Yikes. I argued that we didn’t learn a whole lot about this Kansas team the South Dakota State game. The competition was not very fierce, and it was easy to chalk up a few defensive gaffes and some juiced throws to nerves and rust that accompany many openers. We learned much more about KU on Saturday.
And it wasn’t pretty.
Crist was the easiest target for blame on a day where there was a lot of it to go around. He lacked focus and precision. He seemed flustered and rushed at times when he did not need to be. He looked capable in the first half, connecting on a few nice out patterns and a post or two in the middle of the field. But it did not take long for the Rice coaching staff to discover that KU has absolutely ZERO downfield threats. And with that, came the blitzes.
The running game, which literally carried us to a victory in the first game, became strained once it was apparent that the receivers were irrelevant. And the two-score lead which KU built on a nice drive to start the second half dissipated with every missed opportunity (read: field goal).
The blitzes will continue. So will the 8 (or 9) men in the box. Weis will need to show a little more creativity than he showed on Saturday to be anywhere near competitive against TCU.
Despite the poor tackling in some circumstances, I was not overly disappointed with the defense. Rice scored 24 points against UCLA in the first game. If you told me before the game that we would give up 25, I would have taken it. There’s no excuse for missing open-field tackles, but I get the feeling last year’s defense would have given up 40 to Rice. You might recall that defense. You know, the 120th ranked defense in the nation.
Oh, and if you’re curious, Rice was the 111th ranked defense last year…
Now, for some more numbers.
12 – Rice’s road game losing streak. Rice snapped its long road losing streak, which dated back to a September 11, 2010 32-31 victory at North Texas. If you’re curious, Kansas will look to break its own 13-game road losing streak this season, which dates back to a 34-7 win at UTEP on September 12, 2009.
8 – The number of Rice defenders in the box on nearly every 2nd half play. Crist, Weis, and the wide receiver corps (sans the injured Kale Pick) made defense very simple in the second half. Rice had the option of either (a) blitzing the hell out of KU off the edge, or (b) stuffing the box with 8 defenders. KU was forced into a one-dimensional offense that could no longer rely on the run and play-action. It worked.
2 – The number of 100+ yard rushing games for Tony Pierson in 2012. TP rushed the ball 19 times for 120 yards, good for a 6.3 yard average. His partner in crime, Taylor Cox, also pitched in 15 carries for 79 yards (and a TD), good for a 5.3 yard average. Hopefully these two can continue their success against TCU. It will likely depend on Weis and Crist’s ability to make the ‘Frogs defense at least halfway respect our passing game. (Note: I’m still waiting to see Pierson in the slot to get him some action in the passing game).
29 yards or less – The distance KU should attempt field goals the rest of the season. Ron Doherty is now 2 for 5 on the season, with makes from 22 and 29 yards. For every kick beyond 30 yards, it has not been pretty. On a more cheerful note, he is a phenomenal punter (8 punts on the season for an average of 46.9 yards).
93, 94 – The yards KU gave up on two Rice drives. Thanks in large part to…
10 – The amount of yards our defensive backs were playing off Rice receivers all game. This is one aspect of the game that was so infuriating to watch from the stands. Rice knew it. Kansas knew it. We all knew it. The underneath routes and hitch routes were open the entire game. And Rice was smart enough to take advantage of it. It isn’t all a lack of horses at corner. Campo clearly doesn’t have much faith in our linebacking corps in pass coverage either.
0 – The amount of games KU will be favored the rest of the season. I hope Weis has been practicing his “underdog” speech. Because we will literally be the underdog in every game for the rest of the season. Which leads me to…
1.5 – The Over-Under on the amount of wins KU will have this season. I’m taking the over, but barely. I think we’ll sneak a win somewhere we don’t deserve, similar to a Georgia Tech in 2010. You might remember that win came directly after a devastating 6-3 loss at home to North Dakota State. Not terribly unlike a devastating 25-24 loss to Rice. Perhaps TCU is in trouble?
I know the picture painted above is somewhat bleak, but hang in there, KU fans. We knew his was a rebuilding season. It’s not going to change overnight. I just hope we see a little more creativity out of our coaching staff going forward. After all, we don’t ask for much as KU fans. One thing we do ask is to not be embarrassed. Let’s start Saturday.
Rock Chalk.#kufball, By The Numbers, Charlie Weis, Dayne Crist, defense, Football, Jayhawks, Kansas, Rice, TCU