When Kansas has the ball
Kansas rush offense vs. Louisiana Tech rush defense
Rice had a pretty solid game plan for KU’s rushing attack and held the Jayhawks in check at times. However, senior tailback James Sims still topped the 100-yard mark (good for his 12th career game over the century mark), and the KU offense is deeper and more talented than most teams Louisiana Tech will see this year. Taylor Cox missed the game against Rice, but both Darrian Miller and Tony Pierson remain dangerous and experienced weapons that the Jayhawks should be able to feature against a team that has given up 456 yards and six touchdowns to its opponents in three games this season. In Louisiana Tech’s season opener, North Carolina State gained 237 yards rushing in a 40-14 victory.
Kansas pass offense vs. Louisiana Tech pass defense
LA Tech has yet to surrender fewer than 235 passing yards in a game this season. That includes a 300-yard day by North Carolina State in the opener, Lamar gaining 272 yards through the air in Louisiana Tech’s lone victory and Tulane picking up 235 yards last week in its 24-15 victory. Part of the reason for Tech’s struggles is inexperience. The Bulldogs start two sophomores, a red-shirt freshman and a junior in the secondary. Despite the lack of a veteran presence, Tech has intercepted three passes and picked up 12 sacks. The KU offensive line struggled to protect quarterback Jake Heaps at times during its loss to Rice, and Heaps’ receivers have done very little to help him through the season’s first two games, dropping double-digit passes already. Until KU cleans that up, it can’t be seen as having a clear advantage here no matter how vulnerable the opponent seems.
When Louisiana Tech has the ball
Louisiana Tech rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense
He’s not the biggest dude in the world, and that might hurt him down near the goal line, but LTU tailback Tevin King has been wildly effective so far this season everywhere else on the field. In three games, the 5-foot-6, 158-pound red-shirt freshman has rushed for 289 yards on 41 attempts, good for a seven-yard average per carry and 96 yards per game. King is supported by back-up Kenneth Dixon, who has gained 182 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries and averages 5.1 yards per rush. Dixon played just three plays against Tulane and is dealing with a knee injury, so his effectiveness may be a question even if he is able to play. If he can’t go, Blake Martin steps in as King’s back-up. As a team, LTU is averaging 180 yards per game on the ground and Kansas gave up an average of 205 yards rushing to South Dakota and Rice. The Jayhawks have the size and athleticism up front to stick with Tech, particularly if the Bulldogs are short-handed, but teams definitely have found running room against KU so far this season so it’s anyone’s guess what will happen.
Louisiana Tech pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense
Through three games, Louisiana Tech is averaging 170 yards passing and has thrown just three touchdowns and one interception. Add those pedestrian numbers to the fact that LA Tech starting quarterback Scotty Young was knocked out of last week’s loss to Tulane after injuring his ribs, but LTU coach Skip Holtz said he believes Young will have a chance to play against the Jayhawks. The question is, how effective can he be? The 6-2, 221-pound junior has yet to throw for more than 178 yards in a game and will be facing a KU secondary that is full of confidence after slowing down Rice’s high-powered attack last week. KU’s pass defense ranks among the nation’s leaders in efficiency and has recorded three interceptions and six sacks in two games.
Give the Jayhawks the nod in this one strictly because of the strong start of punter and kickoff specialist Trevor Pardula. Pardula has been everything KU coach Charlie Weis promised and more during his first two games as a Jayhawk, banging six of nine kickoffs through the end zone for touchbacks and averaging 45 yards per punt in two games. Kansas did not get much from its other special teams units in the loss to Rice, but the Jayhawks appear to be in a better place than the Bulldogs, who have been outperformed by opponents in nearly every special-teams category so far this season. Edge: Kansas.