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Even the next day I still feel good about this one. All those word of the week thing that Turner Gill always leads off the Gridiron episodes seemed to happen last night. Players had enthusiasm, they were playing a more violent brand of football and they had some passion. All very good things.
A few random player/coaching thoughts after the jump.
Statistically the Jayhawks allowed 610 yards of offense. That's not the type of performance that is going to bring them out of the bottom of college football in terms of overall defense, but stats don't tell the full story last night.
- Vic Shealy had a scheme and it was working as well as any we have seen all year. Kansas was bringing pressure from different areas, moving players into different positions and actually masking coverage and pressure schemes throughout. Landry Jones took a few hits, Kansas got into the backfield and anytime you have multiple red zone stands against an offense as good as OU's that is a good thing.
- Darius Willis finally stepped up. Maybe it's being a transfer, maybe it's the fact that he's just a sophomore but Willis finally seemed to take a bit of a leadership role on the defensive side of the ball. Through the first five games Steven Johnson was the only one running around and hitting people. Willis did that and he was rallying his teammates during the red zone stand.
- Bradley McDougald was in position multiple times and he was aggressive. He made a diving tackle in the backfield early in the game, was just one step short of a pick later and overall he looked confident and that type of confidence can rub off on others.
- Steven Johnson, enough said.
- Toben Opurum playing in the backfield last night, running plays down from behind and showing his speed at the position.
Lubbock Smith filled in very nicely for Keeston Terry. Terry has a bright future but it's easy to forget that Smith looked like a player for the future when he was just a redshirt freshman.
- There's a youth movement on defense. Dexter McDonald, Victor Simmons, Michael Reynolds, Collin Garrett and Pat Lewandowski all provided meaningful minutes on the defensive side of the ball. Lewandowski and McDonald are redshirt freshman while Simmons and Garrett accounted for 11 tackles between the two of them as true freshman. Simmons of course had the takeaway while Garrett laid a big hit late in the game on a Sooner running back showing that fight that we've all been looking for.
- Offensively it was tough, but Oklahoma is tough. Kansas had it's worst 3rd down conversion percentage of the season going just 3 for 17 and in the second half the Jayhawks totaled just 38 yards of offense.
- Jordan Webb struggled but based on the fact that we've been able to praise Webb and the offense all year as a bright spot, it's hard to get too upset considering they were playing a very good defense and sometimes bad games happen. As long as it doesn't become a trend I think it's easy to turn the page on this one and focus more on the positives.
- Offensive scheme is probably the one place where things were a little frustrating. The Kansas offense has been strong all season but Chuck Long seemed to call a very conservative game reminiscent of last year's playcalling when Kansas didn't have the weapons are wherewithal to move the football. We're better than that now so I hope we prepare and play like that going forward.
- All in all it was a much needed response from the team and provided a little something to be excited about for those that watched and those that made the trip to Lawrence. By the end the crowd was a little sparse but for a good three quarters it looked and sounded the part of a good college football atmosphere from my vantage point on TV.