The Jayhawks wrapped up non-conference play two weeks ago with a 43-7 loss to Memphis, and looked less than impressive going 1-2 in three games with the only win coming in the season opener against a lowly FCS opponent in Rhode Island.
While the end results were not always what the Jayhawks wanted, they did come away with things to build off of. Junior QB Montell Cozart looked sharp in his first two games, even though he faltered against Memphis. The defense looked fairly sharp overall especially defending the pass, though they do need to make some significant strides in defending the run as they enter Big 12 play.
Conference play for KU begins Thursday night with a prime time showdown versus the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The Red Raiders went 2-1 in their non-conference slate, with wins over Stephen F. Austin and Louisiana Tech. Their only loss was in a shootout against the Sun Devils of Arizona State.
Texas Tech focuses on using a deadly passing attack led by junior QB Patrick Mahomes II. On the season, Mahomes has thrown for 1,493 yards with 14 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. Mahomes had a solid sophomore season last year including leading the Red Raiders to a 30-20 victory over the Jayhawks in Lawrence. Mahomes threw 1 touchdown and 1 interception in that game.
While last year the Jayhawks lost a heartbreaker, things may be quite different this time around. The defense was able to keep Mahomes fairly in check even though they allowed 354 yards passing he still only had 1 touchdown pass. The killer in the game last year was running back DeAndre Washington going for 157 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. Luckily for the Jayhawks, they won’t have to deal with Washington as he was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in this past year’s NFL draft.
This season, Texas Tech has relied heavily on the pass with no rusher over 200 total yards on the season. Sophomore running back Demarcus Felton owns the only 100 yard rushing game for the Raiders this year, when he ran for 123 yards against Louisiana Tech.
Overall, if there was ever a game for the Jayhawks to break their dreaded 7 year road losing streak, they just might be able to squeak one out in Lubbock Thursday night. In order to do that though, they’ll need to play the most complete game they have played all year, and either Montell Cozart or Ryan Willis will need to step up and inject some life into this anemic Kansas offense.