After a week's hiatus, the start of basketball and the impending holiday, this game kind of snuck on me. So without further ado, here are five reasons Kansas could lose.
1. 274. That's the amount of passing yards we're giving up each game. And perhaps even more concerning is the 62% completion rate we're allowing. Or the 6.8 yards/attempt or the 11.05 yards/completion. Actually, those last numbers aren't too bad. We've had our slip-ups, but we've generally been pretty good about keeping plays in front of us and making teams keep moving the chains. Unfortunately, nearly all of them do and it ultimately just leads to tiring out our defense even more.
Will it hurt us? Yep. I like to believe that Clint has been working on some choreographed blitzes and that James Holt will be able to keeping getting pressure like he has the last few weeks. But even if those things happen (no sure thing), the Tigers still have a very good offense against anyone outside of the Big XII south. We don't have anyone nearly fast enough to cover Maclin, so they can be sure to pick up yards on screens at will and will likely hit him on a crossing route or four. And more than that, it's not just Maclin. He's the threat that makes them an elite offense, but Coffman, Saunders, Perry and Alexander are plenty good targets and have allowed Booger to complete 76% of his passes for roughly 326 ypg on nearly 9/completion and 11/attempt.
2. Derrick Washington. He's by no means the elite runner he was being made out to be early on this year. But that doesn't really matter. He picks up 6.4/carry and has put the ball in the end zone 18 times. As much as we may want to concentrate on doing everything to stop Chase, it will be extremely important to keep a watchful eye on Washington as well.
Will it hurt us? This one could go either way. I certainly wouldn't expect him to have any sort of a career day, but I also wouldn't expect him to be completely bottled up either. And perhaps what worries me more is him catching passes out of the backfield. He's proven to be a very capable receiver with 24 catches on the year and this has been a big issue for the Kansas defense at times this year. As well as both Texas and Tech moved it against Kansas, the true backbreakers in both games were on screens. Every time we seemed to have something covered, they'd dump off a screen and pick up 20 yards. This is what happens when you have one linebacker that moves well in space.
3. Injuries. Kansas is obviously a much different team when Kerry Meier and Jake Sharp are healthy. Thus far, the only indication we've received is that neither are right now. Though I completely believe they aren't healthy, I'm not yet ready to believe they won't play. For one thing, Mangino rarely comments on any injury, let alone two weeks prior to kickoff. And secondly, they'll have a full month to heal before a bowl game. Given the opponent and their birth state, I think they'll do what they can to get on the field.
Will it hurt us? Probably, in some capacity. If they don't play, it's obviously a huge detriment. And even if they do play, it remains to be seen how effective they'll be. Kerry really hasn't been the same since the Colorado game, so depending on how much worse his injury got last week or how much the extra week off to heal has helped him, we really have no idea what we're getting. And since Jake just got hurt, we have no idea how he'll respond or how much Angus and Jocques are up to the task of replacing him. Furthermore, we don't know what other injuries may still be lingering. Richard Johnson, for instance.
4. They have the blueprint. Not only have they seen OU, Tech, Nebraska and Texas execute it this year, but Dave Christensen has a pretty good idea what he did a year ago. No matter what you think of this defense's ability compared to last year's, it's pretty obvious that they generally have the same schemes. And last year about this time, Dave Christensen sat back, relaxed, and let Booger pick it apart as we never even forced them to take a chance down the field. For reference, Six different Jayhawks recorded double-digit tackle totals against Missouri last year, including S Justin Thornton (16), LB Mike Rivera (14), LB Joe Mortensen (13), LB James Holt (13), CB Chris Harris (12) and S Darrell Stuckey (12). That is not a good thing.
Will it hurt us? Presumably. Hopefully Clint has been working on some variations for this one, but until we see it work there's no sense counting on it. For one thing, we really don't have the athletes up front to generate consistent pressure against high level lines. And the same can likely be said about our defense as a whole, though not to the same extent. Daymond Patterson making a break on Colt's 4th down attempt was probably the most encouraging sign I've seen from a corner all season, so we'll see how they decide to play it Saturday.
5. Gold uniforms. Who knows, they might even have a gold out in their sections. Quite frankly, I don't know how we can be expected to compete against that.
Will it hurt us? Can you imagine a team losing in these? Me neither. R Kelly approves.