How did Kansas lose to North Dakota State? How did a team coming off a 3 win I-AA schedule defeat a team that was just recently competing for Big 12 North Titles?
The first answer I have is 3rd down conversions. The Jayhawks went 4 for 15 on 3rd down conversions (26%). A 26% 3rd down conversion percentage would have been good enough for 119th in the country last season. Poor execution on first down ultimately doomed the Jayhawks. Against ND State, their average first down was 1st and 10. Their average second down was 2nd and 9. Their average third down was 3rd and 8. The long 3rd downs meant the team was almost always passing on 3rd down. In fact, the Jayhawks attempted a pass on 13 of their 15 3rd down attempts.
The starting defense held the Bison to an impressive 168 yards of total offense. Kansas hadn't held an opponent below 200 yards of offense since 2008's season opener against FIU. The 2010 defense returns 40% of its 2009 starts featuring veterans Chris Harris (cornerback), Jake Laptad (end), and Drew Dudley (linebacker). Dudley was 11th in the Big 12 in total tackles in 2009. Laptad was 10th in the Big 12 with 6.5 sacks. The defense is really the only bright spot of the 2010 KU squad.
The core of the offense is at tackle and at center. Both tackles and the center started every game last season as the Jayhwak line pass blocked for the second most prolific passing offense in the Big 12. Sadly, they were the second worst Big 12 line concerning sacks allowed and paved the way for the fourth worst rushing offense in the Big 12.
Turner Gill's green backfield returns no starters and the guys that are there are obviously not on the same page. The KU quarterbacks averaged 4.54 yards per play against the Bison. For comparison's sake, Todd Reesing average 6.24 yards per play in 2009. Turner Gill will probably throw a mix of Kale Pick and Jordan Webb at the Tech defense but has declared Webb the starter as of Wednesday. The running backs are even more abysmal than the quarterbacks. Kansas' 2009 leading rusher and terribly frustrated Toben Opurum was moved to linebacker in the offseason. This meant that the Jayhawks returned ZERO rushing experience for their 2010 stable of running backs. Despite the lack of experience, KU rushers picked up almost 100 yards and averaged 4.74 yards/carry.
When the Jayhawks executed, they got yardage. Execution, however, was a rare commodity against the Bison. KU was awarded 70 yards in penalties, allowed 4 sacks, and coughed up three turnovers in the lowest scoring offensive effort since 2005. Out of 71 snaps, the KU offense had 31 plays of 0 or negative yards.
Check out the Lines on Yahoo! for our prediction competition. Last week was off the board so everyone got a point for the straight up.
Bird: Kansas hasn't won a game since last October. They aren't starting a new win streak with us. Tech covers and I'm taking the over...42-14.
Winfield: If we give up more points than North Dakota State did than we have FAILED! Tech takes it 48-0. No not really, they'll put up a better fight this time around. We still reach the 40's and I'll spot them 13 points because of our 3-4 defense-learning. 42-13 Techsters.