Big 12 conference play, Baylor, Robert Griffin III and a host of new challenges for the Jayhawk players and staff.
Keys to winning today aren't all that different than they've been all year, but we'll try to change things up a bit and get slightly more specific.
Contain the quarterback
Against Austin Davis and even last week against NMSU the Kansas defense seemed to get pushed up field and the resulting running lanes were a quarterbacks dream. Fortunately for Kansas they've yet to play a quarterback that can truly punish them in this area. Robert Griffin can do that. What's worse is Griffin can use his feet to extend the play and make a big play with his arm.
For Kansas it boils down to getting pressure without losing contain. Holding position and forcing Griffin to throw within a reasonable timeframe. Ideally you'd love for the Jayhawks to get a pass rush and get to the quarterback and sure there is the potential to do that through a blitz package perhaps, but by normal four man means Kansas hasn't done it. So what's the answer? That's a tough one and that's why Carl Torbush gets paid the big bucks. Pressure and contain at the same time, is it even possible for Kansas?
Run the Football
Easy. Baylor hasn't been particularly strong against the run and the defensive line is battling handful of injuries that have kept them from seeing much improvement year over year. The key is going to be getting to the linebackers. Baylor's linebacking corps is about as fast as it's been in recent years and if the Jayhawk offensive line can get to the second level and make the block, James SIms patience could pay off big.
Run the ball well and it will open things up in a fairly inconsistent Baylor secondary and Jordan Webb can take advantage of what the Bears give him, while taking care of the ball. But it starts with the run and it starts with balance. Keep the linebackers honest and Kansas can open things up.
This is somewhat a broken record, but the Jayhawks must, must, must win the battle of field position. Right now what Kansas has on it's best day is a ball control, balanced offense with a bend but don't break defense. Those two things can win ballgames, but not without a solid special teams
Kansas cannot give Baylor a short field on a regular basis and any time that the Jayhawks can seize in the special teams to give Jordan Webb, James Sims and the rest of the offense an easy drive is a welcome opportunity.
Something missing? So far this year Kansas has created very few turnovers, three to be exact. The good news is that since the quarterback change Kansas has given up very few as well. A Big 12 opener on the road and an opponent equally hungry for a strong start, that's what this weekend brings. If ever their was a game where a turnover or two advantage could make a big difference, it's this one.
Just like he talked about the running game and balance, Coach Gill talked about attacking and forcing turnovers defensively. We've seen the offense gradually develop, now maybe it's time to expect someone on the defensive side of the ball to make a bigger play. Steal a possession or two in Waco and that will go a long way toward a possible win.