Well, we were competitive. That was the goal this season, right? After all, going into this game, who among us thought we would beat Texas Tech this week? Blowing a 20-0 first quarter lead makes it sting a little more, but this wasn't an annihilation like it would have been last year. Maybe I'm just reaching for silver linings, but I thought this game was going to be a beatdown in the vein of the Georgia Tech game. The fact that it wasn't left me with a small shred of hope.
Quarterbacks - C
Take away even one of the interceptions and Webb improves to the B range. We saw shades of last year's Jordan Webb return Saturday, as he was unwilling to get rid of the ball in a couple hopeless situations, and threw one of his signature "WTF" passes for his third interception, which ultimately put the game out of reach. Despite the turnovers, Webb was 16-22 for 239 yards and 3 TDs, so I kept him at a C as he continues to look impressive overall. The 54 yard pass to DJ in the first half was as perfectly-thrown a deep ball as you'll ever see.
Running Backs - A-
The backs amassed 233 rushing yards on 44 attempts (5.3 ypc) and Brandon Bourbon saw the first of (hopefully) many 100 yard games. Notably absent was Darrian Miller, who was apparently banged up very early on. It's a luxury to be able to lose one of your running game's biggest playmakers and still go for 238 on the ground.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends -B
The receivers ended up with only 12 catches for the day, so this group didn't have the ball in their hands a whole lot. DJ Beshears continues to be our best blocker on the outside, as well as our best deep threat, despite his lack of size. The receivers' blocking overall continues to be a big, often unmentioned boost for the running game, and at the end of the day, this unit just seems to go out and do what they're supposed to do.
Offensive Line - A-
The line had another great game this week. Webb was sacked only once, which was one of only three negative plays the 'Hawks had all day. Kansas put together 478 yards on 73 plays for an average of 6.5 yards per play. For some perspective, last year we averaged just 4.3 per play. The offense is playing well this year, and it all starts up front.
Overall offensive grade - B
Defensive line - D-
I'll give the line a break from their string of Fs this week. The linemen collectively amassed 8 tackles, a sack, and two pass breakups. That said, they still can't occupy enough blockers to aid blitzing linebackers, and the Red Raider offense was able to rack up 530 yards of offense.
Linebackers - D+
I didn't see nearly as many whiffs and overpursuits out of the linebackers this week, but alas, there were still some to be found. Johnson, Willis, Bakare and Walker were able to combine for 36 tackles, so at the very least, this group was active on the field. The activity just wasn't close enough to the line of scrimmage.
Secondary - D-
They probably deserve an F, but I'll bump them up because there was some improvement. For the first time since 2007, we saw the Jayhawks use some press coverage, as the corners didn't play 10 yards off the LOS on every single play. We still got burned for 366 passing yards, but that was still about 150 fewer than I expected. Keeston Terry had a career day with 12 tackles and a pick, while Greg Brown actually showed flashes of playing up to the ability we've all heard he has. I've picked on this unit more than any other the last couple of years, but I was actually somewhat pleased with a few of the things I saw from them Saturday.
Overall Defensive Grade - D-
Special Teams - C
Alex Mueller's low kicks have worried me all season, and on the first extra point of the game, they finally caught up to him. He would also go on to miss a 42 yard field goal that wasn't even close. Why can't we seem to find an accurate kicker? Doherty also badly shanked a punt, though he still ended up with nearly 40 yards per try. DJ Beshears was, once again, a great asset to the kick return game, though the Jayhawks also gave up more than 21 yards per return to Tech.
Coaching - F
Once again, one team came out in the second half with a more effective, revamped gameplan, and one didn't. Guess which one was which. I'll give Vic Shealy a little credit this week, as he actually made some adjustments to the defense's style of play in response to the shellacking at the hands of Georgia Tech. That's something Torbush was never willing to do last year, despite the weekly whippings. That said, we still gave up 45 points and 530 yards, plus we lost. Offensively, I wasn't pleased with the lack of urgency in the fourth quarter. The game was not altogether out of reach until Sims slipped on that fourth down Statue of Liberty play, yet we were slowly walking up to the line, letting precious seconds tick off the clock. I felt like game was being managed as though it were completely out of reach. Realistically, it probably was, but you can't play like that. This probably falls on Long, Gill and Jordan Webb, but it all starts with the coaches.
Overall Team Grade - C-