After last weeks big win against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets there was some optimism and hope that Kansas might be able to head down to a tough game in Hattiesburg and get a win. But the reality that many expected set in fairly quickly.
The question all week was where does that reality exist? Was it the team that played bad against North Dakota State. Or was it the team that played inspired against Georgia Tech. It might be the easy answer but Kansas is somewhere in between.
In the first half Kansas couldn't move the ball offensively, the defense struggled to stop the Southern Miss. playmakers and a miscue on special teams resulted in a 21-3 deficit. Kansas looked like a young team in a tough road environment with plenty of room for improvement.
At the start of the second half Kansas held USM to an initial three and out before the Jayhawk offense finally got the ball rolling and punched in a run for six. Unfortunately after a second straight three and out by the Golden Eagles, Kansas couldn't carry that momentum. From that point on the Golden Eagles would pull away.
Southern Miss. has the athletes to make plays and they made more of them while Kansas didn't make many and couldn't get into any kind of consistent groove. It's a loss that some fans expected even before the NDSU loss so it's not a back breaker, but it's pretty clear that Kansas will continue to struggle when facing an up tempo spread with a higher caliber athlete. The bad news is that most of the teams in the Big 12 will be exactly that.
Beyond that it's hard to ignore the coaching concerns and disorganization at times during the game, but just a week after praising the group for the win against Georgia Tech it might be wise to just take a step back and breathe before reacting too far one way or the other any time Kansas plays in 2010.
Next week the Jayhawks welcome New Mexico State to Lawrence. No game is a gimme, but the Jayhawks need to get a win, get back on track and head into conference play with a 2-2 record.