This week we move this to one post for a change and to give it a try. Obviously chime in with your thoughts on the keys to this one as we count down the hours to gameday.
As for our keys here at Rock Chalk Talk, they're going to be rather simple. This is a game Kansas should win, we've made the mistake of assuming the win once this year and dumbing down our keys accordingly so why not do it again.
The keys for Saturday are a mix, partially things that Kansas needs to do to get a win and partially those things Kansas needs to do to gain some momentum and confidence before heading to Waco. Basically gameplay items and items that fall under the cliche category. The problem is, you could pretty much sum up the Jayhawk needs in cliche's at the moment.
This has been covered ad nauseum over the course of the week by every media outlet under the sun. Change in who's sending in the signals, first time facing a true no-huddle offense, whatever the case may be this was ugly in Hattiesburg. Heck, this was ugly in Lawrence against North Dakota State.
Headed into the final "tune-up" so to speak this has to be crisp. No chance this team goes into a game in Lincoln or even Ames/Waco for that matter and gets a win if they can't handle communication at home in a friendly environment against New Mexico State. Whatever happened in the past is done, clean it up and look like you know what you're doing out there.
Run The Football
If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times this week and that's the fact that New Mexico State brings the #115th ranked defense in the nation against the run to Lawrence. Now sure some of that has to do with the opponent, but the defensive front for the Aggies hasn't been able to do much in the way of disrupting the opposing offense through two games.
Kansas continues to show a desire to run, they seem to have settled on the running back situation and Jeremiah Hatch is expected to be full go on Saturday. Kansas has to a needs to show they can run the ball and get some confidence up front in doing so.
An area that has plagued the Jayhawk offensive line so far this year is pass protection. As expected we did find out that Brad Thorson isn't 100% at right tackle as he continue to battle back from a foot injury, but as Coach Gill explained, when you put the pads on and step on the field you have to be 100%.
Thorson's injury and the other struggles up front have given up an average of 4 sacks a game. That's good for the 114th worst in the country. For those scoring at home, only six teams have given up more. The good news is that the Aggies don't have a sack to their name which is, as we know, worst in the country. Somebody has to win this battle and it needs to be Kansas. That will give Jordan Webb a chance to operate, get comfortable and maybe help the game slow down just a little more before the start of Big 12 play.
Adjustments on Defense
So far Carl Torbush has done it in each an every game and that's make the right defensive adjustments. Against NDSU they were stout. Against Georgia Tech the team did just enough and executed a great gameplan. Against Southern Miss there were some challenges but they rallied in the second half to put up a fight.
As this one goes it would be great if Kansas comes out with a great gameplan from the outset and then makes the adjustments to be even more disruptive. Gill wants to force turnovers. Take the advantage, attack and force the mistakes.
Cliche as it may be, Coach Gill has been preaching it and execution has been a problem. 11 players have to take care of business on a play for it to be effective. You can't take a down off and assume the other 10 are going to lift you up. Offense, defense and special teams. Kansas and each individual player needs to button things up, come out prepared for the competition and execute.
Make it look good is all I'm asking. Doesn't have to be perfect, but lets tilt the scales of the old Jayhawk fan confidence poll back in the right direction. It's uphill week on the rollercoaster after all.