Jay Beck

Jay Beck

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Friday, 27 December 2013 17:00

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl preview

Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

Kansas State (7-5) vs. Michigan (7-5)

  • Game time: 9:14 (CST)
  • TV: ESPN
  • Sirius Channel: 84
  • The Spread: Kansas State -6

 

Kansas State and Michigan enter Saturday night's Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl heading in opposite directions. The Wildcats found themselves with a 2-4 record at the season's midway point but won five of their final six games turning around a season that saw them lose to North Dakota State in the season opener.

Michigan, on the other hand, busted out to 5-0 start but a four overtime loss to Penn State started a slide that saw the Wolverines lose five of their final seven games to end a disappointing season that once had Michigan thinking about Big Ten titles and BCS bowls.

Not helping Michigan's cause will be the fact they'll be entering Saturday night's game without their starting quarterback. Devin Gardner is out with a foot injury which means true freshman Shane Morris will begin his career in earnest sooner than anyone expected.

The former four-star quarterback in Michigan's latest recruiting class has appeared in just two games this season and only attempted nine passes six of which came in the season opener against Central Michigan.

For the Wildcat's, they'll continue their two quarterback system they've used throughout the season. Jake Waters has thrown for 2,198 yards while Sams has rushed for 784 yards including a 199 yard performance against Baylor. “Both of them are good, young guys, both of them have played well,” Bill Snyder said. “They’ve grown immensely through the course of season. We had some difficulty early in the season with just their growth."

Buffalo Wild Wings BowlEven with the effectiveness of Sams on the ground, it was Waters who saw nearly all the action in the Wildcats final two games of the season. This week, Sams even discussed the possibility of playing wide receiver as a way to get on the field more, although that looks to be a possible move for next season and not on Saturday night.

Whatever the case, Michigan will have to be prepared for both Waters' arm and Sams' legs. The Wolverines have been solid against the run most of the season although Carlos Hyde and Braxton Miller rushed for 226 and 153 yards respectively for Ohio State the last time Michigan took the field. My guess is that Michigan will see plenty of both guys on Saturday night.

An interesting note on Saturday's game is that both teams will be without their starting place kickers. Michigan's Brendan Gibbons is tending to a family issue in Florida while K-State's Jack Cantele will miss the game due to an injury. If this somehow comes down to a field goal contest, both team's backup kickers will be front and center.

Kansas State, Keys to Victory

1. Pressure Morris. What better way to try and rattle a freshman quarterback taking the first meaningful snaps of his career than by letting loose your defensive front seven? Ryan Mueller leads a good KSU pass rush that tallied 27 sacks on the season. I'd expect to see KSU try and generate plenty of pressure on the Wolverine signal caller especially now they don't have to worry about Gardner making plays with his legs.

2. Slowing the Michigan ground game. One would have to think Michigan will rely heavily on their ground game until Morris gets his feet under him especially early in the game. Fitz Toussaint has received the bulk of the load this year although expect to see plenty of freshmen Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith, as well.

3. The red zone. With Cantele out, K-State doesn't want to leave the games in the hand of an inexperienced kicker meaning when they get inside the 20, the Wildcats need to find their way to the end zone. The Wildcats have scored 28 TD's on 44 trips to the red zone this season. That's not bad, but you can bet they'd like to be closer to 100% against the Wolverines.

Michigan, Keys to the Game

1. The offensive game plan. It'll be interesting to watch how UM offensive coordinator Al Borges goes about his play calling with Morris under center. There's little doubt Michigan will rely on the ground game, but does he have the confidence to let Morris air it out when the situation calls for it? One thing Michigan will need to avoid is becoming one-dimensional which would play right into K-State's hands.

2. Michigan's front four vs. K-State's offensive line. The Wildcats will be without senior guard Keenan Taylor but this is still an experienced KSU front that has gotten better over the second half of the season. The Wildcats offense isn't a juggernaut, but they have tallied at least 30 points in each of their last six games. If Michigan's defensive line losses the battle upfront, Michigan likely losses the game.

3. Special teams. Michigan will be without their field goal kicker, but the real challenge comes in trying to contain the Wildcats return men. K-State features two of the best returners in the country in Tramaine Thompson and Tyler Lockett and it goes without saying - giving up a big return won't help Michigan's chances against the Wildcats.

The Prediction

Kansas State has lost their last five bowl games and Bill Snyder can't seem to figure out why. "I'm just not smart enough to figure out what the issues are," Snyder said this week. If anyone truly believes that, well, then you aren't paying close enough attention to how this guy goes about his business. Rest assured, Kansas State will be well prepared Saturday night.

Michigan had their share of struggles over the second half of the season, but even with a freshman starting at quarterback, this isn't a team anyone should be taking lightly. Just ask Ohio State about that who barely squeaked out a one point win over the Wolverines to end the regular season.

So what's going to happen when they meet in Tempe? Kansas State is going to win, that's what going to happen. The Wildcats will use a balanced offensive attack and will take advantage of a conservative game plan from Michigan's offense.

Jake Waters will be effective through the air although I suspect the difference will come in the resurgence of Daniel Sams churning out yards on the ground. However they choose to go about it - via the ground or air - the Wildcats will control the line of scrimmage on offense and the defense will do its part keeping the Wolverines ground game in check. Kansas State 38 Michigan 24

Thursday, 19 December 2013 17:38

Mike Gundy dishes on Missouri and move to SEC

Oklahoma State is set to play Missouri in the Cotton Bowl in one of the more intriguing games on this year's bowl slate. With the Tigers only two year's removed from being in the Big 12 themsleves, that topic naturally came up during Mike Gundy's bowl press conference on Thursday.

"I don't know if I'm into them being an SEC team yet or not. Obviously they're in the SEC now and it's changed but I don't really see it as different," Gundy said. "It's only been two seasons."

Gundy was also asked about the success both Missouri and Texas A&M have had thus far in the SEC. The Aggies are 19-6 since making the move which included a road win at Alabama last season, not to mention Johnny Manziel's Heisman trophy.

Missouri, on the other hand, got off to a slow start in year number one finishing just 5-7 but rebounded this season with an 11-1 regular season earning them a berth in the SEC championship game which they lost to Auburn.

"I think the success they had across the league surprised most people across the country," said Gundy. "The talk then was Missouri and A&M were getting into a league that they weren't prepared for in some people's opinion."

We always hear about the dominant lines in the SEC, especially on defense, and there is no doubt some truth in that. Both Missouri and A&M have held up just fine, however.

"It's interesting that they would make the change going into the SEC and both teams have had tremendous success up front. It would certainly make us feel pretty good about ourselves being in the Big 12."

So what about the high flying offenses in the Big 12 and the fact the league took a hit nationally as it became known as a "defense-optional" league? That sentiment seemed to change just a bit this year because the Big 12's quarterbacks, by and large, struggled as compared to recent seasons. Meanwhile, the teams in the SEC started to put more points on the scoreboard.

"Scores are increased by two things in my opinion: teams that don't huddle up and teams that have NFL type quarterbacks," Gundy said.

"This year when I did have the time to watch an SEC game, their scores were higher than what I ever remember them being. I haven't looked at draft lists, but the guy at Georgia, the guy at LSU - I'll miss some of them. They had quarterbacks that some people think are going to be NFL players. And you're seeing more offenses in that league not huddle up. Because of that, there are more plays which creates more points."

Gundy went on to make some valid points about how defenses should be judged in college football today saying people should emphasize the points given up per possession above all else.

More teams running no huddle means more possession and hence more plays per game making it much tougher on defenses. So maybe, just maybe, what he's saying is that the SEC defenses while still good, may have benefited from the lack of offensive innovation in the league.

As far as Missouri specifically in the SEC, Gundy was asked whether or not they'll still be able continue to mine the state of Texas for recruits as they've done in the past. In the Big 12, Mizzou played in the state all the time. Now in the SEC, they'll play there at most every other season assuming A&M remains on the schedule every season.

"Should be (a tougher sell now). It's hard to speak to what their strategy is in recruiting. For us, we felt like the Big 12 would be an advantage because of the number of teams in the state of Texas and we go to the state of Texas. We felt like it was an advantage to be in a league where there were other teams we were going to play (and recruit)," Gundy added.

"It's hard to say what their plan would be. Thirty-seven is the number now (Texas players on the roster). I guess four years from now, let's see what the number is They may be going the other direction. They may be going down more to the south and east. But we see them in Texas all the time."

Gundy's entire Thursday press conference can been seen below.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013 17:51

Win tickets to the Discover Orange Bowl

Clemson is set to take on Ohio State in this year's Discover Orange Bowl on January 3rd at Sun Life Stadium and you could be there in person all thanks to Discover.

The Discover Fan Loyalty Poll has been running throughout the season allowing fans to express their college football loyalty by asking a variety of questions throughout the season. They've also polled fans asking them to cast their vote for the top team in college football. In a nutshell, they've given fans a voice.

Now, they're giving you a chance to attend one of the best bowl games of the season.

Miami. In January. How does that sound? I'll tell you what, it could be a lot worse.

Ohio State enters the game with a lone loss on the season, a loss that unfortunately kept them playing for the national title. But after not being eligible for a bowl game last season, there's plenty of reasons for Ohio State fans to be excited about heading to south Florida.

Clemson comes in on the heels of a 10-2 season and a 7-1 finish in the ACC. The Tigers feature two of the most exciting players in the country in quarterback Tajh Boyd and receiver Sammy Watkins.

Both teams have been ranked in the top five this season and now they'll get the chance to meet head-to-head.

Discover tixSo how do you win the tickets to be there in person, with tickets near the 50-yard line (section 142)? On to the details.

There will be two winners. Each winner will receive two tickets to the game on January 3rd determined by a random drawing. The package also includes admission into the Game Day Fan Zone as well as the Discover Tailgate party. Simply enter using one of the two methods below by Tuesday, December 24th, 2013 at 2:00 (CST).  One winner will be randonly chosen using each entry method.

The drawing will take place at that time (12/24/13) from the eligible entries and the winner will be notified and be on their way to Miami.

Here's how it works.

One winner will be chosen using on the #Discoverorangebowl hash tag on twitter. Simply tweet at me, @jaybeck12 , your answer to the following question: which player will be named the Orange Bowl MVP using the #Discoverorangebowl hash tag.

The second way to win is by leaving a comment on Turfburner's facebook page answering the same question; which player will be named the Discover Orange Bowl MVP. Please also use the #Discoverorangebowl hash tag as part of your answer.

Maybe it'll be Boyd, Watkins, Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, or somebody else. Simply let us know your prediction.

That's it.  That's all it takes to have your name entered into the drawing for two tickets (near the 50 yard line) to this year's Discover Orange Bowl.  Feel free to enter using both methods to increase your chances of winning although only one winner per household will be allowed.

What are you waiting for? Go cast your vote, tell your friends especially if they are Buckeye or Tiger fans.  And a big thank goes out to Discover for putting together the ticket giveaway and allowing fans a chance to let their voice be heard this season.

 

Disclaimer: By entering the contest, you agree that all travel expenses to and from the game will be incurred by yourself, the winning party. Discover, Turfburner.com, or any affiliates are not responsible for any travel costs related to the TICKET ONLY giveaway.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013 16:38

The odds to replace Mack Brown at Texas

Everybody has on opinion about who should or will be the new football coach at Texas.

So who's the odds on favorite for the job?

Well, if you listen to the online odds makers, Louisville's Charlie Strong is the leader out of the gate.

Sportsbook.ag has posted the odds on who will be walking the sidelines next season in Austin and the top three are Strong, Baylor's Art Briles, and James Franklin at Vanderbilt.

Here's a list of the top ten favorites according to Sportsbook.

Coach School/Team Odds
1 Charlie Strong Louisville 6/5
2 Art Briles Baylor 7/2
3 James Franklin Vanderbilt 5/1
4 Gus Malzahn Auburn 7/1
5 Chip Kelly Philadephia Eagles 8/1
5 (tie) Bill O'Brien Penn State 8/1
7 Dabo Swinney Clemson 10/1
7 (tie) Jim Mora Jr. UCLA 10/1
9 Jimbo Fisher Florida State 20/1
10 Jim Harbaugh San Francisco 49'ers 25/1
10 (tie) Mike Gundy Oklahoma State 25/1
10 (tie) John Gruden ---- 25/1
10 (tie) Will Muschamp Florida  25/1

 

(No, Nick Saban was not included on the list).

If you're wondering how that breaks down, a $100 bet on Charlie Strong would yield you a $120 win. The same bet on Mike Gundy, for example, and you would be walking away with $2500 (not a bad value, by the way).

What do you say, do you put any stock into these odds?

It's hard to say although these guys just don't throw numbers out there without having some sort of basis for doing so. Maybe there's something to it, of course, maybe there's not, either.

According to Chip Brown in an interview with Sirius radio prior to Brown's official resignation, he believed Texas would look first to coaches that had either won a national title or a Super Bowl. If you believe that logic, then these numbers probably don't mean a whole heck of a lot.

The first coach who fits that criteria is John Gruden followed by Les Miles who checked in a 30/1. That could change, however, as either Malzahn or Fisher will be adding a title to their resume following the BCS national championship.

So what's your best guess, who's going to land the job in Austin next season.

Next coach at Texas will be?
 

Central Florida received some bad news over the weekend and it had nothing to do with their own team. Baylor, their opponent in the upcoming Fiesta Bowl, announced that wide receiver Tevin Reese is probable for the January 1st bowl game.

Reese had been out since dislocating his wrist against Oklahoma causing him to miss the Bears final four games of the season. Before going down, Reese had caught 33 passes for 824 and was averaging a ridiculous 25 yards per catch.

"I get the cast of Friday so we will start testing the wrist on the 21st and we'll be right back at it," Reese said.

Without him, Baylor's downfield passing game struggled and so did the offense as a whole, at least by their own standards. The Bears scored a season low 17 points in the loss to Oklahoma State and followed that up with only 370 yards the following week against TCU.

Baylor enters the Fiesta Bowl as 17 point favorites over UCF. The Knights will no doubt benefit from the month to prepare for Baylor's sideline to sideline attack, but the likely addition of Reese back into the lineup won't make that chore any easier.

Reese's speed not only opens up the deep threat once again in the Bears passing attack, but also makes defending the run that much more difficult.

Central Florida's defense has been solid this season allowing just 19.6 points per game good for 13th in the country.  It's safe to say, however, they haven't faced an offense quite like the one they'll see in Tempe.  Of course, there aren't too many offenses around the country that has produced the way Art Briles' team has this season.

The Knights have given up 30 points or more three times this year to Penn State, Temple, and Louisville.  Here's guessing that with Reese back on the field,  Baylor might be the first team to crack 40.

After weeks of speculation, it finally happened. Mack Brown resigned as Texas' head football coach. Say what you will about how it went down, but it's done. Now Texas moves forward with what could turn out to be one of the most fascinating coaching searches we've seen, well, maybe ever.

The list of potential replacements is long, but keep this in mind; when coaching moves this big are made, rarely is there a time when a school doesn't have a replacement already targeted. Nick Saban may have been that guy, but from almost all accounts, he isn't going anywhere.

So who's next on the list? You're guess is as good as mine, but two coaches whose names keep coming up are Big 12 brethren, Mike Gundy and Art Briles. Would either of these guys make the move to Austin, if indeed, the Longhorns are interested?

Let's start with Briles.

This apparently is a lot of people's fear within the conference and for good reason. Briles just won the Big 12 title at Baylor. Ten years ago, Baylor would have won a vote of "least likely team to win a Big 12 title ever" in a landslide. Now they not only have a Big 12 title, but a Heisman trophy winner and have beaten Texas three out of the past four years and Oklahoma two out of the last three.

If he gets the Texas job, it might be game, set, and match. Are the Longhorns looking in his direction? Honestly, their search should start and end with him, not that anybody's asking me.

The guy is Texas football. He grew up there. He played high school football there and coached in the Texas high school ranks from 1979-1999 before becoming an assistant at Texas Tech. He coached at Houston taking the Cougars to bowl games in four of his five seasons there. And did I mention, he won a Big 12 title at Baylor?

If anybody is more suited for the Texas job than Art Briles, I'd like to see him.

Now would Briles take the Texas job? That's the million dollar question. Baylor just signed Briles to a contract extension that runs through the 2023 season in hopes of avoiding this very thing. They are also opening a brand new stadium that likely never would have been built had Ian McCaw not lured Briles to Waco six seasons ago. He'll be making a reported $4.5 million a year.

But let's face the facts. Nobody can compete with Texas when it comes to facilities and dollar signs. All a school can do to ward off the Longhorns is try to take care of your own and hope for the best. That's what Baylor has done, now they have just have to cross their fingers and hope for the best.

My personal opinion is that Briles would take the job if there's ever an offer on the table. I'd love to see him stay at Baylor, however, for purely selfish reasons. The Big 12 is better when there's another contender which Baylor will be as long as Briles remains in charge.

Texas is going to get a good coach one way another. They'll still be Texas and will still will get back to competing for Big 12 titles consistently before long.  Briles should be their guy but maybe they'll shoot for the stars looking for a bigger name.  They might get a bigger name, but probably not a better coach.

USATSI 7433826 117736234 lowresNow onto Mike Gundy.

What he's accomplished at Oklahoma State is equally impressive if only because his track record is longer and he's already made the Cowboys into a perennial Big 12 contender. They've won at least nine games the past six seasons which includes an 11, 12, and another 10 win season this year with a chance at 11 in the upcoming bowl game. He's won a Big 12 title and had Oklahoma State one miserable night in Ames away from playing for the national title.

The problem for Texas could come in the fact he's just 1-8 versus Oklahoma. If you didn't know, Texas doesn't like losing to the their friend from the north so that likely won't work in his favor. But (there's always a but, right?) beating OU with Texas type recruits figures to be a much easier proposition.

According to Rivals, Oklahoma State has landed exactly one five star recruit going back to 2005, Gundy's first season as the head coach. They've also averaged just 3.3 four star players per year over that time (just for comparison's sake, Texas had nine four-star players in their 2013 class).

What does that mean? Well, if you put any stock at all in recruiting rankings, Gundy has created a pretty salty track record of developing his players . He's been winning nine, 10, and 11 games a year with a whole lot of three star caliber recruits.

Texas over the past four seasons has done less with a lot more talent on the field. They've flat out missed on quarterback recruits in a major way. Gundy would likely change that within a season or two of stepping on campus. The Longhorns offensive lines have been subpar over that time. Gundy's teams have had some of the best in that category. See where we're going with this?

If what Gundy has shown in Stillwater is any indication, he could have a field day once he and his staff get their picks of the top recruits in the state of Texas.

So would Gundy make a move south to Austin? Maybe, but I'm leaning towards a no on that, for now. Some point to his flirtation with Tennessee as an example that he would indeed leave if given the right opportunity. Maybe there's some truth in that, but you know what?  He's still there and not in Tennessee so who knows how close he was to actually leaving.

He played at OSU and by most accounts, appears to like it there.  There may have been a disagreement of two with Mike Holder regarding the Cowboys' scheduling, but it looks as if that's water under the bridge. I almost get the impression he likes being out the limelight a bit which can happen in Stillwater. That won't be true in Austin, especially with what has happened at Texas over the past four years.

And if you haven't noticed, Oklahoma State isn't exactly hurting in the facilities department thanks in large part to some guy named T. Boone Pickens.  And maybe he likes dealing with one major booster rather than the many he'll have to keep happy in Austin. Just a thought.

None of this means, of course, Texas is going immediately after with Briles or Gundy. Right now, the list of candidates is long, but like I said before, the list is probably a lot shorter if you're standing in Steve Patterson's shoes. He (or whatever Texas boosters are calling the shots) likely know who they want to get.

Whether or not that short list involves Briles or Gundy will be vetted out over the coming weeks. Both guys have plenty of reasons to stay right where they are but if UT is truly interested in either guy, they'll likely give them even more reasons to make a move.

If that happens, it will no doubt upset the apple cart in the Big 12 coaching circles.

 

 

The Eyes of Texas very well may be on Mack for a while, but there also going to be on coaching search - along with everyone else in the country - clinging to every rumor that drops on random message boards.  Buckle up because change is coming. 

Friday, 13 December 2013 15:21

The vision for Kansas football

Since Charlie Weis arrived at Kansas two seasons ago, the Jayhawks have a recorded just four wins in 24 games. Impressive, no, but the silver lining comes in the fact KU won three of those four games in 2013 including a Big 12 league win that got the monkey off their back following 27 straight conference losses.

Nobody said the job of rebuilding Kansas football was going to be easy, but that's the job Weis embarked on and it obviously continues to be a work in progress.

The challenge remains scouring the country getting high school and junior college football players on campus and in order to that, you have to have something to sell them. That's not an easy job when your football team is losing far more than it wins.

But that doesn't mean the Jayhawks are going to quit trying. The Kansas athletic department put together a slick video highlighting Weis' vision for KU's for his football players while touting the Jayhawk's athletic facilities which are far nicer than you might expect given the struggles of KU football over the years.

If you're a guy considering KU, there's not much not too like as far as the facilities and living arrangements go.

The Vision

 

 

 As for Weis' message to his players, he highlights three areas that he says are of equal importance.

1. Trust. "The only way you can get the players to trust you and you can trust the players is if everybody is being honest.

2. "You are going to be pushed to get a quality education."

3. "You never have to worry about whether you're going to be developed into the best player you can be because that's going to be the case 100% of the time."

Weis goes onto to add - and I'm sure this applies to his current players as well as recruits, "I think that if you have anything burning inside and you're a competitor by nature, this challenge actually fires you up, because when everyone says no, you're saying yes."

"I'm going to make sure I'm here until the job is done."

There's still a long road ahead for KU to get back into contention in the Big 12, but maybe, just maybe, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Mack Brown met the media on Thursday to discuss UT's Alama Bowl matchup with Oregon.  Of course, not many people are focused on the actual game at the moment with all that has gone on around Brown regarding his job status.

As expected, Brown didn't say much of anything about his situation other than he's looking forward to meeting with President Bill Powers (who is expected to retain his job) and new athletic director, Stever Patterson.

About the only good tidbits came following the press conference from Texas booster Red McCombs who held court with the media for a few minutes.

It sounds as if McCombs remains in full support of Brown, however if things were to change, he flat out indicated money is not going to be an issue in trying to lure Nick Saban away from Alabama.

 

 

 

 

Is a change inevitable?  From most indications, yes, although I suppose with Powers expected to remain in charge, there's a chance Brown could find a way back to the sidelines in 2014.

But if the likely happens, expect Texas to try and write whatever size check they have to in order to lure Nick Saban away from Alabama.

 

I know I'm a bit naive, but that's of course assuming Saban doesn't care about anything other than money.  It's not as if the guy is struggling financially in Tuscaloosa.  Whatever Saban's motives may be, it's obvious McCombs is a fan.

 

While it's not known when the meeting will happen between Brown and UT's administration, it's safe to assume it'll be going down soon, maybe as early as today. 

Once that meeting happens, we'll likely know whether Brown was able to work his magic for another season or if we'll continue tracking every plane that comes and goes from Tuscaloosa Regiona Airport, airport code TCL, by the way.

To finish, here's an old tweet but a good one considering the recent events. Say what you want, but it's a good thing to have friends in high places, right?  What do you say, will it be enough?

Wednesday, 11 December 2013 14:42

Mack Brown might not leave Austin quietly

As the World Turns could be a new reality series based on what's happened in Austin, Texas over the past four seasons. Those four seasons have led us to where we are today following five days of chaos after the Longhorns loss to Baylor to end the season.

Mack Brown is going. Mack Brown is staying. Nick Saban is coming. Nick Saban isn't coming.

Who knows what to believe, but it seems all but a foregone conclusion that by week's end, Mack Brown will no longer be Texas' head coach either by his own admission, or by those higher up the food chain.

All that seems to be happening now is those people in UT's administration trying to convince Brown everybody would benefit if he were to go quietly and with a smile on his face.

The chances of that happening still remain, although if you believe the latest reports, Brown may have other idea about how is potential ouster at Texas will go down.

According to ESPN's Travis Haney, who also spent time covering the Big 12 and Oklahoma prior to heading to ESPN, Brown might head to the exit kicking and screaming.

 

 

 

On one hand, it's hard to blame Brown if this is how he chooses to go out.  Even if he comes out and says that it was his choice to step down, nobody is going to believe him so if he wants to go out guns a blazin', more power to him.  The end result will be the same.

Texas isn't happy with the 18-17 record in Big 12 games since they lost to Alabama in the national title game following the 2009 season, nor should they be.  Brown misfired in a myriad of ways leading to the last four seasons of mediocrity and UT has every right to make a change if they see fit.  Brown also has every right to disagree with them.

As for UT's handling of the whole situation, it's been a complete train wreck.  Brown might no longer deserve to be the football coach at the University of Texas, but he at least deserves to be treated with a little bit of dignity.  Greg Doyle at CBSsports.com wrote a great piece on the situation so I'll save my brain cells trying to do the same. Whatever effort I might put towards the subject would fall well short of what Doyle already penned (I think that's why he's a professional, no?).

So, here we are.  Today is Wednesday.  Brown is set to meet the media on Thursday at 10:00 (CST) to discuss the Longhorns upcoming bowl game with Oregon. Assuming he's in attendance, I'll set the over/under on the number of questions asked about the actual game at two.

And if he is there, it may very well be the last time we see him wearing burnt orange, at least with the title of head football coach.

 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 16:55

Kansas 2013 season review

Kansas suffered through another abysmal season that saw them finish last, once again, in the Big 12.

Are brighter days ahead for KU? Certainly. Does that mean there are brighter days ahead next season? Not necessarily.

Here's a look at some of the good and the bad for Kansas this season along with a quick outlook on what the future may hold for the Jayhawks.

2013 record 3-9, 1-8 in Big 12.    2012 record 1-11, 0-9 in Big 12

The good: Two more wins

Success is always measured in wins and losses and as bad as Kansas was for most of the 2013 season, the simple fact is they won two more games this season than in 2012 which included their first Big 12 win in three years. Call it what you'd like, but that's progress no matter how small it was. Of course, when you're at the bottom there's only one way to go and KU did move the needle no matter how small the steps.

The bad: the offense

The Jayhawks offense was anemic once again in 2013. In fact, Kansas actually took a couple steps back offensively, at least statistically, which was hard to do considering where they were in 2012. Kansas averaged just 15.3 points per game which was good for 118th in the nation ahead of only Purdue, South Florida, UMass, Miami (OH) and Florida International.

2013 Big 12 rank   2012 Big 12 rank
Scoring offense 15.3 10 18.2 10
Rush offense 154.1 6 211.2 4
Pass offense 140.4 10 148.7 10
Total offense 294.5 10 360.3 10

Whether or not Weis was to blame for the offensive woes, he has decided to turn the entire offense over to John Reagan next season who will return to Lawrence after spending the past four seasons at Rice. Time will tell, but is sounds as if Reagan will have full control of the offense and this won't be a "title only" position. The Lawrence World indicated he'll be free to bring the offense he was running at Rice with him to Lawrence rather than run what Weis what's him to run.

The good: defensive improvement

Even if it was modest in nature, the Kansas defense showed steady improvement in Weis' second season. Clint Bowen took over calling the defenses from Dave Campo and now will also have the title going forward.

2013 Big 12 rank   2012 Big 12 rank
Scoring defense 31.8 8 36.1 8
Rush defense 190.6 7 192.6 10
Pass defense 241.8 8 289.2 8
Total defense 432.3 8 481.8 9
Turnovers gained 24 6 20 8
Sacks 21 8 12 10

 

The Jayhawks improved in all the major defensive categories this season and outside of the Baylor and Texas Tech games, the KU defense kept the Jayhawks competitive in nearly all their games outside of a late season flop when they allowed a below average Iowa State offense to rack up over 500 yards.

The bad: the quarterbacks

For as much hype as there was surround the quarterback transfers of Dayne Crist and Jake Heaps, both turned out to be major disappointments. Crist struggled mightily last season and Heaps was nearly as ineffective in 2013. Heaps will have another season to redeem himself, but if 2013 was any indication, he'll have his work cut for himself just to earn playing time.

As a team, Kansas completed just 47.3% of their passes after completing only 46.8% last season. That simply isn't going to cut it.

KU has had plenty of issues at wide receiver over that time, but there's no question the Jayhawks have to find a way to be more competent in the passing game if they hope to win more than three games a season.

The good: James Sims

James Sims completed a phenomenal career in Lawrence rushing for 1110 yards and earning first team All-Big 12 honors. As bad as KU's passing attack has been, it's remarkable Sims has been able to accomplish what he has during his career. Teams knew what was coming and he still got his yards.

Sims finished his KU career gaining 3,592 yards while scoring 34 touchdowns. As good as he was for KU, it's easy to wonder how much more he could have accomplished had the Jayhawks had the ability to be more balanced on offense.

The bad: wide receivers

The Jayhawks quarterbacks weren't often on the mark, but they received little help from their receiving corps. Converted running back Tony Pierson had a few highlight plays but finished with just 24 catches on the year. After that? Christian Matthews had 11 catches, Rodriguez Coleman eight catches, Justin McCay and Tre' Parmalee nine along with Andrew Turzilli seven. That's it.

UPDATE: Here's another part of the problem.

 

Miami transfer Nick Harwell should help next season after sitting out this year, but until KU gets some playmakers opposing defenses have to respect, scoring points is going to remain a challenge.

Looking forward

It's no secret Kansas had a long road back to Big 12 respectability, but if there's a silver lining in all this, Charlie Weis isn't standing for the status quo. He already relinquished play calling duties during the season and then cemented that change by hiring a new offensive coordinator that will take over the reins next season so he can focus on the big picture within the program. That's in addition to handing over the defense to linebacker's coach, Clint Bowen, who also will have the official title of defensive coordinator to go with it next season.

That's all fine and dandy, but until Kansas can put more Big 12 talent on the field, it's hard to envision more wins coming KU's way. They've missed badly on the past two quarterbacks although there's a possibility freshman Jordan Darling could get himself into the mix (he redshirted this season) even with Heaps and Montell Cozart returning next season.

They also have a slew on underclassmen on the two deep depth chart that saw plenty of playing time this season - especially on defense - to go along with a handful of guys that redshirted this season that could make an impact next season.

Kansas 2014 schedule
Date Opponent
08/30/14 Open
09/06/14 SE Missouri State
09/13/14 @ Duke
09/20/14 Central Michigan
09/27/14 Texas
10/04/14 @ West Virginia
10/11/14 Oklahoma State                                
10/18/14 @ Texas Tech
10/25/14 OPEN
11/01/14 @ Baylor
11/08/14 Iowa State
11/15/14 TCU
11/22/14 @ Oklahoma
11/29/14 @ Kansas State

 

The schedule with be difficult as usual with KU rotating to five Big 12 road games next season. In addition, they'll face a tougher than originally expected road test from Duke who played in the ACC championship game last season.

Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zinger's decision to stick with Charlie Weis is probably a good one. After giving Turner Gill only two seasons, it probably isn't going to do anyone any good to try and bring in another coach only two seasons later. “I’ve been through rebuilding projects many times, and we’re going to stay the course,” Zenger said. “Wins and losses aren’t always indicative of the effort put in by this coaching staff and these players over the past couple of years," Zenger said. "I’m proud of their effort and their work ethic, and we’ll continue to chop away at this.”

What happens if they're 3-9 against next season?  That probably depends on how competitive they are among other things.  Either way, Kansas' climb back up the Big 12 ladder still has a long ways to go.  Some would even wonder whether they've yet to begin that climb, after all, they are still at the bottom of the Big 12. But hey, this season was better than last season so there's that.  I think they call that baby steps.

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