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Sunday, September 8, 2013

Keegan

Opinion: Rice key test for KU

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Thursday marks the four-year anniversary of the Kansas University football program’s most recent victory away from Memorial Stadium in Lawrence. Saturday represents a chance to end the futility streak of 22 games in 11 states under three coaches.

The Jayhawks travel to Houston to face Rice at its on-campus stadium, site of Super Bowl VIII. Rice is a slight favorite to extend KU’s losing streak away from home to 23 games and will have had two weeks to prepare for the Jayhawks after losing its season opener to Texas A&M.

The extra preparation time doesn’t mean as much this early in the season, with so little to look at in the way of trends. Additionally, KU coach Charlie Weis’ unpredictable play-calling makes trends difficult to identify.

That unpredictability backfired on Weis in last season’s game vs. Rice in Memorial Stadium, a 25-24 comeback victory for the Owls. Early in the third quarter, the Kansas running game began to dominate, with seven rushes for 66 yards on a nine-play stretch with Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox splitting carries. On the third play of that stretch, Cox ran for an eight-yard touchdown to put Kansas up, 24-13.

On the fourth, fifth and sixth plays of the next possession, Cox rushed for gains of 11, four and seven yards, giving KU a first-and-10 from the Rice 28. Sticking with the running game might have led to the Jayhawks taking a 31-13 lead. We’ll never know. The next three plays: Dayne Crist incompletion, 10-yard holding penalty on Trevor Marrongelli, Crist sacked for a five-yard loss. Suddenly, it was a buzz-killing third-and-25 from the 43. KU never scored again.

Counting the sack as a passing play and not as college football tracks it (as a run), Kansas averaged five yards on 29 passing plays, two of which resulted in turnovers, 5.7 yards on the 35 rushing plays, none of which were turnovers.

Now, with a better quarterback but still unproven receivers and an even better running game with everybody back and Darrian Miller and James Sims (suspended in 2012 for Rice game) added to the mix, what can the Rice defensive game-planners expect from Weis? Will he try to make the imbalanced KU personnel fit his preference for balance, or will he move away from his favored approach to make his strategy fit the strengths of his team?

This is a tough game for Kansas, the outcome of which will define expectations for the remainder of the schedule. It’s not an easy one for Rice, either, as long as Kansas doesn’t stop itself as it did a year ago by veering away from its strength.

If Kansas can’t stage the mini-upset, add Houston to Lubbock (twice), Austin (twice), Waco (twice) and College Station as Texas stops it has lost in since winning in the west Texas town of El Paso with Todd Reesing at quarterback.

Comments

mahkmood 1 year, 1 month ago

I like this article by Keegan because it puts some media pressure on Weis not to be foolish this go-round with Rice. KU's defense isn't that great, so despite Weis's appetite for mysterious play calling, he should just pound the ball on the ground to control the clock and keep the KU defense fresh. If he does this I have confidence KU will win this game.

peter56321 1 year, 1 month ago

I'm confident there's something in this world Weis cares about less than "media pressure" but it probably has nothing to do with football.

Jason Keller 1 year, 1 month ago

If KU plays well, the game won't be particularly close. For once, we have a little horsepower.

VaJay 1 year, 1 month ago

First - I want what you're drinking. Second - I think if we play well, we'll have a good chance to win. I don't see any blowouts in our near future on the road unless its the wrong way.

Jason Keller 1 year, 1 month ago

Dude, you guys are over reacting. It was a 17 point win and with only half the penalties, fumbles and dropped passes, it would have been AT LEAST a 31 point victory and all you would be on here crowning Weis king.

I've played the game and I know what can be fixed and what cannot. If KU plays a clean and hard game, Rice will be thoroughly overpowered. If they have another 75 yards with of penalties, it might be a tough game. Simple as that.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 1 month ago

I've watched the game. The way you win by 31 points, make the fans happy and receive an "A" grade is by: not fumbling, not holding, not declining penalties, hitting wide open touchdowns, not getting unsportsmanlike calls, performing on your opening possessions and on, and on.

This game of "what if" is ridiculous. They didn't do those things so they don't get credit for doing them, even if they maybe could have. It's the difference between winning big and a so-so performance.

kufanman88 1 year, 1 month ago

Dude. If KU plays like it did against South Dakota and Rice plays like it did against Texas A & M then we lose. There will be no overpowering Rice. This team had a winning record and a bowl win last season.

BayPark 1 year, 1 month ago

I think this is a tough game for KU. A win on the road would be huge for this program. Hopefully we've improved enough to win a close one.

hotrodm 1 year, 1 month ago

Run, Run, Run until they stop you. Don't just pass to show off our quarterback's arm. KU needs this win.

jhox 1 year, 1 month ago

Balance will help the running game. The best offenses throw it a good percentage of the time on first down, keeping defenses honest. That's the easiest down to throw on. If we're running the ball for big yardage that's fine, but this opponent is every bit our equal, if not a little better. A one dimensional offense probably won't work for long.

JayHawkFanToo 1 year, 1 month ago

A one-dimensional offense is what KU had last year; how did that work out for you....

Brett McCabe 1 year, 1 month ago

Thanks, Tom, for bringing back that horrible memory in such fine detail.

As stated above, run, then run again and then play action pass. We've got the weapons, let's use 'em.

KURiggins 1 year, 1 month ago

I think we will focus on our running game too. However, expect some playaction we have a much better QB this year. Also, I have heard a lot of talk about how bad our defense was against South Dakota. It was the first game folks. There are always mistakes and bad plays on both sides (offense and defense) in the first game at any level. If you have watched football for any length of time you should know this. Might I also remind you I defense might have bent but SD only got 14 points. Redzone defense is what matters. How many points did your opponent score? As Coach Weis put it. Who cares about stats...did we win?! James Sims rushed for 1,000 yards in nine games, last year. How many games did we win? Its not stats folks..who won is the only stat that anyone cares about

Brett McCabe 1 year, 1 month ago

To your point, USD had only one field-length drive for a TD. The second TD is squarely on CW for declining the holding penalty when the defense had already stopped them. After the long pass completion on the second 3rd down, you could visibly see the defense deflate.

There were some gaping holes vs. their read option and what I wanted to see was half-time adjustments that stopped them. Not so much.

Overall, the defensive play was probably better than the offense. As was the case last year, our offense must stay on the field to protect our defense from the fast-break offenses of the Big 12. If the "O" doesn't get it done, then the "D" has no chance this year.

JayHawkFanToo 1 year, 1 month ago

Kingfisher, you are like a dog with a bone. HC Weis decision to take the penalty was the right one, as it has been extensively discussed. South Dakota was running the ball well and their passing game was non existent; at that stage of the game they were going for it on fourth down anyway and the choice was 4th and short or 3rd and long...99% of coaches would have made the same decision.

Now, have a cup of coffee and let it go.

Brad Farha 1 year, 1 month ago

Agreed. It's a game of numbers, and the odds were in favor of HC Weis' decision.

KURiggins 1 year, 1 month ago

Also I have faith in Def C. Dave Campo. Lets face we had some talent in spots on our defense last year. However, I can guarantee you that talent scared no one in the Big 12. Despite being overmatched in talent our defense kept us in a lot of games i.e. the Texas game. that game came down to the last play. Campo had limited talent last and still kept us in games. I have faith in him. It was the first game! He has a lot of new pieces this year and is also trying to make sure we can go two deep in the fast paced Big 12. We have a lot of new jucos. It will take time to gel for sure, and lets face it..more wins before we get better talent but I for one have faith in Coach Campo to make the most out of new players and limited talent in spots. He has been a great Def Cood. at every level college and pro. Go Hawks!!

Mick Allen 1 year, 1 month ago

Where was our defense the last 2 games of the year against WVU and ISU? I would have been more optimistic about our improvement on defense until we laid the 2 season ending turds.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 1 month ago

I'm not big on making excuses but I'm going to do that here. The last two games were very disappointing. No one could argue with you too much if you were to say that there was a bit of quitting.

It's a fine line but I think that our D just got exhausted. The offense was, at times, so inept that it seemed like the D never came off the field. The ISU game, in particular, was disheartening but I will give the KU defense a mulligan on those two games.

Jason Keller 1 year, 1 month ago

I can't stress enough now important it is for Kevin Short to play in this football game. If we don't get him involved now, the season may be lost for him. We can't just put him out there when Texas Tech comes to town, he'll need minutes before then.

Jason Keller 1 year, 1 month ago

Yeah, especially with the way Weis spoke about it. "Kevin is not being disciplined by the University or by the team...". That makes it sound like a 3rd party is involved. My guess is either the NCAA or maybe some type of legal investigation, perhaps a past run in with the law, etc. Purely speculating, obviously.

What I do know is that he is very important to the team.

Brett McCabe 1 year, 1 month ago

I have to disagree with you on this one. Everyone in the stadium knew what we needed to do in order to finish off Rice. Too cute is just that - too cute. Weis called the plays, he gets paid to make the decisions, it's on him.

Repeating myself here but, even if we have an improved defense, our biggest challenge is simple: will the offense carry it's weight? We seem to be much more talented on offense but we were a sloppy mess from start to finish. The opening offensive series in both halves were ridiculous. Against teams who can light you up for 50, 60 or 70 points, the offense needs to come out, ready to play and execute from first snap.

KGphoto 1 year, 1 month ago

I think your assessment may have been what Charlie was thinking, but I don’t think it’s what we should’v done. Rice could not stop our running game. If we had kept running we would’ve won that day.

I also don’t think Weis was “being cute”. I think he believed what Atl mentioned. The pass coverage was softened up and it was a good time to let Crist get in the flow of things. More logic than ego. It was just flawed.

KURiggins 1 year, 1 month ago

No offense babyphog but I will trust Coach Campo over you since he has been a great def cood at every level and is the actual coach. He did not show all his playbook either. We may not be great but as long as we score 31 and our opponent scores 14 who cares? We win. Stats dont matter if you lose. At the end of the day SD lost. If you asked their coach I bet he would rather win then talk about how well the option read worked. Also did you forget the Keon Stowers pick? That happened because Coach Campo called a risky but brilliant play..dropping his NT in coverage on 3rd down. Go Hawks..just keep winning and who cares

KURiggins 1 year, 1 month ago

We are most likely going to struggle at times this year. And I am sure the defense will upset me at times too. It will be sloppy and ugly at times. However, considering we have less talent on defense then pretty much every other Big 12 team its to be expected. I just hope Campo stays. When we start winning= better/better recruits=defense

JayhawkRock78 1 year, 1 month ago

I'm taking the family to the game and know two other Houston families doing the same. Give us a good game Jayhawks. I have a feeling you will have a lot of fans in the stands. RCJH.

741hawk 1 year, 1 month ago

One thing we fail to consider when evaluating the "JuCo Experiment" is that most programs that recruit junior college players red shirt them, giving them time to 1) adjust to Div 1, 2) develop physically, and 3) learn the playbook.

In this instance, we are asking them to come in and produce right now! PS What IS the story with Combs?

KGphoto 1 year, 1 month ago

I think you answered your own question about Combs.

Michael Leiker 1 year, 1 month ago

This has been the big game on my radar since the schedule came out. High hopes for this team to go into the Thanksgiving Weekend with something to play for. Without a win at Rice that will be hard to accomplish.

hammerhawk 1 year, 1 month ago

I've been going to Hawk games year after year for more than 40 years. This year's team looks a lot like other losing teams we have had. I especially hated to see all the mental mistakes - penalties. I think penalties are generally a coaching problem in not getting the players to focus their attention on each and every play.

Medicore play aside, I was pleased to see a very nice 45 yard field goal! The kicking game can win some games and it's nice to have what seems to be a good kicker on the team.

machinegun 1 year, 1 month ago

I look at the non-conference schedule as our last opportunity to get ready for the big boys. Maybe we can get a lead on Rice and work on the passing game under less pressure.

KURiggins 1 year, 1 month ago

Maybe we should realize this was the first game. Hello!! Anyone watch any NFL games ? Did they all look sharp? I rest my case

KURiggins 1 year, 1 month ago

We have great talent at RB, QB. WR/TE are questions. But it was the first game and receiving got better as game went on. I also have faith in Dave Campo. Are we a bowl team? Time will tell. However there were just as many positives in this game as negatives. How about this one..WE Won! Win more games than you lose and its a good season

pizzashuttle 1 year, 1 month ago

Tom, nice article! I like how Matt is grading the different aspects of the team. Maybe you could grade the head coach on play calling since that seems to go along the lines of your article. Then if the play calling is subpar you won't have to get Matt all stressed out about providing an accurate grade for the HC. And I agree with your memory of how the Rice game played out. Weis got ahead of himself on that drive trying to develop our passing offense and it cost us the game. That being said I appreciate what Coach Weis and his staff are doing and I enjoyed seeing the improvement on the field.

Randy Bombardier 1 year, 1 month ago

We should win this game. I think if we utilize our strength and throw some feints at them to think pass would be better that trying to surprise them with the passing game.

John Fitzgerald 1 year, 1 month ago

There's a few things I think we need to do to win this game:

  1. Be more disciplined, meaning fewer penalties.
  2. If running is working, keep doing it. We have 5 guys that can run it all day.
  3. Screen passes to Pierson, Bourbon, Miller, and Coleman. They are quick and can make big plays when given the chance.
  4. Be more aggressive on defense. I would like to see us pressure the QB more often so we can cause more turnovers. We have play maker's on defense that are more than capable of making a big play.
  5. Have confidence. We're undefeated as of right now, and that's the stat they need to focus on. Doesn't matter who it was against, all that matters is that we don't have a loss yet, and we don't plan on getting one this weekend.

If we can make all of that happen, we won't have a problem with Rice.

27 - 14 my score prediction

Brad Farha 1 year, 1 month ago

If we score more points than the other team, our chances of winning are pretty good.

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