Week 4 Recap: INCONCLUSIVE

This week, the classic “technically beaten badly by 22 points but overall not the worst performance” archetype of post-KU football ennui rears its ugly head again. This phenomenon is loosely referred to as “the KU tease”, and more closely referred to (by myself and myself alone) as “Category 4” in the levels of Kansas football losses that I’ve just thrown together here. Categories 4 and 6 generally contain the most ennui because –

  1. There are always good plays that get hopes up
  2. There are always bad plays that could’ve swung the game a different direction

img_5442.jpgA dropped interception, an interception return off of a touchdown, a penalty on a field goal attempt, things like these become more frustrating during a 20+ point loss because taking a close look at how they affected the game seems more and more like screaming into a void as the point-deficit becomes larger and larger. Kansas Football today lost by 22, which is bad, but they were within a touchdown of tying the game midway through the fourth quarter, which is actually pretty good considering the way that it was 35-13 at half and everybody in the stands had, as you do, left the game.

After that performance, this was played over the video board.

I respect the moxie of athletics to ask people in a sad, old, empty stadium for 350 million dollars in order to turn it into a sad, new, empty stadium during the middle of what looked like a 70 point blowout.

These look like fine mockups. If this plan is followed, then Memorial Stadium will enter the modern era. Memorial Stadium currently looks like (and is) a pre-World War II piece of architecture, and Memorial Stadium post-renovations will look like a modern Big XII stadium (specifically Snyder Family Stadium). This will be fine, but it is a complete overhaul of what makes Memorial Stadium at least somewhat special. I don’t care that much about the horseshoe design, if that’s squared off, it’s fine. The video board and the open end being closed off should probably kill off the last of the visibility from the hill, which is a shame. Getting to see a game from a not-so-great angle with the benefit of being able to freely drink alcohol and not pay money is rare nowadays. At least there’s still the option to hike up the mountain at UTEP.

Otherwise, it should be fine. This might curb the goalpost-based property damage as well, it won’t be too easy to get them out of the stadium anymore if that end’s closed off, but I assume that KU would rather have that be the case anyway.


Stars

KHALIL (8.1 YPC on 33 Carries)

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HERBERT (291 Yards Rushing)

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IS THE TRUTH (2 TD)

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The swag on the ball flip to the ref here is key

Khalil had a monster of a game and he should be commended for it. This is two very good games in a row for Herbert, who is only a sophomore. If the pass-heavy attack doesn’t work out (and I’m still not certain if it hasn’t worked out at all or if I’m just inclined to see the worst in pass-first offenses after years of watching very, very, very bad pass-first offenses), the coaching staff needs to accept the reality that KU could run a solid speed-option offense with Stanley at QB, Herbert & Williams at TB, and Schadler as a sort of wing guy. I don’t know all the details but Fuck it we gotta try something at some point. Herbert out of the pistol was making WVU pay all day, and the fact that he averaged over eight yards per carry on 33 carries indicates that he probably should’ve had the ball even more.

My plea to the KU offensive staff is this – Please accept running the ball every now and then as a part of the offense

Remember that Mangino’s teams didn’t start heavily using the spread option/no-huddle offense until 2007 because they didn’t have the personnel to do it effectively until then. In 2005, when KU had two good running backs and three mediocre quarterbacks, they were a run-first team. In 2003, when they had a great quarterback, they were a pass-first team. Both of those were bowl seasons.

In 2012, when they had James Sims, Tony Pierson, and Toben Opurum very much usable in the backfield, Charlie Weis chose to pass first with Dayne Crist and no receivers and ended up 1-11. We’re currently staring down a similar situation, except the pass game this year is in a far better place than back then. Don’t be afraid to run the ball in this conference, where it seems like nobody ever preps for that anyway

Steven Sims Jr. (6 Recs, 96 yards, 1 TD)

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This pass, which set up a touchdown, shows perfectly how to use an athletic force like Steven Sims Jr. Though he missed much of the CMU and Ohio games, he was back against WVU and played pretty well. I commend him also for catching every punt, which doesn’t sound like something a normal team would get commended for but after last year’s punt return woes, there’s… something there, I guess.


Terrys

Clint Bowen (DC)

There is a growing sense of dissent towards two people in particular surrounding Kansas football, one of them is Sheahon Zenger, who really should never be allowed to be let off the hook for what he did in hiring Charlie Weis. The other is Clint Bowen, whose defense gave up seven touchdowns against West Virginia. KU keeps running into good quarterbacks who have career days against the ‘Hawks, and this is no coincidence. Though the secondary actually showed some signs of life – Mike Lee had several good hits, Hasan Defense made a couple of great plays in pass breakups and picked off one pass – Will Grier’s four total touchdowns (two via the air, two via the ground) speak for themselves.

I can’t help but feel that Clint’s time is running short if the defense can’t turn around soon. He isn’t helped by the fact that the secondary is so, so green still, but he’s especially hurt by the defensive line’s inability to aid that. There was one sack today, from linebacker Joe Dineen (who probably should’ve been in the prior category again), and Grier had so much time to throw. Even when pressured, the ‘Hawks just couldn’t take him down, there had to be six or seven times when Grier narrowly avoided getting sacked, then scrambled or passed for a first down. Missed and broken tackles are adding up as well. The players are getting close but just not actually putting people on the ground well enough, and at a certain point that starts to look like a breakdown in coaching fundamentals.

Peyton Bender (17/32, 192 Yards, 2 INT, 1 TD)

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Both of these picks are unlucky. The first, which killed all of the momentum coming in to the second half, is probably worse because that was a bad throw, but if that ball deflects in a different way off of Steven Sims’ hand, it becomes second and ten. The second is tough, Bender made the right throw and the receiver just didn’t hold on. The fumble he had was unlucky as well, the referees could’ve called that an incomplete pass and it would’ve been fine.

But that’s ennui for you. Sometimes you do fine, but get unlucky, and that gets you a Terry.


Oh good and we get nobody next week

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The concourses were so dead in the third quarter, it matched the atmosphere outside

Oh boy, the bye week. Next Saturday, catch me sleeping until 10 am and then playing Kid Chameleon for Sega Genesis all day. I also might watch other football teams, which will be nice. I’m currently applying to grad schools, so I have like seven other fanbases I can pretend to be a part of until they all inevitably reject me (and I mean both the fanbases and the schools).

Kansas will be facing an undefeated Texas Tech team in the next week, which runs counter to many predictions regarding Texas Tech from the pre-season. The Jayhawks will lose this game, I know, but I have a week before I have to think about it, so I’m going to make good use of my freedom of mentality until then.


So, What did we Learn?

I had a great time at the stadium, I enjoyed myself, I laughed, I probably drank like 10 bottles full of water at least, I got very sunburnt and my arm was irritated by the hot shower water this morning, and I didn’t have to worry about blocking the view of the fans behind me.

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The insight bowl flag flies limply in the distance

 

But did I learn anything?

No. Back in the day when I was watching Mythbusters all the time, they had this system of graphics for determining whether their jobs had been done or not. “BUSTED” and “CONFIRMED” were the most concrete answers, “PLAUSIBLE” at least made for an interesting show with some of that delicious ambiguity in conclusion. The show was an hour long, so in certain episodes if they had tried a method of “busting” early on and it failed, they’d show an “INCONCLUSIVE” graphic on the screen, accept that they didn’t really learn anything, and move on to solve it later on in the episode. (At least, that’s how I remember it, I could have completely Mandela’d that whole mechanic of the show into existence).

This game, were this whole season of football an episode of a Discovery Channel show from 2004, should be deemed “INCONCLUSIVE”. There was a whole lot of evidence – Khalil Herbert had 291 yards rushing, Peyton Bender threw two interceptions, West Virginia’s quarterback’s brother became famous on Vine, KU scored more points offensively against a Power-5 team than they had in three years (34 points against Iowa State in week 9 in 2014), KU has scored more points per game in each of the past three games (27, then 30, then 34), KU gave up more points to a Big XII opponent at home than they did all last season, the vegetarian meal option had an apple for dessert instead of a cookie AGAIN, and the field goal club actually does seem to attract people even when the rest of the regular stadium doesn’t, and the red helmets actually looked okay with the white pants and blue shirts. But at the moment, not a lot of that evidence means anything.

 

 

img_5450.jpgOn Sunday evening, while I’m writing this, I acknowledge that if Khalil Herbert keeps his game up, KU will be in better shape by the end of the season, and if this defensive performance keeps up, KU’s going to be in horrible, horrible shape by the end of the year. This could be a turning point game, and KU might be only more competitive as the season goes on (as this was about the most competitive game played by the Jayhawks all season so far). This could also be an aberration as Kansas returns to the mean and loses to Texas Tech by fifty in two weeks. I’m not optimistic, but I’m not 100% sold on 1-11 anymore. I could believe that there’s a second random win coming. So we’ll say that a 2-10 season, at the moment, gets a rating of “PLAUSIBLE”, up from “BUSTED” last week, and “NO FUCKING WAY I QUIT” the week before.

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But regardless, I will see you Saturday.


All GIFs come from the Big XII Digital Network, All Mythbusters information comes from my brain, so if that whole “inconclusive” or like “unconfirmed” thing never existed, blame it on the Mandela Effect or my inability to remember the television shows of my childhood. 

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