All we have at the beginning of each season lately has been hope that this will be the season things get turned around. Depending on your perspective, that hope lasted 15 minutes, 45 minutes, or a week into this season before the wake up call. Whatever we found encouraging about the opener against SE Missouri State pretty much disappeared at Duke yesterday. The offense looked like the same offense we've seen since Charlie Weis took over the program and the defense had its moments but suffered complete breakdowns all too often. All in all, somebody is going to have to do a lot of work to convince people this season will be any different from the last four.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to watch the game live but did subject myself to it this morning. From looking at the box score, there were obvious questions about the game plan and watching it didn't provide any answers.
Question #1: Where was Tony Pierson?
Immediately following the opening kick, the announcers commented on the "dynamic" Tony Pierson as Fox showed a graphic of what Pierson did last week against SEMO. Pierson never had an impact on the game yesterday. He finished with 2 receptions and according to the play by play, that was it. No incompletes his way and he didn't run the ball. How can the coaching staff allow that to happen? It's almost as if they felt bad for Andy Reid after last week and wanted to show they could ignore their key playmaker even more than the Chiefs did with Jamaal Charles in week 1. Reading through post game articles, there was no mention of an injury but I have to assume I missed something.
Question #2: Why did Cozart attempt 21 passes in the first half?
Whether or not Cozart has improved over the offseason, throwing the ball 21 times in the first half just doesn't add up. That's not to say a different game plan would have solved all of the problems yesterday or that lining up and running every single down is the answer. However, according to the play-by-play, eight of those pass attempts came on 1st downs. When a quarterback is struggling to complete passes and the running game is your strength, why are pass plays being called to open a series? One more on the play calling, 3rd and 4 from Duke's 29 and a pass play leads to a sack. Anything other than a sack and Kansas is able to attempt a field goal, hopefully making it 20-6. But a sack is the result and it's followed by a punt that goes into the endzone. 1st half: 7-21.
I don't have time or the desire to look at all of Cozart's plays this week but he was a lot more freshman Montell than he was first first quarter last week Montell and that's scary as it's now 7 quarters of quarterback play that doesn't even give the offense a chance at being productive. Here was one play that highlights one of Cozart's main issues, not being able to check down. Cozart's first option isn't open and as he moves out of the pocket, he completely misses a wide open Pierson on a play that would have easily gained enough yards for a 1st down and got the ball in the hands of the best offensive playmaker. Instead Cozart runs to the sideline before throwing the ball away.
Question #3: Is the defense good enough to compete?
This might be the toughest part of the team to discuss and evaluate. The defense gets no help from the offense, they're on the field a lot, and they are often put in a bad position. But the defense was far from acceptable against Duke. On the first possession, Duke covered 60 yards in 6 plays resulting in a touchdown. On the third possession, they allowed a 69 yard touchdown run. Neither of those results can be blamed on the offense or being tired, it's either poor discipline in sticking to assignments and/or simply being not good enough. To be fair, they had their moments where tightened up and did their part. But on the whole, it was not an encouraging day. 511 total yards of offense and 331 on the ground. Contain defense only works if you can actually contain.