Kansas rush offense vs. Colorado rush defense
Kansas gained some serious confidence in this department during the first half of last week’s game against Iowa State. The Jayhawks gashed the Cyclones up the middle for 100 yards in the first half, but finished with just 119, as the Cyclones made the adjustment to shut down KU’s power running game. Still, KU’s coaching staff was encouraged enough by what it saw to make this matchup an interesting one to watch this weekend. The Buffs give up an average of 140 yards and 4.4 yards-per-carry on the ground. The Jayhawks average 142 yards per game and 3.5 yards-per-rush.
Kansas pass offense vs. Colorado pass defense
This is an example of stats not telling the complete story. Though the Buffs have given up an average of 272 yards per game through the air, their secondary also features this team’s top defensive players. Cornerbacks Jimmy Smith (6-2, 205, senior) and Jalil Brown (6-1, 205, senior) are among the best in the Big 12, and the Colorado defense is set up in a way in which these guys are free to make plays. With KU’s shaky situation at quarterback and Colorado’s talent and experience in the secondary, it’s hard to see this one going KU’s way. In addition to their secondary, CU’s front seven features five juniors or seniors and has recorded 16 sacks this season.
Colorado rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense
KU defensive coordinator Carl Torbush pointed out earlier this week that CU tailback Rodney Stewart is the kind of player the Jayhawks have had the most trouble with this season. Stewart, 5-foot-6, 175 pounds, is shifty, fast, elusive and unpredictable. On top of that, he’s incredibly strong and runs with a low center of gravity that makes him tough to bring down. Through eight games, Stewart has gained 765 yards and tallied five TDs, while adding 19 receptions and two more TDs in the passing game. Though they’ve had moments where they’ve looked good against the rush, the Jayhawks have surrendered an average of 210 rushing yards per game, which includes 18 touchdowns and a 5.1 yards-per-carry clip.
Colorado pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense
Starting quarterback Tyler Hansen is out for the season. That’s good news as far as the Jayhawks are concerned because, in last year’s upset of Kansas, Hansen completed 14 of 25 passes and tossed one touchdown, while rushing for another, to lead the Buffs past the Jayhawks, 34-30. The loss was the first of the current 11-game conference losing streak the Jayhawks are on. With Hansen out, senior Cody Hawkins takes over and brings a wealth of poise and experience to the huddle, but consistency has been a struggle.
Same song, different verse for the Jayhawks in this area. Kansas has been bad in special teams all season long, giving up big plays, making bonehead mistakes and struggling to find consistency. Both teams average around 22 yards per kickoff return and both give up nearly the same number. Punt returns provide some separation as CU gives and gets about seven yards per return while the Jayhawks average just 3.8 yards for and 14.7 yards against.