A huge shoutout to our friends at Rock Chalk Talk and for doing this Q+A with us and bearing with our fun questions!
VTM: Kansas started off the season strong, but seem to have regressed a lot since that first game. What was the reason for the strong start?
Two words: Rhode Island. Unfortunately for them, they have a really bad team this year. Even a bad Kansas team should be able to win big against them, and that is exactly what we saw. The offense was able to cover over its warts on the back of an overmatched Rhode Island defense, and the much improved defense feasted on the unfortunate Rams offense.
VTM: Steve Sims Jr. has been pretty good for y’all, especially with his four touchdown grabs. Who else should we look out for on the Jayhawk offense?
Sims is our speed guy, and he has been able to turn what are typically solid gains into spectacular plays. He should be able to help the Jayhawks stretch the field against the Red Raider secondary, and hopefully that opens up some holes. We also have Texas A&M transfer LaQuvionte Gonzalez, who has made some incredible catches but also some gaffes on special teams.
With our QB carousel, it's hard to know if there is really anyone that you should watch out for, and it's hard to pick out any of our three RBs as a guy to focus on. So really, our offense is a bunch of decent WRs, a few question marks at QB, a RB by committee that doesn't appear to be able to find a focus, and an OL that hasn't been consistent in either production or people.
VTM: By the same token, who should we look out for on the defense?
The defense is the bright spot on this team. Through 3 weeks, Sophomore Daniel Wise was the second-highest rated DT on the college rankings at Pro Football Focus. Fish Smithson is a ball-hawk in the secondary. Other names to watch out for are Bazie Bates, Joe Dineen and Marcquis Roberts.
VTM: Do you think Beaty is the guy for the job, long-term?
I honestly think it is way too early to tell. Beaty is great for recruiting, but there are serious concerns about his in-game coaching ability and execution of a gameplan. These are all skills that he can learn, especially with a good group of assistants, but he has to learn to lean on them instead of trying to do everything himself.
VTM: What’s Kansas’s biggest obstacle to sustained success in the Big 12?
At this point, it's all about improving and stockpiling talent. Kansas still has a ways to go in order to get up to the full allotment of scholarships, and we've still seen them fading at the end of games as the players that are available are wearing down.
The coaching staff also needs to trust in its processes and decisions. The QB rotation right now isn't working, as Montell Cozart is allowed to play until he makes any sort of major mistake before he is pulled for Ryan Willis. But the move has yet to be a permanent one, as any mistake by Willis results in Cozart re-entering the game.
VTM: We’re about to dive into conference play. Who’s your pick to win the Big 12?
I'm still leaning towards Oklahoma. They have the most talent on paper, and there is definitely an argument to make that they have played the hardest schedule by far in the conference and got punched in the mouth early. Baylor looks good so far, but they haven't played anyone really challenging. Texas still has too many questions to pick here, but West Virginia is a really good dark-horse pick. They've played tough teams and come out unscathed so far, so...
VTM: What’s your final score prediction?
I actually think that this will be fairly high scoring for both squads. Texas Tech has a defense so bad that even Kansas' anemic offense should be able to score some points. And the Kansas defense is likely to get theirs as well, either scoring directly, or setting up an easy score or two for the offense. I'll go 54-37, Texas Tech.
VTM: Fun Questions Time! Staind or Creed, if you had to pick one?
Creed. I still actually have a copy of their first CD, and I used to be able to sing their songs all the time. I don't get a chance to listen to either very much anymore, especially with a bunch of young(ish) kids.
VTM: The Big 12 has all of a sudden become the most desirable conference, for anyone. Who are we adding if all the factors are suddenly not factors?
Personally, I'd love to see Cincinnati and BYU. I think of all the options, those two schools have the strongest athletic departments overall, and would be a great asset in multiple sports moving forward. I understand the issue that some people have with the Honor Code at BYU, but if that's so important, we shouldn't allow any of our teams to schedule them either. And it isn't like BYU pushes that Honor Code compliance on visiting teams.
Honestly, I think Cincinnati is the least controversial and likely has the 8 votes required, but without an expansion partner, they aren't going anywhere anytime soon.
VTM: On a scale of 1-10, how tiring are “LOL KANSAS BASKETBALL” jokes?
At this point, I've tuned them out completely, so I guess a 1?