Halloween activities have gotten in the way yesterday and today, but I am going to try and cram everything together. Tonight we will do the first half Film Review and a simple grading of the performance Saturday afternoon. Tomorrow, we will do our cutsie-pie 'Thursday Night Preview' of the Nebraska Cornhuskers, and a quick preview of the November 1st exhibition game of the Kansas Jayhawks and Pittsburg State. That is right, we are going to actually be playing basketball tomorrow. I, for one, have forgotten that basketball started during football season, and have somehwat neglected to cover hoops. But frankly, right now, I would take one football win over 3 basketball wins. The ride, because of the rarity, is so much more enjoyable with Mangino's team...
Here were my observations from re-watching the sometimes depressing, sometimes exhilarating first half.
- I love Kyle Tucker. On the pooch punt by Scott Webb, Tucker sprinted downfield to try and down the punt before it bounced into the endzone. That kind of hustle, by a punter out of the holder's position, is a perfect example of why this team is 8-0 and yours isn't. Mangino has instilled that kind of attitude into the entire team, the 'make-a-play' attitude that has been missing in Kansas football for decades. The Big Man can't stay here long enough as far as I'm concerned.
- There was one big play in the game that was the reason we didn't score, and it wasn't either of the missed kicks by Scott Webb. Obviously, if he makes just one of those we don't go into half scoreless, but there were two more important plays. One was the dropped pass by Derek Fine on 3rd-and-something on the pooch punt drive. He catches that ball, a ball that zoomed right through his two hands, and we are in business at the 10, ready to find another way not to score. Fact is, Fine needs to catch that ball every day of the week and twice on Saturday.
- Kendrick Harper was the biggest reason that the option was never successful. They must have figured out on tape that it was useless to run the option to Aqib Talib's side, because I don't recall them doing that once, but they hoped they would be able to exploit the JUCO transfer making his first career start. Not so fast, my friend. Harper made a couple of bone-jarring hits, and was always around the ball making a play on option runs to his side of the field. First half defensive player of the game, for sure.
- The offensive MVP of the first half was BMac, all the way. Sure, the holes were provided by the offensive line, but he got an extra 4+ yards every time he touched the ball by running over someone or just simply breaking a tackle. He is never, ever brought down by the first guy to make contact with him, a quality that Jake Sharp is getting better at each week. The combination of the two is the key to our offense, hands down, and we need to run both of them more. That means that both need more carries next week than their season averages.