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Kansas vs. Southern Mississippi Team Analysis

The Golden Eagles come to Lawrence this weekend in what many considered Kansas' first major test with UTEP being the other possible exception.  To date the Jayhawks have handled their business with relative ease but haven't been quite as crisp or efficient as some would have hoped.  Sure there are those that contend this offense is perfectly fine averaging in the top 3 in terms of production, but if you take the statistical blinders off for a moment it would be hard to not at least acknowledge some concerns.


Why Kansas? Edge Scenario Edge Why Southern Miss.?

Kansas has been good but not great on offense and last week lost the services of running back Jake Sharp temporarily.  With or without  Sharp back Kansas' balanced attack will need to continue to be a strength against the Golden Eagles.  Stats or no stats Kansas is a top 20 offense nationally and you have to think the pieces will come together soon.  Some teams might be able to contain the Jayhawks offense but not many will stop them.







Closer than normal though based on Kansas' last few games.

KU Offense vs. Southern Mississippi's Defense


Southern Mississippi has been very strong against the run and better than average against the pass.  If they can make Kansas one dimensional, continue to put pressure on the quarterback and ride that to a couple turnovers they'll be in this. Southern Mississippi's defense is fully capable of mustering enough chaos to give the Jayhawk offense some trouble if Kansas is sloppy.

I want to believe, I'm trying to believe, I even added the Monkey's to my IPod this week to help me believe this Kansas defense has turned a corner.  So far Kansas is winning the battle up front and it's translating to success on defense. What happens as the level of competition increases?  Kansas has to continue to get pressure on the quarterback, continue stopping the run and this week take advantage of Southern Mississippi's mistakes which have led to them being ever so slightly turnover prone early this year. Do those things and Kansas wins this matchup and turns this fan into a believer.












 I wanted to say push on this one but after last season, I need one more good showing before I take the Kansas defense against such a solid offense.

KU Defense vs. Southern Mississippi's Offense















Southern Mississippi has the horses and athletes on offense to make this a game.  This will be as solid a test for the Jayhawks defense that they've seen this year in every way.  The quarterback can beat you through the air or with his feet.  They field a running back that will punish you for blown assignments.  The Golden Eagles also put a reicever on the field that will be a SERIOUS test for this Kansas secondary.  Kansas' defense will have it's hands full in this one and if the Golden Eagles play mistake free football it will be tough for Kansas to stop them.

Kansas looks to be an improved team in this area for 2009.  Besides a few missed field goals every unit looks better.  The kick coverage is solid as is the kick return.  However, the most underrated stat has to be Alonso Rojas' punting which from a net standpoint looks pretty abysmal.  Again though take the statistical blinders off and Rojas and the rest of the Kansas special teams are winning the field position battle for the Jayhawks.







Special Teams







Southern Miss. like Kansas has been pretty solid here if not slightly better in the return game.  Like Kansas, the Golden Eagles do a nice job of putting their offense and defense in positions to succeed and no surprise here but one of these two has to give.  At the end of this one special teams may be a major factor but deciding an edge is a push for me at this point based on how early it is in the season and how similar these two teams special teams units have performed.

Last week against Duke the Jayhawks defense looked to be returning to old habits after a first drive which saw Duke go the length of the field in a hurry.  From there though the Jayhawk defensive staff was able to buckle down and force 8 straight possessions with no points from the Blue Devils.  Throw in the fact that the Hawks are getting much more creative in terms of stunting and blitzing and the only thing that is missing is a little more aggressive pass coverage.  Once again just another example of the upgrade in coaching this offseason for the Jayhawks.  Kansas staff is deep and Mark Mangino teams come around as good as any.











Larry Fedora is the Southern Mississippi Coach and for those who think that name sounds familiar it's because he was the Offensive Coordinator  with the Oklahoma State Cowboys from 2005-2007.  Fedora was instrumental in taking OSU from Big12 South afterthought to what they are now.  In his second season with the Cowboys Fedora took OSU from 96th in the nation in offensive production to 7th.  Fact of the matter is the guy can coach.  If he can put together a defensive scheme as good as some of his offensive one's he'll win this battle of wits against the Jayhawks.


Southern Mississippi will be the most well rounded team the Jayhawks play, the best defensive team the Jayhawks play and they will have a legitimate playmakers on the field.  Austin Davis returns at quarterback where he produced over 3500 yards of offense as a sophomore in 2008.  Damien Fletcher returns in the backfield following a 1300 yard rushing season in 2008 and is off to a fast start in 2009 averaging over 5 yards per carry.  Lastly, DeAndre Brown is perhaps their most dangerous weapon at the reciever spot for the Golden Eagles.  Coach Mangino says Brown might be the toughest Kansas faces all year he is coming off of a 2008 season with over 1100 yards recieving and 12 touchdowns. 

Factor in solid special teams play, a notable coaching talent on top of the fact that this team is riding a stout defense to an 8 game win streak dating to late last year and the Jayhawks are looking at a potentially tricky one at home.