Box score breakdown: Don't blame KU's defense for Texas Tech's 54-point outburst


Here's a look at our "new" box score for Kansas' 54-16 loss to No. 20 Texas Tech.

A reminder: This box score is meant to give some of the most relevant stats so we can take a deeper (and better) look into the numbers.

"New" box score. Remember, sacks are counted against passing yards (and not rushing yards), as they technically were pass attempts.

"New" box score. Remember, sacks are counted against passing yards (and not rushing yards), as they technically were pass attempts. by Jesse Newell

Here are a few takeaways:

KU's defense played horribly ... wait, no it didn't

This game is a perfect example that shows why it's best to give football box score numbers more context.

A quick glance at the numbers, and someone would see that KU gave up 54 points and 518 yards to Texas Tech and assume the Jayhawks played lousy defense.

That wasn't the case, as Texas Tech's yards per play (5.2) and yards per possession (30.5) were actually below the NCAA average.

So what gives?

Kansas defensive lineman Tedarian Johnson brings down Texas Tech quarterback Michael Brewer during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas defensive lineman Tedarian Johnson brings down Texas Tech quarterback Michael Brewer during the fourth quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

Much like basketball, raw numbers can be skewed based on possessions. If North Carolina's basketball team leads the nation in scoring each year, that doesn't necessarily mean the Tar Heels have the best offense; it simply means they've scored the most points, which is affected by a team's scoring and pace.

The same applies to football. On Saturday, Texas Tech — mostly because KU's offense couldn't stay on the field for any length of time — ran a whopping 100 plays, which is 26 plays above the NCAA average.

And while KU's defense didn't necessarily have a good game, it certainly played well enough against a talented offense to not allow 54 points.

It's not easy to see at first glance (or with a standard box score), but Tech's high scoring on Saturday said was much more a result of KU's failures on offense rather than its defense.

Nothing is working for KU offensively

Let's not sugarcoat it: This was a truly putrid performance by KU's O.

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps is sacked by Texas Tech linebacker Brandon Jackson during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas quarterback Jake Heaps is sacked by Texas Tech linebacker Brandon Jackson during the third quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks mustered just 16.1 yards per possession, which is barely half of the NCAA average (31 yards per possession).

But the bad news doesn't end there. Even after taking sacks out of the rushing equation, KU averaged just 2.1 yards per carry on 34 carries. What's scarier for KU: Just six of those 34 rushes (18 percent) went for five yards or more. Six. It can't be easy to commit to the run when an inexperienced offensive line is only clearing a hole on every fifth play.

Meanwhile, the passing game — after showing better efficiency against LA Tech — also regressed, as the Jayhawks completed just 18 passes on 38 dropbacks (attempts plus sacks). It's the third time this year in four games that KU hasn't been able to complete passes on half its dropbacks.

KU can be proud that it did produce some explosive plays (seven total), but that also is a bit of a downer. Tony Pierson, who had three of KU's 20-plus-yard catches, will most likely miss a few weeks after suffering a head injury in the third quarter.

In short, a KU offense that can't move the ball will now have to go without one of its only explosive playmakers.

Weis has quite a task ahead of him in preparing an offensive gameplan for TCU.

KU's defense not giving up big plays

Out of 100 plays, Texas Tech had just six that I would label "explosive" — runs of 12 or more or passes of 20 or more. Again, this is significant progress, as KU's defense is making opponents earn the points they get with long drives.

Remember just a couple years ago when Georgia Tech had four, 50-plus-yard plays against KU in a 66-24 win? Those days of the Jayhawks getting gashed for huge yardage appear to be gone, thanks to better players and also improved organization with defensive coordinator Dave Campo and linebackers coach Clint Bowen in charge.

Still ... KU's pass defense wasn't as good as past weeks

The Jayhawks allowed a season-high 6.8 yards per pass attempt and 10.9 yards per completion to the Red Raiders. While those numbers aren't awful, they are the highest KU has allowed this year (The previous highs against KU: LA Tech averaged 4.5 yards per pass attempt, while Rice was at 9.8 yards per completion.).

Though most of the plays were small chunks — KU allowed just three, 20-plus-yard passing plays — the Jayhawks did finally show some vulnerability in their pass defense after an excellent first quarter.

KU had some bad luck with turnovers

No, it wouldn't have made a difference in the final outcome, but the score would have been closer had KU gotten a few more bounces.

While forcing fumbles is a skill, studies have shown recovering fumbles is basically luck (and a 50-50 proposition for each team). Out of seven fumbles Saturday, KU fell on only one of them (14 percent). That might not seem like it would make much difference, but turnovers, on average, are worth about five points each when you take into account the field position lost by the offense and gained by the defense. Normal fumble luck (and three recoveries instead of one) could have resulted in a 10-point swing for KU.

The Jayhawks also continued to display active hands in the secondary. KU had 10 pass breakups, and studies have shown that over time, 21 percent of pass breakups result in interceptions. KU probably was "due" one extra interception based on the number of times it was able to knock away throws.

This is a big reason why I believe KU will win at least one Big 12 game this year: Turnovers make a huge difference in games, and the Jayhawks' secondary has shown a tendency to always be around the ball.

Kansas cornerback Dexter McDonald gets called for interference on an endzone pass to Texas Tech receiver Bradley Marquez during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium.

Kansas cornerback Dexter McDonald gets called for interference on an endzone pass to Texas Tech receiver Bradley Marquez during the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium. by Nick Krug

The Jayhawks should be intercepting quite a few more passes before the year is out.

KU killed by field position

Another reason Texas Tech racked up 54 points that wasn't KU defense's fault? Terrific field position for the Red Raiders.

TTU's average start was its own 44, while KU's was its own 26 ... an 18-yard difference.

In games between FBS teams last year, teams with a 16-yard-or-greater advantage in field position went 62-2 (96.9 percent win percentage).

Field position is a combination of many factors, but obviously the Jayhawks' six three-and-outs, four turnovers and failed fake punt all contributed to Tech's domination in the stat Saturday.


actorman 9 years, 2 months ago

It might be easier to gain more than 2.1 yards per carry if it wasn't so obvious every time KU was going to run. When Cummings was in there, KU ran the ball every time but twice. The first time he tried to pass, he got sacked, but the other time he completed the ball for something like 25 yards. And before garbage time, how many times did they run the ball with Heaps in there, twice? Three times? Every other time was a pass.

Mike Barnhart 9 years, 2 months ago

Sorry Jesse, KU has won it's last game this year. The 1985 Chicago Bears defense couldn't win a game with this talent starved offense.

The line is remarkably bad, the receivers are Washburn quality, the QB is a fraud, once again and the coach is arrogant and overmatched.

hawk316 9 years, 2 months ago

jjjjj, though I wouldn't go nearly as far as you in your overall assessment, I am concerned about the play of our offensive line. If it doesn't improve significantly, you may be correct in your prediction of no wins the rest of the year. (I hope you're wrong, by the way)!

The good news is the greatly improved play of our defense. Definitely encouraging.

Jesse, this was such a helpful and perceptive analysis. Really excellent. Thank you!

Dirk Medema 9 years, 2 months ago

The '85 Bears D outscored the opponents O on a few occasions.

Jesse is right, a W is still possible.

Steve Corder 9 years, 2 months ago

Might disagree about Heaps being "a fraud".

Marc Frey 9 years, 2 months ago

After four weeks it appears to me that this team lacks talent. Yesterday was a great example. TT started a walk-on QB who played like a 4-star recruit. His O-line gave him time to throw. TT's D was faster, their WRs could catch tough passes. I watched other games yesterday and can see that we just do not have the "players" that other teams do. Yes, I do put this on HCCW as he should be able to adjust and call better plays based on what talent we have. If Kingsbury can adjust during a game, so can Weis. .

leonard 9 years, 2 months ago

"Weis has quite a task ahead of him in preparing an offensive gameplan for TCU" -- Newell

That in its self may be one of the biggest challenges faced by our Jayhawks.

It's way past the time for Charlie to look squarely in the mirror and recognize he's no offensive genius when it comes to game planning a "college" football game.

While stating the obvious that our team has plenty of talent issues on the's time that Charlie faced the music. After 16 games he is showing little progress or proficiency in designing offensive schemes.

Charlie and his staff are smart enough guys to recognize that what they are designing hasn't worked. Here's hoping that their egos don't prevent them from making the necessary changes.

texashawk10 9 years, 2 months ago

The actually game plans are working just fine. KU's offense actually looked competent on the first two drives so clearly Weis saw a weakness in the Tech defense that could be exploited. The problem is he got away from attacking Tech's weaknesses. This is why another play caller is needed who won't abandon something that's working just because he wants the offense to be balanced. I don't care if KU runs the ball 50 times one week and then turns around the next and throws it 50 times. If being unbalanced in run/pass ratio is what's necessary to win, do it.

Cody Riedy 9 years, 2 months ago

Certainly Weis's play-calling isn't perfect, but I think some fans are a bit delusional about how much difference it would make or how significantly different another OC's calls would be. There's not many ways of getting around the fact that the other team's player at almost every position, especially on offense, is better than the equivalent on KU's team. People say run the ball and are line gets pushed backwards, people say quick passes and our WRs fail to get open and make catches, people say throw deep and WRs fail to get open and our line can't hold up, people say "just run the ball" and then other people say we're so predictable as if play-calling was a matter of "surprising" people - was anyone surprised by our run calls last year? No. Didn't surprise anybody but our line could execute last year. People say the offense is predictable and Weis calls something different and everybody screams how stupid it is, just run the ball or call whatever play everybody expects to be called at that point. Running an offense is more complicated than your video game, yet on the other hand, it's not that complicated - it's about talent, execution, and small adjustments to specific things that a D is calling or doing with its personnel. It's not just they're stopping the run, so pass. How are they stopping the run? Extra man in the box, cheating up a safety, etc? In our case it's been, they're stopping the run because our O-Line has been getting their arse kicked. There isn't a lot of adjustment to make for that.

Daniel Cuellar 9 years, 2 months ago

That being said, all year we've run a whole lot of plays with an empty backfield. We should at least have the threat of running, especially when our passing game's not good. Weis hasn't been very good at getting the ball to our playmakers. I thought this year's offense would look a lot like the Chiefs' offense when he was OC there, which used the running game to set up play action passes. It's been nothing like that. He's been pretty awful at calling plays, in my opinion.

gorilla10 9 years, 2 months ago

Best comment I've read in quite some time!!! How to face adversity and mental toughness is exactly what we need to improve at if you ask me. Those might be the two toughest components given the state of KU thing goes wrong it all goes wrong. Stay strong KU, I believe we can get over the hump!!

Andy Godwin 9 years, 2 months ago

Note to Weis, watch the defensive plan implemented by Reid and the Chiefs to slow down the Eagles. It was clear that KU's defense was exhausted with the pace of the game. I sat at the entire game wondering why a player did not fake cramps now and then. It disrupted the Eagles' offensive flow (and frustrated the Philadelphia crowd). But it allowed the trainer to slowly walk across the field, talk to the player and slowly walk back to the sideline. The next down the player was back in. It gave the defense time to regroup and take a breath. KU must have enough subs that a player could go down for one play. KU needs to be creative. Also, it was not clear why the tacklers allowed the TT players to get up so quickly. There was nothing creative from the KU coaches about slowing down these high octane offenses. The offense did not help by not running anytime off the clock.

Also note to Jessie, it appeared the refs made every effort to spot the ball at record speed so TT could get off another play before the KU defense could sub or get set. What is the rule regarding how quick the ball must be spotted and was this crew faster than most?

Jesse Newell 9 years, 2 months ago

The Big 12 has added an extra official this year whose sole job is to spot the ball. So the spotting of the ball should be like that every game going forward.

holbigmac 9 years, 2 months ago

Guys. hate to say it, but it's true. KU has the worst football program in the BCS system. We have no tradition and we no commitment and we have no talent! I suspect that KU's leadership because of their lack of commitment to serious football has cost our school millions not to mention reputation! It's truly embarrassing!

milehighhawk 9 years, 2 months ago

I don't think there's a lack of desire--

New-ish facilities, planned stadium renovation, big-name hire for a coach--you can't blame them for it not working out; just like Clark Hunt did everything "right" by bringing in Pioli from New England. Good choices don't always plan out.

gorilla10 9 years, 2 months ago

Wow, 2-2 and played a bad game and all of a sudden KU is the worst thing in the world. Give me a break....

Dale Stringer 9 years, 2 months ago

I went to last night and the first thing I did was look at the drive chart. (I assume that the chart is correct a d the drive summary is off.) TT had only one touchdown when they started on their side off the 50. They did have 3 field goals, but given room we held. Now let's discount that one long TD drive and only think of the other 5. The average start field position for those 5 drive was at the KU 24 yard line. The national drive average would get a TD every time. Now if TT started on their side everytime, would they: have a higher yrds/drive average - yes; scored as many TDs - propably not; still won - yes.

This is the first game I will say the offensive plan was bad. There was no doubt whether we were running or passing. Now that Pierson is hurt (get better soon please), maybe we'll go back to something that will make the defenses have to quess what were are planning.

Turzilli redeemed himself some with his TD catch. I still think he's better in the slot over the middle than at WR. I'd like to see more of Bourbon in the backfield. He a good block, runner and an awesome receiver coming out of the backfield where the defense would have an LB on him instead of a 3rd CB or a safety.

kay_you 9 years, 2 months ago

I'd like to see more of Turzilli. At the very least he has a height advantage.

KGphoto 9 years, 2 months ago

Fake punt is front page of Yahoo this morning. Nice.

I don’t think we lack the talent to be competitive, and I don’t think Charlie lacks the game planning/calling to win in the Big 12. More and more however, I think it’s Charlie’s energy level that is being displayed on the field. He’s almost too cool on the field. And probably in the locker room too. I think a lot of these players are reliant on their coach to get them fired up. To put them in the killer mentality. It appears Weis is content with giving them a winning game plan and telling them they should have no problem getting fired up for a game like this. He says stuff like that a lot. (paraphrasing) “If you need somebody to get you fired up for a game like this... well...”. Well I think they do need that.

I realize that he isn’t in the type of physical condition to be running up and down the sidelines, but it’s not just that. It’s his inner fire. Whatever he has always stays inside. Whether he’s furious or elated, he comes off about the same. His fire never shows, and I’m starting to feel like that’s what is leaking onto the field. Actually, that it leaked onto the field when he got here.

He’s cleaned up the program and he’s recruited the talent. These guys are fast enough, strong enough and smart enough to win games, but there are only a few guys on this team that have the fire enough. Unfortunately none of them are on the offensive line or at QB.

This team needs to take a long hard look at Ben Heeney, and wonder “Why am I not like that”?

Brad Farha 9 years, 2 months ago

@ralster -- I probably saw you at the game and didn't know it. I'm at the 45 yard line, and stayed the whole game (as I always do barring family emergency/issues).

Dirk Medema 9 years, 2 months ago

Jesse, I seem to recall Coach Self commenting that loose balls are effort plays. Wouldn't that also be the case with fumbles? That would mean that it is 50-50 with equal effort. Could it be that the effort diminished later in the game?

Jesse Newell 9 years, 2 months ago

kay_you is correct below. A pointy ball changes things quite a bit. Hustle isn't always rewarded when the ball takes a weird hop.

Also, I think Self's philosophy on 50-50 balls is more about having a mindset on how he wants his teams to play.

kay_you 9 years, 2 months ago

I think it's the shape of the ball and the funny bounces it takes that makes its recovery lucky. I've always thought a fumble should be a penatly by the team who committed it.

Randy Bombardier 9 years, 2 months ago

Time to go back to the run game, stick with the line and build for next year. Just grind, wind down the clock and try to keep games in hand.

Chris Bailey 9 years, 2 months ago

We can't keep the ball long enough to "grind". If we could we would be moving the ball and the problem would be half fixed.

Lance Cheney 9 years, 2 months ago

Jesse, have any reporters (LJW or other writers) asked Weis at his press conferences about hiring an offensive coordinator? It seems like a question that gets asked on this site more and more every week, and I feel like it's one that needs to be asked to the man himself. I actually figured it would get asked yesterday, after that stinker of an offensive performance.

On a side note: God I love Ben Heeney. If everybody played with his intensity, we wouldn't be having these post-game conversations. More W's.

Duane Rice 9 years, 2 months ago

As good as Jesse is at his job, he is not bias. He works for KU It always warm fuzzies and puppie dogs with him. I like the statement at the beginning in the column. Just because NC scores more points then the other team doesn't meen they have a better offence. If you score more points then the other team you win, no matter how efficient.

actorman 9 years, 2 months ago

mistroth, that's a ridiculous statement. Jesse has been critical plenty of times. is from the Lawrence Journal-World, an independent newspaper. Jesse is not hired by KU and is not a shill for them.

I think he does a fine job of independent analyses.

Jonathan Allison 9 years, 2 months ago

I think that you need to look up the word bias in the dictionary.

Plus, you brutally misquoted Jesse in the UNC reference. I am not going to waste my time explaining the analogy for you.

The only thing Jesse said in this column that could be classified as a biased opinion is his assertion that he believes that KU will win a Big 12 game this year because of interceptions and forced fumbles, though he probably could follow up this comment with a logical argument based on statistics as to why his prediction is fair.

Maracas 9 years, 2 months ago

You can talk about defense or better players all you want. It doesn't really matter. In the end, KU got rolled, and will likely continue to get rolled more often than not. KU hasn't really shown that it cares about football over the years; it's just an afterthought to hoops. Until it does, this is what we're going to get over and over. Good luck getting the spigots opened for stadium renovation funds at this point.

Doug Cramer 9 years, 2 months ago

See Jesse's points regarding turnovers, 3 and outs, and bad field position. However, like years past, the D-line struggled to get pressure on Mayfield. Mayfield was comfortable in the pocket, meanwhile, sizable holes were opening up in the line as well. While you're correct that the 54 points doesn't neccessarily capture how bad the defense is...I still think our defensive front lacks needed talent to compete in the Big 12.

John Beck 9 years, 2 months ago

With how much improvement AND depth on the D line I dis agree T R J.
Jesse- McKinney looks heavy to me. Wouldn't he move better and get more snaps at -10 or 15 lbs?

texashawk10 9 years, 2 months ago

With the Air Raid offenses that Tech, Baylor, and OSU run, DLine's are never going to get pressure on the QB by themselves. The QB's just get rid of the too quickly for that. The way to get pressure and sacks on QB's running an Air Raid offense is with the secondary. The DB's have to be able to play man defense and be able to jam receivers on the line of scrimmage. This disrupts the timing of the QB and forces him to hold onto the ball longer and allows the DLine to get coverage sacks. If the DB's can't do that, the QB will have the ball out before the DLine can get any pressure on the QB every time. And I'm not saying this is specific to the KU DLine because it's not, this applies to any DLine playing a team that runs the Air Raid offense.

AZJHWK 9 years, 2 months ago

Blame for a blow out goes both ways, 100 plays! What I see is lack of execution on both sides of the ball. You see service academies play against teams that are physically superior, yet they stay in the games, get stops, and score points. They do this with discipline and execution. They are in the right place to make a play. And they play smart, don't give away points. I know it is cliché, but most clichés are based on reality. CW's changing offense certainly can't be helping execution. Pulling Heaps may have made sense on the goal line, since he certainly can't run, but pulling him randomly in the 2d half can't have done anything for his confidence. And since he holds on to the ball rather than throwing it away he plays like a man that is scared of losing his job. Another cliché, if you have 2 starting QB's you don't have any. CW needs to go one way or the other and probably simplify the offense, as far as the defense goes, play man and blitz, it couldn't be worse than it is now.

hawkdds 9 years, 2 months ago

I get tired of hearing KU is a basketball school. We have produced many NFL players and a few All Americans since the 50's, unfortunately there are long pauses in our production but there are tens of thousands of avid football fans out there that support the program through thick and thin and we are known as "good travelers to bowl games". The talking heads on TV have no comprehension of the pride of being a Jayhawk. If you are not an SEC team they can't be bothered.We will get this turned around because I think the silent majority wants a respectable football team, and losing to K-State in any contest is unacceptable. RCJH

mahkmood 9 years, 2 months ago

In my last post I said I wouldn't post again until a new head coach was hired. But I simply cannot resist. Excuses, excuses, excuses. So KU's defense is improved. Who cares? So the flatulence is less stinky. It still stinks!

mahkmood 9 years, 2 months ago

The author is trying to make a case that KU's team is showing signs of improving despite the final score being much worse than last year's game against TT (away game). It reminds me of The Emperor's New Clothes. The KU fan base isn't stupid. They see that the team is terrible, even if the defense is improved. The stands are going to be empty from here on out regardless of what ljworld articles say. Like the anonymous - KU primed for Texas Tech upset - article earlier in the week.

Nick Brungardt 9 years, 2 months ago

Oklahoma and k-state will bring at least 15,000 fans to Memorial Stadium. It will be like the 90's all over again....but instead of Nebraska red, it will be OU crimson.

mahkmood 9 years, 2 months ago

KU will not win any more games this season. If Zenger doesn't replace Weis at the end of this year, the ticket sales for next season are probably going to be near all time lows. The powerful alums are going to have Zenger in a pressure cooker. Nobody wants to face the reality that Weis is NOT bringing improvements equal to his salary. KU has the money and exposure associated with being in the Big12... if Weis can't figure out how to put together an offensive line that is at least on par with Rice, then Weis simply needs to be replaced.

dumbarton 9 years, 2 months ago

The only thing worse than a team full of lower skilled players is a team with lower skilled players who make DUMB mistakes. Off sides, head butting, etc. It's pretty pathetic when four of our defenders can't bring down their tight end only to end up with a personal foul on the sideline. We had field position in the game up until that point and Tech never looked back. That and the fake punt were the two biggest boneheaded mistakes that completely turned the tide.

kay_you 9 years, 2 months ago

Two defenders can't bring down the TE after dragging him half way across the field and the second he's out of bounds he goes down. Pretty good acting by the TE. Still, point taken, dumb mistakes.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.