So how did the “Great Scott” Josh Scotten grade out the Kansas Jayhawks?
There is no doubt that Kansas quarterback Dayne Crist has been a little disappointing through four weeks. We as fans, and media, were all guilty of drinking the 5-star, Notre Dame, Kool-Aid but I still stand by my early season predictions that Dayne Crist could be a legit Big 12 quarterback.
Through 4-games, Crist is 62-129-4 with 763-yards and two touchdowns. Not exactly stellar but the Jayhawks have limited options behind Crist with backup QB Michael Cummings still too fresh to take Big 12 snaps and Turner Baty disappearing on the depth chart. What Crist gives the Jayhawks is presence in the huddle and locker room. This team needs a leader more than it needs a fantasy football champion and right now, the best/only man for the job is Crist.
Another major issue with the passing game is the lack of elite receivers.
As of now, the Jayhawks have yet to find a go-to receiver and it shows on the stat sheet and scoreboard. The Jayhawks have only one receiver who has eclipsed the 100-yard mark in a game (Andrew Turzilli; TCU) and none that have passed 200-yards on the season.
Through 4-games, Daymond Patterson has been the Jayhawks top target with 17 receptions for 147 yards and no TD’s. Kale Pick leads all receivers with 148-yards despite having only nine receptions and missing the TCU game.
The Jayhawks have no receiver with a touchdown on the season with the only two passing TD’s coming from tight ends Jimmay Mundine and Mike Ragone. Until the Kansas receivers amass more production, this offense will struggle to keep pace with the high-powered offenses of the Big 12.
However, it is not all bad news for the offense. The Jayhawks have a stable of running backs with both game breaking ability and dependability on their resume.
Tony Pierson leads the group with 58 carries for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Newcomer Taylor Cox is just behind Pierson with 45 carries for 266 yards and two touchdowns. Both have proven to be the Jayhawks biggest weapons in the offense but without a legit passing game, opponents will start stacking the box forcing the Jayhawks into passing situations.
As if Pierson and Cox were not enough, RB James Sims returned to the lineup last weekend after serving a 3-game suspension and seems to be even better than he was in 2011 when he led the team in rushing. In his first action of the 2012 season, Sims had 18 carries for 91 yards and 2 touchdowns. With Sims back into the fold, Pierson can help in the passing game where he is already the Jayhawks 4th most productive receiver with nine catches for 135 yards. But until receivers like Turzilli, Josh Ford, and Christian Mathews are fully utilized in the offense the Jayhawks passing threats will be too one-dimensional. Though Pick, Patterson, and even D.J. Beshears all have unique skills, none has the varied skill-set as the universal Turzilli, Ford, or Mathews. But the fact that Weis has not consistently incorporated either Turzilli, Ford, or Mathews into the passing games says a lot about where all three are at in terms of route running and overall discipline.
Finally, the Jayhawks offensive line has been overall solid despite struggling at times in pass rush situations. Behind seniors Tanner Hawkinson, Duane Zlatnick, and Trevor Marrongelli, the Jayhawks have dominated when rushing the ball but have given up 2.5 sacks per game and many more hits on Crist.
Much of that pressure on Crist has come from the right side where the Jayhawks have subbed both right tackle and guard by committee. The coaching staff would like transfer Aslam Sterling to take over the right guard spot but he is too inconsistent and has lost the job to former defensive lineman Randall Dent for the time being. At tackle, Gavin Howard seems to have settled in nicely has little competition behind him.
Overall, the Kansas offense has been…ok. Though, we have seen spurts of Charlie Weis’ notorious “schematic advantage” there have been too many high risk play calls on short yardage situations. Weis has gone for the gold when all he needed was to continue drives and his team paid for it.
With an entirely new offense, both players and coaches, it is hard to be too critical of any group but they have to get better as the #7 ranked Wildcats await the Jayhawks after the bye.
Overall Offensive Grade= C