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Monday Rewind: Georgia Tech

James Sims was a popular attraction for fans after the Jayhawks’ victory Saturday.

James Sims was a popular attraction for fans after the Jayhawks’ victory Saturday. by Richard Gwin

Well, nobody expected that. At least, nobody around here.

But it happened and there’s nothing anybody can do about it but put it in the past and move on.

Sound familiar? It should. After two weeks of the college football season, many Jayhawk fans are scratching their heads about what has unfolded at Memorial Stadium.

First, the Jayhawks were stunned by a Div. I-AA team in the opener and, to many, the season looked loss. But then Saturday happened, the Jayhawks knocked off No. 15 Georgia Tech, 28-25, and now, many of the same people who believed 2010 would be one of the worst seasons in KU football history are starting to wonder if it might have some magic to it after all.

Winning, especially winning big games, has a way of hiding just about any negative aspects of a team’s performance. The Jayhawks were great on Saturday; they had to be to win. But there were still a few areas of concern and we’ll outline both the good and the bad in the following few paragraphs.

Let’s start with the good, of which there is plenty.

First, the Jayhawks have found their quarterback. Red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb was solid in the upset victory, playing with confidence, energy, poise and passion. He threw plenty of good balls, got the Jayhawks’ passing game into a rhythm and that helped KU find its running game, too. Webb’s strong arm and good instincts are a real asset to this team and he proved that he deserves the opportunity to be the starter from here on out.

Second, the Jayhawks may just have found their top running back, too. True freshman James Sims ran like a man possessed in this one, logging 101 yards and a TD on 17 carries while providing Kansas with the kind of consistency on the ground that it needs to make its passing game dangerous and effective.

Sims certainly did not do it alone. Credit the offensive line for responding to the season-opening debacle with a little anger and toughness. The wide-open passing game and occasional flashes of a hurry-up offense also helped the 6-foot, 206-pound back from Irving, Texas use his power and speed to cut through the Yellow Jackets defense.

What’s more, the presence of Sims and his ability to move the chains, helped make life easier for sixth-year senior Angus Quigley, who also was effective in Saturday’s win, rushing eight times for 46 yards.

Could we be nearing the point where Sims and Quigley line up in the same backfield, perhaps with Quigley at fullback in some packages?

The wide receivers — which Gill calls the strength of this team — also were fantastic in the win, giving Webb good targets and making plays after the catch. Bradley McDougald and Daymond Patterson appear to be on the verge of busting out and Johnathan Wilson seems to be settling into the role of old reliable.

Lastly, the linebackers were out of this world good. You don’t bottle up Georgia Tech’s running game without getting great play from your linebackers and the Jayhawks got monster days from all three. Justin Springer was good enough to be named the Big 12’s defensive player of the week, Steven Johnson was nearly just as good and Drew Dudley made some insanely critical tackles, as well. These guys were great on Saturday and it only further emphasized the point that they need to stay healthy for KU to stand a chance.

As for the negatives, only a few come to mind.

KU coach Turner Gill said during Monday’s Big 12 conference call that he would like to see his team improve in short yardage. There were a handful of third-and-one or third-and-two plays in which the Jayhawks couldn’t move the pile and were stopped. Part of that came from the predictability of the situations and the other part is inexperience. With time and some work, this area should be easy to overcome.

As good as Webb was in his first start, he still had moments when he held on to the ball too long and either was sacked or forced to make a bad throw. I’m sure it has to do with his inexperience out there, but he doesn’t always appear to sense when the pocket is collapsing or the rush is closing in on him. Again, with time, that will be ironed out but it was very much on display during Saturday’s game. The good news, though, is Webb looks comfortable in the pocket and I’d rather see that than a QB who is completely aware all the time. Like I said, the awareness he can work on. His comfort level’s a natural thing.

Lastly, the Jayhawks clearly still need to figure out how to finish games. If they had that trait in the opener, they would’ve beaten NDSU by three touchdowns, just by finishing the job in the fourth quarter. If they had it against Georgia Tech, there would’ve been no need to sweat out Tech’s last drive.

KU’s defense was really good in this department Saturday, save for the one long pass play for a touchdown that gave Tech life. But the offense needs to identify ways to keep moving the chains and chewing up the clock late in games in order for KU to keep adding to its win total.

All in all a really strong effort by the Jayhawks, one that will be talked about for quite some time. The question now is, can they capitalize on the good vibes that came with it by stringing together a couple more wins before Big 12 play arrives?

;

Comments

Jayjocker 3 years, 11 months ago

Great insight and analysis as usual from you, Matt. Let's hope for another great effort against an apparent passing team in So. Miss. Will there be an injury report some time this week?

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Jennifer Nikkila Pressgrove 3 years, 11 months ago

It is definitely tough to be critical after this week, but I completely agree with what Matt wrote about the inability to finish well. There were at least three possessions in the fourth quarter when the team had good field position but didn't capitalize. The defense certainly stepped up and was the difference maker, but KU was one or two GT first downs away from overtime or a loss bc of the inability to make the big play late.

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jayhawkjoe98 3 years, 11 months ago

MacDougald had too many drops. I believe he had three--all of which hit him directly in the hands and one of which went straight into the hands of a Georgia-Tech defender. The other two drops would have been for decent gains.

Take away those drops, and it was a flawless game by the WRs.

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Landon Brown 3 years, 11 months ago

agreed. Daymond had 1 or 2 big drops as well. nit picking, but some of those were on 3rd down or would have been 1st downs to keep the chains moving.

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

There were 3 bad drops that I recall, but I do believe at least one was by Daymond.

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eastcoasthawk 3 years, 11 months ago

Joe 98 - Daymond had the drop that could have gone for another 6 but he started to run without the ball.

I think we should give some kudo's to the DB's and safeties that had to make critical tackles on the pitch plays. Saw a lot of one on one, open field tackles.

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Jayjocker 3 years, 11 months ago

Totally agree that the DB's are a strength, just get Kande reigned a bit on punt coverage, he is a hitter. They will be tested in the air this weekend. We can hope for cover sacks and throw aways to assist a thin D line.

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kureader 3 years, 11 months ago

Our DB's open field tackles were outstanding ... not just great tackles, but they closed hard and made them some of them behind the line of scrimmage. It's really hard to play aggressive run defense like that against the option. Hat's off to our defensive coaches as well.

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kureader 3 years, 11 months ago

Yeah, well. It will take more than a single wide-open catch by Biere to get him off my s__t list after three drops and two fumbles last week. A KU cheerleader could have caught that pass. In fact, the KU cheerleaders were probably closer and in a better position to catch the pass than the Georgia Tech secondary. You'll notice they didn't throw the ball to Biere at all in the open field. His blocking wasn't anything to write home about either. But, he's still playing. If that's what our offensive coaches want to do, I'm not going to question them any more. I certainly sold our offensive coaching staff short after the first game ... they've definitely earned the benefit of the doubt from now on. Their offensive game plan in game 2 showed more imagination, and not just because of a change in the QB, though Webb obviously played great. And, I kinda liked the quicker tempo and playing Pick on 1st down from time to time.
... not sure I've ever seen an entire team look so much different from one week to the next. The 4 point spread this week in favor of Mississippi State is probably a good omen.

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

This week is Southern Miss - USM, not MSU.

I also notice that they went with other TE's during the game, which is probably appropriate given some matador blocks by Biere.

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Rivethead 3 years, 11 months ago

Agreed. Biere's blocking wasn't anything special. Remember that it was Bradley Dedeaux's awesome block that sprang Sims for his first TD.

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kureader 3 years, 11 months ago

That's what I thought ... he was past the line of scrimmage two or three times. I should have saved my game recording, but I think you're exactly right.

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number1jayhawker 3 years, 11 months ago

The refs weren't even looking for the illegal forward pitch. It was obvious on a couple and a couple more were very questionable.

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Andrew Moore 3 years, 11 months ago

I never noticed any forward pitches.

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Dan Harris 3 years, 11 months ago

They had 2 that were definitely forward(and past the line) and 1 more that was borderline

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KGphoto 3 years, 11 months ago

I saw two blatant illegal forward passes. I mean he was 2 yards beyond the line of scrimmage on one them. I called it from the couch the moment he pitched it forward. No replay needed.

All the more reason to applaud the defense this week.

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jakzhumans 3 years, 11 months ago

Ditto. Twice there were forward pitches after Nesbitt had crossed the line of scrimmage that caused me and a couple dozen other people in our section to simultaneously point and scream for flags. For those watching on TV, did the announcers mention anything?

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jayhawkboogeyman 3 years, 11 months ago

The fat guy on the TV said it looked like it was a forward lateral, but proceeded to explain that it wasn't because Nesbitt has great lateral awareness, without showing a replay from the side angle, and then kept on blabbering incomprehensibly while the other idiot said all the players' names and statistics wrong. I'm sure at least 2 of them were forward, one of them inside our 20 on what I believe turned into a FG for them. Gill or one of his guys have got to get on the refs about stuff like that, so that will be my gripe for the week:

Work the refs harder when the opponent is doing something questionably - blatantly illegal.

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Dan Harris 3 years, 11 months ago

No mention except from my wife who even noticed it!

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yed 3 years, 11 months ago

Tait, when you brought up the idea of Sims and Quigley in the same backfield, I immediately thought back to the old thunder and lightning of Monte Cozzens and Maurice Douglas from '92. I could live with that.

All in all, I've never seen a more shocking turnaround for a football team from 1 week to the next. These were not the same guys that lost to the Bison (by the way, let's never play anyone with that mascot...ever again) last week. Great adjustments in game planning and also in personnel by the coaching staff. It also helped a ton to have Hatch in there at center, allowing Sal to go back to guard. The linebackers were outstanding, and I really love what I'm seeing from Lubbock Smith at safety. He must have had 5 shoestring tackles on the pitch man right when he was about to turn upfield for a big gain. That's exactly the way to stop that option. You won't get many bone-crushing hits on the pitch man, all you have to do is get him off his feet.

Here's to Sims and Quigley in the same backfield, and Rock Chalk!

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khummel60 3 years, 11 months ago

Totally agree about Lubbock Smith. Glad you mentioned it. How many crucial open field tackles did he make? He was definitely one of the unsung hero's of this game.

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

My thought was to Levine and Henley from a couple years later.

And Terry too, though all the DB's probably deserve being mentioned. Even the CB's when the play wasn't necessarily their way. They were on an island all day, and really needed to be ready.

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Tribehawk 3 years, 11 months ago

As elated as I am about our win, I'm still somewhat concerned by our secondary. GT receivers had a ton of dropped balls. If they catch even half of those, I'm not sure we win on Saturday. Our DBs were in position to tackle after the catch, but I didn't see many instances where they were in a position to stop the receiver from catching it in the first place. That might be a liability against a passing team like USM.

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KGphoto 3 years, 11 months ago

Ditto. Nesbitt looked terrible passing the ball. He had open receivers on the majority of their passing downs and just couldn't hit them. Southern Miss is a completely different animal. I just hope we can pressure their QB into bad throws.

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

Barfield made a Great play to break up a pass in the end zone, and there were others as well. It is also worth noting that we left the CB's isolated on their WR's, b/c we knew Nesbitt's legs were so much better than his arm. It will be a very different D against USM.

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Kenneth Hillman 3 years, 11 months ago

Yep, always appreciate your take Matt....the good and the bad. I agree with the article as well as the posts so far.

Some incredible one-on-one tackles on defense, timely catches and run after catches and rushing on offense, good mixup in play calling, good personnel changes...a lot of kudos to go around. Springer - helluvan effort! Sims - welcome young man and Patterson, I just watched you on Sports Center (one of the top 10 plays).

A win is the stat that I'm looking for BUT, would have loved to have seen us jam them at their own 4 after the Rojas punt. The defense played great for the most part but this was an opportunity that we didn't take advantage of. We need to be able to hold them in that situation. What is the status on Barfield by the way?

The receivers played a helluva game as well but as mentioned above, they had some critical drops that can be corrected.

All in all, great effort by everybody on the team. REAL proud of you guys. Keep it UP!

RCJH

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billhawk 3 years, 11 months ago

Kudos to the coaches and players. Biggest turn around I've seen. From awful to awesome.

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lawrence_is_my_middle_name 3 years, 11 months ago

The first half of this article basically says the exact same things as Eric Sorrentino's Conference Chatter... a crazy turn-around in one week, fans coming around but not sure what to expect, Jordan Webb is the starting QB, Sims will receive most of the carries from now on, perhaps complementing Quigley's power-running style well.

Why am I reading the same thing again?

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lawrence_is_my_middle_name 3 years, 11 months ago

And how else am I supposed to point that out? On a professional website such as this, variety is a must don't you think?

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KGphoto 3 years, 11 months ago

One thing not mentioned here, that really, really got me fuming, was the ridiculous penalty on Patterson for diving into the endzone!

I just wanted to jump through the TV and punch the ref in the face. He dove while still in the field of play. There were defenders still chasing after him. There should never, ever be a 15 yard penalty for taunting or unsportsmanlike conduct of that nature, while the ball is still in play. For all that ref knew he was diving to make sure he didn't get caught or stripped in the last few yards. And personally, I think it was a mix of celebration, and TD assurance that had Patterson diving. Either way, that's a no-call.

Also, I saw two other diving-into-the-endzone plays on the day, in other games. Both were from elite football programs and neither were assessed the penalty.

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Randy Bombardier 3 years, 11 months ago

Couldn't agree more. Very, very bad call. The whole celebration rule is really being abused. If the officials do not start getting in line with what is reasonable I think we will see this rule recalled. Dumb rule anyway. Yeah, let's take the joy outta football.

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Andrew Moore 3 years, 11 months ago

The celebration rule is ridiculous. You can celebrate and have fun with it without being unsportsmanlike. Its one of the things that makes international soccer so fun to watch (at least to me anyway) because the players do some silly stuff after they score a goal. They go nuts and put on little routines.

Who didn't like the Landon Donovan chest slide after his goal against algeria? I love celebrations. I like seeing the joy in the players when they score.

We need to quit worrying about hurting the referees feelings and loosen up as a society.

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yed 3 years, 11 months ago

It's a silly rule, but a rule nonetheless. I hated it too, but the ref had to make that call. Isn't that one of the various ways Adrian Peterson injured himself while at OU?

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Dan Harris 3 years, 11 months ago

Disagree 100%! He did not have to make that call as it's a judgement call left open to interpretation he just chose to impose his 2 cents worth! BS call!!

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Dirk Medema 3 years, 11 months ago

Hurting their feelings? Seriously?

I'm recalling plenty of discussion on this a year ago when it was stressed to the officials to make the call.

I agree this interpretation of the rule is dumb, but it isn't one the officials chose. The NCAA rules committee decided it was important.

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kureader 3 years, 11 months ago

Totally agree ... and, no, the refs did NOT have to make the call. As you said, he he left his feet a couple yards before the goal line. There was nothing "unsportsmanlike" about what he did. He was excited about breaking four tackles and scoring a touchdown.
As a later post says, this happened in a couple other games this weekend and didn't get called. It shouldn't have been called here either.

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Ron Prichard 3 years, 11 months ago

The penalty absolutely had to be called. It is a bright line rule. Unless the player is diving into the endzone to avoid a tackle, it's automatic. There is no room for interpretation in the rule. I'm not sure what argument there is about Patterson still being on the field of play. Of course he was on the field of play, that's where he had to be if he was diving across the goalline.

I was at the game and then watched again on TV. No one was close to him, so it was an easy call. Everyone in my section basically groaned and then collectively asked why he dove.

If the flag wasn't thrown in other games when players dove, that doesn't mean the officials in the KU game screwed it up. If you want to be mad at someone, blame the NCAA for having the rule. I understand they want to keep players from getting injured, but I agree that it is a silly rule. As much as I hate to admit it, the official made the right call.

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Kevin Kelly 3 years, 11 months ago

While I think that penalty was questionable (at the time I was watching from across the stadium and thought there were a lot more people around him) I don't have a problem with cracking down on celebration. Every year I have to watch some stupid stuff go down in the SEC without the refs batting an eye. One year I saw a guy miss a tackle on the second play of the game and the guy did push ups on the field before the next snap.

This 'look at me I'm on TV' BS has got to stop. Defensive players are celebrating every play like they won the super bowl. You know when a defensive player should be celebrating? AFTER THEY HAVE PUNTED THE BALL TO OUR TEAM AND NOT BEFORE!

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Randy Bombardier 3 years, 11 months ago

Really hope the guys are all ears again this week and listen intently to what the coaches tell them. Hope they practice hard and get into the drills they do so that it becomes second nature in the game and they don't have to think...don't have time to think. The speed with which we play is critical. I have seen many a screen play blown up because the pursuit to the QB, which is supposed to set up the screen was actually too fast. The QB was caught unprepared for that. In the same way Tech was caught unprepared for our aggressiveness on defending the option. I hope to see some serious blitzing next week with some deceptive D schemes to create a few picks. I for one would rather see aggressive defense and an occasional burn than a defense on its heels.

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Kent Wells 3 years, 11 months ago

Caption:

Chunky Jayhawk hat wearing dude (part of the Hawks Secret Service, Code Name Spidermonkey) dives in front of Freshman running back sensation James Sims and takes a knife to the forearm. An act of heroism resulting from a Southern Miss fans intention to ground the KU running game. Spidermonkey is expected to make a full recovery.

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KU_FanSince75 3 years, 11 months ago

I am coming on this thread a little late, but in regard to the passes by Nesbitt that were looking like blatant illegal forward passes, Bob Davis, voice of the Jayhawks, was thinking the same thing. I had to listen to it on the radio, so, I did not see the passes on TV.

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