Posts Tagged Dayne Crist

Is the “Wildcat” here to stay?

Posted on: September 25th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Matthews certainly looked the part on Saturday afternoon

On last week’s Jayhawk Talk Podcast, we made the argument that KU’s best wide receiver may be our running back, Tony Pierson. On this week’s podcast, we argued that KU’s best wide receiver might instead be our quarterback, Dayne Crist.

Stay with me here.

I’m referring of course to the “Wildcat” formation package (some prefer to call it the “Jayhawk” formation) that Charlie Weis featured for a number of snaps in the Northern Illinois game last Saturday. The package was designed for Christian Matthews, a dual-threat quarterback turned wide receiver turned… quarterback.

Matthews had not been able to find the field much as a wide receiver, but that might change now that he has potentially found his niche. Recruited by Mangino back in 2009 (which seems like ages ago in KU football years), Matthews was at one time a talented high school quarterback that threw the ball for 5,042 yards his junior and senior seasons. That two-year span included a 44-16 TD:INT ratio and a completion percentage of 65%.

Let’s all reflect for a moment how nice it would be to have a 65% completion percentage from KU’s quarterback position.

I digress.

Traditionally, the Wildcat/Jayhawk formation works best when it is used as an element of surprise. Say you’re a defender and the opposing team breaks huddle with 10 seconds left on the play clock. You’re a safety that was about ready to stack the box against the run. Next thing you know, the offense sends its star quarterback (with a laser rocket arm) all the way out wide. You are forced to quickly adjust the defense because the secondary must now account for the quarterback as a wide receiver. It’s now 10 on 10 instead of 11 on 10.

For the most part, KU ran this package with the above-referenced personnel on the field. Unfortunately, the element of surprise was not all that strong since Matthews rarely sees the field as a wide receiver. In the future, savvy defenses will know that if Matthews checks in, the Wildcat will be coming.

Not that it changes a whole lot.

After all, defense is built on simple math. You always want to have one more guy than the offense can block. But when you face the Wildcat, that advantage is lost because the cornerback must give the quarterback spread out wide a cursory look – at least until the play has started.

By then, hopefully, it will have been too late.

Matthews looked very good running the Wildcat offense. He made great reads of the defense and for the most part chose the correct option. He carried the ball five times himself for 43 yards.

One thing he did not really do is pass the ball. And if Weis is going to keep this package around beyond the NIU game (which he definitely should), the threat of a pass must be there to keep the defense honest. As referenced above, Matthews has been a competent quarterback at one time in his career. The next step in employing a true Wildcat package is to threaten a pass occasionally. If it’s not there, tuck it and run. The threat is all that is needed.

The NIU game was the first game I’ve really been able to follow real-time reaction on Twitter, since there’s not really any service at Memorial Stadium.  Every indication was that KU fans loved this new offensive wrinkle. Perhaps because it was actually effective! We moved the ball well throughout the second and third quarters when the Wildcat was loose.

And then, just like that, it was caged again.

Should Cummings be running the Wildcat over Matthews?

Weis turned back to a more traditional offense throughout the 4th quarter because NIU began to stretch the perimeter of their defense. While I understand his reasoning, I disagree with it. A good read by the Wildcat quarterback will negate that adjustment by sending a few HB dives at the defense. After all, KU has the personnel to make them pay for it. After a few of those, hit the fake HB dive and play action it to Ragone. Who cares if you miss? It sets up the sweep once again and you’re back to where you started.

It sure beats 3 straight passing attempts and a punt.

Think about what defenses are doing now to KU when Crist is under center. Through four games, the Jayhawks have basically written the defensive game plan out for the opposition:

  1. With Crist in the game, do not concern yourself with game planning for any downfield threat. Single coverage will always suffice.
  2. Instead, focus solely on stacking the box against a very competent running game. Mix in a lot of blitzing because, again, your secondary will be fine (See #1).
  3. By the 4th quarter, rotate in as many blitz packages as you have on the Rolodex. By this point, the offensive line will be toast and you’ll be able to blow up most runs before they get started. And, if you’re lucky, perhaps Weis will have transitioned into calling every 7-step drop passing play he can find in his own Rolodex. It will turn into a sack party. Rinse and repeat.

I should be clear. The Wildcat does not cure these deficiencies. And I’m not arguing KU should go to a full-on Wildcat formation offense. What the Wildcat does do is force defenses to read and react instead of just barreling downfield at the quarterback every play. It allows more offensive playmakers to be on the field at the same time. It is easier for our O-Line to block. It opens up the potential for some trick plays later in the game (or in future games). Hell, if Pick is on the field, you have three competent QBs who could pass the ball to somebody.

More than anything, KU demonstrated that the Wildcat can be effective, which is more than we can say for the traditional offensive sets Weis has been throwing out there.

My last point on the Wildcat/Jayhawk is this: Does anyone else find it interesting Weis chose Christian Matthews to run it and not Michael Cummings? As many of you may know, Cummings is listed #2 on the depth chart and was recruited to KU just the same as Matthews as a dual-threat quarterback.  He has every bit of the running ability as Matthews, but with a much, much better arm.

Personally, I think Weis is scared to death to see Cummings enter the game and outshine his golden boy. You think there is quarterback controversy now… imagine if Cummings was given a package and just killed it?

We’d be looking at Jason Swanson over Barmann. At Reesing over Meier.

Cummings over Crist? Unfortunately, barring injury, we’ll never know who really is the better option for these 2013 Jayhawks.

For now, let’s at least hope the Wildcat is here to stay.


KU, Rice by the numbers

Posted on: September 11th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

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.

KU, SDST by the numbers

Posted on: September 4th, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

It wasn’t exactly pretty.  But it was a win. And around here, we’ll take those most days. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that a guy named Turner lost his first game as KU’s head coach to a directional Dakota school. So this was a good start. And I think most can agree with that.

I’ll have more analysis throughout the week leading up to the Rice game. The point of this post is to provide a few numbers from the game and analyze how they impacted the final score. It will be a recurring post throughout the season to help paint the bigger picture before re-watching the game film for more in-depth analysis.

(1-0) – Charlie Weis’ record at KU. You can’t win them all unless you win the first one. Congratulations to Coach Weis and his staff on #1. Hope it is one of many during his tenure in Lawrence.

(30%) – KU’s efficiency on 3rd/4th down. Kansas actually moved the ball pretty well on Saturday. The team just had some difficulty finishing drives. This number helped contribute to that. Against better teams, we will need to improve our short yardage third down conversions.

(4.7) – Crist’s yards per pass average. For only completing 47% of your passes, you would think the yards per average would be higher. You would especially think so after watching the first play (43 yard bomb). It was a forgettable game for Dayne. I expect this number to be higher in every future game Crist plays under center at Kansas.

(99) – We don’t need to go into this one. Blah.

(7.6 and 6.2) – Yards per rush for Taylor Cox and Tony Pierson, respectively. Each ended up with 100+ yards rushing on the day. Incredible effort by both guys and good blocking up front as well. It will be interesting to see what the breakdown is among all the talented RBs once Sims returns.

(11-21-09) – The last time Toben Opurum played offense. He ran as the lead block on Pierson’s red zone touchdown run. Looking forward to seeing him in this capacity more this year.

(2) – The number of interceptions Bradley McDougald pulled in. It is the first time a KU defender has had two in the same game since Darrell Stuckey did so against Missouri on 11/28/08. It was also two of the four overall interceptions the team pulled in.

(2) – The number of blocked punts KU registered in the game. It was the first time KU has blocked multiple punts in a game since 10/23/04 against Oklahoma.

(0.0 and 27.3) – The average kick return yardage for KU and SDST, respectively. This will have to be an area of practice this week. Our kickoff coverage was not great. It will be interesting to see if Weis puts a few more starters on this unit. We’re also going to have to find a way to get a touchback once in a while.

573-569-58 – The overall record of the KU football team. KU will need to win a few games this year to keep this record from entering the red.

More analysis to follow in coming days and weeks. Looking forward to watching this team grow throughout the year.

Rock Chalk!



Dieter chooses SMU over Jayhawks

Posted on: January 3rd, 2012 by jayhawktalk No Comments

Courtesy of South Bend Tribune

Update: 6:35 PM

Dieter chose SMU over KU. As I mentioned in my post this morning, I thought KU was fighting an uphill battle here, only because SMU has been courting Dieter for a very long time. KU got in the mix only in the last few weeks.

As always, best of luck to Gehrig. On to the next one.


Update: 2:35 PM

Dieter will not play in the Semper Fi Bowl due to a knee injury. He will announce his college choice at halftime of the game.

Stay tuned…


11:30 AM

KU wide receiver target, Gehrig Dieter, will decide between KU and SMU today at the Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl at Chase Field in Phoenix, AZ. The game will be televised on CBS College Sports Network at 5:00 PM central time, though it is unclear at which point during the game he will decide.

Should he choose KU today, Charlie Weis will be getting an immediate impact-type player that should be able to compete for a starting position right away. Dieter is a big target at 6’3, 200 pounds, and has a knack for being in the right place at the right time for his quarterback.

He broke the Indiana state record on August 20, racking up an astounding 373 receiving yards in one game. On Sept 2, Dieter broke the national record with 447 receiving yards in one game.

Some speculation is that SMU has a leg up on KU only because Weis and KU got into the Dieter recruitment very late. However, Dieter has made mention several times on his twitter account that he has spoken with KU QB transfer, Dayne Crist about coming to KU. He has also said that he has a great relationship with Weis since Dieter’s high school is in South Bend.

My take? I don’t really have a gut feeling either way on which school Dieter will choose. I get the sense that he’d like to play with Crist, but I also know he has a longstanding connection with June Jones and his staff at SMU. Gun to my head, I think he chooses SMU, but Crist might be the wild card.

Stay tuned…