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Top 10 Kansas Football Performances of 2008: #6

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The #6 performance of the Kansas football season comes against the Jayhawks in-state rival the Kansas State Wildcats.  In what would ultimately be the straw that broke the camels back in the short Ron Prince era at Kansas State, one Kansas defender stepped up in a big way and in a new role to earn his way to the #6 spot on the countdown.

The first defensive performance making its way into the countdown comes from a member of the senior linebacking corps of the Jayhawks that many felt had underperformed on the season.  In this edition of the Sunflower Showdown the Kansas coaching staff would unveil a new wrinkle in the defensive scheme and it would allow for one Jayhawk to make a big difference and one that would continue throughout the season.


Coming off an embarrassing loss to Texas Tech at home where the defense was practically non-existent, the Kansas defense needed a change and needed someone to step up.  Kansas welcomed the Wildcats to Lawrence looking for their third straight win in the Sunflower Series and a convincing performance to get back on track.

While many expected the offense would click and it did, the defense too turned in one of its better performances of the 2008 season.  The 21 point first quarter lead and eventual 31 point lead at the end of the first half owed a lot of credit to what the Jayhawks did on defense.  Clint Bowen change up the scheme, there were zone blitzes, new coverages and then there was James Holt.  Holt a Senior Linebacker from Altus Oklahoma was probably the most often forgotten of the three senior linebackers but on this day and going forward for the remainder of the season he established himself as the leader.

Holt only tallied 5 tackles in the game but that wasn’t the full story.  Used traditionally in a standup linebacker role, Holt put his hand on the ground at times for this one and was charged with putting a pass rush on Josh Freeman.  For his efforts Holt would finish up the day with 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery and for the record the other forced fumble did result in a turnover as well.  In addition 3 of his 5 tackles on the afternoon were in the Wildcat backfield.  For the first time all year the Jayhawks had a viable pass rushing threat and it was creating mistakes early and often for the Wildcats. 

Ultimately this game was over before it was started and James Holt was a big reason why.  Turnovers and sacks are momentum creators and breakers and Holt caused havoc for Freeman and Kansas State.  A 52-21 win was the reward for his hard work and a win that was the most lopsided Kansas win in the series since 1985.  Individually while it may not be much James Holt performance in this one checks him in at #6 on the 2008 countdown of Kansas football performances.