I was in Lawrence, Kansas around this time last year and unfortunately watched the game between the Yellow Jackets and the Jayhawks. While the game started off fairly well for Georgia Tech scoring a touchdown on their initial drive to begin the game, any momentum from that first possession quickly evaporated as numerous mistakes were made and the offensive line was just unable to provide any blocking in the A and B gaps for the remainder of the contest.
I clearly remember that a linebacker from the Jayhawks was doing his best impression of both Dick Butkus and Ray Lewis, and must have finished the game with at least 25 tackles all of which came from stuffing the B-Back dive throughout the afternoon. I cannot remember his name however I should as the stadium announcer was calling him over and over on just about every tackle in that forgettable game from last season. If he is still on the Jayhawk squad then that is a defender who must be accounted for and blocked on every play in the upcoming game at BDS.
The Jayhawks opened up the season much like the Yellow Jackets as they pounded McNeese State 42 to 24 at home, followed up with a very hard fought 45 to 42 victory over Northern Illinois this past Saturday who is expected to challenge for a title this season in the MAC. Their quarterback, Jordan Webb, who we made to look like an All-American in last season’s loss threw a 6 yard touchdown with 9 seconds left in the game on 4th down to pull out a win at home against the Huskies. The touchdown call was apparently so close that it was reviewed by the replay both before the officials actually gave the win to Kansas. In addition, the Kansas defense also did a very good job of controlling the Northern Illinois ground attack, so we will see if that experience helps them this week against the triple option.
The NIU Huskies had 462 yards of total offense against Kansas, so hopefully we can also move the football against them this Saturday at BDS. The Jayhawks went for 534 of offense in that game when they had the football, so the Al Groh 3/4 defense will have an opportunity to slow them down this week as they are currently averaging 43.5 points per game early this season. Kansas also plays the spread them out offense which makes it difficult to get a bunch of pressure on the quarterback. However, so long as our defensive line continues to play stout at the point of attack we should be able slow down Kansas by curtailing their ability to run the football in this contest.
While I understand the frustration with the lack of quarterback sacks so far this season, these spread the field passing attacks are designed to generate matchup problems out on the edge with WR slip screens creating the expectation that with a block on the perimeter, big yardage can be gained after the catch (YAC). Given the reality that these type of passing schemes are not relying on the vertical passing game to stretch the field with a traditional drop back QB, sacks and pressures are not going to be had in bunches as you would expect going against a traditional NFL style offense that throws the ball down the field of play relying on their QB to pick apart a defense.
So this week expect to see our nickel and dime package consisting of extra DB’s to be on the field more than our 4 linebackers as coverage and speed is the best way to defend against this style of offense. Also, in this game I expect to see lots of safety/cornerback Jemea Thomas as this is a player who really brings a wallop when he arrives to tackle the ball carrier. Frankly, the entire defensive backfield has been putting some solid hits on receivers this season which clearly indicates they understand where to line up and put themselves in a position to force dropped passes by hitting WR’s on those 4 and 5 yard flat route pass patterns this offense uses most of the time.
Given the tendency by any team to look ahead on the schedule to a particular game, the total team effort displayed by the Yellow Jackets in their opening two games really indicates their focus to perform at a very high level this season. That is why I’m really looking forward to seeing this particular non-conference game as it indicates that CPJ has really grabbed the attention of these players as they didn’t waste any time in putting away Western Carolina and MTSU to start the season.
After the Jayhawks derailed the 2010 season for Georgia Tech, it is reasonable to expect that they have had this particular game circled on the schedule since last year. So let’s get BDS filled up on Saturday and cheer loud and often for the Yellow Jackets as they look to make amends for last season’s loss by playing some hop scotch with rock chalk jayhawk. Go Jackets!