Kansas Vs. South Dakota State: Tale Of The Tape

Apr 28, 2012; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks running back Tony Pierson (3) tries to catch a pass in the first half of the Spring Game at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

Normally we'll use this post to dive into a statistical breakdown of the Jayhawks and their opponent, look for any trends, potential key matchups etc. Obviously today we don't have anything to go off of so we'll take a little different angle on the numbers by glancing back at last year and looking at what we did well alongside what we clearly need to improve.

What areas did Kansas perform well?

This is a relative term for a 2-10 team but Kansas did have some statistical areas that they can look to build on in 2012.

  • Kansas was 57th in the nation in terms of rushing production with a 159 ypg average. Kansas was definitely heavily committed to the run in 2011 and that figures to change a bit in 2012, but Kansas returns a good chunk of the offensive line and a strong running back corps. That could mean an improvement to the mediocre running attack from a year ago and that can only help Dayne Crist in the passing game.
  • It can still use more (mid 70's team ranking), but from year one to year two under Turner Gill, the Jayhawks did show an improvement in the penalty phase of the game. That's a bit shocking considering the apparent lack of accountability. Given a complete shift in philosophy under Charlie Weis and a significant change in our overall attention to detail, one would hope Kansas can take this from an area that was respectable, to one that is very good.
  • 73. That's the number of career starts on the offensive line. That's a pretty good experience level. The only issue is that all that experience starts at center and goes left. Nothing on the right side.

Where does Kansas need to improve?

This list could get quite a bit longer, but we'll keep it big picture.

  • Defense, defense, defense. Kansas was near the bottom in nearly every defensive category last year. In fact they were setting records for futility. There have been big changes in the front four, Charlie Weis has gone on record in saying that he feels the defensive line will be much improved. Hopefully that can be the first step toward improving the 117th ranked run defense, the 118th ranked passing defense and the 120th ranked overall and scoring defense in the country last year. It's going to be a hike to get out of the cellar and into respectability.
  • The offensive disparity between Kansas and the opponent last year was simply astounding. Kansas amassed 3922 yards of total offense. The opponent racked up 6197. How quickly and how dramatically can Weis and Kansas narrow that gap?
  • The Kansas defense was behind in the chain game consistently and a huge part of that was the inability to provide any resistance in the running game. Kansas opponents averaged 5.8 yards per carry. That doesn't win football games.
  • It's been awhile since this has been a strength but turnover margin goes without saying. Kansas was in the bottom tier of division one programs in this category. They were improved in 2011 v 2010, but there is a long way to go. Coaching and discipline should help with that. Improved pressure up front would help with that. Competitive football in general should help with that.
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