This week I'm doing an abbreviated version of the report card. With a beating as severe as we saw Saturday, reviewing each individual position group's performance would be monotonous. Today we'll just split up the blame between offense, defense and special teams.
Offense - F
Kansas managed just 1.7 yards per play against Oklahoma. To provide a frame of reference for just how pathetic that is, consider the following fun facts:
- This year, Oklahoma's opponents overall average 5.07 yards/play, three times what we gained Saturday
- The next weakest offense OU has faced this year (Tulsa), averaged 3.8 yards/play against them
- Eastern Michigan, F/+'s lowest ranked offense in the country, has not posted a ypp average that low all year (and they've played Florida and Michigan State)
So yeah, 1.7 yards per play is a travesty. It's a joke. It's almost impossible to do. Any goodwill Eric Kiesau had built up over the last two weeks has to at least be questioned now. Not that it's all Kiesau's fault; Kansas has had a pathetic offense all year. This just served to make the respectable play against Iowa State and TCU look a whole lot more outlierish.
Kansas managed just half a yard per rush attempt, which should basically be impossible for a football team to do. The o-line's level of play is just absurdly bad. John Reagan didn't get much to work with on the line this year, but for me, the guy has to lose his position on the staff. A collection of experienced linemen, all of whom were recruited by D1 schools, should never be this bad.
Michael Cummings followed up a career day against TCU with a stat line that hearkens to the Charlie Weis days, 8-22 with 84 yards and an interception. The Jayhawk receivers, who had been steadily building into a solid unit in past weeks, were held without a single big play, with their longest being a 13 yard catch by Nigel King.
The offense is really, really bad.
Defense - F
Our defense, not wanting the offense to feel as though they were singlehandedly letting the team down, chipped in to allow freshman running back Samaje Perine to break the single game rushing record with 427 yards. Typing the number itself doesn't allow me to fully stress the significance of it, so I'm going to spell it out as well: FOUR HUNDRED TWENTY FREAKING SEVEN YARDS.
Our linemen were blown back, our linebackers (including Ben Heeney) got pushed all over the field, and our safeties were all a good step slower than Perine, who busted TWELVE runs of 10 yards or more, and EIGHT of 20 yards or more, averaging 12.6 per carry.
Our defense has been serviceable this year, and if you put aside the fact that one player accounted for such a huge portion of Oklahoma's production, we didn't really allow much more than season average to Oklahoma's offense. The problem is, you can't really put it aside. The Sooners only attempted 13 passes for the day, because we simply couldn't stop the run, despite knowing it was coming play after play.
Special Teams - F
Special teams just had to throw in their contribution to the collapse, with a snap going over Trevor Pardula's head in the second quarter, setting Oklahoma up with good field position. Pardula had one of his shakier days, averaging just 41.3 yards per punt. As usual, our coverage teams were awful when the opponent got a chance to return, giving up punt returns of 10 and 14 yards, as well as a 36 yard kick return.
Overall - F
I don't believe that this game should serve as a referendum on Clint Bowen's coaching ability. He's got the team he's got, and if we're going to mitigate the credit he deserves for getting some decent results out of an upperclassman-laden team that he inherited, we can't pin it all on him when said team simply isn't talented enough to compete with a great opponent.
That said, Saturday's blowout significantly undermines the main argument we've heard in favor of keeping Bowen on, namely that the players love him and he'll get the best out of them on a consistent basis. Under Bowen, the team looked competitive in games against ISU, OSU and TCU, dull and unimpressive against Texas Tech, and downright abysmal against West Virginia, Baylor and Oklahoma.
Sound familiar? Maybe it reminds you of 2012, when Charlie Weis' Jayhawks hung right in with TCU, Northern Illinois, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech, while getting crushed by K-State, Oklahoma, Baylor, Iowa State and West Virginia. No? Maybe you think it's more similar to last year's Weis-led squad, which managed to beat West Virginia, and keep Oklahoma and TCU (and even KSU to some extent) within shouting distance, while getting destroyed by Iowa State Baylor and Texas Tech. Still not ringing any bells? Do you remember Turner Gill's last season? Where we beat Northern Illinois, and stayed right there with Tech, ISU and Missouri, while taking RGIII and Baylor to OT, only to get dressed down OSU, OU, KSU and aTm? Maybe that's it. Of course, it could also be Turner Gill's first season, which featured an upset victory over Georgia Tech, thrilling comeback against Colorado, and a decent showing against Iowa State, while getting crushed by Baylor, OSU, KSU and Missouri.
It almost seems like all four of those seasons bear a striking resemblance to what this team has done under Clint Bowen.