Kansas football: a season in the rearview

Biggest Surprises:
1) James Sims: Aside from Kansas coach Charlie Weis — who predicted Sims’ breakthrough season way back in training camp — no one imagined the junior running back racking up more than 1000 yards and nine touchdowns rushing. Keep in mind Sims did this after being suspended for the first three games of the season. His Kansas record-setting streak of six straight games with 100 or more yards helped Sims shatter his previous best of 742 yards, which he ran for in his freshman season of 2010.
2) Home Improvement: In 2011 Kansas was outscored at home 248-189. This year the Jayhawks cut their opponent’s scoring down by nearly 100 points in Lawrence, getting outscored 156-115. The Iowa State debacle cost Kansas 51 points. Take away that game and the numbers are even closer.  Not to mention Kansas went right down to the wire with Texas, Rice and Oklahoma State. A team has to give itself  the best chance to win at home and Kansas did that regardless of the outcome.

Senior quarterback Dayne Crist looks for a teammate to pass to in Saturday’s game against Oklahoma at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium. The Sooner outperformed the Jayhawks to win 52-7.

Biggest Disappointments:
1) Dayne Crist: Maybe expectations were set too high, maybe he really did have no help or maybe he just wasn’t meant to be a college quarterback, but for whatever reason Dayne Crist is not who we thought he was. Weis’ highly-touted Notre Dame transfer completed only 48 percent of his passes and had a 4:9 touchdown to interception ratio. Everyone Jayhawk fan wanted a storybook ending for Crist. It just wasn’t meant to be.
2) Kansas Receivers: Even if Crist was firing off rockets, there was rarely someone there to catch it. Of the 313 passes the Kansas quarterbacks attempted, just 75 were caught by Kansas wide outs. Perhaps the most notable statistic is that, of the seven touchdown passes thrown this year, none of the Kansas wide receivers caught one. For all of Charlie Weis’ offense prowess, there was never any rhythm to the passing game.

Offensive MVP: James Sims
Sims led the Big 12 in rushing with an average of 115 yards per game even though his suspension forced him to miss Kansas’ Big 12 opener against TCU — a 20-6 loss that in which Sims’ skills could have been used. If this season is any indication, Kansas fans are in for a treat when he comes back for his senior year.
Honorable Mention: Tony Pierson

Defensive MVP: Ben Heeney
Heeney anchored a backfield core that shaped up to be one of the better units in the Big 12. The sophomore from Hutchinson was second in the Big 12 in tackles with 88 (51 solo) and was fourth in tackles for loss (9 solo, 4 assisted). Defensive coordinator Dave Campo may have talked a lot about the personnel issues with his group this year, but he’s got a heavy hitter in Heeney.
Honorable Mention: Bradley McDougald

What We’re Still Wondering:
When will Kansas win another conference game? The losing streak is at an astronomical 21 games and the schedule won’t get any easier next year. Weis said it best when he noted there’s a clear difference between “fighting” and “winning.” We see the fight in the Jayhawks. When will we see positive results?

What We Learned:
Kansas can run the ball. Kansas can run the ball when teams know Kansas will run the ball. Kansas can run the ball because of James Sims and Tony Pierson. James Sims and Tony Pierson can run the ball because they have a balanced combination of speed and strength, and an offensive line that can open holes. And both Sims and Pierson are returning in 2013, where, presumably, Kansas will run the ball.

Noted…
3) Kansas’ receivers were undersized and under-skilled which didn’t help any of the Jayhawks quarterbacks in the passing game, but since it’s a team sport, the onus falls on the entire offense to correct the passing game’s flaws. Quarterback Jake Heaps and wide out Justin McCay, who were ineligible this year, should be key additions, but then again, that’s what was said about Crist.
2) While the run game is returning its best rushers, Pierson and Sims, the offensive line that made their lives so easy is losing seniors left tackle Tanner Hawkinson, center Trevor Marrongelli, right guard Duane Zlatnik and tight end Mike Ragone. Replacing them will be key to the success of the run game and it will not be an easy task.
1) Expect to see a lot of unfamiliar names near the top of the depth chart next season. Much like Kansas State has done under Bill Snyder, Kansas will be going after a bevy of junior college transfers. Weis has said the Jayhawks need players who can step in immediately and it’s clear where those players reside.

The Numbers:
1,903 — Kansas total rushing     yards
20 — Kansas Turnovers gained
115 — Kansas FBS ranking out of 120 teams in scoring offense
12 — Sacks by Kansas
4 — Kansas FBS ranking in fewest penalties (45)
31:59 — Kansas average time of possession

Jayhawks Sound Off:
“If there is reason to replace the first guy with the second guy you do it. It doesn’t make a difference what position they play. But there is a big separation between the first guy and the second guy.” — Charlie Weis on the possibility of benching Dayne Crist after losing to Northern Illinois
“There’s definitely a toughness factor to our defense. We’re not a bunch of high profile recruits or anything like that, but we bought into coach Campo’s system and we’re executing a lot better than we have in the past.” — Junior linebacker Huldon Tharp on the defense’s mentality
“When we got him all of the Texas players were excited and I was kind of lost as to why everyone was like ‘We just got the best coach in the world,’ but it turns out we did.” — Bradley McDougald on the hiring of Dave Campo
“Coach told me whenever I get the ball don’t look for the big play just keep moving the chains,” — James Sims

Recaps:

Kansas 31, South Dakota State 17
The Jayhawks took a 24-7 lead into the fourth quarter powered by the performances of running backs Tony Pierson and Taylor Cox. The duo combined to rush for 245 and three touchdowns. The Kansas defense picked off SDSU quarterback Austin Sumner four times making up for a 99-yard touchdown run they allowed in the first quarter.

Rice 25, Kansas 24
After going up 24 to 16 in the third quarter the Jayhawks began relenting and allowed Rice an opportunity to come back and steal a win. Kansas ran only six plays in the fourth quarter, the last of which was an interception thrown by Dayne Christ. Crist’s error set up Rice for a 45-yard game winning field goal as time expired.

TCU 20, Kansas 6
The Jayhawk defense had another big game gobbling up four TCU turnovers. The offense, however, could not sustain long enough drives to put points on the board. Kansas could only muster two Ron Doherty field goals in the first half before getting shut out the last two quarters.

NIU 30, Kansas 23
Kansas built a ten-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but for the second time eased up too soon, allowing Northern Illinois to score 17 points in the last 14:33 in the game. Tyler Patmon had a pick-six to give Kansas its 13th takeaway of the season, which ranks second in the nation.

Kansas State 56, Kansas 16
Kansas held its own in the first half against what would become the top team in the nation, going into halftime down 21-14. Yet the second half showed the Wildcats’ true strength. K-State outscored the Jayhawks 35-2 in the second half. Quarterback Collin Klein passed for two touchdowns and scored another two rushing.

Oklahoma State 20, Kansas 14
On a rain-soaked Saturday night in Lawrence, Dayne Crist was benched, Michael Cummings emerged and James Sims shined as a Jayhawks comeback fell short. Sims gained more than 80 yards in the fourth quarter, including a 30-yard touchdown run.

Oklahoma 52, Kansas 7
Michael Cummings got his first career start in Norman, Okla., but the outcome for Kansas was the same. Sooners quarterback Landry Jones passed for 300 yards and three touchdowns as the Jayhawks could not slow down the OU offense or break its defense. James Sims gained 102 yards and scored the Jayhawks’ lone touchdown in the fourth quarter with the game well out of hand.

Texas 21, Kansas 17
Kansas went up 17-14 with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter after a 14 play, 61 yard drive that took more than seven minutes and was capped off with Nick Prolago’s 29-yard field goal. But Texas’ quarterback Case McCoy led a 70-yard game-winning drive to stop Kansas from getting its first win over UT since 1938.

Baylor 41, Kansas 14
Baylor quarterback Nick Florence threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns, while James Sims rushed for 126 yards and a touchdown himself. Yet Kansas had no answer the Bears’ Terrance Williams and Glasco Martin who carved up the Jayhawks’ secondary. Kansas went scoreless in the second half.

Texas Tech 41, Kansas 34
The Jayhawks played their first game with both James Sims and Tony Pierson healthy and suspension free as the Red Raiders had no answer for the Kansas run game. Tech pulled ahead in double overtime after Eric Stephens took a snap from the wildcat formation and tossed a jump pass over the line of scrimmage to a wide open Darrin Moore.

Iowa State 51, Kansas 23
Charlie Weis paid for students to come to Senior Night, bought the team all new black jerseys and then watched as his Jayhawks got walloped by a third-string freshman quarterback named Sam Richardson. Kansas was unable to sustain any offense and Sims broke his streak of six consecutive 100-yard rushing games.

West Virginia 59, Kansas 10
WVU quarterback Geno Smith passed for more than 400 yards, completing 23 of 24 passes with three touchdowns and one interception. All of the progress Kansas had made this season seemed to disappear as the Jayhawks chased the Mountaineers all around their home turf in Morgantown, W.Va.

  • Updated Dec. 4, 2012 at 9:27 pm
  • Edited by Brian Sisk