Kansas football defense facing some upcoming challenges
- Oct. 11, 2012
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The Kansas Jayhawks’ defense has a big problem.
It’s not that they haven’t been getting stops — Kansas has greatly improved at that.
And it’s not that they’ve been getting scored on too much — take away the second half against Kansas State and every game has been within reach.
No, Kansas’ defensive problem is just big — big plays that is.
Against Kansas State, four Wildcat touchdowns came on plays of 20 yards or more. Only one of those scores came from K-State quarterback Collin Klein’s passing abilities.
And here’s where the problem gets worse. The Oklahoma State Cowboys are storming into Memorial Stadium with the fifth best run game in the country, averaging 300 yards per game.
That’s a big concern for Kansas coach Charlie Weis and defensive coordinator Dave Campo.
“That’s a lot of yards and they’re averaging just 55.8 points a game,” Weis said. “Its big, big numbers. And it’s big rushing totals. It’s big passing totals, and it’s big point totals. Those are big numbers.”
The biggest weapon the Cowboys tout? Wichita native Joseph Randle. Weis said he heard a rumor that Kansas offered him a scholarship in fourth grade and joked they should have offered him in third grade.
Randle is the Big 12’s leading rusher at this point. The junior is averaging 133 yards per game — seven yards per carry — and has six touchdowns to show for it.
He’s also 6-foot-1, 200 pounds — a big man.
“He’s a home run threat,” Weis said of Randle. “And he’s a home run threat when they dump the ball off to him, too. He’s a very, very good player.”
It would be appropriate to point out that Kansas has one of the top 20 red zone defenses in the nation — if it weren’t for the fact that Oklahoma State has never reached their opponent’s 20-yard line without coming away with points. The Cowboys have 20 touchdowns and five field goals when in the red zone.
But before Kansas can worry about Oklahoma State scoring, it will have to limit the big plays that can put the Cowboys in that position.
“We have to execute,” defensive end Josh Williams said. “We need to make sure everyone is on the same page.”
Campo said that preparing for Oklahoma State is nothing like Kansas State — the two teams present much different threats. All of the extra options that the Wildcats made use of, like Collin Klein’s running ability, won’t be a factor for the Cowboys.
Essentially, there will be fewer players to worry about but that doesn’t mean defending the Cowboys will be any easier. Campo said the players that Oklahoma State boasts are a problem in itself.
While the Cowboys’ quarterbacks may not have the legs and strength of Klein, they do have Randall, who is no stranger to making big plays.
Stopping him will be no small feat.
“We have to be disciplined and do the things we’re doing,” Campo said. “We’re not throwing in the towel and saying hey we’re not good enough, that’s just not going to happen.”