We’re roughly 24 hours out from the monumental tilt between the Oklahoma Sooners and Kansas Jayhawks, and here to discuss this barnburner is Steve Fetch of Rock Chalk Talk — SB Nation’s KU site. We discuss things for traveling OU fans to do in Lawrence and play a game of FMK.
Also, make sure to check out this week’s edition of the Oklahoma Breakdown Podcast as well as our own Kamiar Mehrabian’s appearance on the Rock Chalk Podcast.
Kansas has obviously shown improvement at times, but in other instances the Jayhawks look like many other KU teams from this decade. How are Kansas fans feeling about the Les Miles Era through five weeks?
I think pretty good. Obviously the effort against TCU wasn’t great but with the Khalil Herbert news breaking right before the game I think a downer performance was a little more expected. I also think the Boston College win earned a lot of good will. Lastly the recruiting has really picked up and we have some legit prospects committed for next year rather than fighting a bunch of MAC and Sun Belt teams for players. So I definitely think there’s some frustration with last week’s effort but not enough to turn on Miles by any means.
Leading rusher Khalil Herbert is no longer with the team, but there’s still a major threat in the backfield in the form of Pooka Williams. What changes in the absence of Herbert, and who aside from Williams steps up to carry the workload?
That’s the million dollar question. I’d say Dom Williams, but he is reportedly redshirting and coming back next season. Then there’s freshman Velton Gardner who had a TD last week, but I suspect they want to redshirt him too ideally and he has just 1 game left before that isn’t an option anymore. So…..Ben Miles?
After three years of picking up experience and starting in some games, Carter Stanley has been pretty decent as a redshirt senior. How has he progressed as a QB between 2018 and 2019?
I still think he’s mostly the same guy he was last year, but I don’t think he has to look over his shoulder much this season which helps. It’s resulted in him being more willing to take shots downfield which has resulted in a couple more turnovers than you’d like but his yards per attempt is almost a yard more than it was last season.
Speaking of Stanley, which of his targets should Oklahoma fans be familiar with heading into Saturday’s game?
The main guy for me is probably Andrew Parchment who has twice as many catches as anyone else and is probably the best athlete in the receiving corps as well. Then you have Alabama transfer Daylon Charlot who has turned himself into a good contested catch guy after being in the wilderness a bit so to speak under David Beaty. Kwamie Lassiter has been a decent possession guy (and yes is the son of former NFLer Kwamie Lassiter) and don’t overlook tight end James Sosinski, who scored in the 2018 final four.
Kansas is 66th nationally in defensive SP+. What have the Jayhawks struggled with on that side of the ball, and what have been their strengths?
Strengths? What’s that? I guess I will say they did a good job adjusting on defense up until that TCU game, but I don’t think that will help much come this weekend given Oklahoma can score however they want. The biggest struggle to my eye has been up front. There’s some talent, but they don’t have enough bodies to get a consistent push on the defensive line and that really comes back to bite them later in games.
On that topic, which defensive players have stood out in 2019?
Probably the two guys most familiar to outside fans are the safeties Mike Lee and Bryce Torneden. Torneden was the highest graded returning Big 12 safety by PFF, and he and Lee were both in the top 3 in coverage grades last season. Other than those two, I have been really impressed with LB Dru Prox, but he wont be playing due to injury.
Plenty of Oklahoma fans will be traveling to Lawrence, so which bars would you recommend for the fans who are making the trip?
This will apply to 7 and 8 but my biggest advice is just go to Massachusetts Street and walk up and down and go into every bar and restaurant you can. There’s something to fit literally anyone’s taste there. If you want the iconic KU experience I’d definitely go to the Wheel (which ironically isn’t on Mass St) and also to Jazz Haus. I would also definitely stop by my favorite bar in the world, The Sandbar.
Sticking with this subject, do you have any Lawrence restaurant recommendations?
This depends on what time you’re planning on eating. If it’s a nice day after type thing and you want something fancy, 715 is your thing. For pizza, Rudy’s or Papa Kenos (I’m a Rudy’s guy myself). The Burger Stand will make you the best burger money can buy, and for breakfast I recommend Ladybird Diner, which is a diner in name only. Also make sure to head over to Munchers Donuts, but don’t listen to people who claim the cream cheese donut is the best. It’s amazing I made it out of school under 200 lbs much less 300.
FMK – Nick Collison, Paul Rudd, Mark Mangino. Go!
Have you seen Paul Rudd? I’m torn because I love Nick Collison but also want Rudd’s anti-aging secrets. I’ll go with marry Collison because everyone he’s ever played with describes him as a great teammate so that must extend to his personal life and I’ll hope I can keep Paul Rudd interested long enough to steal aforementioned secrets.
With Missouri no longer in the conference, would you now consider Kansas State to be KU’s arch-rival, or does the animosity between the border rivals just continue to simmer at the same or greater temperatures?
I am not a native Kansan, so I’ve never really thought of K State as much of a rival. I don’t think many KU fans do, although people from farther west in Kansas probably consider them more rivals. On the whole though I think K State builds a good chunk of their fandom around hating Kansas while Kansas doesn’t really care. I will never recognize that other school or state you mentioned.
The line for this currently sits at -32. Do you think Kansas beats the spread?
I will say I put a little on KU +32 and immediately felt sick afterwards so that probably tells you. That’s just so many points to cover though.
What would have to happen for Kansas to pull off the unthinkable?
Well I haven’t seen any reports of the team failing to make it to Lawrence, which was probably our only shot. Maybe if 3 quarterbacks get hurt and the Vikings hire Lincoln Riley at halftime, but even so I think I could coach Oklahoma to a win over Kansas.