Saturday morning as the Kansas Jayhawks took to the field against the Oklahoma State Cowboys, not many were giving Kansas much shot at any sort of upset. Ultimately what most fans are looking for in these final weeks is something to build on, something positive to take into the offseason.
In recent weeks the Jayhawks have delivered on the defensive end. Kansas has some solid young prospects beginning to show their development on the defensive side of the ball and while the score doesn't always reflect that potential, the responsibility doesn't rest solely with the defense.
If you're looking for a culprit of late, it's the offense. Throughout the season, Kansas has failed to show any consistency and sometimes a pure inability to move the football. At some point it becomes impossible for a defensive unit to continue to turn back the flood waters.
A year ago Kansas lost seven straight but sat on the tail end of three of the most productive offensive years in school history. No doubt the departures of Kerry Meier, Todd Reesing, Dezmon Briscoe and Jake Sharp have all played a role in the dropoff. Another scapegoat has been the injuries and struggles on the offensive line. A group believed to be a strength headed into the season is paper thin and struggling a bit to adjust. With what's left, Chuck Long and Turner Gill have stumbled while searching for answers.
To some extent Saturday's game did give a slight hope. The 1st quarter was one of the more efficient, creative and effective offensive quarters for the Jayhawks all season. After winning the toss the Jayhawks went 80 yards on seven plays in just three minutes. That effort all the more surprising considering the struggles a week prior in Lincoln.
Chris Omigie, James Sims, DJ Beshears, Quinn Mecham and Tim Biere all played a role as the drive was well executed, balanced and gave a glimpse of some of the young players that will be returning to the Jayhawks next season.
After a punt on their 2nd drive and a defensive hold for a field goal, Kansas would again put together and impressive seven play, 77 yard drive in under 3 minutes. The drive capped off by a 24 yard James Sims scamper would prove to be the end of the Kansas scoring and a slow end to the Jayhawk hopes on the afternoon.
With just one game left, it's unlikely that Kansas is going to find the magic bullet to fix their offensive woes. But as the staff and players head into a heavy recruiting season, the long offseason and spring football, it's clear that Kansas will need to bring the offense along substantially in order to compete in the new Big 12(-2).
The Turner Gill era got off to a bit of a bumpy start at Kansas. Through seven games it looked like it could head South permanently. In the last four games there has been progress and Kansas has shown some fight which is encouraging. Kansas will get one more chance this week in the Border War against a heavily favored Missouri Tiger team, and then it will be time to dive headfirst into finding the answers to what went wrong in 2010 and what can be done to fix it.