Every week, we learn a little bit more about the 2010 Kansas Jayhawk players and coaching staff. It’s requiring more patience than many of us were hoping for heading into this season, but as the saying goes, “It is what it is”.
After sitting through the stinker that was North Dakota State and feeling the renewed optimism from the upset win over Georgia Tech, I went into the KU-Southern Miss game wondering which Jayhawk team would show up. What I saw was a little bit of both, with flashes of what they could be mixed with the realities of what they are.
There is plenty of football to be played, but here are 5 Things I Think I Know About The 2010 Kansas Jayhawks:
1. THEY ARE YOUNG, INEXPERIENCED, EXCITING, AND FRUSTRATING ALL ROLLED INTO ONE
This Kansas Jayhawk team is young and inexperienced. Every Jayhawk fan interested in maintaining their sanity needs to find a way to come to terms with the fact that this season will be a roller coaster ride of inconsistency. With young and inexperienced players, you have no choice but to take the good with the bad.
-Quarterback in Jordan Webb has shown lots of promise, but he wasn’t the coaches first choice, he’s a freshman and he’s only started two games in college.
-If you go back and watch the 49-yard Southern Miss touchdown run, you will see young and inexperienced safety Prinz Kande caught completely out of position. It cost KU a TD that wouldn’t have occurred with a more experienced saftety.
-James Sims had another nice game with close to 80 yards rushing, but again, he’s a freshman and it’s clear that the coaching staff isn’t ready to let him carry the full-time load because they keep bringing in DeSean Sands (yet another freshman with a lot of promise), Angus Quigley and occasionally DJ Beshears.
-There were comments after the game that some of the calls from the coaching staff weren’t getting in on time, so the defense basically had to lean on some “default” calls. That doesn’t happen regularly with a more experienced team. That said, Turner Gill and his staff aren’t free of blame here either and need to make whatever adjustment they can to make sure this doesn’t continue to happen.
Those are just a few examples. There are plenty more, but there is no need to belabor the point. Senior cornerback Chris Harris nailed it when he said: “We got a lot of young guys that are playing. With experience, it’ll get better, and (they’ll) understand that you gotta come out with energy every game because the other team wants it.”
2. COACH GILL WASN’T THINKING ABOUT THE FANS WHEN HE PULLED THE NAMES OFF THE JERSEYS
Turner Gill isn’t making it easy on KU fans to learn who the players are. In the offseason, Coach Gill decided that players names wouldn’t be on the back of their jerseys. It’s the old cliché of “you play for the name on the front of the jersey, not on the back”. Yeah, yeah, we get it, Coach.
The problem is the average KU fan doesn’t have time to do research on every player on your roster. It’s annoying to see 2-3 guys in on a play and say “Wait? Who was that? I’m not sure, I think it was Chris Harris? Wait, who’s #16? Was it Daymond Patterson?”.
I’m sure it won’t change this year, but next year, put the names back on the jerseys.
3. THE OFFENSIVE LINE HAS TO GET IN SYNC FOR ANY CHANCE OF A SUCCESSFUL SEASON
Jordan Webb was sacked 4 times and hurried at least a dozen more times against Southern Miss. The Jayhawk offensive line has had some injuries and have moved a few guys around, but these guys are making Webb’s job a lot harder than it needs to be. Center Jeremiah Hatch has lingering back problems and senior Brad Thorsen just hasn’t been the same. In 3 games, KU quarterbacks have been sacked 12 times. That cannot continue if this team wants to have any realistic chance of having a successful season.
4. THE MARGIN OF ERROR IS THIN
Key mistakes are magnified with this team because of their overall lack of experience.
-As discussed previously, Prinz Kande being out of position on the 49-yard TD run by Southern Miss.
-The blocked punt turned into a TD vs. Southern Miss was a crushing blow.
-In the Georgia Tech game, a KU player (forgetting his name…probably because it’s not on the back of his jersey!) tackled a GT player on a punt well before the ball got there.
-Jordan Webb has thrown several “almost interceptions”.
-Tight End Tim Biere’s five dropped passes and two fumbles vs. N. Dakota State.
Those are just a few examples from the first three games. This team has to be more fundamentally sound or they will continue to shoot themselves in the foot (much like last year’s KU team did, if you recall).
It’s one thing for another team to beat you because they played better. It’s another thing to have repeated breakdowns in execution. The latter has been an issue with this year’s team and will very likely continue to be for awhile.
Again, youth and inexperience; the older they get and the more they play, the less mistakes they will make. In the meantime, we just have to grit our teeth and bear it. We aren’t going to win the North or the Big 12 Minus 2 this year, but we are laying the foundation for future success.
5. WE’VE GOT AN AWESOME HUMAN BEING IN CHARGE OF OUR FOOTBALL PROGRAM
Turner Gill does things differently. He treats players differently. He commands respect as a human being. He knows that football is only a game. He embraces the opportunity to mold young men so that they excel on the field and are committed to becoming better human beings.
We know that for all coaches it ultimately comes down to wins and losses, but I definitely prefer the Turner Gill approach to coaching, how to treat people, etc. over what we had under Mark Mangino.
I’m hopeful that he is able to rack up a lot of wins over the next few years once he and his staff are able to recruit their type of players into the program, install the systems they want to run, etc.
The perfect scenario for me as a fan is to have a team that wins consistently while the head coach and his staff are able to look themselves in the mirror every morning and know that they are doing things the right way. I have no doubt about Turner Gill the person. Turner Gill’s success as the KU Head Coach is To Be Determined……but I like his chances.
Keep Rockin’ and Chalkin’.
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