Looking back at what went well and what didn't in the Kansas Jayhawks loss to Texas Tech
Texas Tech 41 Kansas 34 2OT
So close to what would have been a statement win for Charlie Weis and the Jayhawks in year one. Kansas has been slowly and steadily improving throughout the season but even the Texas win at home didn't feel as important as this one. Texas was at home, this was a ranked Big 12 team on the road and Kansas was in a position to win, Texas always felt like a game that was going to slip away despite the admirable effort.
Unfortunately Kansas couldn't finish on the most important drive of the day. A drive late in the fourth quarter that would have likely locked Kansas in for a win or at least forced Tech to score a touchdown with under a minute to go if they wanted to win. It was another marked improvement for this team in the effort and competitiveness categories, there are still a tremendous amount of things that need to be improved, but at least this feels like the trajectory is upward and not a free fall. I imagine from the outside there would be fans of other teams that might find our optimism at 1-9 a bit ridiculous, but if you've been watching Kansas football on a regular basis since 2009 it's impossible to ignore the fact that this feels like the first time in a long time that the trajectory is heading in a positive direction.
Offensive MVP - Kansas Jayhawk Offensive Line
All the credit in the world to James Sims and Tony Pierson for running hard and making plays, but this one goes to the offensive line. Everyone knew Kansas was going to run and the offensive line imposed their will for most of the game. Pierson and Sims don't do what they did without a great effort up front. These guys went into a game where we ran 59 times and passed just 15, and they paved the way for one of the most successful offensive outputs of the season. Oddly enough, this was also one of the better defenses we've faced in Big 12 play of late. This was a great effort by Tanner Hawkinson, Duane Zlatnik, Trevor Marrongelli, Randall Dent and Aslam Sterling.
Defensive MVP - Ben Heeney
Heeney continues to develop into the Jayhawks best linebacker and the type of player that sets the tone on the defensive side of the ball. Heeney recorded 9 tackles yesterday but his most notable was a hustle play on a throwback pass to Doege that saved a touchdown. The Jayhawk defense would hold Tech to a field goal and without that play Kansas doesn't take this game to overtime. Heeney has two years to go after this season and he's going to benefit a great deal from this new coaching staff. Glad to have him as a Jayhawk.
Three Things to Like Against Texas Tech
- The Kansas running game was impressive all game long. 59 total carries with a 6.8 yard per rush average. Anytime your run to pass ratio is better than 4 to 1 and you're still converting at nearly 7 yards per play you are doing something right. If Weis can find a way to fix the passing game in the offseason we have the pieces in place to turn this offense into a very difficult matchup.
- The effort is there. Kansas went down 21-7 and never gave up. Last year that would have meant a 49-7 final score, this year the players fought to a four point deficit at half and a tie by the end of regulation. Obviously there are other areas that still need to come along but Weis is sending the message consistently and he did so again this week by only bringing 54 instead of the allotted 70. The message is simple, if you want to be a part of this team you are going to have to show that every single day. This represents such a refreshing shift in philosophy.
- Kansas dictated this game in a lot of ways. The Jayhawks slowed it down quite a bit, Kansas won the time of possession and even though Tech still racked up a good chunk of yardage, I don't think they did what they wanted to do for the majority of the game. The 10 yard out was a killer and a few deep balls hurt, but generally speaking Tech couldn't run the ball and they were forced to take what was given and Kansas buckled down in the redzone as they have done all year during Big 12 play.
Three Causes for Concern vs. Texas Tech
- The passing game is still putrid. Cummings looks a little big better but it's obvious he's young and needs more time. The wideout position is by far the biggest concern. Right now we don't have players that can get open and they also don't seem to be able to secure the football. To their credit they are blocking well in the run game, but the passing game leaves a lot to be desired.
- The future of the secondary is suspect. Greg Brown is our best cover guy and I wish he had one more season under this staff because I think he could really be a good one. After that we're looking at Patmon and a converted wideout in JaCorey Shepherd. We also have to replace to safeties. Recruiting and developing talent in the secondary this offseason is going to be critical next year, right now there just isn't much there when we look at the players coming back.
- Get rid of the fade and the bunch formation. We ran two fades and both were wasted plays during critical situations. We also ran the bunch formation on nearly every third and long for the third week in a row and it had the same result, fourth down. Maybe that happens anyway, but it seems worthwhile to try something new. Obviously Charlie Weis knows a lot about football so perhaps he's right here, but the success rate has to come into play at some point. It's a small thing, but it was one of the frustrating playcalling pieces during yesterday's loss.