Sep 1, 2012; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks safety Bradley McDougald (24) is congratulated by tight end Jimmy Mundine (41) after making an interception against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in the second half at Memorial Stadium. Kansas won the game 31-17. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE
This probably won't be an every week feature, but after last week I think we're all still evaluating the Jayhawks a little bit and trying to get a read on things. Were some of the concerns raised last week simply a product of rust? Or are they going to be legitimate challenges to overcome this season?
To start off let's glance back at last week and give a quick positive or negative response to the areas of focus.
Defensive Line - I'd call this a positive overall. Could it improve? Yes, but the group is moving in the right direction.
Offensive Gameplan - I'll give this a push. We definitely weren't sitting on our heels waiting to lose.
Wideout - Nothing against the starters, but I just didn't see anything from this group as far as someone stepping up.
The Kansans - 50/50, Zlatnik was the most impressive.
Personnel Groupings - I liked the personnel packages and the rotations used. Much improved over last year.
Defensive Pressure - The jury is still out. Better, but not overwhelming against weaker competition.
Anthony Pierson - Nothing but positives, just need to compliment him with another back.
Dayne Crist - I don't think there's any way around it, everyone was hoping for more.
Special Teams - 50/50, kickoff is a problem.
Turnovers - Definite positive, hopefully it continues.
With that let's jump ahead to this week and take a look at some old areas and new areas to watch on Saturday against Rice.
- Wideout (Josh Ford) - Carry over from a week ago. Who steps up and becomes a playmaker at this position. We have three reliable slot players that are playing the majority of the snaps for this group. Josh Ford looked the part but never really got into the game as a wideout. Omigie and Turzilli played but they weren't targeted and didn't appear to do anything to stand out. Where is the lift coming from with this group?
- Dayne Crist - Sometimes you have to ask if the quarterback makes the team or if the team makes the quarterback. In this instance I think we need Crist to help elevate those around him. He's a big quarterback, great arm, good pocket presence, but he needs to let loose a little bit. Maybe it was first game jitters, maybe it's a trust thing with his receivers, hard to tell, but he'll be a major focal point in game two.
- Taylor Cox - Pierson carried the ball 20 times and he's very effective in certain situations. Taylor Cox proved just as effective on 16 carries and showed an ability to make a play in traffic. I'd like to see Cox utilized more in short yardage and interior running plays, while using Pierson in space. We did a pretty good job last week, but I think the two roles seemed fairly well defined by the end.
- Special Teams - Weis mentioned that he might try some other kickoff options to see how that plays out. Hopefully we can find someone to take some of the burden off Doherty by next week.
- Linebackers - Huldon Tharp looked like the Mangino era player at times and then he would fade away on occasion as well. Ben Heeney is still inexperienced and we didn't hear much out of Tunde Bakare. With the improvement up front it would seem that these three could make more consistent noise. It's probably nit picking but I'd like to see this group used more in order to get pressure and force the issue.
- Tight Ends - We have some great tight end groupings that were very effective at generating a push for the running attack. Mix in a play action, get them some looks over the middle and involve them more offensively.
- Brandon Bourbon - Everyone looks for touches, but Bourbon looked really good as a blocking back on multiple occasions. Continue to use him in that regard and reward him with a few touches like last week. I won't be as concerned with how many times I see Bourbon touch the ball, but I do want to see him on the field because he made us better last week.
- Toben Opurum/Michael Reynolds - We're facing a mobile quarterback in a spread/read option attack. These two along with Josh Williams will need to be ready to work and stay disciplined on Saturday.
- Corners - I don't know exactly what I'm looking for here, just an overall concern and maybe that's just not having seen enough yet. They made some plays last week, they also found themselves beat big on occasion. I'm just trying to figure out how they will measure up in the Big 12.
- Confidence - You could feel it last week, the lack of confidence is still there lingering with this group. You don't go through two seasons of absolutely horrific coaching and play without losing your confidence. It's not back, but hopefully it's building.