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Monday Rewind: Rice

Kansas running back Tony Pierson darts up the sideline for a touchdown past the Rice cheerleaders during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson darts up the sideline for a touchdown past the Rice cheerleaders during the second quarter on Saturday, Sept. 14, 2013 at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas. by Nick Krug

By now, those who follow Kansas University football know that dropped passes have plagued the KU offense during the first two weeks of the 2013 season.

But instead of using the Monday Rewind to look back at which players dropped the most passes and who is struggling the most in that department (You can find that here), I figured it might be a good idea to check out the opposite side of things and see if some kind of fix can't be pulled from that.

What the F, right?

No. Stick with me. I'm not talking about that F, I'm talking about KU's F position, which currently is manned by Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon, two players who have been Jake Heaps' most reliable targets through the first two games of the season.

A week ago, when KU football coach Charlie Weis was asked on his weekly radio show which player had the best hands, his answer revealed something that might be worth trying for the struggling Kansas offense.

“I'd say Pierson has the best hands,” Weis said. “And Bourbon's next. The guys playing the same position might be the two guys with the best hands.”

So why not put them out there at the same time a little more often?

Because I don't have a playbook nor a helmet and shoulder pads, I don't fully understand Weis' offense and all of the intricacies that go along with it. But I do understand the idea of first-string and second-string players, and maybe it's time to promote Bourbon to first-string along with Pierson.

Both have looked sure-handed catching the ball this season. Both have the ability to line up anywhere on the field. And both have the speed and toughness to run good routes and get open. From where I sit, that means both should play as much as possible.

Unlike many of you, I don't quite see this as a sky-is-falling situation. Not yet, anyway. It's still early, I think this team is made up of several tough-minded individuals and maybe doing something this drastic with the offense is not what needs to happen right now.

KU's strength remains its running game and finding ways to get James Sims, Darrian Miller, Taylor Cox and especially Pierson some more quality carries seems like a good place to start — at least until Heaps and the passing game get fully comfortable and the offensive line becomes more solid.

But if drops continue to be a problem and KU's pass catchers fail to step up, letting Pierson and Bourbon carry more of the load might be the answer — offensively, at least.

The defense is a different story altogether. Not only is that unit playing better and improving by leaps and bounds each week, but the KU defense darn near won the Jayhawks last weekend's game. How long has it been since you could say that?

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Comments

Jacob Zutterman 7 months ago

Shot in the dark, but maybe Bourbon to tight end in passing situations?

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budsitz 7 months ago

The corners are more than 8 yards away from the receivers before the snap. When we get into the Big 12, the spread teams are going to kill us with short routes. And, the pass rush is totally inadequate. So, this defense that everyone is giving such high praise has simply not been tested, yet. And, against the likes of OSU and OU, it is going to be ugly. Actually, the Big 12 is really down this year. I was hoping that KU would get to 6-6. But, we simply are not going to score enough points. At least special teams and the kicking games have been improved.

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Jason Sinclair 7 months ago

Tait, I agree that the D was very impressive Saturday night, but how can you say "Not only is that unit playing better and improving by leaps and bounds each week..." after only the second game?

McDonald might be one of the best corners in the conference.

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Janet Scott 7 months ago

Bo Pellini will be fired at NU after this season. Maybe Z can hire him as the team psychologist and special assistant to Charlie. Bo looks as clueless on the sideline as Charlie does. Frick and Frack.

Weis will be run out of Dodge (Lawrence) by the conclusion of his year 3, and Z will be looking for cover, pointing to improvements in KU checkers, KU horseshoes, and KU darts - you know, the minor sports; the big money makers.

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Jason Keller 7 months ago

Tait has a point with the defense. Looking purely at those 11 dudes, you could almost use the G word to describe them. KU's defense is Goo..... Well, let's wait until after the Texas Tech game shall we? Fact is, they have looked pretty sharp so far. A couple of blown assignments but heck that is easy to fix. It's when your corners simply can't keep stride with their man you need to start worrying.

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Jason Keller 7 months ago

Are those the Rice cheerleaders in the background or is that the Rice scout team defense?

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Ralster Jayhawk 7 months ago

How about substitute Bourbon in for Mundine? He could block. He could release for a pass. And he knows what to do as a ball carrier...

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ahpersecoachingexperience 7 months ago

Can we offer the Rice cheerleader (on the right) a schoalarship to play o-line?!?

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Bud Stagg 7 months ago

We have receivers who can't get open. In the rare cases that they do, Heaps, (unlike Crist) can actually see and hit them, however then they can't catch it.

My concern is the play calling. We get a good rhythm going on the ground and then we will run the Jayhawk formation or call a stupid pass play. This is like jerking on the emergency brake. The play mix should favor...Run the ball until THEY stop us. Not run the ball until WE stop us.

No reason we should have lost that game. The defense got tired because the offense did not run clock.

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Michael Maris 7 months ago

I thought the idea was to have the best athletes / talent on the field at all times. How about making Bourbon into a Hybrid TE (since Mundine isn't able to catch anything)? Just an idea.

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Mike Pressgrove 7 months ago

Football season ticket holder for 20+ years and starting to wonder if we will ever get this thing turned around. We can't beat a school with 3500 students? Proud of the way our defense played, but our offense is worse than last year, if that's possible. Based on our quarterback play it seems Charlie's talent evaluation skills may be poor. I will still be at every game and stay to the end, but this year may be my last.

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Brett McCabe 7 months ago

Matt, excellent point on Bourbon. I would not be shocked to see him on the field with Tony this week.

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MartyrMangino 7 months ago

I posted this in the "Dropsies" article, but I thought it could stand being repeated here:

Call me crazy, but I believe there are some positive things to take away from the Rice game.

Our defense looks to be progressing ahead of schedule, even without many of the heralded recruits and our special teams play appears to be much improved from last year.

Unfortunately, I don't think that we are going to be able to run the ball very effectively until we prove that we can pass the ball. It isn't as simple as some are suggesting that we should just abandon passing and try to run right over teams. We don't have a credible passing game and there are a lot of players on our O-Line without much experience.

We all would like to be beyond the simple installation of a credible passing game, but that is not easy to do when you have a brand new O-Line, a new quarterback who hasn't played in a couple years, and middling talent at the receiver position. Our passing offense last year was almost historically bad; it is going to take some time to stop that runaway train.

I am feeling positive about this team because if the defense can keep improving, we should have something to build on. Back in the Mangino era, the defense came first and once the offense had talent to match the defense we took a big step forward. I have my own doubts about running a pro-style offense at KU, but I don't feel like we have had the caliber of player Weis envisions running it. We may never get that caliber of player.

Remember 06-07. There were so many games we should have won because we just couldn't put it all together yet. We will get there, but we need something to build on. Hopefully our defense and special teams will provide that stability.

P.S. Ben Heeney is a terrific player

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Reuben_J_Cogburn 7 months ago

...um....

Well...

That was depressing.

Something I did not think would be anemic this year: rushing.

But if we can't run the ball on Rice....oh boy....gonna be a long year.

Think about how the Rice game last year took the wind out of our sails. We have to do something right now, or this thing will launch into a tail spin.

...problem is, where do you start?

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Jim Jackson 7 months ago

Matt, I agree that the drops were a problem as was the anemic pass and run blocking.

But I know you concur with the sentiment that the play calling was inefficient at best.

Not a single play action or fake the ENTIRE game (or was there 1 I missed??) when they were stacking the box and consistently tackling us for loss in the backfield??

Weis is a smart dude but I have no clue what he was doing on Saturday.

Hopefully we see more Charles Brooks at TE because Mundine was awful.

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namohcan_99 7 months ago

Isn't it funny that we are not figuring this all out until right now?

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AzHawk97 7 months ago

I agree that Bourbon and Pierson have proved they need to touch the ball more in space, even if it means taking some carries away from my beloved James Sims.

Wasn't it Bourbon they tried a screen with that got blown up? The Rice corner made the tackle through the "blocking" receiver.

Pierson showed some toughness not going down with that hit and then breaking away from other would-be tacklers on his TD, but if KU gets caught up in dropped balls, then I'm sure Rice is kicking themselves letting a missed tackle be KU's only highlight.

I think the whole drops thing is a nice and clean scapegoat. Fans and writers alike can criticize without digging too far in the dirt to get to what really ails this offense (although Keegan is starting to come around).

And I didn't see you mention in the other article Coleman's drop. Just want to be thorough and add him to the list of Ford, Mundine (2), and "reluctantly" Sims.

Two bright spots from the South Dakota game were non-factors against Rice: Embree and Wyman. Embree showed that he can make a reliable fair catch, which is solid, but we shouldn't expect big returns if the punt has a hangtime more than a second or two. And if Wyman gets praised for hitting a 45 yarder the week before, then we have to be fair and point out the wide by 50 yards attempt against Rice.

Sorry to sound so negative, but Kansas football is like a drug I have been on for a long time. The highs aren't as high and are few and far between, and the lows are lower and seem to be occurring more frequently.

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kansas22 7 months ago

Giving Pierson one carry throughout an entire game is an absolute embarrassment. The mismatch in speed Tony had against Rice was comical. This team shouldn't be passing the ball more than 20 times in a game unless it is absolutely forced to. We have an inconsistent QB that is throwing to receivers that have proven they're inconsistent at best at catching balls. Our play calling is so ho-hum it becomes nauseating. Giving Pierson the ball more is a good start, the guy is the most dangerous weapon we have with the ball in his hands. The other RB's need the ball more as well. I'd like to see us line up with 3 RB's in the backfield giving us more options for run play calling. Heaps isn't the answer passing the ball. Try to run it down team's throats. Call more outside run plays to get the running backs to the edge. Draw up a couple misdirection or trick plays. Just open up the playbook more! I can't sit through many more games that are as offensively predictable as last Saturday's or I'll become a full-blown alcoholic to numb the pain from watching KU football.

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Al Martin 7 months ago

Sky is falling? Of course not. It's tough for the sky to fall on a team coming off a 1-11 season.

It is very disappointing that the one offensive trait upon which we thought we could rely was so effectively stopped. Defensive lines aren't going to get softer as we enter the conference schedule.

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douglas6280 7 months ago

Weis is too smart for his own good I guess. The strength of this team on offense is its running backs. This is a running team and he needs to play to that strength and then use play action more to set up the passing game. This is the second year in a row that, if we would have featured the run, we would have beaten Rice. I think the "vision" of what he wants the offense to look like isn't in line with the talent on the field.

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