The common sentiment among bloggers and followers of Kansas football and even Jason Whitlock over Saturday's game would go something like this:
Wow. I can't believe Kansas football has come far enough to win by 28 points over a BCS opponent, and have everyone walk out of the stadium disappointed. But they should be. Kansas looked terrible in the first half, and their defense looked pedestrian at times. Todd Reesing can't get it going, and we drop way too many passes. Without Jake Sharp, no way is our running game better than last year.
In short, people -- we've arrived.
It's official. We're there. 2007 was so much fun, and so awesome, but it started to become fun just minutes into the first quarter against Central Michigan. We hadn't made a bowl the year before, and nearly every win was a celebrated occasion. We didn't know what to do with ourselves. This, of course, brought a disappointing 8-5 season, something that never would have made sense just 3 years ago. And now, after demolishing three teams, one on the road and another belonging to the ACC, there are questions everywhere. It's a good place to be. No longer are Kansas fans so excited to make a bowl and beat Missouri. That is no longer the goal. That's important. To be great, you have to strive to be great. Obviously, the team always has and always will, but it also helps when the fans are just as dissatisfied with a 28-point win over Duke as Mark Mangino.
This team isn't perfect. It isn't winning a National Championship. There are holes in all three phases, some bigger than others. But the goals are getting higher every year. This year, the Big 12 North. In another 2-3 years, the Big 12. After that, who knows. Maybe we will be holding that Crystal Football soon. But we have reached those unrealistic expectations that are necessary. It isn't Kansas basketball level yet, and hopefully it never gets that far, but it's lightyears beyond where it was when ol' Terry Allen was coach. Progress.
Thoughts on what transpired in the game, from what I can remember anyway, after the jump...
- That was better, but Todd Reesing still doesn't look 100% in sync. I'm just hoping it's an increased workload in the running game (meaning less opportunities for Todd to work out the chinks) and early-season things to work out, and it isn't time to worry yet. But while Todd played 'well' on Saturday, we'll need better to win some games we need to win. Like Nebraska, for example. Although, it's tough to blame Todd much at all -- you pretend that our receivers know how to catch for a second, and he adds on another buck to his total, easy. That pass to Jonathan Wilson was the most beautiful pass I've seen in awhile, and the fact that it was dropped is a tragedy. It probably killed a kitten.
- Speaking of, Jonathan Wilson has not had a strong start. Dezmon Briscoe has been Dezmon Briscoe, although even he was having a case of the dropsies. Defenses are finally getting the memo and paying attention to Kerry Meier, particularly on third down, so we'll need somebody to step up. The most obvious and likely candidate is Bradley McDougald, who continues to impress. We're thisclose to just clicking on all cylinders in the passing game, it seems, but we're just a touch off. We have another three games to work that out (although this Saturday is more troubling than some are expecting) before we really need it to be awesome.
- Jake Sharp, please get healthy. Toben Opurum is an incredible talent, and will be a huge part of success in the future. And is a big part of this year's offense. But he isn't developed enough to be a true starter, piling up 25+ carries a game. And obviously, the staff doesn't feel Rell Lewis is capable of picking up 7-12 carries a game to help him out, either. So, please, Jake, just get healthy. We need you.
Maxwell Onyegbule for early-season MVP? For years, since before 2007, we've heard about this kid with potential all the way up to the ceiling and his impending breakout season. He was kind of like the Arizona Cardinals of our football team. Well, he's having his 2008 Arizona season right now, getting to the quarterback at will, picking off passes, whatever. He's destroying in one-on-one.
- Our third down defense isn't really fair. It's awesome. Having Jake Laptad, Jeff Wheeler, Onyegbule and Steven Foster all in the game on the defensive line, all having one goal in mind -- to get to the quarterback -- has been deadly so far. Granted, Oklahoma and Nebraska and Texas Tech are going to have better lines than UTEP and Duke, but it's still wildly encouraging that they are getting serious, serious pressure. And frequently. Add in the blitz packages like sending Onyegbule to cover a zone, which led to the pick-six, and it really is quite aces.
- But that's third down defense. Our primary D could still use some work. Particularly the defensive tackles, who yet again are failing to live up to the monstrous hype and potential surrounding them. We have a bunch of depth and a bunch of talent, but it can't quite play at its highest level on Saturdays, or something. Richard Johnson Jr. is still the best of the bunch, and Caleb Blakesley is dependable, but Jamaal Greene has been disappointing thus far. Patrick Dorsey has been a nice surprise, though, so we'll see if he can pick up more PT.
That's all I got. I know this is way late. I would say it won't happen again, but y'all know me. So I won't lie. I'll just say I'll try harder. How 'bout that?
Oh, I know. New expectations, all of that nonsense. If we're going to win a MNC, we can't have bloggers giving game recaps on Tuesday afternoons.
I'll get right on that.