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3 Questions: Oklahoma at Kansas

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1. How will Oklahoma's replacement quarterback fare?

Not many players have played as well over the past two-plus seasons as Oklahoma's junior quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford posted a passer efficiency rating better than 175 in each of his first two seasons, while guiding the Sooners to a 24-4 record.

Given Bradford's extraordinary production, his absence from this weekend's game at Kansas would seem to be a substantial loss for Oklahoma.

The Bradford-less Sooners haven't played like Big 12 Conference champions this season, but freshman quarterback Landry Jones hasn't been the sole culprit. In fact, Jones has played better than your run-of-the-mill freshman quarterback.

Jones, a 6-foot-4, 216-pound New Mexico native famous for his mustache, is ranked sixth in the conference in passer efficiency and has tossed 11 touchdowns and just five interceptions this year.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Oct/23/cs_landry_jones_bw.jpg Freshman quarterback Landry Jones will be the Sooners' mustachioed maestro this weekend at KU

The Sooners' real problem has been in their running game. In the 2008 season, Oklahoma averaged a stellar 4.7 yards per carry. This season, that mark is down to a below-average 3.9 per carry.

Two games into the Big 12 season, Kansas has proven vulnerable no matter how questionable the opposing quarterback. Iowa State's Austen Arnaud posted his second-best completion percentage of the season at KU. Colorado's Tyler Hansen celebrated his first career start by doing just enough scrambling and improvising to lead the Buffaloes to a 34-30 victory.

KU has struggled with less productive quarterbacks than Jones already this season. With a stable of capable skill players in tow, Oklahoma's backup could be primed for a big day.

2. Will DeMarco Murray play at 100 percent?

Oklahoma's running game hasn't been as fantastic as in years past, probably due to the loss of two offensive linemen in April's NFL Draft. But there is no denying Oklahoma's junior running back DeMarco Murray is among the conference's best.

The 214-pound Las Vegas native averaged more than 5.5 yards per rush in his first two seasons, and is gaining 4.9 per carry this season.

According to The Tulsa World, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Murray's status heading into Saturday's game was still up in the air. The running back injured his ankle last Saturday during the Sooners' loss against Texas.

Not only is Murray the conference's ninth-leading rusher, he is averaging more than 40 receiving yards per game.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Oct/23/murray.jpg Junior running back DeMarco Murray makes up half of Oklahoma's two-pronged backfield threat.

Oklahoma won't be helpless without Murray — senior running back Chris Brown is averaging 4.3 yards per rush, with more carries than Murray — but without its starting tight end (Jermaine Gresham, knee), quarterback (Sam Bradford, shoulder), and potentially running back (Murray, ankle), the KU defense could have a much-needed advantage.

3. Will KU's retooled defense build off of last week's successes?

Despite suffering an embarrassing loss, KU's new-look defense showed some promise in the Jayhawks' 34-30 slip-up at Colorado.

KU head coach Mark Mangino and defensive coordinator Clint Bowen, spooked by their team's poor showing in a victory against Iowa State, moved players from position to position and unit to unit in the week before the Colorado contest.

The result wasn't too shabby.

KU gave up 34 points, but that wasn't completely the fault of the defense. In the second quarter, Colorado's average starting field position was the KU 49-yard line. The Buffaloes started two drives inside the Jayhawks' five-yard line, accounting for 14 Colorado points.

True freshman D.J. Beshears played most of the snaps at cornerback in place of sophomore Daymond Patterson. Three others — freshman safety Bradley McDougald, freshman defensive tackle John Williams and linebacker Angus Quigley — moved from offense to defense and earned positive reviews from coaches.

http://worldonline.media.clients.ellingtoncms.com/img/blogs/entry_img/2009/Oct/23/beshears.jpg Freshman cornerback D.J. Beshears made a splash last weekend in his first substantial game action.

If the Jayhawks' new defenders improve with an additional week of practice, KU could swing an upset on Saturday. If KU plays like it did against Iowa State, Landry Jones could look Sam Bradford-esque.

Comments

Dirk Medema 10 years, 4 months ago

Asher, In #1 you seem to be comparing OU w/ Bradford vs Jones, and yet you only give Bradford's Passer effiiency the last 2 years instead of the current year in which we are actually playing, and with Jones you don't even give his efficiency at all, just his national ranking. Is the reader actually suppose to gain some knowledge from such spotty info? It would seem to me that the bigger question w/ the QB switch is whether Jones is mobile or stationary. That seems to have been a common challenge in the last 2 games.

Also in #1, you say "KU has struggled with less productive quarterbacks than Jones already this season." That's an interesting analysis since you don't provide any basis for your conclusion comparing Jones with the other opposing QB's. What is Jones' efficiency? Who are the other QB's we've struggled with and what are their efficiency's? And who are the stable of capable skill players in tow? The injured Greshem? The injured Murray? And what about the non-skilled players? Can't OU's problems be traced back to a very green OL?

Dirk Medema 10 years, 4 months ago

In #3, you claim that Mangino and Bowen were spooked by their team's poor showing in a victory against Iowa State. In the articles you referenced, didn’t the coaches clarify that the changes were the result of the improvement of new players and not the existing player’s poor showing?

Is it a huge stretch that freshmen D.J. Beshears and Lubbock Smith are developing as players, and Bradley McDougald has already shown very emphatically that he is more than capable of playing at this level, so it is no stretch at all for him to play at safety where he was recruited by most schools.

Mangino has also commented that freshman John Williams was recruited as a defensive tackle but had practiced on the OL because there were more questions there leading into the season. The reality in Williams’ case is that he is returning to his natural/recruited position.

Linebacker Angus Quigley was one of the hyped switched from O to D – in the spring and early in the off-season. Later, the coaches expressed disappointment that he hadn’t developed quite as quickly as possible

Is it that the facts aren't controversial enough?

At least you finish strong by acknowledging the real challenges faced by the D @ CU, and the hope of another week of practice with/as the 1's

AsherFusco 10 years, 4 months ago

dagger108:

The information on passer efficiency you requested:

• Landry Jones 2009 passer efficiency: 136.77 • Sam Bradford 2009 passer efficiency: 134.51

• Austen Arnaud (ISU) 2009 passer efficiency: 125.71 • Tyler Hansen (CU) 2009 passer efficiency: 114.76

• WR Ryan Broyles (379 yards, 8 TDs despite injury) and RB Chris Brown (4.3 yards per carry, 3 TDs) are two of the Big 12's most productive at their respective positions.

• Good point mentioning KU's struggles against mobile quarterbacks. Looking at the numbers, Jones doesn't seem any more mobile than Bradford. Both Bradford (-18) and Jones (-23) are below the +/- mark for yardage this season.

• As I wrote above — "Oklahoma's running game hasn't been as fantastic as in years past, probably due to the loss of two offensive linemen in April's NFL Draft." — OU's young offensive line could be to blame for its offensive drop-off.

• I don't think the fact KU's new-look defense showed some good things against Colorado is "controversial" in any way. But I was impressed with how well the newly-converted Jayhawks, specifically Beshears and Williams, filled their roles.

slantrox 10 years, 4 months ago

This sounds like dagger108 is sitting in a window cubical at the JW offices making sure the upstart asher doesn't get to stray too far from his window-less center cube.

Robert Brock 10 years, 4 months ago

Dagger, you really think that when it comes down to it, Mangino and the coaching staff are making these changes because some guys are showing improvement and not because of the poor performance? The defense just struggled against possibly the two worst teams in the Big 12. KU struggled to pressure the quarterback, struggled to tackle, struggled in coverage, and looked lost sometimes. Were massive changes made last year before the Texas Tech game because Patterson and others looked good in practice? The rest of the season hinges on getting this defense performing at a much higher level. Would changes be made mid season if this defense was playing like most expected?

troutsee 10 years, 4 months ago

Agree with Brockill.

I thought the article was a good article.

KU_Alumn_2000 10 years, 4 months ago

I'm just not seeing how our defense was improved vs. Colorado. We had to rely on two fumbles from Colorado to help boost our comeback in the 3rd quarter. It wasn't like our defense was stopping them on downs and forcing a Colorado punt. If that was the case...then I'd have more confidence in our D.

AsherFusco 10 years, 4 months ago

KU_Alumn_2000:

The KU defense allowed 6.1 yards per play from scrimmage against Iowa State. The KU defense allowed 4.7 yards per play from scrimmage against Colorado.

The KU defense forced 0 turnovers against Iowa State. The KU defense forced 3 turnovers against Colorado.

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