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Saturday, December 1, 2012

Kansas vs. West Virginia: Tale of the Tape

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When Kansas has the ball

Kansas rush offense vs. West Virginia rush defense

All signs point to another big day from the Kansas running backs this week against the Mountaineers. West Virginia ranks ninth in the Big 12 in total defense (487 yards per game) and 10th in scoring defense (41 points per game) and gives up an average of 141 yards rushing. Most of the Mountaineers’ struggles on D this season came through the air, but the Jayhawks have run the ball against everybody this season, with James Sims, Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox leading the charge. Sims, who missed three games to open the season, sits just 44 yards away from reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the season. You can bet the Jayhawks will be gunning for him to reach that mark today, not only for Sims but also because that gives KU its best and only shot in this one.

Edge: Kansas.

Kansas pass offense vs. West Virginia pass defense

Although red-shirt freshman Michael Cummings is expected to make his sixth consecutive start at quarterback, Weis said senior Dayne Crist, who started the first six games of the year, also would play. The reason? In order to try to keep up with WVU’s explosive offense, Weis said KU would have to throw the ball down the field a little more, and Crist gives KU the best shot at doing that. It’s been a rough year for KU’s passing game. Between the struggles of the quarterbacks and the inability of the KU wide receivers to get open and make plays, KU has gotten very little out of its aerial attack all season. If the Jayhawks are going to end that trend, this week certainly seems like their best shot, but it’s hard to envision a scenario in which KU having success through the air is the expectation.

Edge: West Virginia.

When West Virginia has the ball

West Virginia rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense

A few weeks ago, West Virginia senior Tavon Austin, primarily a wide receiver, ran 19 times for 344 yards against Oklahoma. And that completely changed the West Virginia offense, which to that point had been known mostly for its ability to air it out. Austin gives the Mountaineers a dynamic threat in the backfield and has been the perfect complement to running backs Andrew Buie and Shawne Alston. Throw in the fact that WVU quarterback Geno Smith can make plays with his legs, too, and this attack, which averages 172 yards per game on the ground, is just one of the many nightmares for opposing defenses.

Edge: West Virginia.

West Virginia pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense

Consider: 3,597 yards, 37 touchdowns and just five interceptions. Those are the numbers West Virginia QB Geno Smith has put up this year, numbers that, if not for WVU’s five-game losing streak, surely would have made Smith a finalist in the Heisman Trophy race. Smith’s size, poise and big arm have been the catalyst for this passing attack that averages 334 yards per game and ranks fourth in the Big 12.

Edge: West Virginia.

Special teams

Even if all other aspects of these two special-teams units were dead even, the Mountaineers would have the clear advantage thanks to Austin and his ability to change games as a kick returner and punt returner. The 5-foot-9, 171-pound burner has returned both a kickoff and punt for a touchdown this season and ranks in the top four of the league in both categories, averaging 11 yards per return on punts and 26.4 yards per return on kickoffs. Austin’s all-purpose total of 234 yards per game leads the Big 12.

Edge: West Virginia.

Comments

NebraskaJayhawk 1 year, 4 months ago

I still don't see why Weis thinks Crist can throw the ball down the field any better than Cummings. He obviously has the better arm, but the accuracy has not been there for him unfortunately. I don't know, we are pretty one dimensional when Crist is in the game and the opposing defenses know it. You can expect a lot more blitzes up the middle as usual with Crist in the game.

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Robert Brock 1 year, 4 months ago

After watching WVU carve up OU's defense, I have to predict that the Mountaineers will have no trouble putting up 60+ points on us.

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