Kansas Football 2012: Offensive Overview

Mike DiNovo-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

What to make of the Kansas Jayhawk offensive attack through four games

Four games in and I think the most appropriate question seems to be what happened? The Kansas offense was good last year during the non-conference schedule before falling off of a cliff, but this year that decent seems to have started a bit sooner. If there was one thing that Charlie Weis and Dayne Crist were expected to do it was improve and improving offense. Instead it seems as though the program has taken a step in the wrong direction.

Quarterback

Bye Week Review:

This has been covered ad nauseum. The frustration surrounding Dayne Crist's struggles has probably exceeded the frustration that surrounded his predecessor and that seemed nearly impossible less than a month ago. Some days have been worse than others, but even at his best Crist hasn't lived up to the expectation.

Now it's important to point out that not everything rests on his shoulders. The offensive line is batting .500 on the year and one of the successes was against a FCS team. The wideout position seems to be improving but through three games it was hard to tell if anyone was getting open. Bottom line, there are problems all over the field and Crist as the quarterback will probably always take an unfair amount of criticism but any quarterback knows that when they sign up.

What Kansas Needs From Here:

This season Charlie Weis appears tied to Dayne Crist at quarterback. That's fine, success isn't coming overnight so let's watch these two hash things out and hopefully they can make a good story of it by the end of the season. At this point we know that Crist isn't a world beater. His five star machismo is lost and he's just a big quarterback with a big arm displaying poor accuracy and playing on a subpar team. So what we have is a quarterback that can sling the ball around the field and he needs to start doing it. I'm not going to use the "have fun" cliche but relax and let it go because you have nothing to lose. At this point you might as well go down swinging. Trust in making quicker decisions, trust in the wideouts and get the ball to someone who can make a play. Easier said than done, but it's my hope.

Running Back

Bye Week Review:

All in all this position has been probably the biggest bright spot on the roster and we're just now getting James Sims back into the gameplan. Tony Pierson is impressive and a homerun threat any day of the week. Taylor Cox was a tough runner between the tackles and he had the ability to bounce it outside as well. Sims walked right in and picked up where he left off last season against NIU. Brandon Bourbon is the only one that continues to be a bit of an interesting case, but with three backs producing it's easy to forget about him.

What Kansas Needs From Here:

With Sims back Kansas has it's best player at the position on the field. Rotate in a very capable Taylor Cox and work Tony Pierson out into space. Pierson should still command touches and plenty of them, but now Kansas doesn't need to rely on him as the no. 1 back. Move him out into space, use him in the passing game and get him to the corner. Let Sims and Cox handle the dirty work and who knows, maybe all this helps ease the issues in the passing game.

Wideouts

Bye Week Review:

This has been a frustrating group. DJ Beshears hasn't been the player he was under Gill, Pick has struggled with an injury and in general Kansas doesn't seem to have anyone that can stretch the field or get open. Andrew Turzilli has stepped up of late, but Kansas continues to need more. Josh Ford hasn't been a factor, Chris Omigie has been par for the course and Daymond Patterson has been solid but hardly a difference maker. This group seems like it should be better and we've been telling ourselves that since Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe departed. Unfortunately it just hasn't materialized and there are certainly plenty of reasons to point to for that.

What Kansas Needs From Here:

Turzilli has to continue his upward trajectory, Kale Pick needs to stay healthy and someone else has to emerge as a bigger target. If we're not getting separation then we might as well throw it to someone who has a chance in a one on one scenario. Who will that be? Daymond Patterson needs to continue to do what he does, and boy would it be nice to get back 2010-2011 DJ Beshears. Charlie Weis needs to start trying something here because he's not going to move on Crist so he needs to try to give Crist more support.

Tight End

Bye Week Review:

Mike Ragone isn't a difference maker in the passing game but he has been a fairly solid addition in the run blocking scheme. Trent Smiley is no longer listed as a tight end but I'll lump him in here and say that he's also been a positive development out of this group. Jimmay Mundine has finally stepped into the role as well and he looks good when Crist gets him the ball in a place where he can catch it. Outside of running back this has been one of the better groups on offense, but the sure don't seem to be utilized as much as they could be.

What Kansas Needs From Here:

Let's give these guys a bigger look and let's get them the ball where they can make a play. Last week the offensive playcalling seemed to emphasize the group more, but we were missing from point blank range. Let's get both pieces on the same page and maybe it helps free up some of the gridlock elsewhere.

Offensive Line

Bye Week Review:

This is a 50/50 proposition. Against South Dakota State this was a solid group. Kansas ran the ball extremely well and they did a serviceable job in pass protection. Game two the Jayhawks struggled against Rice in the second half and they couldn't do anything offensively. There was plenty of blame to go around but the offensive line wasn't getting a push. TCU looked like a whole different ball game. The line played extremely well, Kansas had plenty of time to throw and the optimism level soared. Then NIU happened and the whole group struggled. SO who shows up the rest of the year? If it's a week to week thing then it's going to be a tough go.

What Kansas Needs From Here:

This has to be the group that anchors the offensive improvement. Hawk, Zlanik and Marrongelli have to be solid and they have to lead. You're only as strong as your weakest link so lets find the best two players for the right side and see what happens. Howard sure appears to have the right tackle spot locked down while Dent and Sterling have rotated at guard. No one has been without fault and obviously perfection is an impossible thing to ask for. Let's just find consistency in the realm of TCU because that was an effort that earned and deserved praise. TCU is a good team so if Kansas can do it against them, there shouldn't be excuses.

When looking at this group I was struck by the fact that some of these players that we've been fairly critical of have been through a tremendous amount of turnover and inconsistency. I don't know what the message is or was, but Hawk, Zlatnik, Marrongelli, Pick, Patterson and Beshears have all played for three coaches at one school. Ragone, Crist, Sterling, Cox and others are all new to Kansas. Everyone else is on coach and philosophy no. 2 at a minimum. I don't think anyone is probably playing at their ceiling right now and that's not entirely on them. If nothing else my hope for this year would be that this group comes together, finds improvement like we've seen from the defense so far and they leave with a good taste in their mouth. Those returning have something to build off of and this coaching staff succeeds so we don't continue the rollercoaster ride without ANY sort of continuity.

I just can't believe that we don't 'have the talent' to compete. Our recruiting classes have been reasonably strong and the players on our roster were recruited by other BCS institutions. No we don't have four and five star talent, but we have a good amount of three star talent and with proper development that can win. Continuity is the the common denominator in our deconstruction, lack of continuity I should say. It's always been a problem at Kansas and it can be extremely detrimental to building a football program. 8 weeks to go, hopefully we put something productive and competitive together.

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