It was another emotional letdown Saturday afternoon as the Jayhawks almost beat their first ranked team on the road in 5-years but it wasn’t meant to be.
Kansas exchanged shots with the Texas Tech Red Raiders after initially falling down 21-7 in the first half.
But Kansas rallied on the backs of runners James Sims and Tony Pierson who combined for 46 rushing attempts compared to just 15 pass attempts by the KU offense on the day.
After forcing double overtime, the Jayhawks weren’t able to convert on 4th and long, initiating a long trip home for the Jayhawks as they await their senior game against Iowa State next Saturday.
That game will kick off at 6pm central time.
My thoughts and some things that stood out today on the flip side.
James Sims and Tony Pierson
Placing both of these guys in the category of “finds” on the season wouldn’t do either of the running backs any justice. We knew coming into the season that the rushing attack would be a strength based off of the 2011 stats but nobody knew just how dominant the Jayhawks would be out of the back field.
Sims finished the day with 127 yards on 30 carries with two touchdowns to go along with Pierson’s 202 yards on 16 carries (12.6 ypc).
Coach Charlie Weis has said he knows what his bread and butter is and his play calling showed it rushing 47 times Saturday compared with just 15 pass attempts. Unfortunately, the Jayhawks were backed up on 4th down in the second overtime and were forced to pass long. The game ended on an incomplete pass in the endzone to WR Chris Omigie.
Kansas still doesn’t have a receiver with a TD catch (though WR Christian Mathews has passed for a TD).
It seems like every week I have to continually apologize for not being higher on linebacker Ben Heeney earlier in the season. When Heeney began garnering significant minutes my assumption was he won the job by default but as each week goes by Heeney is more impressive.
Heeney finished the day with 9 tackles (2 for a loss) but it seemed like so many more than that. Heeney seemed to always be in the right place at the right time making game changing tackles on seemingly every Texas Tech drive.
When you are talking about finding diamonds in the rough, Heeney may be the Cullinan.
With 2 more years of eligibility, the emergence of fellow LB’s Jake Love and Schyler Miles, this linebacker unit for Kansas is looking more and more promising by the day.
Even if I didn’t see it coming.
Kansas Passing Game
It’s getting a little repetitious but again Saturday, much like in the previous 9 losses for Kansas, the Jayhawks just couldn’t get anything going down the field in the passing game.
Starting quarterback Michael Cummings took another step forward, and I mean that literally (41 yards on 8 carries), but continually struggled in his pocket presence getting knocked down twice and missing several open receivers.
Before we start daydreaming about Jake (Josh) Heaps, keep in mind that Cummings got little to no help from his receivers as there were several dropped balls and bad routes to go around.
Cummings finished the day with a paltry 6-15 for 29 yards and 2 touchdowns. What might be the best stat of the day however, the goose egg in the INT column is. If Cummings is not as smart with the football as he was Saturday, this game is likely over in the first half.
The offensive coaching staff is obviously protecting Cummings and leaning on their rushing attack which the Jayhawks did better than they have all year of executing that game plan. At this point, with just 2 games left on the schedule, it’s hard to believe we will see anything more of Cummings than what the offense HAS to give him.
Road Game Changes
Weis said earlier in the week that he would change a few things in terms of preparation and itinerary for road games. The Jayhawks arrived earlier than usual to Lubbock, TX to settle in and get a jump start on game preparations. If the score in the 4th quarter was any indicator I would say that was overall a successful ‘tweak’.