Football spoils homecoming vibe

Kansas cornerback Chris Harris throws his fist in frustration after the Jayhawks defense gives up a touchdown to Texas A&M receiver Jeff Fuller during the third quarter Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010 at Kivisto Field.

A most pleasant evening. The smell of bratwursts riding the strong wind, crashing into the scent of fried doughnuts. Generations of pretty, smiling faces. Suds flowing. Old friends swapping old stories one more time. Nirvana in tailgate land for homecoming night.

And then the game started. I hate it when that happens.

Sure, it’s fun to visit the suites and inhale the sweets, but unless you happen to be one of the rare people who can drive by an accident without slowing down to take a long look, then it’s impossible not to gawk at what’s happening down below, on the football field.

Nothing good ever happens there anymore for the home team.

For the second week in a row, the majority of the paying customers at Memorial Stadium decided to walk out at halftime. That doesn’t happen at bad movies, so why does it at bad football games? Because you don’t always know the outcome of bad movies.

With reeling Texas A&M in town Saturday night, for the first time in three weeks the Kansas offense reached double figures and the defense kept the opponent to less than 50 points. A case could be made that progress is being made on both sides of the ball, if, that is, the person making the case believed in moral victories out of 45-10 home losses.

The three-week tally: Baylor, Kansas State and Texas A&M 159, Kansas 24.

OK, enough with comparing Kansas to its competition. No suspense in that. A better conversation, maybe one that could keep fans in their seats to argue the point for both halves: Which unit of the KU football team is worse, the offense or the defense?

Wait, enough with negativity. Let’s rephrase that question in a more positive way: Which unit is better?

Coming into the game, the scoring offense was ranked 112th out of 120 in the nation, the defense 99th. The defense allows 33.86 points per game, despite a stellar effort in a season-opening 6-3 loss to North Dakota State. The offense averages 16.14, despite pinning 42 points on New Mexico State.

Let’s start up front. Kansas quarterbacks have been sacked 21 times. KU’s defense has six sacks, but only one of those came from a defensive lineman. Jake Laptad earned his first Saturday. Defensive back Chris Harris leads the team with two sacks. Call the lines a tossup.

Now let’s examine turnovers, the plays that shift momentum in games. The defense has come up with four in seven games. The offense has given the ball away 13 times, not awful given the blocking inadequacies. Considering how little pressure is applied by the defensive line, it’s not too surprising the defense has come up with just four turnovers.

Give the nod to the offense at the speed positions because the KU secondary gets burned deep so often and receiver Daymond Patterson gets open fairly often, it’s just that the throws his way from Jordan Webb aren’t very accurate. Webb’s injured his shoulder, and backup Kale Pick suffered a concussion, which left third-string QB Quinn Mecham finishing the game.

Overall, with the shaky quarterback outlook and with potential impact player Toben Opurum playing on defense, the edge goes to the D by default.