Rushing Offense/Defense South Florida's ground game (read: QB Matt Grothe and WRs Ean Randolph and Amarri Jackson) had their best performance of the season (113 yards, 3.9 ypc, 1 TD) against the best defense they've faced. The yards and yards-per-carry surrendered were the highest of the season by the KU defense.
The parenthetical above, however, might augur well for the Jayhawk run defense in future games. When handing the ball off to a running back, South Florida gained just 16 yards on eight carries. With their top two running backs unavailable through injury and suspension and their remaining backs unable to contribute, South Florida, to their credit, created a viable running game. QB Grothe (when not being sacked) ran 15 times for 78 yards. WRs Randolph and Jackson combined to run around the end 3 times for 31 yards. Future Kansas opponents may explore similarly unconventional approaches to the running game if they too find that lining up and running the ball at Kansas proves difficult.
The Jayhawks obviously missed Kerry Meier's presence when running the football. Jon Cornish had another fine performance running the ball but nobody was able to replace the 48+ yards per game Meier contributed in his three starts. (Meier's contribution in the first three games is actually greater than that, hence the plus sign. He gained 48 yards per game on the ground after yards lost on sacks are included thanks to the NCAA's counterintutive approach to maintaining official rushing stats.) Adam Barmann ran three times for four yards (losing one fumble) while Brandon McAnderson and Jake Sharp each carried the ball twice, gaining seven and six yards respectively.
In his first two starts, South Florida QB Matt Grothe completed 61.7% of his passes for 507 yards (8.45 ypa) with four touchdowns and three interceptions. Against Kansas Grothe completed half of his passes for 196 yards (5.8 ypa) with no touchdowns and two interceptions.
On September 9th, Kansas allowed 377 passing to Louisiana-Monroe. Over the last two weeks, Kansas has allowed Toledo and South Florida to throw for a combined 332 yards on 81 attempts. I shall now rank the reasons for this vast, sudden improvement of the pass defense in order of importance.
- Aqib Talib
- Lousiana-Monroe caught the Kansas coaching staff by surprise. The young Jayhawk defenders were ill-prepared for the WarHawk attack. (Jerome Kemp, in the LJW on Sept. 10th: "...we were kind of caught off guard. Looking at the tape of Alcorn, they came out, basically, with an almost totally different offense."
- Increased playing time for true freshman CB Anthony Webb, who made his first start against South Florida.
When the Jayhawks had the ball, they were in the capable hands of Adam Barmann. Yes, I was most pleasantly surprised, too. Barmann, against a fine, fast defense, completed over 70 percent of his passes for 273 yards with no interceptions. Barmann's numbers are all the more impressive when one takes into account the thoroughness with which South Florida eliminated Jon Cornish from the passing game.
Just over 20 percent of Kerry Meier's passing yards came on throws to Cornish. I think it's reasonable to give Cornish most of the credit for those gains. South Florida held Cornish to 14 yards on six receptions. Only 5 percent of Barmann's passing yards were attributable to screens, shovels, or dump-offs to Kansas's premier offensive threat.
It's hard to determine on television (especially when the game is broadcast by Fox Sports Net with upwards of three camera angles available) how much credit should go to Barmann and how much should go to the Jayhawk receivers for getting open. Either way, after two years of debating whether the quarterbacks or receivers were more to blame for Kansas's passing woes, I welcome this new conundrum into the discussion.
I anticipated excitement one way or the other in the punting game but none developed. South Florida failed to take advantage of the two punts (one a quick-kick by QB Grothe) they downed deep in Kansas territory. Dangerous punt returners Ean Randolph and Brian Murph combined for 11 return yards on three attempts.
Jim Leavitt prevented any placekicking gaffes on South Florida's part by eschewing an early opportunity at a chip shot.
Scott Webb made both his field goals (37, 41) and added a touchback on the opening kickoff.
Kansas's kick coverage went 1 for 2. After Webb's first field goal, Taurus Jackson returned a kick 39 yards to set up South Florida's touchdown drive. After Webb's second field goal put the Jayhawks up 13-7, good coverage a deep, directional kick held Ean Randolph to a 13 yard return.