With Kansas starting out 1-3, and more importantly losing two very winnable games against Rice and Northern Illinois, it looks like we could finish the 2012 season with only one victory. Saturday's game was especially frustrating, with Kansas looking like an actual football team for the better part of three quarters and then looking like, well, Kansas in the fourth.
It got me to thinking though that perhaps the big problem is the fourth quarter in general. It could be selective memory but a majority of the missed tackles against Rice seemed to come in the fourth quarter, and other than the final drive against TCU the offense really had nothing to offer in that quarter.
Do the stats back that up?
First three quarters: +9
4th quarter: -23
We can all agree that is a gigantic margin, especially given that we are only working with one quarter in the second stat. Also it is worth noting that we were -20 in the first three quarters against TCU.
First three quarters: 7
4th quarter: 6
This is actually a big plus for our fourth quarter performance, though to add a couple caveats the pick 6 against NIU came on the first play of the fourth quarter and three other turnovers were against South Dakota State. The takeaways have been the one bright spot of our defense, and it's also the least skill based part of defending. Yay!
First three quarters: 2
4th quarter: 5
Quick note: I treated turning it over on downs in a "non-essential" situation as a turnover, which I realize is more subjective, but oh well. (perhaps I should have treated punting and kicking field goals when they should have gone for it as a turnover). Either way, this is obviously a problem. Is it a case of fatigue? Losing focus?
Yards per play allowed
First three quarters: 5.61
4th quarter: 5.96
A bit worse, but not awful. However, that is with the South Dakota State game, when they ripped off a 99 yard run in the first quarter. Generally I disagree with the "well let's take this data point out and see what we have" type of analysis because everything counts, but given that it was the first game of the new regime and against a 1-AA team, let's remove that game and see what we have:
First three quarters: 5.4
4th quarter: 6.58
Kansas allows almost a yard per play more in the 4th quarter than in the first three. Part of it could be because the opposing coaches are figuring things out, but I would tend to think it is that the defensive staff draws up a good game plan and our guys are good and fresh enough to execute it well for awhile, but the lack of depth along the line and in the secondary makes them less able to get pressure on the quarterback, leads to them playing off the receivers more, and leads to missed tackles.
It's tough to paint a rosy picture of a 1-3 team. Especially a 1-3 team who has looked as bad as we have at times (seriously, losing to Rice at home?), but while it's not a gigantic sample I think there is a case to be made that once the staff is able to have a full year of recruiting under their belts and get more JuCo guys and more depth into the team that we should make some real strides next year. We just have to get there.