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Injuries slow Khalil Herbert and his blockers

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Kansas running back Khalil Herbert (10) charges up the field to set up a touchdown for the Jayhawks during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas running back Khalil Herbert (10) charges up the field to set up a touchdown for the Jayhawks during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Kansas rushed for 12 more yards in the first two games of the Big 12 schedule, vs. West Virginia and Texas Tech, than in the next six.

KU totaled just 467 rushing yards and two touchdowns, averaging 2.1 yards per carry, in games vs. Iowa State, TCU, Kansas State, Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma.

The Jayhawks (1-10, 0-8) opened Big 12 play with a 367-yard rushing game against West Virginia, Khalil Herbert leading the way with 291 yards. The next week, the Jayhawks rushed for 112 yards vs. Texas Tech.

Since that game, KU has averaged just 77.8 yards rushing per game.

What happened?

Back when Herbert had his huge day against West Virginia, he was healthy and so was the entire starting offensive line.

Herbert’s 10-carry, 65-yard effort vs. Texas Tech wrapped up a three-game stretch in which he rushed for 493 yards and four touchdowns and averaged 7.6 yards per carry.

In five games (he didn’t play against Iowa state) since, Herbert has rushed for 155 yards, a 3.1 average, and hasn’t scored a touchdown.

“Khalil’s just been kind of beat up,” KU offensive coordinator Doug Meacham said last week. “He had a couple of really good games, then he just hasn’t been the same physically. He’s had shoulder. He’s had hamstring. He’s had stuff.”

The same is true of Herbert's blockers.

KU hasn’t had its starting offensive line in tact since the Texas Tech game. That’s the last time that, from left to right, Hakeem Adeniji, Andru Tovi, Mesa Ribordy, Chris Hughes and Zach Hannon, formed the starting lineup.

Ribordy missed the Iowa State and TCU games. Hannon didn't play vs. Kansas State and Baylor. Chris Hughes was sidelined for much of the Texas game and all of the Oklahoma mismatch, replaced by Larry Hughes. Similarly, Tovi missed part of the Texas game and didn’t play at all vs. Oklahoma.

Adeniji is the only first-string offensive lineman who has not missed a game because of injury.

How much is Herbert’s performance dictated by the performance of the offensive line?

“That has a lot to do with it,” Meacham said. “And then in that West Virginia game we did some things a little different than we had shown and that kind of hurt them.”

Kansas has a good back in Herbert when he’s healthy and running behind a healthy line, so if those two factors twin up far more often in 2018, he could have a big junior season.

Comments

Dale Rogers 3 weeks, 2 days ago

This points to the obvious lack of depth. And depth means not only more good backups but also the opportunity for a couple of years experience at this level for those backups. So how has the scholarship situation affected this? And if that is significant, then should the coaches be given more time to bring things up to speed once they have the full complement of scholarships for a couple of years?

In other words, I'm wondering whether we'd be in the same situatin has CW not screwed us over on the scholarship front? Would we still be screaming about replacing the coaches? Or would improvement be much better than what we are seeing at this point? Will another couple of years make a significant difference?

I'm just wondering out loud whether these coaches are getting a fair break.

Bryson Stricker 3 weeks, 2 days ago

I'm a firm believer that we took a LOOOONG term route in how we addressed rebuilding. A bigger name coach/better coach may have gotten us better faster, there is no doubt. But Beaty is rebuilding our program from the bottom up and doing it in pretty decent fashion. We are almost to the point that we can redshirt almost every freshman who comes in here (which you should do) and then still let them sit a year for experience. Experience gathering like this has no price tag on it and has been the biggest factor in why we are not seeing great progress yet.

We have some freshman who are redshirting right now that are going to be big name players in this program. Sadly for David Beaty, he will more than likely be relieved of his duties before they get a chance to show how well he spotted talent but I will always be thankful for what he did in those regards.

My biggest example is how excited we are as a fan base over freshman recruits when most good schools, Bama, OU etc.. don't give a hoot about their recruits arriving on campus because they won't see them for 2-3 years anyways. They just trust that when their current players are gone, somebody good will be there to replace them. (Who was Rodney Anderson last year, Whole OU Receiving corps etc.)

Brett McCabe 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Dale, I'll answer your question with a question: point to anything that suggests that Beaty has improved the program?

We have an older team than Baylor, and lost at home to them, badly. We are epically bad, not just bad. In every facet of the game. Beaty can't choose an O.C., can't choose a QB, has used too many scholarships on non-productive transfers and JUCO guys, which has exacerbated the problem.

No one expected a lot of this team. Three wins, be more competitive, etc. None of that has shown through.

All we ever hear are the excuses. Every time.

Jeff Coffman 3 weeks, 2 days ago

A coach that signed an incentive laden contract, and has not received one of those incentives.

I'm not sure what building it the right way means, but what coach Beaty has said, is that we need to recruit Texas, he hasn't; he said we need to recruit high school students and reduce our reliance on JUCO and graduate transfers, we have had a lot of those that don't seem to be assisting, next year we already have about 30% of our committed recruits are JUCOs. He said we need coaches that when we they are facing tough competition, those selections either are limited by HC or are not producing. He said at the beginning of year 3 we needed to see real improvement, 2 shut-outs, 10 losses (so far) a tough win against a DII team and horrible performances against MAC teams that are not good.

I'm sick and tired of the building it the right way, nothing Beaty has done has indicated he is building it the right way...I don't get what people are seeing that makes it seem like he is. Nothing on the field is acceptable.

John Brazelton 3 weeks, 2 days ago

The only good thing about this football season is that due to the massive amount of injuries quite a few #2's, and a few #3's, have received substantial on-the-field reps that can't be reproduced on the practice field. The upcoming spring and fall football camps should become much more competitive as the #1's, #2's, new JUCOs and current red-shirts compete for depth chart and starting positions for the 2018 season.

Richard Duran 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Why are our guys getting hurt so much? Is it Woodfin's fault?

Richard Duran 3 weeks, 2 days ago

And if we are getting so banged up how come Bama Baldwin and Bama Charlot couldn't start?

David Kemp 3 weeks, 2 days ago

Yes I am still baffled by the fact that 2 guys destined to play at Alabama can’t make a team of guys that can’t block or guys that can’t catch?

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