Friday, October 12, 2012

Kansas vs. OSU: Tale of the Tape


When Kansas has the ball

Kansas rush offense vs. Oklahoma State rush defense

Last week, the Jayhawks proved they could keep their running game going against a Top 10 team in their loss at Kansas State. Although the Jayhawks were punished on the scoreboard, the running game — led by James Sims’ 115-yard day — produced 175 of the Jayhawks’ 388 total yards, and that was with leading rusher Tony Pierson missing the final three quarters because of injury. Pierson is expected to play this weekend, and, even though the Cowboys have given up an average of just 121 yards per game (fifth in the Big 12 and 36th nationally), they have been hit for big nights on the ground in losses to Arizona and Texas.

Edge: Push.

Kansas pass offense vs. Oklahoma State pass defense

KU quarterback Dayne Crist looked much more comfortable and effective in the passing game during last week’s first half after which the Jayhawks trailed by just seven points. Then the wheels fell off in the second half as Crist was sacked and/or pressured nearly every other time he dropped back and could not find any rhythm with any of his receivers. Sophomore wideout Andrew Turzilli continued to take steps forward against the Wildcats, finishing with 67 yards on five receptions. The Cowboys are slightly more vulnerable through the air than a lot of teams KU will face (242 yards per game, seventh in the Big 12 and 77th nationally), but until KU shows for four quarters the kind of consistency it received in last week’s first half, it’s going to be tough to say the Jayhawks own the advantage in this category.

Edge: Oklahoma State.

When Oklahoma State has the ball

Oklahoma State rush offense vs. Kansas rush defense

Led by the top running back in the Big 12, Oklahoma State’s pass-happy and up-tempo attack often gets its biggest lift from junior tailback Joseph Randle. Randle leads the conference with 534 yards rushing and a 7.1 yards-per-carry average and also has chipped in six touchdowns. KU defenders said this week they were impressed with the passion and toughness with which Randle runs. KU coach Charlie Weis compared Randle to Pierson but said that the extra 30 pounds on Randle’s frame makes him a much more versatile back. It’s not as if Randle is the only guy on the OSU roster who can run the ball. Reserves Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland also have gotten off to good starts, with each hovering around the 180-yard mark in fewer carries and having produced four TDs.

Edge: Oklahoma State.

Oklahoma State pass offense vs. Kansas pass defense

The Cowboys went from chiseled veteran Brandon Weeden to inexperienced youngsters Wes Lunt and J.W. Walsh, but you’d never know it from their production. Through the first four games, the Cowboys lead the nation in total offense, with 359 of their 659 total yards per game coming in the passing attack. The true freshman Lunt (6-4, 211) opened the season as the starter but was injured in the opener. The more mobile red-shirt freshman Walsh slid into his spot and performed well, using his legs to keep plays alive and move the chains on a regular basis. It’s not yet known which of the two the Cowboys will go with against the Jayhawks, but, regardless of which guy they pick, the pace of the offense and the pieces in place around them put both QBs in a position to succeed.

Edge: Oklahoma State.

Special teams

A big-time place kicker, whom Weis called maybe the best player at his position in the nation, leads the Cowboys’ ultra-talented special-teams unit. Quinn Sharp is one of the top punters and place kickers in the country and also has become quite a weapon on kickoffs. Throw in the fact that OSU features multiple dynamic return guys and 26 yards per kickoff return and 10.5 yards per punt return, and it’s a tough match-up for the Jayhawks, who have struggled in kick-coverage situations this season. Add to that the fact that the Jayhawks are reeling in the kicking game, with place kicker Ron Doherty having hit just five of 10 field goal tries this season (including a miss on a 24-yard attempt last week), and it’s clear where the advantage lies here.

Edge: Oklahoma State.


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