. But, keep trying.
KG: What have they really got to lose? Sh*t talking serves two purposes- it fires your team up, and it throws the opposition off their game. Saturday's game will likely be another Big 12 shootout. If one of our young secondary members takes a bad angle to try to rip some guy's head off, it could be the difference. And if it backfires? You lose a game you were supposed to, and your coach you don't have much respect for gets fired in the offseason. Win-win. Frankly, I also think they're just excited at the opportunity to get the hell out of Manhattan for a day or two.
HH: Just stupid. We'll never know what effect it really has, and I'm all for a little arrogance/confidence. But this simply seems like they're trying to make this a rivalry game. From my perspective, when it's a real rivalry game, nothing needs to be said to get things heated up.
4. If you were in charge of this defense for one week, what would you do?
denver: Well one thing I would try to do is have some continuity...I am not a fan of all the shifting around we've had this year on the defensive side of the ball. Football is a sport of repetition and having that helps everyone perform better in my opinion. Secondly, I have no idea...seems like the personnel just isn't there yet, I don't know that there is some magical scheme we could be doing differently or that our coaches are fools I just think the spread offense is ahead of most defenses at this point. The only thing that has proven to work some of the time is pressure from the front four...we just don't have that yet.
DJ: I wouldn't let them wear dresses anymore. No seriously, I'd have them start putting on the foil. Ok, for real I'd blitz more on first down on the opponent side of the field. I'd double team the center against spread teams. He has to have a miserable day. Plus about 19 other things that are too lengthy to get into.
KG: "Hey guys, remember last year? When 9 of you played on a really good defensive unit? Let's do that again. Oh, and Corrigan Whateverthefuck, give me your helmet. You're cut."
HH: Bad question on my part, because I don't think the guy in charge of the defense is to blame. The constant switching of personnel has to stop. At this point, you know (or should know) who you best guys are and you just need to do whatever you can to put them in a position to succeed. As for a pass rush, I think we're still way too transparent. The opposing team ALWAYS knows when a blitz is coming and where it's coming from. This is more magnified because blitzing is the ONLY way we get pressure. I have no quick fix here, except that I would have liked to try Rivera as a speed rusher. At 250 he's much heavier than Keith and switches like this are much easier to make than moving a 5'7"receiver to corner the week you play the best passing team in the country.
5. What one thing do you want to see out of the Hawks this week?
denver: I want to see the passion back...a loss like last week can destroy a team's confidence...if we don't bounce back and play with passion, we won't win and the season could get ugly. My feeling is we will...they've probably been beating themselves up early this week and when K-State players/coaches start running their mouths too that is going to turn into anger and determination that will translate to the field.
DJ: Passion, fire, anger, hate, something, anything
KG: I could make the obvious choice and say a pass rush, but I would settle for competent work from the secondary. Let's just put up a bend but don't break defense, and get the offense rolling again. That would be enough to get a victory.
HH: I want to see the team we saw in Norman. Sure there were plenty of mistakes you'd love to have back, but they were all made being aggressive. I just want to see a team that's re-focused and ready to compete again.
6. Big XII picks: MU @ Baylor, NU @ OU, CU @ A&M, ISU @ OSU, UT @ Tech
Denver: Mizzou over Baylor
OU over Nebraska
CU over A&M
OSU over ISU
Tech over Tejas(Colt McCoy will probably have something to say about his but what can I say Tech impressed me)
DJ: MU upsets Baylor
OU over the Corn
A&M over CU
OSU over ISU
UT over Tech
KG: MU, OU, CU, OSU
I've actually got a couple of questions for discussion on this UT/Tech game for everyone.
1. If TT wins, how do you shake out the Top 5?
2. If UT runs the table, can you think of any champion that had ever proven more than this team had? Their schedule is absolutely rediculous. Would they be the greatest champion of the BCS era?
I think UT has greatness within them. They win in statement fashion.
HH: I'll find some time to get my picks in a separate piece, but I'm not feeling too many upsets this week – something like MU, OU, A&M (toughest game), OSU, UT. To answer your questions though, if Tech wins I think they have legitimate case for #1. I'm sure Alabama would get it though. I'm guessing something like: 1. Bama, 2. Tech, 3. PSU, 4. UT, 5. OU. However, a lot of this probably hinges on the Georgia/Florida game as well. And secondly, if UT runs the table, I do think you'd be hard pressed to find a more battle tested champion.