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Texas-Kansas Football Preview: Scouting The Kansas Offense

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Eyepatch!

I was surprised to find when I started digging into KU's offense that they are, in fact, somewhat adequate and suffer mainly from a defense so putrid that they find themselves out of most games by the early 3rd quarter and are forced to operate in the strange parallel universe of LeadLand, where opposing defenses pass rush with impunity, give a little cushion in the secondary, and shrug if you run for 4-5 yards a pop. It creates a distorted statistical world, much like the metrics the Dallas Cowboys used to draft Shante Carver in the mid 90s.

Kansas has hung with or opened leads on a number of opponents (Texas Tech, OU) in the 1st half but eventually the offense gets solved and the defense sinks the entire game plan with their putridity. Kansas averages 30 ppg and 400+ ypg, but it's hard to evaluate exactly how and what's being achieved when the game still matters. That would require me to watch far more Kansas football than I'd like. It's notable that they've averaged 269 ypg in their last two contests after averaging 460 in their first 5.

QB

Jordan Webb is the Jayhawk MVP. He's undersized with decent mobility and throws an accurate ball. Hello, Pretty Good College Football Spread QB! Apparently, though you exist in abundance, you're impossible for Texas to locate on the recruiting trail to staff its depth chart. Webb is 114 of 170 for 1408 and 12 TD/5 int. 8.3 Yards Per Attempt is getting it done at the QB position and less than 3% of his balls are intercepted - probably why he's a Top 20 NCAA efficiency QB. Because Webb is 5-11 in his bare feet, you want to keep him in the pocket and minimize his sight lines. The Jayhawks understand this and move him around. In my limited viewing of the Jayhawks when they've had early initial success, halftime adjustments have generally shut down their offense when they shade coverage to Beshears, stop the run on 1st down, and dare Webb to beat them downfield.

RB

James Sims (4.4 ypc) and Darrian Miller (4.1 ypc) see the bulk of the carries in the KU backfield and they're mediocre FBS RBs. Not much else to say. Turner Gill will be stubborn with the running game if it sees any success as it's a useful way for Kansas to possess the ball and make the game shorter.

OL

They returned five starters here from last year (more or less). This is actually a semi-strength of the team and they're better pass protectors than their statistics indicate, since they've generally been rendered one dimensional by halftime. OTs Tanner Hawkinson and Jeff Spikes (61 combined college starts) are a solid pair of tackles and both would probably be starting for us. Let that sink in for a while.

WR/TE

DJ Beshears is a dynamic playmaker (23-328-3td) and the rest of their WRs are just dudes. TE Tim Biere has caught 24 balls and I'm in awe of any FBS football team has solved the riddle of recruiting a 6-4 250 pound guy who can block and catch. WR Kale Pick upholds the Jayhawk tradition of (successful?) QB to WR conversions. Presumably, someone with the surname Pick wasn't long for QB. That's like being named Alex Pillowfight and playing nose tackle or Broderick Runzverywhite at cornerback. The Shepherd kid lit up McNeese St early in the year and has been AWOL since except for a second half against Oklahoma State.

Pay attention to Beshears and tackle underneath and this group is as manageable as gonorrhea.

Summary

Kansas has started some games well and put up points in the 1st half against quality opponents, but they tend to fall off a cliff after opponents get a good look at what they're doing. I expect KU to have some success on offense (which will be accompanied by much howling and wailing that KANSAS JUST THREW A COMPLETE PASS!), but it would be shocking if they manage to put up anything beyond 14-24 points.

Call it a 42-16 Texas win or something.