The report card is a little abbreviated this week, as I had to listen to most of the game on the radio, which makes it tough to break things down position-by-position.
Offense - B
It's hard to hand the offense a B when the pasing game went 6-15 for 29 yards, but in a way, that makes the offense's performance even more impressive. Even though Tech knew we couldn't pass, Kansas was able to impose their will on a rushing defense that ranks in the top half of FBS. Adjusted for sacks, the Jayhawks piled up 413 rushing yards (around 7.5 ypc) on a team that came in allowing well under 150 per game. The Tech defense has fallen off as the year has progressed, but the Tech front 7 is no joke, and it's legitimately impressive that our line opened up the holes they did when Tech knew what was coming. While most of the credit typically is given to Sims and Pierson for these recent strong performances (and rightfully so), I think it also speaks to Charlie Weis as a playcaller that he is still able to catch defenses off guard with running plays even when the defense has 8 or 9 in the box. It goes without saying that Cummings' inability to be a reliable passer and the receiving corps' struggles in getting separation held the team back and deserve lower grades, but it's hard to argue with 5.8 yards per play and 32 minutes of possession on the road against a Top 25 opponent.
Defense - D
As nice as it was to hold Tech to 27 points in regulation and force overtime, it doesn't mask the fact that this was a bad defensive performance. Just to be clear, I'm still very happy with the strides the defense has made in Campo's first year, and I think this was better than what would have happened with last year's defense. Still, looking at this game in and of itself, we struggled on this side of the ball. We do continue to come up with big plays at key times, which I believe we can say is a trend at this point, rather than luck as many alluded to after the TCU and OSU games. But when the big plays come after getting picked apart up and down the field, you're always playing with fire. As such, we got burned by the Texas Tech passing attack. We don't have the outside corner talent to contain a passing game this solid, and Seth Doege was able to complete 45 of 59 passes for 476 yards and 3 TDs. We simply had no answer for Eric Ward (12 rec, 180 yards), and couldn't stop Darrin Moore in the red zone (9 rec, 78 yards, 2 TDs). Granted, they deserve credit for shutting down a respectable Tech running game 63 yds, 2.9 per attempt), but we couldn't force Tech to care, as they happily switched to killing us with the pass. The improvement and silver linings are nice, but the defense didn't get it done.
Special Teams - C
The wind helps the special teams grade a bit, as Polago was able to record four touchbacks with it at his back. We didn't allow any big kick returns which is nice, but did let a punt return go for 20 yards, and lost the net punting battle by 10 yards. Prolago hit another big field goal in this one, but we're still running our offense around our kicking game, which is not a good thing and won't change until we get at least an average placekicker in Lawrence. Taylor Cox had a nice kick return, but we only had two return attempts for the day. Overall, it's hard to go high or low on the special teams.
Overall - C+
I'll throw the "plus" in there, because some pretty solid teams have gone into Lubbock and fared much worse this season. Our defense was largely picked apart, but you can't completely discount the big plays, and the offense was much better than anyone could have expected. Overall, it was a sign of continued improvement, and while it's heartbreaking to watch this team keep coming up just short, it's hard not to feel a sense of excitement over the fact that Kansas is no longer a game that teams can overlook. Sad as it might be to admit, that's improvement, and while it's hard to feel optimistic as a Kansas football fan, there's no reason to assume this won't continue under the current staff.