Balance will win a Big 12 game
The football team’s inability to make throws costs KU another close home game
By Andrew Curtis
For roughly 58 minutes, Kansas was in control of the Texas Longhorns on Saturday. Stop to collect yourself and just think about that for a second.
It looked like another one of those days for the can’t-catch-a-break Jayhawks after giving up an ugly 3 and out and then a quick strike touchdown drive by Texas. KU then answered with 14 unanswered points to take a 14-7 lead at the half.
At one point, KU ran more than 28 consecutive offensive plays without throwing the football. Now, I understand sticking with what’s working, but at some point, you have to switch things up.
Weis’ play calling, which only yielded 9 passing attempts for the entire day, proved to make a difference.
With two and a half minutes left in regulation, KU kicker Nick Prolago hit his first career field goal, a 29-yarder, to give Kansas a 17 to 14 lead after a drive that spanned over 7 minutes of action.
Kansas left backup quarterback Case McCoy too much time. 2:28 is an eternity in the college game. Texas converted a key 4th and 6 when Kansas had them on the ropes, then executed a pass down the sideline perfectly for 39 yards all the way down to the Kansas 3.
The Jayhawk defense held tight to a 3rd and goal, then Weis elected not to use either of his three remaining timeouts. Texas ran the clock down to 12 seconds and found a wide open receiver in the endzone for the game-winning touchdown.
The gameplan worked for most of the day, but you’ve got to finish what you started in games like this. Coach Weis has been looking for that signature victory, and this would have been it. If Weis would have mixed things up with a little play action pass here and there, it would have loosened up the defense for some big plays.
Mike Cummings played mistake-free football on Saturday. That’s not to say he wasn’t ineffective, but he managed the game and didn’t turn the ball over, unlike his senior mentor, Dayne Crist.
Kansas managed 234 rushing yards, including a career day for heralded running back James Sims, and valuable contributions from Tony Pierson stretching the outside of the field with his dynamic speed.
However, 39 passing yards is not going to get it done. Texas was putting seven or eight guys in the box routinely to stop the Kansas run game, and they simply couldn’t do it. This obviously would leave man-to-man coverage with the KU receivers on the outside, and ample opportunity to throw it up to a great athlete like Andrew Turzilli.
If Kansas wants to be successful in one of the nation’s best conferences (and by successful, I mean win a single football game for starters), it needs to have a more friendly ratio as far as play selection goes.
A two to one ratio would be perfect for this team. It would suit the personnel, as the receivers on this team have struggled mightily, combined with a freshman quarterback. The strength of this team is undoubtedly the running backs and the offensive line that’s built to block for them.
What we saw on Saturday will keep Kansas competitive in most games, but it won’t win games. In order to defeat a beatable fellow winless-in-conference-play Baylor team this weekend, KU will need balance on the offensive side if it hopes to snap a 17-game Big 12 losing streak.