Another week, another loss to a top 5 team. The Kansas Jayhawks were a tale of two units today. The defense did everything they could and kept this game competitive but the offense was non existent and struggled to get anything going and ultimately hung the defense out to dry.
If one thing became clear today it's that we are still a step behind being able to pull off a win like this one and it's clear it is due to a talent gap. Last year certainly spoiled us but the reality is this Senior class came to Kansas following a 4-7 season. At that point in his tenure Mark Mangino had a record of 12-24 which certainly wasn't lighting a fire under the fan base or inspiring great recruiting classes. What this means for this years Jayhawks is that after losing so many key components to an Orange Bowl team of 2007 we were ill equipped to replace those players with immediate impact players. Instead those spots have been filled with young talent that is still very raw and needs further time to develop. The most talented players on our team are not at the same level from a developmental standpoint as the most talented on the likes of a Texas, Tech, OU etc. In terms of Nebraska this is the case here as well because despite the fact they have been down it hasn't been due to lack of talent as much as coaching.
Mark Mangino has successfully shown the ability to coach up talent, but that can only carry you so far. Illinois is a good example of a team in a similar scenario. Ron Zook has been able to recruit talent in recent years but at this point that talent hasn't had a chance to develop and they have gone from a 9-3 regular season last year to a 5-6 record at this point this year. Similar to Kansas expectations were raised big time at Illinois following last year but the lack of overall depth to date made a step back inevitable after the loss of several key players.
Mark Mangino is a good coach and he has done more with less talented players at Kansas for years. Now it is time to narrow the gap, capitalize on the success and continue to bring in better talent. Once that circle is complete and we aren't dependent on redshirt freshman to replace seniors this program will take the next step. The Texas loss was a frustrating one for a variety of reasons, but it did make it easy to see there is still a bit of an overall talent gap that will be addressed over time by Coach Mangino. Keep your eye out when the current redshirt freshman/sophomore class, last years recruits and this years incoming recruits get here and develop because that will be a time when Kansas will have fully benefited from it's recent success on the field and improvements in facilities off the field. Frustrating week again but keep the eye on the prize, the long term future and a big game at Arrowhead in a couple of weeks with a bowl game to follow.
Rock Chalk Jayhawk.