Kansas rush offense vs. NMSU rush defense
Freshman running back James Sims could be in for an even bigger game than the one he turned in against Georgia Tech during this week’s matchup with New Mexico State. Sims, who has gained 175 yards on 37 carries since becoming the team’s featured back, will face an Aggies’ defense that has surrendered 493 yards rushing in two games this season. Not only should that be good news for Sims, who tallied 101 yards on 17 carries against Georgia Tech and logged 20 more carries in last week’s loss to Southern Miss, but it also should be good news for red-shirt freshman Deshaun Sands (8-34 and a TD last week) as well as KU’s ailing offensive line.
Kansas pass offense vs. NMSU pass defense
When given time, KU quarterback Jordan Webb has been pretty effective this season. His completion percentage of 61 percent puts him in the top half of the Big 12 Conference, and his four-to-one touchdowns-to-interceptions ratio has been nothing short of spectacular when considering how much pressure he has faced during the Jayhawks’ first three games. Facing the Aggies should provide a boost for Webb’s numbers, as the Aggies have given up an average of 283 passing yards per game so far this season and have been susceptible to the big play.
NMSU rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense
Though the Aggies have played just two games this season, there’s nothing special about their ground attack. NMSU has rushed for 201 yards on 50 carries, for an average of four yards per carry, and nearly one-third of those have come from quarterback Matt Christian. Combine that with the fact that the Jayhawks have been pretty good against the run in all three games this year, and it’s a safe bet that the bigger, more physical KU front seven should get the better of the Aggies in this department.
NMSU pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense
The Jayhawks’ pass defense got its first true test of the season last week against Southern Miss and came out with an incomplete. Many KU players said that the team’s pass coverage was sound, and that’s what led USM quarterback Austin Davis’ productive night with his legs. KU has shown to be more physical in the secondary than in years past. As for New Mexico State’s passing attack, Christian is a mobile quarterback with a good arm who won’t be afraid to attack the Jayhawks. The problem for NMSU is, with a completion percentage of just over 50 percent, Christian hasn’t proven to be effective enough in the passing game to move the chains consistently.
The Jayhawks’ struggles in the punting game have been well documented and, until KU takes care of that, this unit is going to continue to be a mystery. KU has given up two blocked punts in its first three games, both of which came as a result of a missed blocking assignment. The Jayhawks have been about average in kick return, kickoffs and field goals. Gill placed extra emphasis on KU’s special teams this week in practice. As for the Aggies, they’re averaging decent numbers in their return game — 21 yards per attempt on kickoff returns and 12 yards per attempt on punts — and have not had any glaring mistakes so far this season.
Edge: New Mexico State