A week after getting their pants pulled down on national television the Sooners are back on the road this Saturday in Lawrence, Kansas. In a lose/lose situation, Oklahoma must produce a, "lesser of two evils," result by winning comfortably. Of course by doing so people are going to say, and rightfully so, that they are just the Kansas Jayhawks and OU should have won big. The flip-side is that if Oklahoma struggles then its an omen that the season truly has gone south. I believe that is a fair statement as well though.
Kansas has an offense that struggles in every major category. They are last in the Big XII in points scored (18.2 ppg), passing yards (186.2 ypg), and rushing yards (118.8 ypg). Jake Heaps leads the offense from the quarterback position where he has completed 52.6% of his passes for 887 yards and 5 touchdowns to 6 interceptions. His favorite target this season has been Tony Pierson who has 21 receptions for 327 yards. His only receiving touchdown this season came on a 77-yard reception against Rice in the second game of the season. Tight end Jimmay Mundine is averaging 13.6 yards per reception and leads the team with three touchdowns.
James Sims is the feature back in the offense and is averaging 4.5 yards per carry despite being one of the focal points of opposing defensive coordinators. He has a team-high two rushing touchdowns this season and also has the longest rushing play for the Jayhawks (39 yards).
Part of the struggle for the Kansas offense has been the play of the offensive line. Heaps has been sacked twelve times this season and backup Michael Cummings has gone down twice. While you can't peg every sack on the line, the fact that Jayhawk quarterbacks have been dropped fourteen times this season points to a protection issue. They are also only managing to get enough push to average 3.1 yards per carry.
"It is always good to go back to Kansas. It is where a lot of my family is from so I will have to get a lot of tickets for that game. But it is a great environment and I see a lot of my friends from high school. Kansas and Kansas State are usually the games I have to show out for." - Geneo Grissom
Defensively the Jayhawks are a much improved team from 2012. They are fifth in the conference in points allowed (25.6), fifth in passing yards allowed per game (222.2) and seventh in rushing yards allowed per game (177.2). Forcing turnovers has been a staple of the Kansas defense this year. The Jayhawks have recovered five fumbles and snagged seven interceptions in their five games played in 2013.
Linebacker Ben Heeney leads the team in total tackles (43), tackles for loss (7) and sacks (2). He's also tied with safety Isaiah Johnson with two interceptions. Five different Jayhawk defenders have recorded at least one interception this season and ten different players have been involved in Kansas' thirteen recorded sacks.
Its time to shift attention from last week's loss in the Cotton Bowl and move on to the rest of the season. While nobody would really rejoice over a convincing victory against the Jayhawks, the positives would be some renewed confidence for players who have had to step in for injured starters. Kansas shouldn't push the Sooners offensively, unless OU turns the ball over, but their defense is just feisty enough to make things frustrating, especially if Oklahoma refuses, once again, with their rushing attack.