Last week, the Kansas Jayhawks opened up Big 12 play with a 55-19 road loss at Texas Tech. The Jayhawks hung with the gunslinging Red Raiders for 3 quarters before the wheels fell off of the upset train.
Tech jumped out to a 14-0 lead before a botched punt led to a saftey forced by Keith Loneker Jr. to get the Jayhawks on the scoreboard.
At halftime, Texas Tech lead 28-9 but the Jayhawks struck first in the second half and pulled within 12. Shortly thereafter, the Jayhawks found themselves with the ball and a chance to get within one possession, but ultimately stalled in the red zone and settled for a field goal, making the score 28-19.
From there, Texas Tech’s backup quarterback Nic Shimonek led the Red Raiders to 27 unanswered points over the final 2o minutes of the game to inflate the score to the one-sided 55-19 final the outside world observed.
Although the scoreboard did not show the most lucrative reward that a football team looks for, the results on the field did show improvements. The defense grew leaps and bounds for nearly three quarters. The Jayhawks got into the Texas Tech backfield on multiple occassions and casued havoc for Patrick Mahomes, forcing 3 sacks on the Big 12 Player of the Year candidate.
Offensively is where the team still needs to grow. Head coach David Beaty realized that, and put a change in the typical gameplan. Beaty cited the fact that Ryan Willis has progressed more and been more efficient than Montell Cozart of late, and that is what lead to Willis ultimately being named the starter for this week’s contest against TCU.
Willis’ efficiency has lead to a quarterback rating of 132.7 thus far, which is just 2 points higher than that of Cozart. However, digging deeper within the statistics, Cozart has thrown for over 200 yards and 3 scores more than Ryan Willis, but Cozart has a tendency to find the other team when airing out the ball, having thrown 4 interceptions in as many games. Interceptions are a problem for any team, but for the Jayhawks ball security is the highest of priorities. Kansas cannot afford to hand free possessions to their opponents, and Ryan Willis has shown he can do a better job of this, and it looks like he will take on a full starting role this week against TCU.
Switching gears a bit, the TCU Horned Frogs over the last 3 seasons are tied for the best record in the Big 12 Conference. They are tied with some of the conference juggernauts such as Oklahoma and Baylor, teams that have regularly caused large problems for Kansas. Yet the Jayhawks have fought the Frogs down to the wire in each of those years. David Beaty was asked about his team’s competitiveness with TCU.
“It doesn’t matter what the past held, it matters what you do on that day.”
He went on to mention that the close nature of the past games not only serves as motivation for his team, but for TCU as well.
There is no doubt that the Jayhawks are eyeing TCU as an upset opportunity, but execution will be the deciding factor on Saturday morning. Ryan Willis will have to lead an efficient offense, and Fish Smithson and company will have to slow down an incredibly potent TCU offense to give KU a chance at the upset.
The challenge awaiting the Kansas defense is led by Kenny Hill, a 6-foot-1 junior transfer by way of Texas A&M. Hill is your typical dual threat quarterback, having thrown for over 1900 yards and 11 scores, and added 170 yards and 6 more touchdowns on the ground. The Horned Frogs’ offense averages over 43 points per game, utilizing a very versital passing attack.
The Horned Frogs bolster a receiving corps with 8 men having recorded 96 yards or more. However, arguably the most electric of the TCU receivers looks to still be out with an injury. KaVontae Turpin has been sidelined with an apparent PCL tear and hasn’t seen action since TCU’s Week 2 contest against Arkansas. The Horned Frogs are hopefuul to see him return at some point this season, but a return against the Jayhawks looks unlikely.
Throughout all of the analysis, one thing is certain. The Kansas Jayhawks will have their hands full on both sides of the ball. But with continued growth and improvement, it is not hard to imagine a team more capable of pulling off an upset that would undoubtedly shake up the Big 12 title race.
David Beaty and his Jayhawks will look to do exactly that on Saturday at 11 AM at Memorial Field.
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