I know, I know; how am I going to come up with five reasons a loss could happen? But rest assured I will find a way. They may not be on the surface, but they're out there. And I'm here to enlighten you. Let's just say I need more stuff like this to keep me smiling (H/T: Deadspin). And we're off...
1. Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley, Quan Cosby. On the year, Colt has completed 78% of his passes for 2879 yards while mixing in 28 TDs and 7 INTs. Oh ya, and he's also ran for 449 yards and 7 more TDs. Of his passing stats, Shipley has grabbed 70 of those completions for 860 yards and 11 TDs. And Quan has grabbed 66 for 802 and 6 TDs. I haven't even mentioned Malcolm Williams, but he'll play a big role as well. Fuck.
Will it hurt us? Ummmmmm...yeah. There's a really easy comparison here that you don't have to go too far back to find (Ganz, Swift and Peterson). Not one of those guys even comes close to matching their Texas counterpart and yet they were able to more than have their way with the Jayhawk secondary. Ganz went 28/37 for 324, 3 TDs and 1 INT. Swift had 7 for 111 and a score. And Peterson had 5 for 72. There is really only one thing that can limit the production of these three – injury.
2. Orakpo, Miller, Lewis, Melton, & Houston. Thankfully, they only get to play four of them at a time. And truthfully, if we're having any success, they might just start taking their chances with three and dropping eight (unlikely, but plenty possible because they could still get pressure). For reference, the Texas defense has come up with 34 sacks (or 3.4/game) and they're currently 6th in the nation, allowing only 84 yards/ game (3.17 per) on the ground.
Will it hurt us? Well, considering Nebraska had all of 16 sacks prior to last week (1.77 per) and they were able to notch five, that doesn't look good. And since they were giving up 143 ypg rushing (4.3 per) and we were only able to net 118 (3.0 per), that doesn't look good either. Realistically, there are going to be three ways to move the ball: quick passes, rolling out the pocket and running on the outside.
3. Lateral movement (or lack thereof): To an extent I already touched on this in #1, but you just can't underestimate the success they're likely to have over the middle and on the outside. After seeing the success they had here against Oklahoma, I wonder if we'll force a punt. It's partly injuries and it's partly their physical limitations, but neither Rivera nor Mortensen can move laterally right now.
Will it hurt us? Assuming we don't change our entire defense and they're still asked to play zone coverage across the middle, as well as blitz, as well as tackle the likes of Whitaker, Ogbonnaya and McGee, then yes. And since I can't think of another option, I'm guessing that's exactly what we're going to see them trying to do. And unfortunately, I just can't see them having a whole lot of success. any chance we get some help from Greg Davis here?
4. The red zone. Actually, we've been fine in the red zone this year. We've scored 87% of the time (34th). And of the 40 scores, 31 have been TDs (78%). Both solid numbers. Defensively, we've also been decent. We've allowed a score 77% of the time (30th). Unfortunately, 85% of the scores (28/33) have gone for TDs. The bad side: Texas is better across the board.
Will it hurt us? Well, aside from the big play ability that Malcolm Williams now gives them, Texas has converted 91% (11th) of their trips to the red zone into points. 40 of those 48 scores (83%) have been TDs. Defensively, they are only allowing scores 72% (14th) of the time. Even better, of those scores only 65% (17/26) have been TDs. And since we likely won't be able to run the ball very well - and probably not at all on the inside – we'll become a one-dimensional offense that depends on spreading defenders out. Only we won't have room to spread them out because we'll be in the red zone. Time to get creative, Todd. That goes for you too, Mr. Warinner.
5. Special teams. I'm still in shock that this has become a weakness this year, but it's no longer even a debate. I don't have the exact quote but a few games ago, Russell Brorsen said, "Last year, when we'd watch the tape and say, if we'd blocked that guy better we might have had a touchdown. This year, we watch it and say, if we'd blocked these three guys, we might have been able to run it out a little farther." Ouch. And worse than that, now our coverage is starting to suffer as well. No one has taken one all the way back yet (FIU had a punt return), but the difference in field position has been enormous and was one of the biggest deciding factors in Saturday's outcome.
Will it hurt us? Probably. But to what degree? Like I said, we haven't been killed yet, but there have been plenty of TD saving tackles over the last handful of games. Jacob Branstetter should not have four tackles. Texas is pretty solid on both, averaging 12.2 on punt returns (26th) and 23.9 on kick returns (24th). They have a TD with each unit, both coming in big games and big spots and courtesy of Jordan Shipley. This may not be a big game and there may not be many big spots, but if we happen to keep things close, it will be extremely important to keep him contained and avoid losing any momentum we may have at the time. It's going to be hard enough to keep them out of the endzone as it is, so letting them score without running a play is unacceptable.
If you weren't worried yet, take notice that I just came up with five legitimate reasons Kansas could lose this game. And in doing so, I didn't even mention our defensive line (probably the weakest link on the team) once and the enormous amount of time they're going to allot Colt to find his many weapons and or create on his own. As you know, he's plenty capable of doing both. I'm going to try and convince myself there are also five reasons we can win. Perhaps that will cheer me up. I should probably play it safe and send the wife to the liquor store first.