Saturday Kansas heads to Waco Texas for the Big 12 opener and awaiting the Jayhawks will be a mobile athletic quarterback running a spread offense. If there is one thing that has troubled Kansas in recent years, it's a spread offense. If there is a second thing, it's a mobile quarterback.
Through the non-conference schedule the Jayhawks have faced one team that will resemble this style, that being Southern Mississippi. The Golden Eagles were able to mix up their offense and move the ball nearly at will through one half of play. Quarterback Austin Davis found running lanes to escape the pocket and hurt the Jayhawks both with his feet and through the air.
In the second half the Jayhawks were able to button things up and slow Southern Miss. down, but what they face in Baylor and Robert Griffin is a more dynamic playmaker at the position. And therein lies the challenge for Kansas in week 5.
The tendency with Griffin seems to be viewing the Baylor player as a running quarterback. He's athletic, smooth and makes plays with is feet, but what's surprising is how selective he's become in running the ball. The reality is that he uses his feet when he has to, but more often than not he extends the play as needed and makes the throw.
Through four games this season Griffin boasts a 60% completion percentage, nearly 1000 yards passing and a 4:1 touchdown to interception ratio. On the ground Griffin has accounted for just 157 yards and three touchdowns with a 4.4 yard per carry average. Those are the stats of a quarterback that can throw within the system. Furthermore Griffin has shown the ability to make the big play with his arm accounting for 10 passes of 25 yards or more, 6 of those being touchdowns.
What does all this mean? It means Kansas and the Jayhawk defense faces a tall order on Saturday. If Kansas wants to come out of Waco with a win they are going to have to find a way to create some level of pressure while keeping Griffin contained. Basically Kansas has to do something they haven't done all year, knock the quarterback down and keep him in the pocket.
Now to their credit, if there is one thing Carl Torbush has done with the Jayhawk defense so far this year, it's adjust. Kansas has gone into every game with a fairly solid gameplan, made adjustments throughout the game and in all reality exceeded the expectations of many. Plain and simple, they've turned into a decent unit.
Saturday Baylor and Robert Griffin raise the bar in terms of what the Jayhawk defense is going to have to stop. How Kansas responds will likely be the difference between a tough road win or an early conference loss.