Well, here we are. The true meat of the 2008 schedule starts Saturday with a trip to Lawrence. This, as everyone knows, is the start of a brutal four week stretch of games that will define our season. But we can only take it one week at a time.
So how does Tech start this gauntet off right vs. KU? I think a huge key is Kerry Meier. The converted QB is one of the most athletic players on the KU team and is probably the heart of the team. Several TV announcers have stated that he's not only the most popular player on the team, but probably the most popular student at KU. they just love the kid up there.
Meir ranks 8th nationally in receptions per game (and is the Big XII leader in that category) with just over eight catches per week. But more importantly, he's a drive extender. His catches tend to keep drives alive on third down and though he's not a TD machine (three all year), he is the quiet cog that keeps KU rolling. Dezmon Briscoe is the flash guy and he's the deep threat for KU, so we can't let him run free all day, but I think Meier is much more important to the success of KU.
What makes keeping Meier in check even more difficult is the escapability of Todd Reesing. Just as Meier keeps drives alive, Reesing keeps plays alive with his active feet and escapability. Just when the D-line thinks they have him corralled, he can escape and keep the play going, often finding Meier in the flat all alone. This puts a huge amount of pressure on our underneath coverage to stay with Meier for extended periods on some plays. A tough task for any LB or CB.
Tech can do one of two things: Assign a spy on Meier to shadow him all over the field, which is a poor strategy. Taking a player out of the mix to follow a guy is never something I've been a fan of, though. A better strategy is ensuring the D-linemen maintain their lanes and don't allow the hope of a sack to create an avenue of escape. In other words, work to the QB, but keep contain. Easier said than done, I know. But with the ability our D-line has shown to get decent QB pressure so far this year, I think it's doable.
If Tech can cover Meier closely enough to prevent the critical third down completions, while pressuring Reesing enough so that his only option is a run up the middle, a sack or a dangerous pass, I think Tech has a great chance of taking this one. If Reesing can flush to either sideline and create defensive coverage breakdowns, this could spell trouble and make ball control a dirty phrase for Red Raider faithful.
The one great thing about Tech is we usually don't have to worry about how many points we'll score. We'll score. Usually a lot. It's keeping the other guy down long enough for us to build a big lead, thus taking their offense out of its gameplan that is the key. Face it, in a shootout, Tech wins 9 out of 10. Kansas doesn't want that. We do.
Thanks goes to Seth for letting me have a spare key on this thing.