Week three is upon us and this week marks the the end of the first quarter of the season. A little depressing when you phrase it that way, but at the same time the Jayhawks sit at a 2-0 record. The matchup against Georgia Tech represents another step up in terms of the overall competition as the Yellow Jackets represent the first BCS test for Kansas and at the same time it's impossible not to feel at least a little bit of hope based on what's happened to date.
Of course then there is the Georgia Tech perspective. The Yellow Jackets are at home and they have also put together a very strong start to the season. Pair that with the extra motivation that comes with playing the team that upset you a year ago and Tech should be fired up and ready to play this Saturday. If Kansas somehow manages the win it certainly would mark a major shift in expectations for the season, but again this is going to take a continued improvement in every aspect of the game to accomplish it.
Kansas Offense vs. Georgia Tech Defense
Last year the Georgia Tech game marked one of the better offensive performances for the Jayhawks all season long. Kansas enters this years matchup having shown signficant improvement under second year offensive coordinator Chuck Long. On the other side of things this is second year under Al Groh for the Yellow Jackets and the improvement has been somewhat noticeable albeit it has been against fairly inferior competition.
At the end of the day there is plenty of kool aid being passed around by both fanbases and something will have to give. One key stat going into this one has to be the 5.1 yards per rush given up by the tech defense a week ago. Obviously a lot can go into that including mop up minute inflation among other things. That said, Kansas is averaging 4.8 per carry, James Sims has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive starts and the Kansas offense is predicated on establishing the run.
If Kansas can keep the ball rolling in that respect then they can be successful. The reality is that they are going to have to be because right now the Tech offense looks like they could be the most formidable to date. Slight edge to Kansas in this one based on what we've seen from each side and who they've done it against.
Kansas Defense vs Georgia Tech Offense
Tech bring the number three overall offense and the number two scoring offense into this game and that is led by the number three rushing attack in the country. Quarterback Tevin Washington has been a pleasant surprise early on for Georgia Tech and he brings a lot to the table including an improved ability to pass which is something that the Yellow Jackets were sorely lacking when Kansas pulled the upset a year ago.
The Yellow Jackets still don't pass a lot, but they do go big when they pass averaging 22.7 yards per attempt. That's a scary proposition for Kansas fans as the Jayhawk pass defense is currently sitting at 74th in the nation. Throw in the fact that the Kansas interior defense is down another man with the injury in Big John Williams and an already struggling Kansas defense could be in for a rude awakening.
Plain and simple Paul Johnson's offenses don't typically run into games like they did last year in Lawrence. This year is set up to be a shootout and right now you have to give the edge to Tech in this matchup hands down.
The Kansas kicking game is improved. Alex Mueller seems to have the directional kickoff down on a pretty consistent basis. The punt team is getting the job done and DJ Beshears is giving Kansas a solid lift in the kickoff return game. The punt return game has been hurt with the departure of Daymond Patterson but all in all Kansas has been an improved ball club on special teams. That's picture becomes even more clear when you start to think that this group has yet to hurt Kansas this year and that's not something that could have been said this time a year ago.
For Tech it's a very similar picture. Solid but not overwhelming special teams play that puts the team in a position to succeed and doesn't typically hurt the cause. That certainly means that this is a huge area of opportunity for both teams in this one and if one team starts to make mistakes in this area it could be their undoing. Neither side with a major edge in this matchup ahead of time.
Tough call in this one. Turner Gill and his staff put together a great game plan in this one a year ago and pulled off the upset after being upset.
Paul Johnson and Al Groh have a pedigree and a reputation over time as solid coaches for a variety of programs. Based on what has happened early this season it appears that both coaches are doing a nice job in a lot of areas but there is one wildcard.
Both teams have some areas with youth and inexperience. This is the Jayhawks first road test and Tech's first legitimate opponent. How that youth reacts in a bigger game like this can often be determined by how you prepare. That's coaching. Even in this one headed in.