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A few quick notes, highlights and low-lights from the Kansas loss to Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State 20 Kansas 14
I'm sure there are fans out there from opposing teams that won't really understand why Kansas fans might be somewhat pleased with a near comeback against an Oklahoma State team in the rain. They might not view that as a small moral victory and they'd probably point to moral victories as empty victories. But after the last two years and the dramatic fall following the Orange Bowl of 2007, any movement in a positive direction is a welcome sign.
This game provided that. It was a competitive Big 12 game that Kansas wasn't finding a way to lose, but instead finding a way to fight toward a win. It was a game where the Kansas defense entered the game with a solid well developed game plan and the players executed that plan and played with energy. It was a game where in the 4th quarter, Kansas might have actually looked like the team with fresh legs and more mental toughness.
Oklahoma State is a good team. They might not be the Oklahoma State from a year ago, but Kansas did well against a team that was and still is talking Big 12 title within their program. Kansas OUTGAINED one of the top offenses in the country. That has to be worth at least a little something when the talk turns toward improvement and competitiveness.
Offensive MVP - James Sims - 27 Carries, 138 Yards, 1 TD
James Sims is fun to watch. As a player he is consistent, productive and he seems to get better as the game goes on. As a runner he's patient, tough and he understands the game. All the talk heading into this game was about Joseph Randle coming back to his home state and ripping through the Jayhawk defense all afternoon. That didn't happen, but James Sims did average over 5.1 yards per game and clear the 100 yard mark for the second time this year. Sims is the clear starter at this position after sitting the first three games. Now Kansas just needs to get Tony Pierson back in tow for that extra burst and a little different wrinkle, but no question about it, Sims is the workhorse.
Defensive MVP - Bradley McDougald and Jake Love
The nod here goes to McDougald for his consistency but Jake Love was really the story on the defensive side of the ball. This was the first time Love has seen significant time and while he's still a little overenthusiastic at times, it's that energy that makes him so noticeable on the field. Love flies around the field and gets after the ball. That led to 12 tackles with three of those contributing toward a loss for Oklahoma State. Heeney last week, Love this week, between the two they really look like the makings of a solid young Kansas linebacker group.
Three Things to Like Against OSU
4th Quarter Rallies - What's not to like about this. Down 20, Kansas made this a game. That would not have happened with this team a year ago. I don't know if Charlie Weis is the ultimate answer to our football woes, but at least we're seeing the ability to field a football team that can compete on some level with other teams in the league.
Kansas Defense - Hats off to this group. They held the Cowboys to their lowest level of production all year. The Jayhawk offense would ultimately outgain the Cowboys and the Cowboy running attack was frustrated throughout. Mike Gundy is quoted as saying that the rain delay helped OSU adjust to a solid Kansas gameplan, glad to see we were able to frustrate an offense that most people expected to rip us apart.
Kansas Defensive Front - This group didn't show up as much in the stat column but they were pretty critical in the effort to hold Joe Randle to 2.8 yards per carry.
Three Areas of Continued Concern Following OSU
The kicking game - Does a legitimate kicking game win us this game? It's unreal how crippling and limiting this part of our game is. This has to get better before we can turn a corner completely, I just don't see how we can be so poor in the kicking game and overcome that with any consistency. I do commend Weis for trying anything and everything and not remaining complacent.
QB position - Dayne Crist just can't seem to put the pieces together. If we have someone marginally better, this team could have potentially closed out this and two other games on the year. Could a quarterback have this Kansas team sitting at 4-2 with losses to Kansas State and TCU? Was TCU winnable with a more productive quarterback? I think everyone wanted the great redemption story for Crist at Kansas but it isn't happening and Michael Cummings might create more issues for opposing defenses.
31,115 - The weather was not good, Kansas was not good a week ago, attendance was pretty dismal. I hope the fanbase hasn't written off this team and I hope it was weather related. Now the flipside of that is that those in attendance were pretty enthusiastic, reminded me of G-Tech two years ago when the place was half full but twice as loud. Hats off to the students who embraced the day and gave the players a standing-o for the effort.