Better late than never, it's report card time. It's really nice to finally be able to write one of these after a win. I don't get to do that much these days. I'll admit before we get started that I'm probably giving too much benefit of the doubt on some of these. It's just that we don't really know who we played on Saturday. Iowa State is in a bit of a freefall. They were playing without their first string quarterback, and were dealing with a whole host of other injuries. It felt a lot like when we beat last year's West Virginia team, which was clearly playing at nowhere near full strength. I guess what I'm saying is that you could make a case that a few of these should be lower, because we were playing what is arguably a Conference USA quality team. Still, we just won a game, the holidays are coming, and I'm going to be a little generous.
Quarterbacks - C
It seems like Michael Cummings is turning in the same performance every week. Nothing special, but quietly effective. Here are his stat lines for the last four games:
vs ISU: 24-40, 278 yards, 1 TD, 0 int
at Baylor: 21-30, 288 yards, 2 TDs, 0 int
at Texas Tech: 20-32, 235 yards, 2 TDs, 1 int
vs OSU: 20-37, 288 yards, 0 TDs, 1 int
Basically, it seems that no matter the opponent, Cummings is going to complete ~60% of his passes, average a good 7 yards per attempt, maybe with a couple touchdowns. He's not lighting up the scoreboard, but his QBR in the last three weeks has been better than any single game performance by any Kansas QB under Charlie Weis. So, if nothing else, things have improved.
Running Backs - B-
The running backs actually found a little running room Saturday, and were doing some nice things with it. Corey Avery looks like he could be a nice asset to the offense in the coming years, and it was nice to see Tony Pierson have another big day before his career is over. Pierson and Avery combined for 206 yards on 34 carries. B- is still the highest I'm willing to go on this, because it was clearly due largely in part to Iowa State's awful defensive line.
Receivers - B-
Jimmay Mundine continues to put together a good case for 1st team All-Big 12 at tight end, and King and Harwell continue to look like a really nice duo at receiver. It's a shame we couldn't have one more year out of Harwell, because we're finally starting to see how solid this receiving corps is when operating within a competent offensive structure.
Offensive Line - D+
I doubt the offensive line really played much better than they have the rest of the year Saturday. The fact is, Iowa State's defensive line is banged up, and was never very good to begin with anyway. Still, you have to show up and do your job to win a conference game, regardless of the opponent, and the line was able to do that. Kansas put up their highest yards per play number since the SEMO game, and they couldn't have done that if line hadn't at least taken advantage of what was put in front of them.
Defensive Line - C
The d-line was missing two starters, but they were still able to do their job. While no lineman had more than 3 tackles, they were able to generally win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Iowa State was held to right around their average yards per play total for the year, putting us in line with what other Big 12 teams have held them to
Linebackers - C+
Heeney, Love, Reynolds and Simmons had effective days, albeit a quiet one by Heeney's standards. Love and Reynolds each registered a sack, while Simmons was able to notch two. Michael Reynolds was able to force his fifth fumble of the year as well. I'm wondering if Reynolds may not get a look from the NFL as a pass rushing specialist at this point
Secondary - B
Another day at the office for the defensive backfield. Jacorey Shepherd picked off his second pass of the year en route to breaking up five passes. On the other side of the field, McDonald broke up four. The safeties were solid, and weren't counted on to make half the tackles, which is always a good sign that the front seven is doing their job. I know everyone will miss Heeney after this year, but I think the defense will miss this pair of corners even more
Special Teams - C
Matthew Wyman made both his field goal attempts, while Trevor Pardula booted 3 of his 7 KOs for touchbacks. Pardula also booted two 50+ yard punts, and the punt coverage team did their job. We also managed to avoid giving up a big kick return. This was a rare day where the special teams didn't give us anything to complain about
Overall - C+
We were able to pretty thoroughly outplay Iowa State, but then again, it was Iowa State. It wasn't even full strength Iowa State. Still, we played a Big 12 team, one who has also hung in some conference games this year, and outgained them by 140 yards, while outscoring them by 20 points. I'll grade it as just slightly above average and give them the plus