Saturday, September 21, 2013


Opinion: KU must get football to playmakers … a lot


If not for my diplomatic skills, Sully probably would have been run out of half the watering holes in town. It’s not that he drinks too much. It’s just that he talks too loud. Way too loud, even before his first pour.

And he talks a lot, so much that he eventually comes up with a good column idea. Then again, it’s been pointed out by many that if a monkey typed randomly for an infinity it eventually would write the great American novel.

Anyway, Sully shares my frustration that the ball didn’t get into the hands of the Kansas University football team’s playmakers often enough in the first two games. He asked for a column on the minimum number of touches for them in this morning’s game against Louisiana Tech, which kicks off at 11, testing the degree of support of the student fan base, which was strong in the opener two weeks ago against South Dakota. Good idea, Sully, but could you please keep it down and save the volume for the games, where it’s appropriate to use your outdoor voice?

As always, let’s start with James Sims, the team’s most steady, most valuable performer. With 35 carries and four receptions, Sims leads the team with an average of 19.5 touches. Still, it’s not enough. We’ll set his minimum touches at 25, even if he doesn’t catch a pass. Nobody on the roster can wear out a defense the way Sims can.

Next up, Tony Pierson, the fastest, most explosive, most exciting player on the team. He has averaged six touches a game — half coming on rushes, half on receptions. That’s not enough, even with all the attention defenses have paid to him. He needs at least a dozen touches, even if that means pitching him the ball eight times. The way Pierson blew past Conference USA preseason defensive player of the year Phillip Gaines of Rice en route to a 77-yard touchdown reception indicated defenses can zero in on him all they want, but he’ll eventually burn them with a big play.

Darrian Miller played well in the opener but was not a big part of the game plan against Rice, getting only three touches, bringing his season average down to 8.5. We’ll set a minimum of 10 touches for Miller.

Brandon Bourbon, who vowed to become a more physical football player, looked the part in limited action in the first two weeks, averaging three touches a game. He needs to have the ball in his hands at least six times today.

Head coach Charlie Weis proved last year he is not above scrapping his preference for balance in favor of a run-heavy attack. Don’t be surprised if he does the same as early as today. He already paved the way for a better running attack by replacing right tackle Zach Fondal, a better pass-blocker than run-blocker at this point in his career, with Riley Spencer. Trent Smiley has moved ahead of Jimmay Mundine on the depth chart at tight end, a move inspired by Mundine’s drops. But also don’t overlook that Smiley is a better blocker than receiver, another reason to believe this week’s game plan calls for “shoving it down their throats,” as Weis put it when talking about the Jayhawks’ approach in their only good half of the season, the final two quarters against South Dakota.

It also won’t come as a surprise if Weis has Bourbon, Pierson and either Sims or Miller on the field at the same time, another means of getting the ball into the hands of the playmakers more often.

If Sims, Pierson, Miller and Bourbon combine for a minimum of 53 touches, that should add up to a score somewhere in the neighborhood of Kansas 35, Louisiana Tech 14.


Doug Cramer 8 years, 4 months ago

Thanks for the article Tom.

Would say today's game is more about winning the war in the trenches. If the O-line dominates up front...then the offense should flow.

Same for the D...if the D-line puts pressure on La Techs QB...and is effective in slowing down the run...then the offense has more opportunity to score.

Andy Godwin 8 years, 4 months ago

I just hope Weis reads this because he is an "offensive genius" and running the ball is not creative. Run Charlie Run.

Robert Brock 8 years, 4 months ago

Is Cox going to play? I thought that he was going to redshirt.

machinegun 8 years, 4 months ago

We are going to win big today. Looking ahead to Homecoming Weekend, Charlie knows that passing the ball is the only way to win games in the Big 12. Sure, we can have the best rushing offense with the fewest points and worst record. Texas Tech will come out throwing the ball against us. We need to throw the ball against them.

Randy Bombardier 8 years, 4 months ago

Great article. Call him out, Keegan. Just like we need an OC and this is a prime example of it. I still for the life of me cannot figure out why our version of Tavon Austin is not fielding kickoffs. As far as getting the ball in space it doesn't get any better than that. Definitely agree with Pierson and Bourban. Sims, I think he can do what he needs to do with about 20 carries. And if our blocking doesn't get any better then not sure I would go to him. One reason I like Bourban. He is fast and powerful and will get the extra couple of yards which become critical. Would like to see what a 20-carry Bourban game would look like.

pizzashuttle 8 years, 4 months ago

Glad to see Coach Weis got the memo about involving his playmakers - Sims, Pierson, Bourbon, Miller more in the game plan. Add in shorter passes to build up some confidence in Heaps. Smiley making some catches at TE. Matthews with a great catch at a critical moment. Not a perfect game by any means but at least a game to build on. Congratulations coaches and players!

Triceec 8 years, 4 months ago

I don't get why Pierson bourbon should be lead receivers. What yeah right who Made plays. Give other players a chance to impact the ball. Pierson and Simms is not only two guys on offense, really Coleman caught two really good balls ford, mudine made a touch down. Hell get rid offense and just let Simms and Pearson do it all. Running game ain't working no more.

eastcoasthawk 8 years, 4 months ago

Simms 22. Short Pierson 14. Plus Miller 3. Way short.
Bourbon 9. Plus

50% and we still won thanks to special teams and two bad drops from La Tech. Don't think this tells us anything but I liked the idea.

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