Before I get into the matchups on the field, here's an exchange from Mangino's presser:
On whether he has had any discussions with KU AD Lew Perkins pertaining to the meeting:
"Yes, I had a brief meeting with him.
If you want to know what was said, I’m not disclosing it. He’s disclosing information about the situation, I’m not. I’m focused on the task at hand and want to stay on track.”
On why he thinks KU AD Lew Perkins chose to release a statement:
“You’d have to ask him; I don’t know. We’re all trying to get on a winning tract here and we’re trying to get the train on the track, so I can’t answer for him. That would not be appropriate for me to try and speculate why.”
On whether he is concerned if he’s lost the team at all:
“I haven’t lost the team – not one bit. I may have lost some people around here, but it’s not the players. Take it for what it’s worth. You decipher and see.”
I think I deciphered that, Mark. Your AD - and others - are after your ass.
These poor bastards. We're playing a night game on national television to seal our Big 12 Title and MNC shot in front of a bloodthirsty crowd while the Kansas football program is torn with internal strife that makes the Thirty Year War look like high tea with the Dalai Lama. Oh how they long for those halcyon days when they were blowing out UTEP and beating up basketball players. Before the year - when I actually thought Kansas would be a 8-4 type team - I thought we'd blow them out because the Jayhawk matchups are so poor. Now that they're considerably less than 8-4, those reasons are only magnified. Let me explain why:
They still have the reputation for a strong offense and their season statistics are deceptive. Over their last five games - all losses against conference opponents - they're averaging less than 20 ppg.
KU started the year 5-0 largely on the strength of the fact that they weren't playing very good teams (though they whipped semi-respectable Duke and edged Southern Miss when they still had their QB) and those teams hadn't yet realized that they could get pressure on Todd Reesing with four and use those extra men to cover. Early on, KU did a nice job of manufacturing a running game using the Pistol and some quick hitters that complemented their passing game, but that well is dry.
The Jayhawk OL's problems with Texas start outside. They start RS FR Tanner Hawkinson at LT and though he's athletic and will one day be very good, he doesn't have Man-Strength yet and Sergio does. This is 3 TFL waiting to happen. On the other side, Eddie Jones and Sam Acho will face off against converted guard Brad Thorson, who got his first start at LT last week against the Huskers. He played really well, but Husker DL are a different variety from ours. The rest of the Jayhawks OL is decent athletically and they try hard, but they've given up pressure and hits on Reesing all year (24 sacks in 10 games). They actually did a respectable job against Nebraska (shutting down Suh, in fact) with a slightly retooled lineup so maybe there's something there for them.
The WRs are very good. Dez Briscoe is a stud (Shipley, Briscoe, Alexander are your 1st All-Big 12 WRs) and Curtis Brown will have his hands full. Briscoe has glue hands, surprising strength for his sinewy frame, and he's a long strider that gets you on his hip and separates when the ball is in the air. Kerry Meier is a big body possession guy that shares a mind meld with Reesing and his knack for getting open combined with his hands makes him a legitimate chain mover. Johnathon Wilson is a solid #3 and would be a #2 at several other schools. This unit is definitely their biggest strength.
The backs are OK and by OK I mean Oklahoma: a vacuous wasteland. You remember Jake Sharp: he plays the role of all-purpose back. He runs draws, shovels, swing passes, and he's a competent-ish Division I RB. Freshman Toben Opurum is a freshman big back with surprising feet and good hands. In Latin, his name means 4.80 40. Jake is averaging 4.4 ypc and Opurum 4.1 ypc. Neither is going to take one downtown if they catch us in a line stunt. If Kansas breaks 75 yards rushing against us, I'd be shocked.
I've always really liked Reesing, but he's a good example of the limitations of a QB...with limitations. Never mind the fact that most defenses find him too irresistably cute to stop and that he sleeps in sunbeams after batting the cord on venetian blinds, Reesing is still 5 foot 10 with an average arm. He gets by on his instincts, accuracy, and mobility. He needs ordered chaos and open receivers. Top notch defenses with corners that can cover his stud receivers and DL athletic enough to chase him down and maintain discipline while doing so cause his performance to drop off of a cliff. He's also semi-hurt.
The problem that KU faces is that against a quality D, much of their offense is predicated on Todd Reesing making a play when he breaks containment, pass rush discipline breaks down, and teams lack the athleticism to recover. We don't lose pass rush discipline. Pretty much ever. And our DL are faster than Reesing. We'll play Lamarr Houston with three DEs to give us additional lateral pursuit and allow us to play some stunt games. You're going to see a lot of Reesing holding on to the ball, looking downfield at covered WRs, and then getting constricted by a collapsing pocket. He'll try to run to create a play and essentially sack himself or throw up something ill advised. I'll set the sack over/under at 3.5. Expect an Earl Thomas robber play.
Reesing lacks the height and arm strength to stand in there and consistently get rid of it in the teeth of an effective rush and we'll end up with a batted ball or a Reesing bail-out from the pocket into the arms of our DEs.
I would be surprised to see Kansas manage more than 13 offensive points.
In their last fives games, they're giving up 31.8 points per game.
Last year Kansas did nice job hanging with us for a while by absolutely stoning our running game. Fozzy Whitaker had double digit carries for zero yards and it was awesomely funny in its futility. They also did a decent job of getting pressure on Colt with the now graduated James Holt and the returning Jake Laptad. Unfortunately for them, their secondary coudn't hang with our WRs for four full quarters and we put them away convincingly late. I expect it to be a bit easier this year, though I wouldn't be surprised to see them try to outnumber our running game, get us into 2nd and 11, and do a heat check on Colt.
With the exception of stud safety Darrell Stuckey, who is the man with his fingers stuck in the dam and leads the team in tackles, this is only a functional secondary. They start two freshmen and that is not good for KU. One kid, Lubbock Smith, is from Dallas, named Lubbock, and plays safety for Kansas. He may not be that great, but he's got a future as pool hall hustler. They're giving up 6.6 yards per attempt and that's not terrible but they've only grabbed 7 interceptions in 10 games. Nebraska QB Zac Lee hit them for four passing plays of 35+ yards. ZAC. LEE.
The decline of their LB corps has been notable and it's not encouraging when you're starting a true freshman from Kansas named Huldon Tharp. In The World According to Tharp, giving up 40 points to Texas seems as reasonable as John Lithgow in a dress. But Scipio - what of Drew Dudley?! Well, he's also a KU LB and given that he's from College Station, Texas it's not a good sign when Texas A&M passes on you.
I like Jake Laptad at DE. He's not a speed guy, but he's got power and he'll get his sacks by outworking you. He's also very strong against the run. I'd like to talk more about Jake Laptad because I know almost nothing about the rest of their DL. None of their guys really stuck out to me except for Maxwell Onyegbule, who is an intriguing DE. Long, rangy, decent pass rusher. I thought he played well against Nebraska, in any event.
Not great. They don't do anything at all in the return game and they're susceptible in punt coverage. Field goal kicker is completely average and they're shitty at pooch kicking. This a net neutral or slight disadvantage for them against most opponents meaning we should have a substantial advantage, even without DJ Monroe.
I'm having trouble seeing how Kansas scores enough to make it competitive because we're going to put up 31-41 on offense. The current line is set at Texas -26.5 and though I find that very aggressive on its face, it's not unreasonable. I've seen a lot of people speculate that KU is primed for a massive and horrendous blowout because of internal dissension, but I'm not sure how can you model for that.
Interested in your thoughts...