Kansas 31, South Dakota 14
Not very impressive... at least in my point of view. I know, I know - a win is a win is a win. And I'll definitely take it. But after drinking the kool-aid all spring and summer, this was a disappointing debut for the 2013 squad. I trust you all will forgive me for not participating in the standing O as the team trotted off the field at halftime and again at the end of the game.
Today was an extra long day, beginning at 1 PM at the Kansas vs Arkansas volleyball match. The Lady Hawks started slowly, falling to a 2-1 deficit before dominating the 4th set. The 5th set did not go our way, however, and Arkansas escaped Lawrence with a hard fought and well earned 3-2 victory.
Found my way to The Wheel between games. Had a few drinks, a burger, and LOTS of water. Because it was HOT outside. Hot, sunny, humid, and miserable. Disgustingly hot. Headed to the stadium approximately one hour before kickoff.
Fortunately, Section 4 was already shaded by the time I entered the stadium. It was still hot, but out of the sun, it was at least bearable. Student section looked good by the start of the game.
Game starts. Offense does not look good. Then, on maybe the third drive of the game, we feed Sims. Three or four plays in a row, move 40 yards probably. Then... no more Sims. And the offense stalls again. USD puts together a very impressive drive and goes up 7-0. Lots of holes up the middle of our defense to run through. Also, the USD quarterback must be quicker than he looks - he turns the corner and picks up yards on the outside.
Kansas manages to slow the USD attack and finally put some points on the board. Halftime score is 14-7. At this point, I'm rather bummed... I really expected a lot more out of this offense. Stupid kool-aid. Running game looks like it's in good shape. Heaps is slightly overthrowing on deep balls. Offense has the dropsies tonight as well, which isn't helping any. Seems like more penalties than I would expect against an FCS opponent.
Second half is really just more of the same. Offense just slightly off - running game going well, however. Defense giving up a few big runs, which is frustrating, but seems to be doing a good job of getting off the field on 3rd down. The front seven is doing a good job of harassing the USD quarterback, which is a good thing, because if he had any time, he would be hitting open receivers down the field. Special teams have by far been the most impressive unit. Seems to be more of a run first guy anyway. Each side scores a late 4th quarter TD. Final score KU 31, USD 14.
What I noted:
Seemed like a decent crowd. Not very loud, though. Maybe it was too hot.
Did Marquel Combs play at all? I know I didn't hear his name called by the PA announcer at any point.
Cornerbacks pressed the USD receivers - aka no ten or fifteen yard cushions. Lots of single coverages, I'm guessing due to focusing on stuffing the USD rushing attack. Unfortunately, this allowed USD receivers to get open. Fortunately, the USD QB was under enough pressure that, even if he saw them, he couldn't get the ball to them.
Was not impressed with the referees...
Did USD #37 get ejected or not? I hope he was trying to punch at the ball, but it sure looked like he was just thowing kidney punches.
Was impressed with our running game.
Was VERY impressed with special teams. I thought Embree as punt returner had a great game. And we made a field goal... a 45 yarder! That got one of the loudest cheers of the evening. The one hiccup was the 12 men penalty in the 4th quarter that gave USD a first down from 4th and 4.
Was not impressed with the run defense. Or the QB containment on passing downs. Sure, got a few sacks. Yes, a few Tackles For Loss. USD was still able to open up some holes up the middle, and was able to turn the corner on several sweeps and options. Couldn't tell if the KU linebackers were a step slow or getting blocked or what.
Heaps thows a good ball. Nice spirals... no ducks. May have been a little too amped... slightly overthrew receivers on deep routes, especially in the first half. And I mean, just slightly... like, half a yard.
Sims had a good game, minus the fumble on the 5 yard line... gotta hand the man the ball.
Play of the game - INT return for TD by Keon Stowers - unfortunately, it didn't go in the scorebook. Nice call on D with the zone blitz, dropping Stowers back into pass protection. Didn't see the alleged "block in the back" on any of the replays.
I haven't metioned Darrian Miller yet. Seemed very shifty... had several big runs. Nice game for Miller.
Had a good time at the game. Wished we would have played better. Was really expecting something along the lines of 45-14.
Not sure what this means for next weekend's game at Rice. I gotta admit, I'm much more nervous about Rice than I was 24 hours ago. MUCH more. We will need to be more disciplined - fewer penalties, no fumbles. Establish the run, then add in the passing game. Continue harassing the QB as much as possible.
Ultimately, this game reminded me way to much of last year's home opener (albeit more positive this year regarding the QB situation). And, we all know how the final 11 games of 2012 went. They say teams make the most improvement between games one and two. I trudged back up the hill tonight mildly disappointed despite the win. Stupid kool-aid.
Stay tuned for next week's version - The view from my couch.