This past weekend the Kansas Jayhawks played host to the #3 team in the land, the Oklahoma Sooners. Coming off an embarrassing loss in Stillwater a week ago, expectations were low for most Kansas fans but you could still sense a fanbase looking for some hope.
The big question based on the matchup was, whether or not Kansas and Turner Gill could provide that hope. Considering the Jayhawks field one of the worst defenses in division one football and Oklahoma ranks near the top offensively, it was a game where many expected Oklahoma to run away with it early and bury the Jayhawks. While the final score still provided a comfortable win for the Sooners, Kansas played this one closer than expected and did finally show some signs of improvement.
The Defense Has A Pulse...or AT LEAST Some Passion
Since the Georgia Tech game the downhill slide on the defensive side of the ball has been an ugly one. Kansas has been bad and the Kansas players looked demoralized. Facing Oklahoma it would have been easy to see the same situation playing out, but it didn't.
Oddly enough the Jayhawk defense came out with some fire. Darius Willis, Steven Johnson and Toben Opurum led the charge and while the end of the day stats weren't great, there was a palatable difference in the level of intensity on the field. Rather than rolling over, Kansas punched back. The Jayhawks even found themselves on the right side of the turnover margin thanks to three takeaways by the defensive group.
It was a movement led by Steven Johnson and a movement continued by several young players who also brought some pride and fire back to the defensive side of the ball. At the end of the day Oklahoma won and they put up some solid numbers, but they likely woke up Sunday morning knowing that they had been in a fight and that's more than can be said for the last several Kansas opponents.
Depth Is Still A Concern On Offense
A year ago the Kansas offensive line was decimated by injury and much of the blame for the offensive woes fell on that group. This year the Jayhawks have been fortunate enough to avoid any key injuries up front and that has allowed Kansas to field a top 30 offense led by the big guys up front and a stout running attack.
Mid way through this one Kansas lost Jeremiah Hatch. Hatch is the anchor in the middle of that offensive line and the Kansas offense never returned to form. Now a big part of that has to be credited to an Oklahoma defense with multiple NFL prospects in tow. But both the Kansas players and coaches have admitted that the playbook was significantly limited by the loss of Hatch.
That's a problem. If you aren't prepared to weather the storm of one injury on the offensive line then depth might be a concern. Granted the move resulted in three position changes, but it still seems like a weak excuse in the grand scheme of things. Kansas has a solid offensive line, that's what the offense is built on and it needed to continue without such a big disruption.
The Kansas Receiving Corps Needs To Step Up
Here's the thing with the Kansas passing game. No Jordan Webb didn't have one of his best games. At the same time it didn't feel like there were any receivers stepping out and making plays for him. The Kansas offensive line did a great job of keeping Webb clean for the most part, but Webb still wasn't able to find a receiver all that often. When he did his accuracy struggled and in some instances his receivers just weren't making a play with or without the ball.
Right now the Jayhawks have a roster stocked with receiving talent, at least one would have to think. The problem is that none of that receiving talent seems to be stepping up and taking charge. There is too much potential and talent for life not to be a little bit easier for Jordan Webb. It's time for someone to step into the role that Daymond Patterson filled and lead the group to a more productive role.