Thoroughly embarrassing. If I had to find one phrase describe Saturday's debacle against Rice, that would be the most fitting. Somehow Kansas managed to blow a double digit lead, at home, against Rice... reminding us all that Kansas football isn't climbing out of the NCAA football cellar anytime soon.
I'm going to be pretty critical here, because someone needs to be. I'm sick and tired of reading fluff pieces about how hard Kansas worked this offseason, how Charlie Weis is an offensive mastermind, how a revamped defensive line is going to make a difference, the list goes on. The fact of the matter is this is not a good team, and Kansas proved that on Saturday.
Kansas fans have held their heads in the sand too long about one basic fact - there is a reason why Charlie Weis and Dayne Crist are no longer at Notre Dame. From what I saw Saturday, that reason is simple - neither one is very good. Both have all season to prove that my generalization from two weeks of play is a massive overreaction, and I hope they do. However, I've had too many Notre Dame fans give me the Denny Green "they are who we thought they were" rant over the past couple of days.
Let's start with Weis - Saturday's coaching performance was on par with any of the absolute turds Turner Gill laid in his reign of terror in Lawrence. Let's start with simple decision making. You have the worst kicker in division one football, a guy who can't make a 35 or 40 yarder with the ball in the middle of the field. He hasn't hit anything more than a chip shot all season long. Despite these facts, you kick a 53 yarder with the lead? ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND? Doherty can't hit a 35 yarder (last week) or a 40 yarder (this week) yet you are going to try one from 53? I mean... what?!?!
Or personnel decisions. Why the hell are we playing two identical 5'9 slot receivers as our starting wideouts? Why are we throwing fades and jump ball type plays in the red zone to these players, when they aren't taller than the cornerbacks covering them? Does this make sense to anyone? Look, I know this isn't 2007 when we had the 6'5 Marcus Henry and even under-the-radar (at the time) guys like Briscoe were still at least over 6'0... but that just baffles me. We have some height and athleticism on the sideline, yet none of our second-string receivers had a catch Saturday. Our current group of wideouts are comically undersized, are not getting any separation from the defensive backs and haven't made many explosive plays with the ball. It's time to switch things up, Charlie.
How about play calling? Why are we not getting Pierson, Bourbon, even Beshears any touches via screens? These guys, especially Pierson, are nightmares in the open field. Yet we don't run any screen plays to get them the ball in space. Not even the shovel-pass, a once beloved staple of Kansas football, has been used. GET YOUR PLAYMAKERS THE BALL! I'd rather have Pierson catch a short one out of the backfield than us try to keep firing the ball downfield with a woefully inaccurate quarterback trying to hit undersized receivers blanketed by the secondary.
Speaking of this inaccurate quarterback, Dayne Crist has looked dreadful since the kickoff against SDSU. He absolutely has no accuracy with downfield throws, which means Kansas has no way to back defenders out of the box. On Saturday, Crist averaged 5.1 yards per completion. Five. Point. One. Once Rice figured out that he could not connect on a throw of more than a few yards, they loaded the box and slowed down Kansas' run game, essentially winning right then and there. Look, I know he doesn't have a great receiving corps, but Crist has missed guys when they are open. Also, his interceptions this year have been the result of some really poor decision making... his second one Saturday gave Rice excellent field position. If a team can drive 90 yards and score on you... handing them the ball at midfield via interceptions and missed 53 yard field goals is going to hurt.
I won't get into many other aspects of the game, like the defense giving up two 90 plus yard touchdown drives or failing to make an easy tackle on fourth down to win the game late. Frustrating, but I'm looking at the bigger picture here. If Kansas doesn't have a passing game that can make plays and stretch the field and a head coach who makes terrible decisions, it isn't going to win. Hell, it isn't going to even be in any games this fall.
I know this is a rebuilding process, but I need to see something soon. If not, I'll just assume that Kansas is once again headed for decades of futility, and that 2005-2008 was, and always will be, simply an oasis in the desert that is KU football.