Game two of the season finished in much the same fashion as the first, with a bit of disappointment. The only difference this week is that the Kansas Jayhawks actually lost this one rather than sneaking out a victory over a lower level opponent.
The Rice Owls made plays down the stretch, Kansas seemed to go ultra conservative offensively and incapable defensively. Sometimes it's hard to have patience but after the abysmal two season run under Turner Gill perhaps an instant turnaround even against a team like Rice shouldn't be expected.
Then again, one could certainly argue that a win over Rice ISN'T too much to ask and while this game is just one of twelve this season, it could begin to define the direction of 2012. Ten thoughts on Kansas vs. Rice after the jump.
01. Where is Dayne Crist?
If you look at Kansas historically the one common thread in a successful season is the quarterback position. In fact, Kansas rarely has an example of success without a solid starting quarterback. So far Dayne Crist has been underwhelming through two games at Kansas. He has all the tools, a strong running game to support his efforts, but when Crist drops back to pass it just isn't clicking. Is this what we should expect from Dayne Crist?
02. Does more of the burden rest on the receiving corps?
Perhaps Dayne Crist isn't the entire issue when it comes to the passing game. Through two games we haven't had a single non-starter record a reception for Kansas. That doesn't speak well to our depth. What that means is we basically start three slot receivers and then wonder why our passing game looks to be nothing more than dink and dunk? Right now we haven't shown the ability to stretch a defense without a some double reverse flea flicker trickeration play. Seems to me that our passing game is a pretty easy scout right now and that's a problem. Someone has to stretch the field, someone has to get separation, right now we're relying on finding a small hole in the zone for any sort of success. Crist needs to be better, but it isn't all his fault.
This piece was torn to the ground during absolutely embarrassing losses over the last two years. Kansas didn't look like they belonged on a Big 12 field and that has to create some pretty big confidence issues. We may have improved this area, but it is far from rebuilt. In both the SDSU game and the Rice game there were some pretty clear moments when the opponent had all the confidence and Kansas looked prepared to lose. This is a bigger hole than I think anyone could have originally thought.
04. 3rd Quarter Positives
This was again a good quarter for the Jayhawks. Kansas fell apart in the 3rd quarter a year ago, but through two games they have won this frame in 2012. The only problem seems to be capitalizing on it as well as they should. Kansas was by far the better team in the 3rd quarter and should have been able to put this game away. They didn't, then they slowly lost all of that momentum in the 4th before losing late.
05. 4th quarter running attack
What happened here? Kansas had a better than five yard average all game long and then in the 4th quarter the Jayhawks ran the ball 9 times for 17 yards. How does it all go so bad so quickly? Plenty of potential scapegoats here but if the Jayhawks simply keep pace with what they did for four quarters then they win this game.
06. Kicking Game
This was both a positive and a negative. The kickoff game looked better. Our new kicker put one in the endzone and angled most of the kicks, which we effectively covered. Two missed field goals on the other hand, were killers. Yes they were from 40+ and one we probably shouldn't have even attempted, but Rice seems to have found a kicker that can do pretty well and plenty of other programs have done the same, why can't Kansas ever find a kicker?
07. Jimmay Mundine
We finally had a chance to see Mundine involved in the offense and he did a pretty good job. He doesn't seem to like contact and dropped two in some pretty heavy traffic, but he also found a way to get wide open on more than one occasion and made a play for a touchdown.
08. Tony Pierson
Fortunately this guy alone makes Saturday's worth watching. He has the ability to break it on every play. My only wish is that we were more creative with him. I love watching him burst through a small opening and get to the second level but the Rice defense just kept collapsing. It was effective, but that one long backbreaking run never happened.
09. Backbreaking Drives
Twice Kansas put Rice in a position deep in their own territory. Twice Rice churned out a long time consuming back breaking drive that resulted in seven points. I guess the good news is that the Kansas defense isn't getting torched for 90+ yards in one play like they were a year ago, but a slow death is still a death. The defense has to get off the field.
I'm a long way from being hugely disappointed with this staff because I think they have started the rebuilding process and I'm going to be patient, but did it feel like things turned really conservative late in this one?