I’ll admit, a 4-2 start was likely at the top of where my expectations were in the pre-season, and truthfully I felt like 3-3 was more likely (to be SUPER honest, 2-4 didn’t seem farfetched). Although, despite being down five starters on offense, we did just enough in Funkytown to beat the Frogs. And, fortuitously, the Thursday night win gave the team almost a half bye week ahead of this clash with the Jayhawks. This should prove important for injuries, because guys like Alan Bowman, Travis Bruffy, and T.J. Vasher have all been out. We’ll need every bit of talent this week, because this isn’t your typical Kansas football team - the Jayhawks boast an experienced defense, a 4-star freshman running back, and quarterback play that isn’t entirely awful. I still expect a solid win, but I wouldn’t sleep on this years edition of the Jayhawks.
Before we hop into questions, I’d like to thank Andy Mitts for answering questions this week. Toss him a follow on Twitter, and check out Rock Chalk Talk if you want to scout the enemy. Let’s dive into the Q/A.
1. Kansas has played pretty well this season, and a lot of that is due to Pooka Williams. Can you tell us a little bit about him, and what we can expect this Saturday?
He is a dynamic player with good vision and fantastic ability to cut into a hole at any moment. His top speed is phenomenal, and if the offensive game plan was built more around harnessing that, I think he would be even more dangerous. He does most of his damage out in space, so Texas Tech should be especially weary of passes to him out in the flat or RB screens.
2. The most impressive stat for the Jayhawks this season is clearly the turnover numbers. What exactly is happening to lead to this influx of turnovers? Is it luck, scheme, talent, etc.?
To be perfectly honest, it’s all of the above. The team definitely has been fortunate to play Rutgers and Central Michigan in weeks where they couldn’t seem to hold on to the ball, but the game against West Virginia also highlighted the fact that this team does seem to have a knack for putting themselves into situations where they can force a turnover. Unfortunately, turnovers are the least predictive stat, so I don’t know that we can expect it to continue, but if there is anyone turnover prone on your offense, I’d be worried about their ability to hold on to the ball.
3. Who do Tech fans need to keep an eye on that we’re not already aware of?
I think it is probably the safety duo of Bryce Torneden and Mike Lee. Both of these guys have been phenomenal this year, routinely getting graded highly by Pro Football Focus. However, the overall struggles from the defense on the deep ball have caused many to overlook just how impressive they really have been, especially against the running game. If Kansas is to keep it close this week, expect to see them making big plays.
4. What are the best matchups for Kansas heading into this game?
I think it is the Kansas running back trio against the Texas Tech defensive line. Texas Tech allows 4.31 yds/carry, which is 185th in the nation, so the strong set of backs from the Jayhawks will definitely get their opportunities to make an impact. And with Khalil Herbert, Pooka WIlliams and Dom Williams all capable of breaking off long runs, it may be a long day for the Texas Tech defense.
5. Any key injuries/suspensions to track?
Not particularly, although there is some intrigue surrounding QB Miles Kendrick. He was supposedly held out of the Oklahoma State game due to an injury, but then was available against West Virginia without actually seeing the field. Given the Jayhawk’s inability to decide on a QB, I honestly can’t tell you what to expect from the QB position this week.
6. Score Prediction?
I have a hard time believing that this Kansas team can score enough on offense to keep up with the multiple big passing plays that Texas Tech is likely to benefit from. While I think Kansas could control the clock with an effective run game, I also don’t have faith in David Beaty to stick to a strategy like that for the entire game. Ultimately, I think Texas Tech pulls away late and wins 40-28.