- 20-6 record the past 2 years
- Back to back bowl appearances for the first time in school history
- Mangino's 4 bowl appearances account for 1/3rd of KU's total bowl games(also half the wins)
- 52-21 over Kansas State
- 40-37 over Missouri
- Todd Ressing's 14 consecutive completions, a KU record
- Holt, Mortensen and Rivera cementing the legacy of the most successful KU linebacking core in it's history
- Reesing, Meier and Briscoe being the perfect three-headed monster that anticipate and react to each other amazing well. Oh yeah, and that they are all underclassmen
- Darrell Stuckey single-handedly accounting for 3 turnovers of Chase Daniel
- Another stepping stone bowl victory for the formerly oft maligned Kansas Football program. As Mangino says, "Our program is a work in progress, and every day it seems to get better and better"
- 3 straight bowl victories
- All of the seniors who have helped change the football culture at KU, we will always admire you and forever be indebted
- To the Mangenius, your record at KU may only stand at 45-41, but anyone with a clue knows what you inherited and realizes how far we have come
- Bill Snyder: Part Deux *this time without Manhatten airfield access but with extra juco limitations!
- Bidding adieu to the Chase-Chase era at Mizzou and ushering in the Blaine-Blaine era...haha, you can't write that any gayer
- Briscoe: 92 receptions for 1,407 yards and 15 TD's
- Meier: 97 receptions for 1,045 yards and 8 TD's
- Reesing: 3,888 passing yards and 32 TD's
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Carl Spackler: Correct me if I'm wrong Sandy, but if I kill all the golfers, they're gonna lock me up and throw away the key...
Sandy: Not golfers, you great fool! Gophers! The *little* *brown*, *furry* *rodents* -!
Carl Spackler: We can do that; we don't even have to have a reason. All right, let's do the same thing, but with gophers.
Anyone who wants some game previews see here, here, here, here, here and here.
As much has been made of the Jayhawks 113th ranked pass defense, I would just like it to be known that the teams played might skew that number a healthy amount. KU has faced the number 1, 3, 4, 10, 14, 19, 30, 40, and 55 best passing attacks in the nation. Minnesota ranks 58th in the nation, ahead of only Colorado(81st), Lousiana Tech(102nd) and Sam Houston State(though Rhett Bomar threw for 3355 yds. in FCS play) of the teams KU has played.
I am not saying the Jayhawks will shut down the Minnesota aerial attack, but it is something to note that as the opponents average passing yards per game drop, the Jayhawks have generally done much better. I know all of this is pretty obvious, but it emphasizes that Minnesota is not an especially potent offense...and Kansas is. Supplement KU's schedule with that of Minnesota's and KU is atleast an average pass defense, even without the help of do-it-all CB Thornton.
On paper, given relative strengths and weaknesses of conferences, this is not a great matchup for Minnesota. They need to get turnovers, which they have not done against decent competition(such as Kansas) and they need to be able to run and pass on the same pace as Kansas(which again, they have not done against decent competition).
Bowl games obviously don't always go as they are written in the stat sheet(read: Mizzou vs. Northwestern), but I for one believe these Hawks will come out and put their money where the stats are.
Rock Chalk and happy gameday!
***additional mullet glory from Tempe, KU style.
Monday, December 29, 2008
Their two wins over bowl teams came during the non-conference, at home against Northern Illinois (31-27) and Florida Atlantic (37-3); the latter in much more convincing fashion. Both of these are fine wins, as was their road victory at Bowling Green (42-17). I can't say the same for a 12 point win over Montana State, but wins are wins and it lead to a 4-0 start.
They kicked off their Big 11 season in the Horseshoe and though the score doesn't look bad (34-21), it seems as if they were manhandled before Aosu let up and allowed two late meaningless TDs bringing it from 34-6 to the ultimately respectable final above.
They then ran off three straight wins (their last of the season) with the latter two coming on the road and ultimately leading to a brief stint in the polls. The first came over Indiana (3-9) by a score of 16-7. I don't think there's any way for me to be less impressed by a conference win. I'll tip my cap for the next two, though. Neither Illinois (5-7) nor Purdue (4-8) were anything formidable, but both had some potential – and conference road wins should never be shrugged off. They won the first (27-20) despite being outgained by 238 yards (550 to 312) simply because Juice Williams couldn't hold onto the ball (3 TOs), one of which was a fumble returned for the decisive score. Turnovers were again the difference as they won in West Lafayette by a score of 17-6. This was the game in which Curtis Painter hurt his shoulder which led to a mid-season semi-benching. I won't take away from the win, but as you've surely surmised Minnesota's real wins have come solely because of an opportunistic defense.
As mentioned, they would not win again. They closed the season with losses to Northwestern (24-17), Michigan (29-6), Wisconsin (35-32) and by being utterly humiliated at the hands of Iowa (55-0). Not coincidentally, they didn't win the turnover battle in any of them. However, they were pretty much without Eric Decker (their Kerry Meier) in all but the Northwestern loss and that subtraction shouldn't be underestimated. While the absence of a single player shouldn't lead to the kind of falloff they saw (especially against Michigan) it also can't be taken too lightly. I label him their Kerry Meier for his "safety blanket" like receptions and the many injuries he's fought through (not to mention his apparent do-everything type athletic acumen), but he's also their Dezmon Briscoe in that he's the only one to go over 100 yards in a game (though Kuznia had 98 once). So not only were they losing their possession receiver, but they were losing their big play guy as well. In a highly skewed passing offense, that type of loss is catastrophic.
From what I understand he'll be healthy and ready to go on Wednesday, which means we should expect a competent Gopher offense. I'm also to understand that Minnesota has installed an entirely new power running game to complement their passing attack. In doing so, they've moved all their linemen down from 2-point into 3-point stances and have had to make changes accordingly with personnel. Some may disagree with what Brewster and new line coach/running coordinator, Tim Davis, have done. I'm not one of them. For one thing, even the best passing offenses need a complimentary running game. And Minnesota didn't have one, despite not having a sterling passing attack either. Secondly, they likely understand that they won't be able to stop Kansas. Obviously they'll be scheming to do so and planning on generating enough pressure to force some turnovers, but we've fought through both of those things most games and still usually scored 30+ points. So unless they plan on tearing through our defense like Tech did, they want to elicit some type of ball control to keep us off the field and rest their defense accordingly. And lastly, they're rebuilding. These fifteen extra practices are a coach's dream for a young team and Brewster clearly realized that it would benefit his team not only in the short term, but also in preparing for spring practices to start working on a running game. As we mentioned above, every important victory came because of an opportunistic defense rather than their semi-touted offense. If you improve the latter and maintain the former, you take the next step.
So what do I see happening?
Honestly, I'd expect something like the Fort Worth Bowl in 2005. With Swanson at quarterback and that defense in place, we were much better than Fort Worth Bowl quality. Despite similar records, those just weren't similar teams. And we proved it emphatically. The same is true this year. Our defensive stats are horrific, but they've faced several of the best offenses in the nation. Sure, we left wins on the field in South Florida and Lincoln, but our other three losses came to top-5 caliber teams. If you think our 7-5 is the same as Minnesota's, then you probably aren't reading this blog. And while that guarantees nothing, it sure lets you think that this is Kansas' to lose.
In the bowl picks, I had the Hawks winning 38-20. Thus far, I haven't really changed my mind. Kansas has to do three things: 1) Come to play – no matter what players say, the opponent makes a difference in how you approach the game and they need to take it much more seriously than I am. 2) Protect Todd – Minnesota's strength is their d-line and our offensive line has had its problems; keeping Todd upright sure helps put the points on the board. 3) Take care of the ball – this likely goes hand-in-hand with # 2, but it's worth mentioning anyway. It's often the difference for us and it always is for them. All else equal, we're a much better team than Minnesota, but turnovers have a way of evening the playing field.
In the end I don't see complete domination, but rather a consistent display of supremacy. Sort of like the Texas game, only this time we're on the right end. And I don't mean that it will be a 35-7 type win. Instead, I mean that we'll win every quarter. They're going to make some plays. And they're going to stop us occasionally. But ultimately, the gap is just too large. I see us steadily increasing our lead throughout until we're eventually up by a comfortable enough margin to coast to victory over the last ten minutes or so.
- First Glance at the Gophers
- Bowl Picks
- Gophers Changing Things Up
- Five Reasons Kansas Could Lose
- Five Reasons Kansas Could Win
Saturday, December 27, 2008
First and foremost, we have Kansas football. These need to be delivered promptly.
- 35+ points
- 400+ yards
- 4 sacks of Adam Weber
- 2 Darrell Stuckey interceptions
- 1 Daymond Patterson TD
- 1 Insight Bowl victory
- And as many pass rushing lineman as you can find
- Sat-Go. It may have the worst name in the history of product marketing, but that deters me not.
- A five figure DJIA
- Megan Fox. No explanation necessary.
- A four figure S&P 500
- And another Christopher Nolan Batman
And finally, Kansas basketball. You may need some assistance with a few of these.
- 15 shots a game for Cole.
- 10+ assists per game from Sherron and Tyshawn
- 1 healthy Mario Little
- 2 hustling Morris twins
- 1 offensively competent Travis Releford
- 1 more three point shooter
- 2 less bad shots from Sherron
- < 37% FG percentage defense
- +10 rebounding margin
- 1 entry pass instructional video
- And a 52nd conference championship
That should just about cover me. But that doesn’t preclude anyone from improvising and adding to this perfectly reasonable list. Thanks in advance.
Friday, December 26, 2008
However, being largely unfamiliar with the Gophers other than what I've either read or researched, I feel like most of my analysis simply revolves around my presumption that Kansas is no worse than a top 30 team while Minnesota is no better than about top 50. Quite simply, neither defense is exceptional but one team has a very good offense while the other's is relatively average. So in lieu of five stat-filled reasons why Kansas will win, I'll just be providing YouTube links that are not only enjoyable, but also serve as plenty useful analysis as to why the Jayhawks have the tools to win the Insight Bowl.
1. Dezmon Briscoe. For the year, Dezmon has 78 catches for 1206 yards and 12 touchdowns. And if the Missouri game was any indication, he also has plenty of ability to add another dimension to the kickoff return game.
Will it help us? Tim Brewster will likely be game-planning to stop Dezmon, but he'll be having an affect one way or another. This video (Louisiana Tech) provides a little insight as to what he can do after the catch. And as Texas can attest, he's just as dangerous when the ball is in the air.
2. Darrell Stuckey. Possibly the biggest surprise on the first team Big XII defense, Stuckey has proven to be an elite safety when he's healthy. For the year, he led the team with 5 interceptions and finished second with 94 tackles.
Will it help us? Despite leading the team with five oskies, his true strength lies in run support. He's been the heart and soul of this defense and nothing shows that more than these two videos. The first of which came against Louisiana Tech in which he ran down Patrick Livas. And secondly, you may remember his performance against Missouri - we have for you today the best tomahawk chop seen at Arrowhead this year and possibly ever.
3. Kerry Meier. Despite battling health issues from the Colorado game on, our former starting QB has a team leading 87 catches for 932 yards and 7 touchdowns. And while we've only seen him throw 2 passes on the year (both completed for 42 yards), I think it's highly likely we could see one Wednesday.
Will it help us? While Brewster will be keying Dezmon the whole game, you can bet they'll find Kerry every time we face a third down. So obviously the attention he garners will help in some capacity, but even more than that, I expect Kerry to have a ton of success against the largely unathletic back seven of Minnesota. As we saw in Norman, if Todd can get it close, Kerry will haul it in for the completion.
4. James Holt. He may have been the least heralded of our three senior LBs, but he took center stage this season. In leading the team with 97 tackles, 7 sacks and 6 forced fumbles Holt was our do-everything constant on that side of the ball.
Will it help us? His sure tackling is obviously valued, but he truly changed our defense over the second half of the year as he turned to a pass rusher off the edge. Witness: Sacking Josh Freeman. And sacking Chase Daniel. Let's hope we can add Adam Weber to this list.
5. Todd Reesing. From recruiting, to facilities, to on field performance we have every indication to believe Kansas football is heading in the right direction. But given his production over the past two seasons, it's still a fair question to ask where this program will be without its gunslinger. In this, his junior season, he's completed 66% of his passes for 3575 yards, 28 TDs and 12 INTs.
Will it helps us? As good as the numbers above are, they don't even begin to tell the story. Witness:
A) The bomb (Sam Houston), which still might be the single best play I saw all season.
B) The bounce-off (@ Nebraska), which is the perfect depiction of everything Todd is as both a quarterback and a competitor.
C) The Pass (Missouri), which you can never see enough.
Since we're having fun with great 2008 YouTube moments, you might also check out Mario's Shot filmed at Allen Fieldhouse. And I. Jizz. In. My. Pants.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Jeff Withey will be coming to KU and be able to play Dec of 2009 but can start practicing immediately. Looks like he will need to hit the weights a bit but has a nice mid-range jumper. Now that he has decided to go to KU that will make it 3 school committed to in less than a year, hope he sticks around this time.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
If nothing else, at least we didn't get all hyped up the last few days about finally be ranked only to be run out of the gym for the ninth straight year by a mediocre Illinois team...
First off, our Jayhawks: winners against Washington and Temple, who themselves have quality wins over Oklahoma State and Tennessee, respectively. And though ultimately losers, they also controlled a good Syracuse team for 38+ minutes. As we all know, the loss should not be discounted, but it was something to build on for a young team. And then came the inexplicable loss to UMass in which the young Jayhawks played (hopefully) as poorly as they possibly can. So quite obviously, while we've seen more good than bad thus far we really don't know what to expect - especially given this is the first real road game for everyone not named Sherron Collins. Could they come out and play their best game of the year? Sure. But it seems far more likely that the opposite could happen. We'll know in twelve hours.
As many mixed signals as the Jayhawks have given us this year, Arizona is even more bewildering. They have a match-up nightmare and possible lottery pick in Budinger to go along with fellow first-rounder Jordan Hill and a very talented PG in Nic Wise. Yet they've played well approximately one time this year. By now you all know that they beat fourth ranked Gonzaga in Tucson nine moons ago. An impressive win to say the least as Gonzaga has proven to be a very legitimate top ten team. But aside from that game, there's little to suggest that the Wildcats are anything more than a mid-tier team with some top tier talent.
At 7-3, Arizona has a win over Gonzaga and pretty much no one else. Their second best win to date is probably over Santa Clara – and that one came by the wide margin of 3 points after trailing the entire second half. And they've been no better in the loss column with one inexplicably coming at home to UAB. Robert Vaden's a solid player, but a loss like this is inexcusable. After winning a few throwaways they went to College Station, led A&M the whole way before collapsing late and losing to the Aggies. I'm not sure what to make of this loss as A&M (10-1) does have two other quality wins (Alabama & LSU), but there's also a loss to Tulsa mixed in there and little else to speak of. And lastly, after their confidence building win over Gonzaga, they went to Vegas and were basically dominated by UNLV as the Rebels took a 13-10 lead halfway through the 1st half and never let it go. From the tournament we know UNLV to be a solid team and Wink Adams a tough guy to contain, but dominant they are not. And yet they controlled this game throughout.
A long story short, they're pretty much the same team they were a year ago – loaded with talent and potential, but horribly unorganized without any discernible direction and completely incapable of developing consistency of any kind. The last two losses are plenty excusable, but more telling to me is that they seemingly haven't played well against anyone other than Gonzaga the entire year. But as we all know, that KANSAS across our chests tonight will likely bring out a similar focus and intensity in them, as tends to happen. And to think, all of this turmoil could have been avoided had Miles Simon and the former Mrs. Lute Olson just been a little more discrete with their infidelities.
As I said above, I don't have a clue what's going to happen tonight. Just like everybody else. But I'm leaning towards a Jayhawk loss and hoping I'm wrong. And since I don't like predicting those and our colleague GingerBalls is on a roll lately, we'll defer to him for a prediction down below. But for now, you'll have to live with three quick keys to a Kansas victory.
1. Patience. This will come from Sherron, but must be exercised by everyone. We have a tendency to get hurried up and turn the ball over or force bad shots (which are de facto turnovers) when we get on our heels. Arizona's bound to make a run or two tonight and how we respond will determine if we're in this one for 40 minutes.
2. Crash the glass. For some reason, when I watch this team it feels like they let a lot of rebounds get away, but we always end up with more the opponent with that margin currently at 10/game. Aside from Jordan Hill (and Budinger, to an extent), Arizona is not a great rebounding team so we have a chance to steal some possessions/points and limit their second chances by focusing here. In what should be a close game, easy points could be the difference.
3. Defend (the right way). Budinger is a match-up nightmare for anyone – most of all, us, as we'll likely have 6'3" Brady Morningstar on him the majority of the time. So he's going to get his points. What we need to really concentrate on is taking Wise out of his game and playing solid defense on Hill without getting in foul trouble. I think Bill will start with Tyshawn on Wise and Morris on Hill, but who knows if that will last. If it does, then I think we're in this game for the long haul with a chance to get one back after the UMass debacle.
Hawks 78 - Ghost of Lute Olson Past 74
Monday, December 22, 2008
1. Eric Decker. The all-conference selection set a school record with 76 catches that went for 925 yards. He's a two sport athlete (baseball) with a ton of athletic ability and the tools to be a game breaker with the ball in the air or in his hands. Kansas' struggles against the pass are well-chronicled and Decker could make them pay if they're not ready for him.
Will it hurt us? Probably – at least to an extent. A while back we touched on his production and what it means to the offense, so we know they'll try to get him the ball. However, he's also coming off arthroscopic knee surgery as well as a few other injuries, so his effectiveness may be limited. Perhaps even more important is his lack of help. Whereas Kansas has 2 guys with his type of numbers, Minnesota doesn't have another one in his same stratosphere. Ideally, this will mean that we're able to key on him and make other guys prove to us that they can handle his workload. But the fact remains that as long as he's on the field, even if he isn't making catches he's having an effect because of the attention we'll be giving him.
2. Defensive line. As we've all seen countless times over the past couple years, the best way to disrupt our offense or any other spread is to rush the passer. Particularly this year as we break in RS freshman tackles, speed rushers off the edge have proven difficult to contain. It just so happens that the Gopher d-line is pretty formidable. Specifically, they rank 25th in the nation in accumulating 2.5 sacks/game. Which just so happens to be the exact same amount as Texas Tech and Nebraska – each of which gave us a lot of trouble
Will it hurt us? You'd have to think so. Keeping with the comparison of Nebraska and Tech, it's reasonable to assume we'll have some trouble with them. Priority #1 will be containing William VanDeSteeg, their 6'4 256 senior DE. A pass rushing specialist VanDeSteeg has a very impressive 18 tackles for loss. 9.5 of those tackles came on sacks totaling 69 yards lost. In all he has 49 tackles and he's mixed in a few batted balls, QB hurries and a blocked kick so we're going to have our hands full. Mix in Garrett Brown and his 3 sacks and 7 TFLs from the DT position and you've got yourself a solid defensive line capable of making life tough on Todd.
3. Turnovers. As should come as no surprise, Minnesota has had a great year in regards to TO margin. They're currently tied for 12th nationally with a 1.0 margin having taken 30 away (16 F, 14 Int) while only giving up 18 of their own (10 F, 8 Int). Like any over-achieving team, ball security and takeaways are as important as anything else and Minnesota is no different.
Will it hurt us? It sure could. We haven't been terrible this year, but we haven't been great either having caused 24 (9 F, 15 Int) and lost 21 (9 F, 12 Int) for a .25 margin (t-46th). The most concerning number there is the 21. Causing 24 is pretty solid (2/game), but losing 21 of our own means we haven't valued the ball nearly enough this year. And against a ball-hawking team like Minnesota that likes to pressure the QB, this is cause for concern and could easily be the deciding factor.
4. Pass defense. Or lack thereof. While I think our pass defense numbers are inflated due to competition and we've certainly looked better the last two games, it's still a concern. Minnesota certainly isn't OU. Hell, they're probably not even K-State (offensively). But they're not terrible either. Through the air they've averaged 6.8 yards/attempt. Coincidentally, that's exactly what we've given up - with that number rising to 11/completion.
Will it hurt us? It sure will. Weber has completed 63% of his passes and while Decker is his favorite target, he has six other with double figure catches, led by Simmons with 32 and Kuznia for 31. He'll be spreading the ball around and if we're not sound with our assignments and getting some pressure he's plenty capable of moving the chains and putting up points. Now, with that said, I think we're also plenty capable of shutting them down. They've only averaged about 16 first downs per game (and allowed 19) against a rather questionable schedule. For comparison, we've averaged 23 (and allowed 21) against one of the toughest slates in the country. We also average a full yard more per play. Unless you really think Big XII defenses are awful (I don't) that is an enormous difference that shouldn't be ignored.
5. The Element of Surprise. Obviously the staff and players will have seen a great deal more of the Gophers than myself. But they're still an unknown in more ways than one. First off, they seem to be changing their offense which could make preparation tough. And secondly, they're playing with house money. They opened as double-digit underdogs and had all of one win last year – just getting here is a big step in the right direction, so the pressure rests squarely on the Jayhawks.
Will it hurt us? Not immensely. I do think they'll try some trick plays of some sort and make a concerted effort to run more than they have as a way of ball control. But while the pressure may be on us, it's still just the Insight Bowl. Most of these guys played in the Orange Bowl a year ago and handled the demands admirably, so I wouldn't expect them to flounder in Tempe. The bigger concern here would be over-confidence, but given that we're still not well-respected nationally, I'd be much more apt to believe that they'll come out wanting to make a statement.
Note for those making the trip, I found this little nugget over at CFN. I'm not sure whether or not 150,000 people in one place is a good thing or not, but use this information as you will.
The Insight Fiesta Bowl Block Party is a New Year's Eve celebration in downtown Tempe that annually attracts 150,000 people and more than 40 bands on several stages. The fans from the four teams competing in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and Insight Bowl are able to enjoy the event, and the Insight Bowl has been held in the afternoon on December 31 just down the street in Sun Devil Stadium. The event has a national headliner each year, including the Goo Goo Dolls, Billy Idol, Barenaked Ladies, LeAnn Rimes, Hootie & The Blowfish and Live, to name a few. Legendary band Styx will perform at this year's event. The Block Party has been named one of the top ten places in the nation to ring in the New Year by USA Today, and "The Place to Party" by The Sporting News.
We all knew of Sherron's importance heading into the year. And to an extent, we knew that we'd be counting on Cole for a dramatic increase in production. But as the year has gone along, it's become apparent that he is as much a key as Sherron. On both ends, this team is night and day depending on whether or not he is on the court. He absolutely controls the game defensively, despite being vulnerable to quicker, driving big men. And offensively, he is at the fulcrum of everything we do.
Mostly due to our balance and talent at every position on the floor, we haven't seen a player be able to control so much without even touching the ball since Wayne Simien. Offensively, Cole has shown the ability to hit shots from the top of the key, from the elbow, from the baseline and off the block. While he's shown all that, he's also proven that he's by no means just a spot shooter and when he gets proper position, he has some great post moves. And it's blatantly obvious that he's the only big man on this team that will finish strong in traffic. Quite simply, the only way to guard him is to clog space and deny the ball. Aside from that, teams just have to hope he misses because he can get off any shot he wants.
Because of this, he alters everything we do offensively. For one thing, Bill likes to run a high-low offense and to do so; you have to have someone capable of catching and finishing on the inside. Cole provides that better than anyone on the roster. On account of this, opposing defenses must focus on denying him the ball, which frees up space for the other four guys on the floor; a one-on-one for the other big and plenty of room for open looks on the outside. We're capable of running an offense without him, but the positive effect he has on our spacing and ball movement has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Though more expected, his presence defensively completely changes the team as well. He's quicker than he looks and with better feet than I'd expect, but he clearly struggles against post players that like to drive rather than post up. This shortcoming aside, he simply dominates the paint. He's averaging nearly 3 blocks a game and has had less then 2 only twice. At times, this skill leads to him collecting a foul or two he otherwise shouldn't, but it also establishes the paint as his area and either deters driving guards or at the very least alters the shot they want to put up around him. This team is still nowhere near what it needs to be on this end of the court, but again, the difference when Cole is on the floor is blatantly apparent.
Right now, Cole Aldrich is our difference maker. Not because he's better than Sherron or even more important. Because he's neither. Yet. Fair or unfair, the biggest reason he makes such a difference is his presence. And while you can't coach or replicate size, they in effect have because he plays even bigger than he is. I completely stand behind what I said above about Sherron and probably the most important stat of the game Saturday was him and Taylor combining for 14 assists to 3 turnovers, but for this team to succeed against quality competition we need 30 good minutes out of Cole (right now he's at 27 and we're getting 14/11/3 out of him). Twenty-six minutes might have been good enough against Temple at home, but it won't beat Jordan Hill and Arizona in Tucson. Sherron has to do certain things in order for this team to play well. Cole simply has to be on the court and a lot of things will take care of themselves. That's a huge asset to have and one that we shouldn't take lightly.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
On to this blogs game of interest. Temple should be well rested after their thrashing of horrendously overrated, but still competent, Tennessee. With a week off, 4 starters returning from last years NCAA tourney team, and a revered coach in Fran Dunphy no one is marking this down as an easy win. Though Temple's record stands at 5-3 there is no doubt this squad has talent to beat quality teams(even with a home loss to Miami(Ohio).) This is a guard dominated lineup that features Lloyd (Dionte) Christmas and Ryan Brooks who average a combined 34.5 ppg. Outside of seven-footer Edward James (Sergio) Olmos, Temple has no one taller than 6'9". Speaking of Olmos, how do you play 30 minutes a game as a 7' center and average 4.5 rpg, that is criminal.
The key here is that outside of the Liacouras Center and in the unfriendly confines of Allen Fieldhouse it will be interesting to see how well Temple shows up. If our guards can slow down Temple's perimeter dominated offense, this should be a no doubter. After last games letdown and overall sloppy play, I think we see a focused Kansas team ready to get the home crowd re-energized. Hopefully we get to take another step forward in trying to figure out what makes this team tick.
Prediction: Owls 59-Hawks 72
In case you haven't heard, reknowed d-bag Eric Devendorf will miss the rest of the season due to his off-court douchbaggery.
Friday, December 19, 2008
I'm not saying this will be enough for Minnesota to pull the upset, but it sure as hell helps and it's just one more reason why the ridiculously long hiatus between the season and the Bowls makes no sense whatsoever.
"There I was, watching the first half-hour of the Gophers’ first practice, and I’m seeing I-formations. I’m seeing fullbacks. I’m seeing offensive linemen put their hand on the ground... Quarterback Adam Weber opined that the Gophers could line up with two backs and the QB under center as much as 40 percent of the time once everybody has the changes down cold. Now, that might not happen by the time Minnesota plays in the Insight Bowl. But you can bet you’ll see some of it against Kansas."
By the way, this link came to us via Gopher Football which has also posted a podcast with our old pal DJ from HawkDigest.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Poinsettia: Tuesday, 12/23 @ 7:00 pm
TCU v. Boise State (+2.5) I base this pick on precisely nothing, except that I've learned not to doubt Boise State. I really like TCU and can't even explain how much I wish Jerry Hughes were a Jayhawk, but I'm wholly unimpressed with their offense to the point that I think the Broncos will do just enough to sneak out a win. Boise 23 TCU 20
Alamo: Monday, 12/29 @ 7:00 pm
Northwestern v. Missouri (-12.5) This has become a chic pick for an upset. And quite an upset it would be as it's currently the largest spread on the board. As much as I'd be just fine with watching Chase whine through his last four quarters as he did last time in the Alamodome, I just don't see it. I'm higher on Penn State than most, but past them (and OSU to an extent) I saw absolutely no one in the entire conference worth taking seriously this year. Missouri 45 Northwestern 24
Holiday: Tuesday, 12/30 @ 7:00 pm
Oregon v. Oklahoma State (-3) I think the Cowboys are favored on conference perception alone, but they're still plenty good to win this game. With that said, Oregon looked great the last few weeks of the season and while part of that has to be attributed to competition, it was also plenty legitimate. Put simply, this is a game I want to watch if for no other reason than both of these teams have dynamite offenses predicated on moving the ball on the ground, but with playmakers all over the field. No amount of analysis would take you very far with this one, so I'll channel my inner woman and pick the team whose uniforms are less ugly. OSU 41 Oregon 35
Insight Bowl: New Year's Eve @ 4:00 pm
Minnesota v. Kansas (-10) Simply put, as long as over-confidence doesn't set in, this really shouldn't be a game. I think Tim Brewster deserves a ton of respect for what he's done in a short time there, but Minnesota just isn't that good. We've touched on this some and there's plenty more to come, but in the end it always comes back to that point. If Kansas is focused, energized, and protects the football they'll wrap it up by halftime. If they play sloppy and allow the under-heralded Minnesota defensive line to force some mistakes, then they could be in for a long game. But with Mangino cracking the (hopefully) proverbial whip I'll be betting on the former. Kansas 38 Minnesota 20
Gator: New Year's Day @ 12:00 pm
Clemson v. Nebraska (+2.5) One of the toughest picks on the board, I don't think anyone has a clue what to expect here. After all, Clemson is coached by a guy named Dabo. But his players do seem to be buying into his energetic tactics. The talent is there for this to be a very good team, but they rarely look the part. Nebraska, on the other hand, has done a fine job masking their weakness (defense) by developing a ball control offense that doesn't entirely depend on running the ball. This sounds very simple, but few coaches are willing to admit their weakness and/or cannot do anything to hide it. Pelini has done both, while also forming an offense that can put some points on the board. I may be succumbing to a little conference bias here, but I'll take the Huskers. Nebraska 35 Clemson 31
Rose Bowl: New Year's Day @ 3:30 pm
USC v. Penn State (+9.5) The Trojan defense is fantastic whenever it's not trying to tackle Jacquizz Rogers. But despite their future pros on offense, have we really seen anything from that unit to warrant a line like this? I know I haven't and yet I'm still struggling with this pick because of how little I trust the Penn State offense. The best defense they faced was Ohio State and they put up a measly 13 points, so it's hard to expect them to get much more than that. In fact, that's exactly what I'll give them. USC 21 Penn State 13
Orange: New Year's Day @ 7:30 pm
Cincinnati v. Virginia Tech (+2) I can't imagine knowing any less about a BCS team than I do Cincinnati. What I do know is that they have a similar resume to Kansas a year ago, only if Kansas had been humiliated by LSU (Oklahoma) and then later by Colorado (Connecticut). But since neither of those things happened, I'll put my cash money on Virginia Tech. After all, the ACC could really use a BCS win one of these days. VT 23 Cincy 17
Cotton: Friday, 1/2 @ 1:00 pm
Ole Miss v. Texas Tech (-5.5) Can you believe just two games ago Tech had the two Heisman frontrunners and were becoming a popular pick for the MNC? Now they're not even a touchdown favorite over Houston Nutt and Jevan Snead. If it weren't for Mike Leach doing everything in his power to get out of Lubbock, I'd be taking Tech by a few touchdowns. As it is, I'm going to say the Rebs keeps it close longer than the Raiders would like. Tech 38 Ole Miss 28
Sugar: Friday, 1/2 @ 7:00 pm
Utah v. Alabama (-10) Like Penn State, I think the Utes are being under-valued here. I really like what Saban has done and I was higher on Bama than most in thinking that they could beat Florida. How fucking good is Julio Jones?! Unfortunately, there was just too much JPW. And that will again be the case in New Orleans. Of course, Utah isn't Florida so it won't be enough for the enormous upset, but it just might be enough to keep the game in single digits. Then again, Saban is getting a month to prepare here. I'm glad this isn't a pick with real Euros riding on it. And since I just remembered that Bill Snyder wooed away their offensive coordinator I'll be disregarding my earlier statements and taking Bama to cover. Alabama 23 Utah 10
Fiesta: Monday, 1/5 @ 7:00 pm
Ohio State v. Texas (-9.5) The only real question here is how Texas comes out of the gates. If they've been focused for a month and intent on channeling their BCS hate into proving that they belonged in Miami then they'll have things wrapped up by the end of the third quarter. If they've been sulking to Dan Beebe about what coulda/shoulda been, then Ohio State will make them earn it. Ultimately, I have a lot of trust in Colt McCoy and even more in Will Muschamp that they've been doing the former. If that's the case, this one won't be a nail-biter. Texas 33 Aosu 17
MNC: Thursday, 1/8 @ 7:00 pm
Florida v. Oklahoma (+3) This pick may be entirely based upon me doing everything in my power to cut down on this country's Tebowners, but what the hell. I really don't like Oklahoma. In fact, I dislike them quite a bit. But I really hate Florida. And Tim Tebow is a circumcising douche. And Gary Danielson loves him for it. All of these seem like perfectly legitimate reasons for me to pick the Sooners. Unfortunately, I'm not entirely sure that's how the hundred or so freakish athletes on the field will see things. By the way, Florida has more of those. Specifically, they've got fast ends that just might make Phil Loadholt look like Oprah through most of the second half. And yet, I'm bound and determined to do away with Tebowners so I'm counting on the Big Egg Bob to deliver the Big XII sweep of 7 wins and 0 losses this bowl season. Oklahoma 41 Florida 35
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
"Well, because it's a strategy ...That's exactly why it's done. That's why I gave up my Heisman vote about four or five years ago. I just thought this thing is a joke and I don't want to be a part of it. And by the way, I resigned from the Davey O'Brien award this year for the same reason. The Davey O'Brien wanted me to vote for the outstanding quarterback in college football and here were my choices: Colt McCoy, great player, Sam Bradford, great player, and Graham Harrell, great player. But how can all three of the great players be from the same league? I mean come on, if you're going to have an award, you got to have Tim Tebow on that award this year don't you? I just said I'm not interested. I really don't even like these things and if the Heisman wasn't out of New York, nobody would care."I should note that by his logic, had Tebow been the quarterback at Tech this year, he would not have merited consideration because he would then have been in the same league as Bradford and McCoy. Then what, Gary? Is that a world your ready to live in? Tread lightly, my friend.
While this is just a rumor at this point, Jeff Whitey, who was released from Arizona recently, is likely to be on the move to join KU for the 2nd semester. That would mean a year to get acclimated and be ready for court time next January. I have a pretty decent source on this, but you never know in this crazy NCAA recruitment world. I needed something to take the Mario Little injury sting out of me. Oh, his high school coach seems to think the same.(at the end of the article)
And Lance Stephenson is down to 2 schools, St. Johns and KU. If we missed out on him, that would make the 4th elite wing we came in 2nd on, come on Lance.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Little Breaks Bone in Left Hand Will Miss 2-4 Weeks
On the plus side, he could easily get away with wearing that shirt. And now, my favorite quote from that movie:
Scott Howard: Styles, I got something to tell you. It's kind of hard, but...
Stiles: Look, are you gonna tell me you're a fag because if you're gonna tell me you're a fag, I don't think I can handle it.
Scott Howard: I'm not a fag. I'm... a werewolf.
I know it isn't KU related, but damn if it isn't funny
"10 wins and no excuses."With a quick glance at their schedule, I suppose it's doable. The non-conference games consist of three nothings and a trip to West Virginia to play a Mountaineer team devoid of Pat White and overwhelmed with Bill Stewart. They must travel to Austin and Stillwater, but every other legitimate opponent has to come to Boulder. So crazy as it sounds, I can see his point. It should be noted, however, that in 3 seasons he has a grand total of 13 wins and is still planning to start his son at quarterback.
"I don't think negative of Mizzou for losing to Kansas or Oklahoma," he said. "Oklahoma especially has a really good team. It just seems like Missouri can't handle the big games."I like him already. Also of note were these excerpts from the article:
"Allen finished his senior season (13-1) with over 1,000 yards receiving and 29 touchdowns. He reports a 3.2 core GPA and a 22 ACT."Sounds like he'd be a great addition. He's set to announce his decision on Thursday.
Monday, December 15, 2008
"And with the return of key players like Reesing, Sharp, Dexton Fields and Kerry Meier, a run at the Big 12 North title wouldn't be out of the question next season -- even with a tough slate of Big 12 South opponents again next season."I know he doesn't follow Kansas as closesly as I do, but if you're going to publish stuff under the umbrella of the WWL I don't think it's too much to ask that you remember the names of guys who have 78 catches for 1206 yards and 12 TDs. Dezmon certainly doesn't have the household vitality of a Crabtree, but he's not exactly obscure either, especially for a Big XII "expert." And yes, I might have a case of the Mondays.
Quite publicly, Bill has said that this team will go as far as Sherron can take them and that he should be taking 18-20 or so shots per game. To an extent I believe the first part of that statement, but I wondered about the second and a simple look at the numbers calls it even more into question. For reference, Sherron has taken more than 17 shots exactly twice this year. In those two games we're 0-2 and he has combined to score 40 points on 33% shooting while totaling six assists and four turnovers. The points are great, but not when they come at a price of wasting possessions with bad shots. But more importantly, we're winless win it happens. In the other seven games we're undefeated. And not coincidentally, the time he took 17 (Jackson State) we looked pretty awful despite ultimately winning by 24. Every other time he's taken 14 or less and we've looked demonstrably better. Now, I'll be the first to admit that other factors are at work here and both of those games were plenty winnable, but in the end I think it's pretty tough to refute that it's at least a significant factor. If we can get him 20 good looks a game, then I'm all for it, but if we're going to get him 5 and he's going to get 15 on his own, then I think we're being counter-productive.
Shocking as it may seem, Tom Keegan hit the nail on the head when he said that this team won't grow until Sherron learns to trust his teammates. I could not agree more and I'd actually add that the assertion extends to Bill Self as well. Having lunch with Ryan Robertson the other week, he remarked to me that he didn't feel like Brady or Tyrel looked confident enough to make a play when they had the chance. I think Tyrel has somewhat come out of that lately, but Brady still looks a little hesitant. And honestly, when every single person watching the game knows what play you're going to run and you do exactly that, it's hard to argue this point. I'm all for putting the most trust into the guy that's been there, but if neither he nor the coach trusts the rest of the guys on the floor, how are we to expect them to step up when it's needed? Do we really think Sherron is so much better than everyone else that we trust him more to make a shot while being double-teamed than we trust anyone else to make one wide open? If so, I think that's a problem.
Like I've said above, I think both Bill and Sherron have earned our trust. But I also don't think that makes them immune from either mistakes or criticism. And right now, I think they're making a big one. It's very easy to point the blame at the Morris' for a lack of hustle or even Sherron for being a little selfish, but I think it's more than that. I think Bill is treating him differently than he has anyone else before and certainly anyone else on this team and I don't think it's conducive for improving the team as a whole. It's easy to find pros and cons when things are going well, but it's much more informative to figure out the tendencies that pop up when your back's against the wall. And while there are plenty of others to point to as well, I think this is the most prevalent and also the most concerning.
What are your thoughts?
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Cole Aldrich having a few inches on EVERYONE that was on the court. Not to mention that he was an easy 5-8 for the game. You can point to this as a problem for the entire game, because a guy shooting that percentage with that advantage who only had 1 foul should EASILY get 12-15 shots. But despite that lack of common sense, it seems pretty simple to give him a look from 5 feet with the game on the line. But no...
Sherron Collins has to shoot whenever everything isn't flowing perfectly. As I've stated, and I'm sure you all agree, we're eternally indebted to Sherron for obvious reasons, but he is not a good leader when a team needs to pull together. He was as big a part as anyone in letting us fall behind in the first half by thinking he's the only one capable of scoring and EVERYONE in the Sprint Center knew we were going to try and isolate him on the last play. I'm all for letting your best player make a play - and Sherron is definitely that - but when you have nearly 20 seconds and it's blatantly obvious that's the ONLY thing they're guarding, look fucking elsewhere. I would love to think this crossed Bill's mind, but I know that it didn't.
I won't blame the referees, simply because I never do. I believe that's something you have to play through. But frost-tipped John Higgins sure had a cock on his mind this afternoon. I'd say there were 7 bad calls in the second half (6 on us, 1 on them) and he made all seven. Three of them were beyond awful as my twelve year old sister could have easily attested. This was truly a pathetic display and Welmer really should have stepped in to get control. Instead, he pulled up his pants. I guess we should have seen that coming. Let's just say I'll be bringing this one to the attention of Jim Haney and the NABC. Yeah, it was that bad.
And lastly, we'll have more on this game later, but if there's a worse team in that nation at feeding the post, I want to see them. Tyshawn does a ton of good for us (though not really today), but he looks worse than anyone in this capacity. And frankly, they're all bad. I'll just quit right now, because I'll just come off bad, but there really isn't anything easier to do on pure common sense than feeding the post and we look like a band of retards every time we try to do it. Very frustrating, to say the least. Thank everything for April of 2008 because it really makes these kinds of games easier to swallow. Speaking of swallowing, does it get much hotter than Megan Fox Alright, I feel a little better. Back to bars we go...
Friday, December 12, 2008
9/5 v. Northern Colorado – Quite obviously this is a must-win game. And fortunately, winning it shouldn't be a problem. Out of the Big Sky, the Bears went a pitiful 1-10 this season in the FCS, playing one FBS team, Purdue, and losing that game 42-10. Their one win came over Idaho State who started the season 0-11 before winning their final bout in OT to finish a paltry 1-11. W: 1-0
9/12 @ UTEP – This is also a must-win, but won't come nearly as easily as the first. A C-USA loss is clearly inexcusable, but that doesn't mean the win will come easily. The Miners finished the season 5-7, beating no one of real significance though being in several games against some of their better competition. In fact, they were only down 28-13 into the fourth quarter when Texas came out to El Paso in September. W: 2-0
9/19 v. Duke – As you may or may not know, Duke experienced noticeable improvement this year, despite being the only ACC team that didn't finish within 2 games of winning its division. Which says a lot about where they were. But more than that was the fact that they were actually in most games (only 3 losses by more than 2 scores) and even won some of actual significance (Vandy, Virginia & Navy). By bringing in David Cutliffe – one of the best quarterback coaches in the country – they showed actual signs of life on offense and are bound to improve even more next year. This should and will be a win, but Duke isn't as awful as you might imagine. Now we need to get them to come to Lawrence for basketball – quit being a pussy, Coach K. W: 3-0
9/26 v. Southern Mississippi – The Golden Eagles will represent our lone bowl team on the 2009 non-conference slate. Wow, that's sad. At 6-6 this season they will take on Troy in the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl so get your DVR's ready for Dec. 21 @ 8:15 on ESPN. Thank goodness we're preserving the integrity of the regular season. W: 4-0 (Predicted SOS of roughly 115 putting us well ahead of Texas Tech, but in shameless position all the same.)
10/10 v. Iowa State – For the second year in a row, we have to waste our bye week on Iowa State. At least this year we got one before Missouri too, but we aren't so fortunate in 2009. As you saw this year, ISU darted out to a 2-0 start before ultimately losing their final 10 games which obviously gave them a winless conference season keeping them at 3 league wins combined over the past three seasons. They actually do have some playmakers that look very out of place there, but I don't think I'm reaching to call this one a win. W: 5-0 (1-0, 1-0)
10/17 @ Colorado – By far the biggest test of the season to date, one never knows what they're going to get out of the Buffs, especially in Boulder where it's never a gimme. With Cody Hawkins actually looking competent lately, Smith & McKnight on the outside and Stewart and Scott returning in the backfield, Colorado has some potential to be a little salty. But they had that same potential this year and did just a shade under nothing anyway. It will be semi-useless predicting what we'll get out of them the day before the game, let alone 10 months prior, but I'll remain optimistic and notch us a sixth win. W: 6-0 (2-0, 2-0)
10/24 v. Oklahoma – Even if we've followed Vegas' suggestion and gone 6-0, we likely won't have garnered any real respect, which is entirely understandable. But win this week and that will all change. Unfortunately, we have no idea what kind of Sooner team we'll see. We're all sure they'll be good, but depending on draft defections that level of good could vacillate anywhere from 9 to 14 wins on the year. I remain utterly convinced this will be a winnable game, but the odds aren't likely to bear that out and until we know more I'll remain on the safe side and notch us our first loss on the season in valiant fashion. L: 6-1 (2-1, 2-0)
10/31 @ Texas Tech – As you all well know, I personally believe the tech game this year to be one of, if not THE, single worst loss in Kansas history given the expectations around it and how it actually played out. Whether or not that's hyperbole is irrelevant. What is relevant is whether we can make up for that loss by stealing a very important win in moribund Lubbock. And knowing they'll still be breaking in Taylor Potts, that Crabtree will (likely) be gone and the o-line graduates, it's entirely possible. But with Leach apparently now staying along with Batch, Lewis, & Swindall, you have to assume they'll have the offense humming by Halloween. Since most of their D returns as well (excluding the safeties), I'll keep playing it safe, but this is another very winnable game in my estimation. L: 6-2 (2-2, 2-0)
11/7 @ K-State – You know the purple pussies will be wanting a win here. In fact, I'm just arrogant enough to believe that they'd accept 1-11 if the one ended their losing streak to the Jayhawks. The old coot is assembling what appears to be a solid staff and we all know the primary reason he's coming back is to get as far away from his family as possible, so they'll put in the time and have their kids ready. Fortunately, their kids mostly consist of unwanted JUCO transfers and no-talent ass clowns. Despite falling into the first category I'm excluding Brandon Banks. W: 7-2 (3-2, 3-0)
11/14 v. Nebraska – This, as much as any game on the schedule, is a must win. If we're to assume three south losses, anything less than 5-0 in the north likely won't be good enough and as we all saw this year, you better win the ones you have to if you want to come out on top in a tiebreaker. And given that Nebraska gets their tough south opponents (OU, Tech) at home they have an enormous scheduling advantage. Generally, I like what Pelini has done this year. More than anything, he recognized his primary weakness and did everything in his power to hide that weakness. Sounds simple, but it's rarely done. However, he'll likely lose his best defender (Suh) if he declares early and he'll be losing his QB, top two receivers, and best lineman (Slauson) to graduation. So we don't know a ton about the 2009 Huskers just yet, though I imagine they'll want to hand off to Helu a minimum of 20 times a game. W: 8-2 (4-2, 4-0)
11/21 @ Texas – With it being Todd's senior year in his hometown this would be a great win to get. And I'm sure he'll play his ass off to get that win. But given what we know today, we shouldn't expect much of a dip out of Texas next year. That could certainly change as they do lose some vital pieces, but even so we all know Texas will have the advantage physically. As of this day, this is probably the least-winnable game on the 2009 schedule. L: 8-3 (4-3, 4-0)
11/28 v. Missouri @ Arrowhead – There's a chance this will be for the north, though I think Nebraska will be right there as well with their schedule advantage. With that said, MU gets Texas & Baylor at home while only having to travel to Stillwater so if either of the Blaine's are any good, they could be in good shape as well. As is the case when you're doing this before the end of the prior season, let alone the draft, it's pretty tough predicting how they'll be without Booger pulling the trigger that ultimately shoots them in the foot. But given that we should get better, and they should get worse, and we just beat them on this same field, I'll favor the Jayhawks. W: 9-3 (5-3, 5-0)
12/5 Big XII Championship @ Jerry's World: Kansas v. Texas
Do you agree - Are we the 2009 representative from the Big XII north? Can we win any of our games against the south?
Thursday, December 11, 2008
So as you all know by now the staff is experimenting with Angus at linebacker (presumably OLB). Quite obviously, he has all the physical requirements and from the looks of things, he doesn't shy away from contact. Given all this and his penchant for fumbling a switch over the defense to take advantage of his athleticism seems very logical.
But I have to ask why we can't just teach him to hold onto the damn ball? He's got the size, speed, vision and mentality to be a perfect between the tackles, fall-forward kind of guy. Jake will obviously be the incumbent, but unless we're 100% sure Crawford can fill this role in complimentary fashion, this seems like a risk. Even more than that, a move to the other side of the ball, let alone one as assignment heavy as OLB seems like an extremely tough move to make.
I can absolutely see this working from a physical standpoint and he generally looks alright on special teams, but I'm not nearly as convinced as everyone else seems to be.
What are your thoughts?
Secondly, we have a couple Minnesota links for you. The first, which you may want to check periodically for the next few weeks, is the resident Minnesota blog, The Daily Gopher. Interestingly, I was perusing the blog and actually took a link to a Kansas blog, VraniFieldhouse. It's not entirely Kansas, but from the looks of it, that's the primary concentration. Here's their piece on why Kansas Will Blast Minnesota. And lastly, a piece from the Pioneer Press that discusses how the Gophers are planning to change their offense prior to the Insight Bowl. And no, I can't type or say the word gopher and think of anything aside from Carl Spackler and Caddyshack.
With that out of the way, I do have an actual post for you today. I wanted to do one on the league's current status on the hardwood. But since I've only watched roughly half the teams and not even yet seen Baylor (that Wazzu win is impressive, though) I thought I better hold off or risk coming off as your typical uniformed, box score "analyst." Instead, I decided to keep with the spirit of the season, which, despite the large hiatus, technically still belongs to football. With that, I think it's time to take our first gander at the Gophers. Off topic, but I can't help but wish this bowl were still called the Copper rather than Insight. I don't know why. Moving on...
QB – Adam Weber. 63% completion. 2585 yards (6.9/attempt). 14 TDs and 8 INTS. He's also carried 115 times for 202 yards (1.8 per) and 4 TDs and was sacked a Big 11 most 28 times. Speaking of how he fared within his conference, it's worth noting that the 63% led the league. His 2585 yards was second to Juice Williams while the 14 TDs were good for third. It's also worth noting that in the Big XII his completion % would have been good for ninth. His yardage also ninth. And his TDs would be 13th. So while I don't want to take away from what Tim Brewster has done and I really don't want to underestimate the Gophers, it's pretty safe to say that despite the relative success they had with the spread in the Big 11, we've seen offenses that are slightly more potent.
Truth be told, I haven't seen this guy play nearly enough to have a real idea of what he likes to do. I'm under the impression that he's somewhat of a playmaker and given his completion percentage, he seems to be pretty accurate. As is the case against any spread offense, the primary key will be messing up timing and if possible, getting pressure. Do those two things, or even one, and we're likely to limit their offensive success.
RB – DeLeon Eskridge. Gotta love that name. 170 carries for 652 yards (3.8 per) and 7 TDs. He also has 28 catches for 181 yards. Again, I don't know nearly enough about him or his team to accurately assess what he does for them. But it's safe to say that running the ball isn't really their forte as he is far and away the leader in both yards and attempts. The entire team only has 1,270 yards (3.2 per) and 18 TDs on the ground for the year. And his 170 carries average out to just over 14/game with him only going over 20 three times.
WR/TE – Eric Decker. We'll touch on a couple others below, but seeing as how he has 45 more catches than his closest teammate it's a safe assumption that he's the primary target. His stats: 76 grabs for 925 yards and 6 TDs - all of which would rank behind both Dez and Kerry – yet were good enough for 1st, 2nd, & 2nd respectively, within his entire league. Again, I'm not taking away from what he did, but it just goes to show you what kind of offenses we've been facing off against when he's first team all-conference and yet on stats alone he'd be no better than our #3 receiver.
Whereas Decker is a clear #1, it doesn't look like Weber has a definitive second option. Ben Kuznia and Jack Simmons are next in line by number of receptions with 31 & 32, respectively. Keeping with their similarities, Kuznia had 310 yards (0 TDs) and Simmons 300 (2 TDs). Eskridge is next with his 28, with Brandon Green (18-260-1), Nick Tow-Arnett (10-211-1) & Duane Bennett (12-125-1) rounding out those with double digit catches.
Long story short, Decker has caught about 32% of Weber's completions, he accounts for over 36% of their receiving yards, and he's scored 43% of their passing touchdowns. I'm sure that shutting him down is no easy task, but if accomplished, you've effectively stopped the Gopher offense. It's also worth noting that after tearing it up early - 469 of his yards (51%) came against Montana State, FAU, & Indiana - in the last 3 games combined (all losses) he had 3 catches for 30 yards and 0 TDs and Minnesota scored 6, 32, and 0 in these games. Maybe he was hurt (anyone know?), but if not then I think the template has been set.
I'd love to analyze their offensive linemen, but I have nothing of substance to say. Like I said, I've watched them a few times, but never closely enough to really see how their line works or even if anyone in particular stands out (for good or bad). But I do know that their offense ranks 91st nationally (322/game) - rushing is 104th (106) & passing 57th (216) – against what is generously listed as the 77th toughest schedule in the nation despite seeing only 1 ranked team along the way (Ohio State) with Iowa & Northwestern a distant 2nd & 3rd. Take from that what you will, but I'm inclined to believe that if they can't run the ball and they allowed a conference worst 28 sacks then the offensive line is not exactly their best asset and truthfully, it just might be their weakest.
More to come later, but this should be enough to whet your appetite for the time being. After all the only good varmint poontang is dead varmint poontang.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
this standard serial killer mullet... AND the goldilocks mullet on this furry gent... I must say it's pretty rare that we can find a picture of such a glorious mullet and yet somehow the guy in the background ultimately steals the show. A feat indeed. HAPPY MULLET WEDNESDAY!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
QB – Todd Reesing, Kale Pick. Obviously what we're most excited about is the prospect of Todd returning for his senior campaign and possibly breaking even more of his own records. But the story here is Pick moving to second string ahead of Kerry Meier. And while I don't know this to be the case, I would anticipate it being so, in order to: 1) start getting him prepared for the following year; & 2) to give Kerry a fair shot at being a full-time receiver.
RB – Jake Sharp, Jocques Crawford, Angus Quigley. Until proven otherwise, Jake will remain the guy here. And if you doubt that, please rewatch the Missouri game in which neither of the other two touched the ball, despite Jake having broken ribs. However, while Jake has shown he can carry the load, he's still not a guy that falls forward, but rather one who hits the hole he's given. My guess is he's still the guy, but if either of the others can prove that they can get the tough yards AND hang onto the ball, they'll be sure to get some big time minutes as well.
WR – Dezmon Briscoe, Kerry Meier, Jonathan Wilson, Raimond Pendleton, Rod Smith, Jr. After the first three, it's pretty speculative and I wouldn't be shocked to see Daymond move back to this side of the ball. The important thing to notice here is the top three returning. We all know what Dezmon and Kerry can do. Though if Dez's improvement from year 1 to year 2 is any indication, he could get even better. And it will be interesting to see how Kerry's game changes if he really does become a full-time receiver. As for Wilson, I'm tempted to believe we haven't yet seen his best. I don't have much to prove that aside from comparing Dez's 2007 stats (43 for 497 & 7) to Wilson's from this season (41 for 556 and 2). I'm not suggesting he'll make the same leap, but a reasonable improvement seems plenty reasonable and we all know the ability is there (see: South Florida and Texas).
TE – Tim Biere, Bradley Dedeaux, A.J. Steward. I feel like Biere is pretty supplanted here and for good reason. He seems to be a good blocker and as a true freshman, he's obviously got time to get much bigger and better. He also seems very sure handed and I would think we'll want to incorporate him into the passing game more as we're able to trust our tackles a bit more. Not much to analyze yet with the others as Dedeaux is the blocker and Steward supposed to be the playmaker. But with Biere able to do both as well or better than the others, he doesn't look to be moving anytime soon. Another sign of him having a hold on this spot is that Tanner Hawkinson (highly rated TE recruit) moved to DE during the year, so apparently the writing is on the wall there.
LT – Jeff Spikes, Ian Wolfe. Here's my first real leap of faith. As you all know, Spikes switched to RT at the start of conference play as he was a bit behind Hatch in terms of being able to set his feet. The move worked well and while Spikes still probably isn't quite ready, I think they really want him back at left. I've been told they think his ceiling is much higher than Anthony Collins' and it's already clear that he's very much improved at getting to the second level in the run game. If we can get him a little quicker off the ball and a little quicker into his stance, he has a ton of potential at LT.
LG – Jeremiah Hatch, Trevor Marrongelli. Another leap of faith on my part, Hatch really should be a guard. As much as he filled a need at tackle, he was out of position at only 6'3" and with short arms even for that size. Hatch handles size and strength by matching them with his own and utilizing his good feet. But he struggles against speed rushers off the edge, and really, there isn't much he can do about it other than get back into his stance as quickly as possible, which makes him vulnerable to inside moves. All of this adds up to him being a perfect fit at guard if Spikes can regain his spot at LT. I'm basing a lot of this one having a full year to get better, but if it happens, you can bet we'll be running left on a regular basis.
C – Brad Thorson. This is absolute speculation. But for those that don't know Thorson came to us as a transfer from Wisconsin after leaving the team (perhaps by mandate). I don't actually know the details, but I'm under the impression that it stemmed from a fight and/or dirty play in practice. And while I don't necessarily condone that, I can't say I mind that type of a mean streak out of my offensive linemen. Like I said, I don't know anything about his abilities, but from what I've heard, we can expect him to step in and do well though I think we've been pretty spoiled with Ochoa and Cantrell the last few years.
RG – Sal Capra, Carl Wilson. As you've likely noticed, Capra has actually taken quite a few snaps from both Mayes and Hartley throughout the year. Part of that was to give Hartley's knees a rest and part was production. He came to us as a linebacker, so he's not entirely refined as an o-lineman yet, but he has proven capable. There are several others that could also vie for this spot, including Wilson, but Capra is the only one to have earned PT thus far, so for now I think we have to look at him as the likely replacement.
RT – Ben Leuken, Nathan D'Cunha. And pretty much all of this depends on Leuken taking this spot. Given that he was given plenty of snaps here, mostly late in games, and burned his RS in the process, I'm inclined to think Mangino was trying to get him some reps and proper evaluation in order to put him here next year. In his limited duty, it was clear that he'll need to add weight and muscle, but he has the quickness, height, reach and motor to be a very productive player. D'Cunha seems to be a bust for the time being, but only time will tell.
At the skill positions we clearly return more talent than anyone else in the north and really, the entire league. But as we all saw this year, the key is on the offensive line. We have to replace three positions there and if I'm right we may do some realignment as well. If we can get enough stability there to generate an effective running game and give Todd some time this offense stands to get even better and will almost assuredly be the best in the north.