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Looking for reasons to believe in KU's defense against Texas Tech

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Jesse Newell: Welcome back to the GameDay Cram Session, as Kansas is taking on Texas Tech on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Tom, what stands out to you about Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville?

Tom Keegan: That he coached Auburn to a 13-0 season and defeated Alabama six seasons in a row and one losing season negated all that in the eyes of Auburn boosters. Strange, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sports world we live in is even stranger in the SEC football world.

Former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville.

Former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville.

JN: Every time I hear his name, I can't help but think of how he publicly campaigned to be KU's next football coach following the resignation of Mark Mangino.

Then-KU athletic director Lew Perkins chose Turner Gill instead. Obviously, it's too early to make too many judgments, but it's interesting to wonder how history would have changed if Perkins had hired Tuberville instead. I know he was the first choice of many KU football fans at the time.

From left, Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville, safety Cody Davis and offensive lineman Mickey Okafor look on as Oklahoma answers questions during NCAA college football Big 12 Media Days, Tuesday, July 26, 2011, in Dallas.

From left, Texas Tech head coach Tommy Tuberville, safety Cody Davis and offensive lineman Mickey Okafor look on as Oklahoma answers questions during NCAA college football Big 12 Media Days, Tuesday, July 26, 2011, in Dallas.

Looking closer at this contest, give me a reason (or two) that KU fans should be optimistic about the Jayhawks' defense heading into Saturday's game.

TK: Reason No. 1: Anything's possible. Reason No. 2: Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in a while.

JN: That doesn't sound too encouraging.

Here are a couple reasons I can think of for optimism:

No. 1: KU won't have to try to prepare for a quirky offense like Georgia Tech's triple-option.

Kansas defender Tyler Patmon comes in to tackle Georgia Tech's Orwin Smith in the first half Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 in Atlanta.

Kansas defender Tyler Patmon comes in to tackle Georgia Tech's Orwin Smith in the first half Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 in Atlanta. by Richard Gwin

Though Texas Tech has a dangerous passing attack (and a great quarterback in Seth Doege), the Jayhawks will at least being going back to trying to stop a spread offense — a setup that most Big 12 teams run.

No. 2: KU has had time to reflect with the bye week. From listening to KU defensive coordinator Vic Shealy, it sounds like the coaching staff spent a lot of time not only re-evaluating over their own schemes, but also reconsidering whether they had the best personnel on the field.

Kansas assistant coach Vic Shealy talks to reporters after being promoted to defensive coordinator on Tuesday, May 31, 2011, at the Anderson Family Football Complex.

Kansas assistant coach Vic Shealy talks to reporters after being promoted to defensive coordinator on Tuesday, May 31, 2011, at the Anderson Family Football Complex. by Jesse Newell

It sounds like KU is going to try to simplify things this week defensively, which could mean more man coverage. Be ready for some player changes as well. Sounds like cornerback Dexter McDonald will be one of a few guys who will receive additional playing time as the coaches continue to search for answers.

All right, Tom, what is your prediction for this game?

Kansas running back Tony Pierson is gobbled up by the Georgia Tech defense Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 in Atlanta.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson is gobbled up by the Georgia Tech defense Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 in Atlanta. by Richard Gwin

TK: Texas Tech 48, Kansas 31.

JN: I'll actually say this one is close and go with Texas Tech 35, Kansas 31.

I think both offenses will be successful, but both also will have extended drives, which should keep the possessions down.

As poorly as KU played against Georgia Tech, we have to remember that the Jayhawks have played two pretty good games at home this year.

Water flies along the Kansas sideline after officials confirmed a touchdown by KU receiver D.J. Beshears to put the KU ahead of Northern Illinois late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at Kivisto Field. The Jayhawks won, 45-42.

Water flies along the Kansas sideline after officials confirmed a touchdown by KU receiver D.J. Beshears to put the KU ahead of Northern Illinois late in the fourth quarter on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011 at Kivisto Field. The Jayhawks won, 45-42. by Nick Krug

I'll say that continues, though KU won't have enough to pull off the upset.

One aspect to pay attention to will be third downs. Texas Tech has converted 25 of 40 third downs this season (62.5 percent) to rank second in the country in third-down conversions.

Meanwhile, KU's defense has allowed opponents to convert 20 of 35 third downs (57.14 percent) for the second-worst mark nationally.

You'd have to think the Jayhawks will need to hold the Red Raiders under 50 percent on third downs to have a shot in this one.

OK, Tom, who's your Hawk to Rock?

TK: Tony Pierson has the break-away ability to have a big game against any team any time.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson is pushed out of bounds by Georgia Tech defenders on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 in Atlanta.

Kansas running back Tony Pierson is pushed out of bounds by Georgia Tech defenders on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011 in Atlanta. by Richard Gwin

JN: I'll go with the obvious choice and say James Sims.

Kansas running back James Sims cuts through a hole as he heads up the field for a big gain against McNeese State during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011 at Kivisto Field.

Kansas running back James Sims cuts through a hole as he heads up the field for a big gain against McNeese State during the first quarter on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011 at Kivisto Field. by Nick Krug

Texas Tech allowed 312 rushing yards to Nevada last week, giving KU even more reason to stick with its run-first gameplan.

Sims should get the most carries, which makes me think he'll easily be able to get his third, 100-plus-yard rushing game this season.

Predictions tally (through two games)


Tom: 2-1 record.
Jesse: 2-1 record.

Hawk to Rock


Tom Keegan
McNeese State: Toben Opurum (3rd in Keegan ratings)
Northern Illinois: Darrian Miller (7th in Keegan ratings)
Georgia Tech: Bradley McDougald (Not ranked in Keegan ratings)

Jesse Newell
McNeese State: Brandon Bourbon (Not ranked in Keegan ratings)
Northern Illinois: Darius Willis (Not ranked in Keegan ratings)
Georgia Tech: Kale Pick (Not ranked in Keegan ratings)

Comments

texashawk10 11 years, 2 months ago

It sounds like KU is going to try to simplify things this week defensively, which could mean more man coverage. Be ready for some player changes as well. Sounds like cornerback Dexter McDonald will be one of a few guys who will receive additional playing time as the coaches continue to search for answers.

I'm sorry, but when you're already running cover 2 or cover 3 on most plays and you're talking about simplifying, that's not a good sign for the defense to make any progress.

Dillon Davis 11 years, 2 months ago

Guarantee you our corners still play 10 yards off of their man like always. We're gona play really conservative in order not to get beat down the field as much. They are gona pick us apart in the short game and in the middle of the field. IMO

Travis Clementsmith 11 years, 2 months ago

We really need something positive for this football team, I hope they can deliver. A victory on Homecoming would go a long ways for this team after the GT game. I believe Gill has upgraded the team, I just hope he can get some DLs in those recruiting classes. We are so below par by Big XII levels in that area.

Joseph Kuebel 11 years, 2 months ago

Agreed. This is as close to a must win or we are pretty much guaranteed to start 2-4... And a loss will prove those who predicted our team to win 2 games maximum pretty tough to argue with.

ahpersecoachingexperience 11 years, 2 months ago

My "hawk to rock" is Rell Lewis. I'm banking on TT not seeing any game film of the gt game so they won't know it's a running play out of the wildcat formation everytme he is in the game.

79ictjhawk 11 years, 2 months ago

Reason to have hope: "Texas Tech allowed 312 rushing yards to Nevada last week".

Reason to doubt: "KU's defense has allowed opponents to convert 20 of 35 third downs (57.14 percent) for the second-worst mark nationally."

Should be fun to watch all the scoring if we can keep up with them!

Joseph Kuebel 11 years, 2 months ago

Too add on to your to reason to doubt:

Texas Tech has converted 25 of 40 third downs this season (62.5 percent) to rank second in the country in third-down conversions.

So, after they convert six of their first seven 3rd down attempts will the defense take a risk and not give a 10 yard buffer to their WRs?? They're gonna score otherwise, so why risk it?

DevilHawk 11 years, 2 months ago

Prediction: We make some defensive stands and force a turnover or two. 44 - 40 KU in OT.

texashawk10 11 years, 2 months ago

How do you get a 4 point margin of victory in OT? I think 2, 3, 6, and 7 are the only possible margins of victory for an OT game.

actorman 11 years, 2 months ago

Okay, this is less likely than winning the next 50 lotteries but at least it's a mathematical possibility: KU gets the ball first in OT. TT intercepts a pass at the one-yard-line, but in trying to run it back, goes backwards a little bit and KU ends up getting a safety. Then on TT's possession there's a crazy play that ends up going all the way back to the TT end zone and KU gets another safety. So theoretically, a team could win by 4 in OT. And I'm sure that's the exact scenario DevilHawk was thinking about when he made his prediction.

DevilHawk 11 years, 2 months ago

It assumes that the PAT is required before the game ends. I could be mistaken about that - it's not something that I've paid attention to.

Enter OT tied at 37. TT takes a FG, then KU scores a TD.

4x TD + 3x FG each. 28 + 9 = 37. FG = 40 = 37 + 3 TD = 44 = 37 + 7

Ron Prichard 11 years, 2 months ago

PAT would not be kicked in that situation, so go with actorman's analysis. Or just blame it on a typo and say it should have been 43-40. For the record, I've never been to a game that went into overtime, so I would love that outcome!

DevilHawk 11 years, 2 months ago

Thanks.

Make that prediction 43-40 in OT then.

Gordon Penny 11 years, 2 months ago

Um, after the first safety the game would be over, I am quite certain. TT would not even get an offensive possession.

actorman 11 years, 2 months ago

Why wouldn't TT get an offensive possession? KU getting the safety from its own possession would be the equivalent of scoring in a more conventional way like a FG or TD. It wouldn't make sense for TT to not still have a chance to score on its own possession.

OPJayhawk 11 years, 2 months ago

I don't think thats possible. Or it it? Is the PAT kicked when a TD wins it in OT?

Andy Tweedy 11 years, 2 months ago

I agree, this isn't so much about 3rd down IMO, it's more about sacks and turnovers, which often are one in the same. I disagree about KSU and ISU though. KSU had a nice win at Miami, but Miami lost to a Maryland team that was absolutely manhandled at home by Temple, so this isn't Miami circa 1988. And ISU is a good team, but they are certainly beatable, and almost lost to Northern Iowa. There a couple more wins on the schedule if you ask me.

oldvet 11 years, 2 months ago

"Texas Tech has converted 25 of 40 third downs this season (62.5 percent) to rank second in the country in third-down conversions."

Tech won't get many 3rd down conversions in this game... they won't have many 3rd down opportunities...

TT - 42 KU - 14

Robert Brock 11 years, 2 months ago

Texas Tech scores a touchdown in eleven straight possessions.

TTech 77 Hawks 17

Andy Tweedy 11 years, 2 months ago

I really don't think this game will be as lopsided as some. I do think we will be hard pressed to stop TT, but their defense isn't going to scare anybody, and our offense is pretty good this year. We should be able to control the clock and move the ball. If we can get a few turnovers, who knows. Unfortunately, I haven't seen anything yet from the defense that makes me think we will get those turnovers. I think this is a 42-31 type game, but I must admit I think we'll be on the short end of that score.

AirCapJay 11 years, 2 months ago

Coach Shealy, have the guys watch "Waterboy". Cook up some fried alligator. You can do it!

actorman 11 years, 2 months ago

I would love to believe in KU's defense but I haven't seen enough evidence yet to do so. I think the KU offense will hang in valiantly for a while but TT will win, 52-38.

jhox 11 years, 2 months ago

I don't see us winning because I doubt we can hold them under 50. I can see us putting up 35 or so on them. Hope I'm wrong becaue I believe this is the last possibly winable game I see on the schedule. Probably the next weakest Big 12 team (behind us and Tech) is Texas.

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