LAWRENCE KS - OCTOBER 14: Head coach Turner Gill of the Kansas Jayhawks trots onto the field ahead of the game against the Kansas State Wildcats on October 14 2010 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
To start, I'll be honest and say that if I were doing a matchup breakdown in the traditional sense I'd have to go edge A&M in every category. At this point it's almost irrelevant what we've seen and think might be possible or what we hope might happen. The truth is Kansas just hasn't shown a bit of substance through the last two games that would make me think they can have an edge. At some point you are who you are and that's kind of where we're at.
That said, anything is possible and stranger things have happened so I'm always going to look for a way that Kansas could somehow come out and gain an edge. That's what we're going to do with this feature today. I'm going to assume the edge goes to A&M in every category, but I'm going to tell you why and how Kansas COULD maybe possibly hopefully surprise us.
Kansas Offense vs. Texas A&M defense.
A&M runs a 3-4 and has one of the more explosive individuals in Von MIller. Earlier in the year against Oklahoma State this looked like a team that was playing fast and one that may have turned a corner. Three games later they just might be vulnerable because there are some disgruntled folks in College Station. Make no mistake all three losses have come against very solid competition but that doesn't mean they don't hear the grumblings.
For Kansas to flip the tables and gain an edge in this one over A&M it's pretty simple and it starts up front. Kansas has to be balanced and we've been saying that all year. If Kansas gets to the point of having to pass all night long the blitzing Aggie defense will eat Jordan Webb alive.
The way to change that is by establishing the run and that only happens if Tanner Hawkinson, Sal Capra, Jeremiah Hatch, Duane Zlatnik and Brad Thorson can control the line of scrimmage. They've done it in spurts, but unfortunately not often enough. After the embarrassment last week they shouldn't need any more motivation to respond and try to change that storyline this week.
Kansas Defense vs. Texas A&M Offense
Texas A&M fans don't have fond memories of Carl Tobrush's time with the Aggies and after the last two games it's easy to see why. Or is it? The Kansas defense has been bad the last two games but it can't be put squarely on their shoulders. The fact is the offense is completely inept and when a defense sees 7-0 as an insurmountable deficit it's hard to compete for 60 minutes.
The problem with that theory is that there are plenty of problems on the defense as a standalone. Speed, tackling and pursuit just aren't there. The only good news might be that A&M hasn't been the most crisp unit offensively. They have talented players, but sometimes execution is lacking. Get off to a fast start, maybe gain a bit of confidence with a turnover and this defense has the makeup to regroup and compete. A slow start in any capacity and the wheels could fall off quickly.
As is the case every week this might be the one area Kansas has the best chance to succeed. It's simple and it's an area that CAN change a game. Win field position and make a big play. Sounds simple, but it takes more than one man on the field to accomplish that.
For Kansas the best two playmakers in DJ Beshears and Daymond Patterson play key roles and the a pretty talented player in Alonso Rojas is also a critical piece to the special teams puzzle. If the other 10 men on the field can provide the right support and avoid mistakes then Kansas can take an edge in this area.
The players say it's on them, I watch the Gridiron and I see a coach who is trying to ignite a fire but for whatever reason isn't getting a response. From that aspect, I'll take the word of the players and say the missing emotion is there's to own because they've asked for it
Now does that mean Coach Gill and his staff are deserving of some credit? Maybe, but not here and not yet. Obviously they all have history's and all have been successful for some period of time. Unfortunately none have had much early on the field success with this group of coaches and players at their side at Kansas.
At this point a Kansas edge means a simple solid gameplan and continuing to push and prod to find a way to build on that "us against the world" mentality in order to generate a passion on the field that we haven't seen. My only concern is this is something the last guy was GREAT at doing and he did it with a completely opposite style.