Matchup Breakdown: Kansas vs. Oklahoma State

Time to get used to the same old song and dance.  Unfortunately it's going to start sounding like a bit of a broken record when it comes to previewing the matchups.  Minus the occasion where Kansas plays a stout defense and we could be in for a clean sweep by the opponent that is.

This week we're looking at Oklahoma State and the Cowboys have a GREAT offense and a below average defense.  That probably isn't the recipe for success in terms of a win, but hopefully Kansas can continue to churn out a strong offensive performance. 

If I were to pinpoint a goal for the week I'd continue to point toward competitiveness.  With Oklahoma State's offense that might have to take a different form so I'll get specific and say that I want our offense to compete in the 3rd quarter.  Come out after halftime and show what we've shown at the beginning of games.  If Kansas can do that I'll consider it a small victory.  Either way, I'm taking the over.  I haven't even looked at it, but I'm taking the over.

Kansas Offense vs. Oklahoma State Defense

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Kansas continues to look the part on the offensive side of the ball at least for the first half.  The Jayhawks are balance, they run the ball and generally speaking Chuck Long seems to have regained some creativity this season.  The problems seem to flare up in the second half or at any point where things seem to be slipping. Once the confidence is gone, the Kansas offense seems to bottle up a little bit again.  That's a major area where this group can take the next step and that applies to the staff and to players. 

As for the matchup, Kansas is again facing a defensive unit with some question marks.  The Cowboys give up almost 170 yards on the ground per game on average, in fact Tulsa put up 365 which does skew the number a bit but even Louisiana Lafayette and Arizona were effective at moving the ball and scoring points against the Cowboys.  The biggest concern would have to be the fact that minus A&M, the Cowboys aren't giving up those points until after they have a nice comfortable lead. It's easy to let off the gas when you get in that situation.

At the same time, Kansas has started strong on offense and it's the second half where they seem to slow down.  Which leads to the belief that perhaps the Kansas offense can establish the run, keep it reasonably close and see what kind of pressure they can put on the Oklahoma State defense to rise to the occasion.  It's a tall order without a doubt for Kansas, but if there is any area where Kansas can actually feel good it's on the offensive side of the ball.

If you're looking for a matchup that could prove very telling in this one it's going to be Jordan Webb vs. the Cowboy secondary.  Oklahoma State corner have accounted for six interception including two from Devin Hedgepath a Derby Kansas native.  Two more have been added to the mix by linebacker James Thomas.  While the Kansas passing game has been efficient, this will be the toughest test to date and the Kansas receivers didn't look as sharp in the Tech game. Everyone will need to be on point against the Cowboy pass defense.

 

Kansas Defense vs Oklahoma State Offense

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The Cowboys put up what the announcers like to call "video game numbers".  Of course are they really video game numbers anymore when they do it week in and week out.  Hell it might be hard to put up these types of numbers on a video game anymore given the AI progress in recent years.  Sad to say that the Kansas defense hasn't shown that same level of progress. 

The Cowboys average 46.8 points per game.  That's more than anyone Kansas has faced this year although Georgia Tech is probably close.  The average better than 400 yards per game through the air and better than 150 per game on the ground.  It's a scary proposition for the Jayhawks heading into this one. 

Joseph Randle, Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon are this years Cowboy triumvirate that must be stopped and Kansas doesn't have the pieces to stop any.  To slow Weeden you have to pressure Weeden and that might not be enough.  Kansas has just five sacks total on the year.  Stopping Blackmon? Forget about it. While the Kansas secondary did show improvement last week, even playing press coverage at times, there isn't a player that is going to contain him and Kansas is in the bottom five of pass defenses in the country.  That brings us to Randle, a Wichita native who's brother played for Kansas.  Stings a bit doesn't it? Kansas is 118th against the run and if they are on their heels trying to contain the Cowboy passing attack it makes Randle's job even easier. 

It's just not a pretty picture and until something different is proven on more than one occasion, it' s hard to look at the Kansas defense in any matchup and feel optimistic.  Hopefully the size of the Cowboy logo makes it crystal clear how much this matchup hurts Kansas.

 

Special Teams

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Yes the play on special teams for Kansas looked improved in the opening weeks.  Despite the damage done against Tech you could probably still argue that they are improved.  But more and more this is going to be an area where Kansas is going to enter the game at a disadvantage.  Kansas is now last in the country in terms of their punt return game. The Jayhawks are proving fairly productive in the punt game but does that even matter if you're defense is such a significant liability.

On the other side Oklahoma State is mediocre at best in this department, but because they have some consistency I'm going push on this one.  You could argue it both ways and if Kansas still had Daymond Patterson or if Alex Mueller was knocking them through the uprights as he was expected to, we might be singing a different tune.  Still, it's nice to see the positive trend on special teams, but Kansas still needs to find some pieces and gain some consistency to take this area over the top and make it an advantage week in week out.  It's probably a pretty critical piece when looking at the long term success of this program.

 

Coaching

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Where do you go with this one. Mike Gundy gave himself the crazy label a few years back and Oklahoma State does seem to experience some level of turnover due to their success on offense every year.  But can you question the results?  Sure T. Boone Pickens bought himself a football program, but Mike Gundy still has to prepare and every year he seems to prove people wrong on some level.  The Cowboys are going to score points and they are going to do that very well, defense has always been the question and Gundy does everything he can to address it.  Personnel, coaching etc.  That's something that has turned the Cowboys into a contender in the conference. 

On the other side of things Gill has moved the needle on the offensive side of the ball, but it's offset by a defensive game that is so abysmal it's hard to keep things in perspective.  So far the one thing that Gill has done and done well is recruit.  Once he shows he can drive a team and get them to rise to the occasion for four quarters then he can jump back into the discussion as a coach.  For now, advantage Gundy.

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