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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

KU_FanSince75 3 years, 7 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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Kent Wells 3 years, 7 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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Randy Bombardier 3 years, 7 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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KGphoto 3 years, 7 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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lawrence_is_my_middle_name 3 years, 7 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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billhawk 3 years, 7 months ago

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

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Kenneth Hillman 3 years, 7 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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Tribehawk 3 years, 7 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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yed 3 years, 7 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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AzHawk97 3 years, 7 months ago

One more negative for the officials:

At least three of Nesbitt's pitches were illegal forward passes beyond the line of scrimmage. You think an option team would keep better pitch relationship, but they got away with it.

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AzHawk97 3 years, 7 months ago

I agree with eveyone so far. Here are a couple more:

Positive: Biere getting a TD catch (after the atrocious game last week) and pouncing on a Webb fumble deep in their own territory.

Negative: 30 yards of penalities on G.Tech's last and potential game winning drive.

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eastcoasthawk 3 years, 7 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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jayhawkjoe98 3 years, 7 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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Jennifer Nikkila Pressgrove 3 years, 7 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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Jayjocker 3 years, 7 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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